For some in the hobby, restoring a long-neglected car is more enjoyable than driving and showing it. For others, perhaps with less time or less aptitude, enjoying a driver-quality classic on weekend trips (and at weekend shows) is what the hobby is all about.
This time around, the $5,000 Challenge focuses on selections that don’t need much in the way of restoration. Sure, there are bits and pieces that could use attention, but nothing to prevent the next owner from driving something unusual until the problem areas can be addressed. Which are you most inclined to adopt?
Toyota pickups from the 1980s are appearing at an ever-increasing number of auctions, with nostalgia driving prices upward. It’s worth noting that Nissan pickups of the day were stout competitors, though fewer examples seem to have survived the tinworm. This example has lived its life under the California sun, meaning that rust, aside from a patch on the side of the bed, isn’t a concern. The mileage may throw off some, but the four-banger under the hood was rebuilt 30,000 miles ago and still shows decent compression. It’s a practical weekend driver, and chances are it will draw more attention at shows than anything of recent vintage. The asking price? $4,750.
Though oft-maligned (and incorrectly placed upon every 10-worst cars list), the humble Ford Pinto has its dedicated fans, including yours truly. Finding clean examples today is a challenge, since many were either destroyed by generations of drivers or converted into affordable-but-competitive race cars. This wagon variant reportedly spent much of its life in a dry climate, and its current owner swapped the original 2.8-liter Cologne V-6 and automatic transmission for the 2.3-cylinder four and a four-speed manual. That should make this wagon a bit more entertaining to drive, and for those seeking to regain lost power, there’s no shortage of aftermarket performance parts for Ford’s 2.3-liter engine. It comes with a new interior (already installed) and ample spare parts, all for a price of $4,750.
No one who purchased a four-door Plymouth Valiant new in 1974 intended to preserve the car for posterity. Virtually all were handed down, used up and eventually scrapped, which makes this outlier example worthy of attention. A three-owner car with a claimed 22,250 miles on the odometer, this is said to carry its original interior and a single repaint dating back four years or so. The brakes have been addressed, and a new radiator should ensure that the 225-cu.in. slant-six beneath the hood stays cool. It certainly won’t get lost in a parking lot, and for those seeking an affordable and reliable entry into the hobby, the asking price of this ready-to-run sedan is $4,250.
In the days before manufacturers built hyper-specific models tied to a particular niche (Urban Scrambler! Enduro Tourer! Cafe Racer Commuter!), motorcycles generally came in one or two flavors. Those shopping for a 550cc Honda in 1976 had a choice between the standard K model and the sport-themed F, with its unique 4-into-1 exhaust, a flatter handlebar, a reshaped fuel tank and fewer chrome bits. Many learned to ride on bikes like this, which also served as touring rigs and daily transportation. This example is said to carry $2,000 in receipts from a recent restoration, and is ready for the next rider to enjoy. The asking price? $4,350.
By 1983, Buick buyers were familiar with the T-Type trim and/or performance package on a variety of models, so the automaker extended the offering to its compact Skylark model. More than just a tape and stripe package, the Skylark T-Type came with the 135-horsepower 2.8-liter V-6, a sport suspension, a gauge package that included voltage and temperature indicators (but oddly, no tach), and blacked-out or smoked trim. While it wasn’t a sports car, it was a sporty alternative aimed at drawing import buyers into Buick showrooms, and today its boxy styling doesn’t resemble anything else on the road. This example sports fresh paint, and the next owner can decide whether or not to apply the replacement body decals included with the car. The asking price? $3,900.