A classic car can be many things, from the superbly stylish 1961 MG MGA ($29,500) to the luxuriously powerful 1978 Lincoln Continental ($6,000). One thing’s for sure: a classic, by definition, never goes out of style.
We here at
Jerry feel the one thing that doesn’t define a collectible is the price tag. So, for the budding collector on a budget (or someone looking to squeeze another great buy into their stable), we’ve rounded up eleven affordable classic cars in a range of prices.
Just don’t forget to pair your affordable beauty with some affordable
classic car insurance from Jerry before you hit the road.
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1961 MG MGA
First out of the gate is a fixture in every car lover’s fantasy—the classic ’60s British sports car. The MGA Roadster brought the best of Britain’s post-war automotive engineering onto the roads with a beautiful body married to a beast of an engine (for the time, of course).
Pros: Affordability, mechanical simplicity, durability, and the easy availability of parts makes this the perfect first-time collector car.
Cons: The 1.6-liter, 72-hp motor can’t help but feel dated by modern standards.
1987 Porsche 944
Following a trend that began with the first front-engined Porsche in 1976, the 944 outpaced the pack with an alloy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine capable of putting out 187 hp. Named the “Best Handling Production Car in America” in 1984 by Car and Driver, it forged a proud link in Porsche’s storied pedigree.
Pros: The second generation of 944s still holds up today as an entertaining introduction to the Porsche family.
Cons: The proliferation of configurations and modifications available make it tricky to find the best of the bunch. Look for oil leaks and timing belt replacements in the service history for Turbos; failing that, a non-turbo, four-valve S model will do.
1999 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
It might be pushing the definition of old, but you can’t argue with the Firebird’s 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engine and 305 hp, which is enough to leave any naysayer behind in 5.6 seconds flat. The last in a long line of Pontiac muscle cars, the Firebird represents an American tradition ending on a high note with the best of performance and speed.
Pros: A plethora of special editions, paint colors, body styles, and trim packages makes this affordable classic car a unique expression of personality as well as taste.
Cons: Unfortunately, the Firebird’s performance counts against it—many have been driven so hard that it’s difficult to find one with low mileage.
1990 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT
With a limited run of only 65 for the ASC McLaren variant and a special LX 5.0L convertible edition in Deep Emerald Green, the 1990 bracket of Mustangs carries some serious collector credit.
While they owe most of their engineering to the 1987 update of the Fox body, certain GTs included a Special Value Package with some of the latest and greatest comforts (at the time), like a stereo mirror, remote-control mirrors, and power side windows.
Pros: The best of the 1990 year sports a 5.0-liter V8 engine whose 225 horsepower should put you in the fast lane, even today.
Cons: With few examples in the wild, and a large range of options, make sure to do your research before going on the hunt.
Key Takeaway Every classic car has a history, from its production to its service and maintenance under previous owners. Whether you’re buying based on looks, rarity, historical significance, or collector appeal, make sure to do your research.
$20,000 and Under
1979 Fiat 124 Spider
The production run from 1966 to 1981 says it all: the Fiat 124 Spider lives on in hearts and history as one of the most beautiful, iconic roadsters of all time. A four-cylinder, 2.0-liter DOHC engine inside a body with unmistakable Pininfarina styling makes this car a joy to collect and to drive.
Pros: Generally well-built and beautifully detailed—look hard enough and you might find leather, wood instrument panels, and Veglia gauges among the offerings for sale.
Cons: Make sure to conduct a thorough examination for rust, with the wheels on the ground as well as on a lift.
1981 Chevrolet Corvette
Many things might make a classic, but few make a great Corvette: a steel frame chassis, a light fiberglass body, and a cosmetic flair from the decade that brought us Miami Vice, Top Gun, and “Under Pressure.” Not that you’d associate the song with the effortlessly cool cruising power of a 5.7-liter V8 engine.
Pros: Easy maintenance and a huge range of color options—what’s not to love?
Cons: If you don’t like nostalgia, you won’t have anything nice to say about the ’80s Corvette design.
1976 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II
Luxury leads the thinking behind the Silver Shadow, a four-door, full-size statement vehicle with 3-speed automatic transmission. It might surprise you to learn that this Rolls, with its looks built for cruisin’, can reach 60 mph in 10.5 seconds without breaking a sweat thanks to its V8, 247-hp engine.
Pros: Connolly leather interior, lambs-wool carpet, and walnut dash and door trim—are you drooling yet?
Cons: Above-average maintenance and repair expenses make this a purchase in need of careful consideration.
1994 Jaguar XJS
Another car whose design won’t please the modern crowd, the XJS is neither the fastest nor the sportiest on this list. Before you write it off, however, consider the near-silent, silky-smooth driving experience—it was enough to give the XJS an unbroken 20-year run on the market, the longest of any Jaguar ever.
Pros: One of the most affordable V12 engines on the market, with six cylinders and 295 hp.
Cons: That same engine can be notoriously difficult to work on, and it’s prone to cooking just about every component under the hood.
Key Takeaway Make sure to factor ongoing maintenance and repairs into your budget for a classic car.
$10,000 and Under
1968 Austin-Healey Sprite
If the Sprite had a life motto, it would be: “Life’s joy is in the simple things.” Simple like an affordable little sports car with great fuel economy and a four-cylinder 47-hp engine that isn’t built so much for speeding as it is for relishing every twist and turn in the road.
Pros: Maintenance is a piece of cake, with straightforward mechanics and wide parts availability.
Cons: Alas, the Sprite’s tiny size makes it unaccommodating for larger drivers or any road trip lasting longer than a day.
1975 Dodge Charger
With its hefty bumpers, power bulge hood, and aggressive lines, this hardtop two-door coupe emphasizes power and performance above all else. The Charger leaps to 60 mph in about 12.8 seconds thanks to its V8 engine and 150 hp, taking Dodge to one of their best racing years ever with 10 Grand National NASCAR wins in 1974.
Pros: Color, engine, and extra feature options abound in the Charger line, making just about every find exciting.
Cons: It weighs as much as a mammoth—better make sure you don’t have to ship or tow it to or from anywhere.
1978 Lincoln Continental
In stark contrast to the Sprite above, the Continental sprawls as long and large as its name. Appearing in either a two- or four-door option, both will give you the full-size luxury sedan experience. A 3-speed automatic transmission lets you shift through a naturally aspirated V8 engine, 166 hp, and 319 pound-feet of torque.
Pros: With walnut trim, soft cushions, and a Designer Series that coordinated different colors and interior features, the Continental aimed to please affordable luxury car buyers.
Cons: Lincoln delivered a design that some would call stately, august, and dignified—or funereal and old-fashioned, depending on who you ask.
Key Takeaway The driving experience matters just as much as looks and popularity when it comes to a classic car.
How to find affordable classic car insurance
Classic cars require special care and maintenance, but did you know they also require
special insurance? Without a policy that takes into account the cost and time involved in restoration, your insurer might pay out the
actual cash value taken from a list of averages rather than the appraised value given by a professional.
Shop for classic car insurance from top companies like Hagerty and Safeco with the help of
Jerry, the car insurance super app. Talk to one of Jerry’s friendly agents to find the best policy (and price) for your vehicle.
“Because I have a luxury car, I was more interested in finding better coverage than the exact price.
Jerry helped me upgrade my policy, and when my record is cleared next year, I will be using Jerry again to choose an even cheaper plan!” —Paige W.