Open Menu
Open Menu

The $5,000 Challenge, living the dream edition

Published in

When it comes to cars and driving, each of us dream differently. For some, bliss is a winding mountain road and an agile sports car, while for others it’s a plush, family-sized station wagon and a stretch of open road. For those who like to compete, it may involve a drag strip and something V-8 powered, or even a cone-filled parking lot in a light car with a stiff suspension.

Naysayers will say dreams like this are often priced beyond the means of the frugal hobbyist, but this edition of the $5,000 Challenge hopes to prove otherwise. Sports cars? Check. Muscle car? Check. Land yacht? Check. All priced below the $5,000 limit? Check again, which means that with a bit of planning and budgeting, all reside in the realm of the attainable.

1972 MG Midget race car

1972 MG Midget

The best way to make a small fortune in racing has always been to start with a large one. Track time is expensive, go-fast parts are expensive and racing consumes things like tires, brake pads and gasoline at an alarming rate. That said, driving events like autocross and time attack can still provide a thrill on a budget, and this 1972 MG Midget appears to be an ideal way to test one’s driving ability without investing a fortune. Purists may scoff at its Toyota replacement drivetrain, but it’s hard to argue with the added performance the 1600 Twin Cam engine brings to the table. It appears as if the car is even street-legal (in New Hampshire, anyway), meaning that a tow vehicle and trailer are not required. The asking price? $4,900.

1972 MG Midget 1972 MG Midget 1972 MG Midget 1972 MG Midget

1975 Porsche 914

1975 Porsche 914

There’s a saying that a rising tide raises all boats, and air-cooled Porsches are a prime example of this. Though luftgekühlt 911 pricing has seen peaks and valleys in recent months, it appears to once again be on the upswing, raising prices of Porsche’s entry-level 914 models as well. Once overlooked by many Porschephiles, the four-cylinder 914s have become somewhat trendy of late, with nice examples commanding prices once considered unattainable. This 1975 Porsche 914 appears to be a driver-quality car, and if the no-rust claim proves to be true, it may be a legitimate bargain on a car that will only go up in value. Priced at $4,995, chances are good this one won’t be available too much longer.

1975 Porsche 914 1975 Porsche 914 1975 Porsche 914 1975 Porsche 914

1993 Buick Roadmaster station wagon

1993 Buick Roadmaster

When it comes to gobbling up mile after mile of interstate highway with the family and the trappings of modern life in tow, few vehicles are as comfortable and pleasant to drive as a full-size station wagon. This 1993 Buick Roadmaster comes from the last generation of full-size wagons built by GM, before the category was abandoned in favor of the more popular (and more profitable) full-size SUV. Sighting another example on the road today would be akin to sighting an American bison outside of a zoo in the 1970s, which makes this family-size Buick that much more appealing. At an asking price of $2,900, the next owner can even address the cosmetic issues that keep this example from being a future concours contender.

1993 Buick Roadmaster 1993 Buick Roadmaster 1993 Buick Roadmaster 1993 Buick Roadmaster


1986 Ford Mustang SVO

1986 Ford Mustang SVO

The Mustang SVO was the first product created by Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations group, in an attempt to take the pony car in an entirely new direction. Powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder instead of a V-8, the SVO was designed to be king of the road course instead of king of the drag strip. Magazines of the day embraced it, but consumers did not, and after three years of production (1984-’86), Ford pulled the plug on this bold experiment. Today, SVOs remain an affordable and unique point of entry into the Fox-body world, as demonstrated by this example’s $5,000 asking price; best of all, this final-year version should still prove amply entertaining in the twisties.

1986 Ford Mustang SVO 1986 Ford Mustang SVO 1986 Ford Mustang SVO

1971 Dodge Super Bee

1971 Dodge Supe Bee

Think you can’t afford a Mopar from the golden age of muscle cars without cashing in your children’s college fund? This some-assembly-required 1971 Dodge Super Bee carries a price tag that says otherwise, as long as the next owner is capable of finishing the bulk of the restoration in house. Farmed out, the costs could easily exceed this example’s potential value, but for the right do-it-yourselfer, this could be the bargain of a lifetime at an asking price of $4,950.

1971 Dodge Supe Bee 1971 Dodge Supe Bee 1971 Dodge Supe Bee 1971 Dodge Supe Bee