Making out a Christmas wish list used to be easy. The Sears catalog showed up on the doorstep in November, and from there it was a matter of dog-earing the pages with slot cars, models, and .049 gas-powered buggies. Later, our focus would shift to the Craftsman tool section, as our interests matured from 1:24-scale cars to bicycles, minibikes, go-karts, and eventually, 1:1-scale cars.
The Sears catalog is a thing of the past, and since Snap-On doesn’t typically sell to retail customers, that leaves a big void to fill at the holidays. We’re here to help, and though we’ve missed the start of Hanukkah this year, there’s still time for Christmas and Festivus giving. For the right recipient, any of these five $5,000 Challenge selections would make a suitable and appreciated holiday gift. You don’t even need to wrap ’em — just buy the vehicle, print out the ad, roll it, and tie it with a bow. What could be easier?
Not only is this easy-to-wrench-on, short-bed Ford pickup the perfect vehicle for dashing through the snow, with the included plow it’s a sideline business waiting to happen once the white stuff flies. The truck’s racked up 193,000 miles over the past 50 years, but the (added later) 360 V-8 was rebuilt just 43,000 miles ago. Assuming the frame is solid, this would make an ideal weekend truck — nice enough that you’re not ashamed to park it at the in-laws, but with enough patina that a door ding or shopping cart scrape won’t matter. The asking price? $4,995.
Unhappy about the direction automakers are going? Long for the days of two-door personal luxury coupes? There’s a lot to like about this 1977 Cadillac, which appears to be in driver-quality condition already. The seller proclaims it’s never been driven in snow or on salted roads, and that the body is accident-free. The automatic climate control will need attention, but for an asking price of $1,995, that leaves plenty of room to get things repaired and updated before the need for air conditioning becomes an issue.
The era of giant tailfins on American cars came to an end early in the 1960s. Even Cadillac pared back what used to be a prominent design trait for 1960, but at Chrysler, fins were still in for one final model year. Love the Forward Look styling of this 1960 Plymouth Fury four-door sedan or hate it, no one will be on the fence over its looks, though it certainly won’t get lost is a sea of SUVs and crossovers. The seller is up front about the car needing brakes, though otherwise it appears to be in reasonable shape, thanks in part to its two-owner history. The asking price? $4,800.
Designed to compete against Ford’s Pinto and Chevy’s Vega (not to mention the imports), AMC’s Gremlin looked like nothing else on the road, and was available in versions from mild to wild (like the 401-powered examples built by Randall AMC of Mesa, Arizona). Few survived the ravages of time (and the relative scarcity of spare parts), making survivors stand out more than an Aston-Martin piloted by a supermodel, for a fraction of the price. This low-mileage 1977 example, from the penultimate year of manufacture, needs cosmetic attention (and new carpeting), but otherwise looks clean enough to be a weekend driver. The asking price? $4,400.
Introduced in 1968, the Mercedes-Benz W114 (six-cylinder) and W115 (four-cylinder) were the first postwar production cars from the Stuttgart automaker to receive a new-from-the-ground-up chassis. The models developed a reputation for durability, and a W115 owned by Greek taxi driver Gregorios Sachinidis racked up 4.6-million kilometers (2.85-million miles) over 28 years, said to be the highest-ever for a Mercedes-Benz. That’s not to say you can expect the same from this W114 1974 Mercedes-Benz 280 sedan, but hey — it’s got good bones. This example is said to be a Texas car in need of interior work (and paint, as the budget allows), but otherwise appears solid with recent mechanical attention (and cold A/C). The asking price? $4,500.