Watch any televised auction coverage or read recaps of the big-name sales these days, and its easy to believe that collector cars are priced beyond the means of the average hobbyist. Nothing could be further from the truth, and in an era where the average new car (sorry, “light vehicle”) is priced at $36,843, there are plenty of interesting drivers to be had for under $10,000 – hence, our new “Four-Digit Finds” series.
We’re not saying this feature will replace the original $5,000 Challenge, but cars in that price range aren’t generally listed on sites that charge money to advertise. Furthermore, nearly all of the $5,000 Challenge cars required some degree of repair or restoration, which isn’t within everyone’s comfort zone. By upping the threshold to $9,995, we’re hoping to show readers more cruise-in-ready vehicles from the depths of our classifieds, but still at an attainable price.
Fox body Mustang prices have been on the rise since early 2018, likely because the model represents a reasonable amount of performance for a relatively low price. Among a new generation of collectors, they were popular cars in high school or college parking lots, and quite a few have survived the ravages of time and tuners. This 1993 LX 5.0 is equipped with the desirable five-speed manual transmission and doesn’t appear to be modified in any significant way (MSD ignition parts aside). When new, this final-year Fox would have produced 205 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, though plenty of aftermarket supplier can up those numbers should the next owner desire it. For $8,450, it’s a cheap way to make commuting more enjoyable.
Once upon a time, pickup trucks were a rarity in grocery store parking lots (in most locales, anyway), and new examples weren’t commanding twice the price of a domestic sedan. Of course the option list was limited then, too, since few farmers, carpenters or tradesmen wanted leather seating, a concert hall stereo, or automatic climate control. This 1971 Chevrolet C10 is a simple two-wheel-drive pickup, powered by an inline six-cylinder engine (probably Chevy’s 250-cu.in. six, rated at 145 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque), mated to a three-speed, column-shift manual. That’s a vinyl bench seat in the cab, and we saw no evidence of air conditioning, but on the plus side it will haul plywood, drywall, mulch, fertilizer, and a month’s worth of groceries from the suburban warehouse store, while still drawing a crowd at the local show-and-shine. The asking price? $9,800.
It’s funny how time and attrition can change one’s perspective. Once, Mopar A-bodies like this 1973 Plymouth Valiant Scamp were everywhere, and we hardly gave them a second look. Today, preserved specimens like this are rare, and now we find ourselves appreciating the two-door hardtop’s clean and uncluttered lines, which date from a time when regulatory compliance wasn’t the driving force in automotive styling. While the combination of the 150-horsepower 318-cu.in. V-8 and TorqueFlite automatic won’t win many drag races, the pairing should prove to be reliable (and easy to repair) for decades to come. For those opposed to the Torq-Thrust wheels currently on the car, the stock ones are included in the sale, and should help the next owner build his own “Best Unrestored” trophy collection. Where else can you buy a proven show winner for $8,900?
Volvo’s 200 Series automobiles have earned a reputation as being among the safest cars on the road, and as numerous SCCA club racers have demonstrated, they’re respectable handlers, too. It’s no wonder why Volvo sedans and wagons of this era have a cult following, and why some owners would rather restore an old Volvo than consider replacing it with a newer automobile. This single-family-owned 1978 Volvo 242 two-door sedan shows just under 191,000 miles on the odometer, but a 2007 restoration included a rebuilt 2.1-liter Volvo B21 four-cylinder engine, rated at 98 horsepower and bolted to a four-speed manual transmission with overdrive. We’d bet this could be a show-winner too, at an asking price of $8,000.
In 1960, Rambler called itself the world’s largest builder of compact cars, and pitched its wares to consumers based upon their affordability, reliability, and resale value. The midrange Rambler was offered in Deluxe, Super, and Custom trim levels, and each version could be ordered with the 127-hp, 195.6-cu.in. six-cylinder or the 200-hp, 250-cu.in. Rebel V-8. This pampered 1960 Rambler Super comes with the six, mated to a pushbutton automatic transmission, and the seller is clear that the paint (described as “not perfect, but really nice”) isn’t original to the car. It certainly presents as a clean example, and we’d bet that the next owner will enjoy a never-ending stream of “What is that?” questions whenever the Rambler is shown. The asking price? $9,500.