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The $5,000 Challenge, it’s the journey (or the destination) edition

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To some, the appeal of the collector car hobby is bringing a tired car, perhaps just a few skinned knuckles away from being sold for scrap, back from the brink. To others, the allure lies in the drive, not in time spent troubleshooting, wrenching and painting. Very often, one’s ability and/or bank account determine the path into the hobby, so this edition of the $5,000 Challenge (and yes, we’re back to a $5,000 cap this time around) serves up a range of cars, from those needing very little to those requiring a full-on restoration.

Coincidentally, all but one scrape the $5,000 ceiling for this exercise, and three of the five will still require a significant investment of time and effort (or cold hard cash) to turn into presentable weekend drivers. Which of these would you most want parked in your garage?

1962 Pontiac Tempest convertible

1962 Pontiac Tempest convertible

At a passing glance, this Pontiac may be the biggest bargain in the bunch. From the supplied photos, it already appears to be a driver-quality car, and it’s clear that someone sank a significant amount of effort (and money) into the project. It comes with a replacement four installed, plus the original on the side, and many restoration details (brakes and suspension, for example) have already been addressed. The seller even offers up his collection of 1961 Tempest parts (for additional money), should the next owner want to (or need to) carry on with work in the future. For the $5,000 asking price, would you find yourself Tempest-tossed?

1962 Pontiac Tempest convertible 1962 Pontiac Tempest convertible 1962 Pontiac Tempest convertible 1962 Pontiac Tempest convertible


1962 Mercury S-55

1962 Mercury S-55

The S-55 was Mercury’s full-size performance offering from 1962 to late 1963, returning in 1966. Available only in two-door hardtop and two-door convertible body styles in 1962, the S-55 was one of the rarest Mercury models built that year. That’s good news and bad news: With only 2,772 S-55 hardtops built for 1962, chances are good you won’t see another in the parking lot of your local burger joint. On the other hand, finding parts for such a low-volume car could prove challenging, although the Z code 390 V-8 was used in plenty of offerings from Ford. For $4,500, is this Mercury a project you’d be willing to tackle?

1962 Mercury S-55 1962 Mercury S-55 1962 Mercury S-55 1962 Mercury S-55


1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D

1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D

Mercedes-Benz diesels have a well-deserved reputation for durability, which explains why they were often the taxicab of choice in countries outside the United States. After 40 years and 210,000 miles, most cars can be considered past their prime, but a well-maintained 240D is probably better described as “broken in.” Assuming the family selling the car can provide service records, and assuming tinworm isn’t a problem, there’s no reason to believe this Mercedes won’t keep on keeping on until the point where diesel fuel is antiquated as whale oil. The asking price? An even $5,000.

1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D 1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D 1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D 1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D


1955 Willys Jeep CJ-5

1955 Willys CJ-5

There’s something sorrowful about a sports car with faded paint and oxidized steel, but the same can’t be said about this Jeep CJ-5. “Honest” is a better descriptor, and if it were ours we’d likely bring the mechanicals up to snuff, fix the few rust holes and leave the patina alone. Too nervous to risk brush-pinstriping your new $30k Wrangler Rubicon on a tight trail? You won’t even notice if this survivor gets a few more character lines, and that’s all part of its appeal. Is that peace of mind worth the $5,000 asking price?

1955 Willys CJ-5 1955 Willys CJ-5 1955 Willys CJ-5 1955 Willys CJ-5


1965 Dodge Dart convertible

1965 Dodge Dart

Project burn-out can be bad for sellers, but good for potential buyers. From the description, it’s clear the current owner isn’t the one who sank blood, sweat and tears into installing floor patches and a new interior into this drop-top Dart, but it sounds as if much of the heavy lifting has been done. The car will need to be awakened from its Rip Van Winkle-like slumber, and it will need a top, bumpers and trim, but all are relatively minor bumps on the road to owing an affordable weekend driver. The asking price? $5,000.

1965 Dodge Dart 1965 Dodge Dart 1965 Dodge Dart 1965 Dodge Dart