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The $5,000 Challenge, mostly monochrome edition

Published in blog.hemmings.com

One of the more frequent complaints we hear about new cars is their lack of interesting paint colors. It’s a valid point, since modern roads seem to be filled with an endless array of white, black, gray, and silver cars, with nary a Verdoro Green, Coronado Gold, Autumn Bronze, or Meridian Turquoise hue in sight.

This isn’t necessarily a new thing, though. White — or at least off-white — cars have been on the market for a long time, as today’s $5,000 Challenge selections reflect (though, in fairness, the oldest choice is a sun-faded yellow). In the case of a few cars below, white is also a metaphor for a blank canvas, where the next owner gets to choose between preservation, restoration, or customization.

 

1995 Jeep Wrangler Rio Grande

1995 Jeep Wrangler Rio Grande

Introduced in 1986, the Jeep Wrangler YJ replaced the beloved Wrangler CJ series. Designed as a kinder, gentler off-roader with improved on-road manners and more forgiving handling, the Wrangler YJ remained in production until 1996, when the Wrangler TJ took its place. As with virtually all Jeep Wranglers, replacement parts for the YJ models — like this 1995 Rio Grande — are readily available, meaning that rusted fenders and floors are nothing more than a minor inconvenience. All Rio Grande models came with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, so an engine swap may be on the wish list for this rig’s next owner as well. The asking price? $4,500.

1995 Jeep Wrangler Rio Grande 1995 Jeep Wrangler Rio Grande 1995 Jeep Wrangler Rio Grande 1995 Jeep Wrangler Rio Grande

 

1950 Plymouth Deluxe business coupe

1950 Plymouth Deluxe coupe

When was the last time you saw a 1950 Plymouth — in any body style — at a weekend car show? That alone makes this three-passenger coupe an interesting project, and since the next owner likely won’t be online-ordering needed replacement parts, a bit of creativity is called for. Though the 218-cu.in six was rebuilt in 2011, we can’t help but wonder what else might fit between the fenders. Restored or resto-modded, it’s a safe bet that this Truman-era Mopar will stand out in a crowd once completed. The asking price? $4,500.

1950 Plymouth Deluxe coupe 1950 Plymouth Deluxe coupe 1950 Plymouth Deluxe coupe 1950 Plymouth Deluxe coupe

 

1991 Toyota Celica GT convertible

1991 Toyota Celica GT convertible

Affordable four-seat convertibles are something of a rarity these days, but 25 years ago they were popular enough to be offered by a wide variety of automakers. Even back in the day, Toyota Celica GT convertibles weren’t exactly common, which makes this survivor something of a unicorn, guaranteed to attract attention wherever it’s parked. Already in driver-quality condition, we’d fix the dings and dent, address the issue with the cruise control and power antenna, and then simply enjoy driving a five-speed convertible whenever the sun was out. The asking price? $4,500.

1991 Toyota Celica GT convertible 1991 Toyota Celica GT convertible 1991 Toyota Celica GT convertible 1991 Toyota Celica GT convertible

 

1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon

1993 Buick Estate Wagon

We’ve mourned the passing of the fullsize wagon with some regularity here at Hemmings, but the good news is that surviving examples remain both readily available and bargain-priced. This Roadmaster Estate Wagon verifies that point — though approaching 200,000 miles, it appears to be in very good overall condition, at a price that wouldn’t buy a parts-car Honda Civic of similar vintage. We’d fix the torn driver’s seat (and maybe the ripped headliner), then simply enjoy this Buick on interstate trips and weekend runs to the mega-mart. The asking price? $2,300.

1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate 1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate 1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate 1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate

 

1976 Lincoln Continental coupe

https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/lincoln/continental/2094437.html

Lincoln’s fifth-generation Continental debuted for the 1970 model year, and received a significant restyling for the 1975 model year. It was still the plus-size, body-on-frame luxury car that buyers had come to expect, and for 1976 the big news was its lower price, achieved through a bit of de-contenting to make previously standard features optional. The tactic worked, driving sales up by 16-percent for the Continental coupe and by 31-percent for the sedan. Though details on this low-mileage Continental coupe are sparse, it appears to be a driver-quality car in good overall condition, ready for the local car show circuit or a relaxed trip cross-country. We’d spend a weekend detailing it and changing the fluids, then simply enjoy its plush ride anytime the distance from point A to point B involved a significant amount of time on the superslab. The asking price? $4,500.

1976 Lincoln Continental coupe 1976 Lincoln Continental coupe 1976 Lincoln Continental coupe 1976 Lincoln Continental coupe