Affordable Collector Cars
Newest list of low-priced collectible cars has baby boomer influence.
If you're a baby boomer you may recall these cars, all of which are on the newest list of "sleeper cars" for collectors to consider.
The "bible" of the old car hobby, Hemmings Motor News, puts together a list of the top ten so-called sleeper cars each year. The current list, which looks at low-priced cars that have the potential for future appreciation in the collector market, appears in the November 2000 issue of Special Interest Autos.
All cars selected must be available for below $10,000. And, except for truly exceptional cars, there must be at least two or three years of production so collectors have a chance to find good-condition versions, Hemmings said.
The list shows how the collectible car market "is becoming increasingly dominated by mature baby boomers looking for the performance cars of their youth," Hemmings noted in a press release.
Here are the top ten vehicles, listed alphabetically:
1971-74 AMC Javelin: Called "an outstanding alternative muscle car for the enthusiast on a budget," the Javelin won the Trans Am racing series in 1971 and 1972. It's available in three trim levels, but the Javelin AMX is the most sought-after model because of its 401-cubic-inch V8 that puts out 330 horsepower. The Javelin SST, which was powered by either a 150-horsepower 304-cubic-inch V8 or a 245-horsepower 360-cubic-inch V8, was the most popular seller. Hemmings estimates a Javelin today costs about $4,000 in average condition.
1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport: Freshly revamped in the mid-1960s, the Riviera included the Gran Sport option that put a 360-horsepower 425-cubic-inch Super Wildcat engine with dual four-barrel carburetors under the hood, working with a newly introduced Super Turbine 400 automatic transmission. Models on sale in Hemmings Motor News range from about $5,000 to $10,000.
1974 Chevrolet Corvette LS4 coupe: The last time Chevy offered a big block V8 in a Corvette was 1974, so the 1974 Stingray 'Vette has more than just a little appeal. But note that this version has an emissions-strangled 270-horsepower 454-cubic-inch V8, rather than the more powerful V8s of earlier, less-government-regulated years. Hemmings said a fully restored model could go for $10,500 and less-pristine versions are priced lower.
1986 Dodge Shelby Omni GLH-S: Carroll Shelby worked his magic on a number of Chrysler products, even the Dodge Omni that was first introduced in the late 1970s in response to high gasoline prices in the United States. Needless to say, Shelby's Omni, with a turbo option that pushed horsepower to 175, wasn't the most fuel thrifty of the family. But as its name—GLH—indicates, it could "Go Like Hell." Only 500 of the black and silver models were built, but Hemmings noted bargain hunters today can find models that need work carrying price tags in the $5,000 range.
1953-54 Hudson Super Jet: The Hudson Hornet is one of the most sought-after cars from the 1950s, but Hemmings says its smaller brother, the Super Jet, is much more affordable. It has the trademark wide, mouth-like grille opening of a Hudson, and came with the same 104-horsepower 202-cubic-inch L-head inline six-cylinder engine that the Hornet had. Some Super Jets—the most collectible—had the optional Twin-H dual carburetor. Hemmings said a recent Super Jet carried an asking price of $6,500.
1972-75 Jensen-Healey: Triumphs and MGs are well known among British sports car collectors. Jensen-Healeys, however, are a low-priced alternative. Produced for just four years, their beauty isn't so much in their rather conservative body style, but in the somewhat exotic, Lotus-built engine. A 1,973-cc four cylinder, it has an aluminum cylinder head with twin overhead cams, 16 valves and dual carburetors and generates up to 140 horsepower. In excellent condition, versions have been spotted for about $6,500 on up to $9,000.
1970-72 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon: Kids loved the glass roof panels on this old-style station wagon; moms and dads loved the roomy interior and cushioned ride. The Vista Cruiser was one of the most popular wagons from Olds and could seat either five or seven people. Base models came with a 350-cubic-inch V8, but the optional 455-cubic-inch V8 really provided the towing power for family vacations. Hemmings estimates these wagons available today and needing some work average $4,000.
1969-72 Pontiac Grand Prix: Famed General Motors Corp. executive and automotive entrepreneur John DeLorean had the touch with this big muscle car. He put a huge hood at the front of this semi-fastback, which also featured clean lines and a vinyl top. They sure don't make them like they used to. Engines included the Pontiac 400, 428 and 455. Prices range from $2,500 to $8,500.
1966-69 Porsche 912: It may not be as powerful or as trendsetting as Porsche's 911, but the entry-level 912 is an affordable alternative to the 911's high price tags, according to Hemmings. With either a 90- or a 102-horsepower flat four instead of Porsche's distinctive six, the 912 can be cheaper to maintain, yet everything else on the 912 is nearly identical to the 911. Judging by ads in Hemmings Motor News, 912s can be had in good condition for about $6,000.
1960-63 Studebaker Lark V8 convertible: European styling sets the Lark convertible apart from the early '60s soft-tops from the Big Three. The Lark also is well appointed inside and available in two models—a six-passenger Regal and the sporty, five-passenger Daytona. Most had straight sixes, but some had V8s. Hemmings estimates average price is $4,500 to $6,500.