10 Awesome Classic Cars That Are Cheap in 2020
Classic cars have always had a significant portion of the car scene. Whether we talk about vintage cars from the 1920s and 1930s, muscle cars from the 1960s, or European and Asian young-timers that have just achieved classic status, every category has their own dedicated community. And while the 1930s Mercedes-Benz 770-K is out of reach for most people, the 10 classics below will not get any cheaper. As some of them have already started appreciating in value, 2020 might be your last chance to get one of these at a reasonable price.
Jaguar XJS (1975-1996)
Let’s start with a bang! Until recently, this big cat was somewhat under the radar of classic car enthusiasts, but nowadays, things are starting to change. The Jaguar XJS boasts one of the longest production periods in automotive history. Between 1975 and 1996, more than 115,000 units were produced.
The “Jag” went through three phases over its lifespan. 1981 marked the first year of the Series 2 XJS, and in 1991, the Series 3 was introduced. However, the car did not undergo any dramatic changes over its 31-year production run.
The XJS came with a choice of two Inline-six and two V-12 engines. Power ranged from around 200 to over 320 horsepower, and torque, from 239 pound-feet (325 Nm) to 365 pound-feet (495 Nm). Regardless of the engine choice, every XJS had a top speed of over 142 mph (228 km/h). 0-60 mph (96 km/h) was in the high-seven to mid-six second range. The “big Jag” came with a choice of either three- or four-speed automatic, or a five-speed manual.
Although they are expected to start appreciating in the near future, you can still find good examples in the $ 12,000 - $ 20,000 range.
|0 to 60 mph||6.5-7.0 seconds|
|Top Speed||142 mph|
|Price||$12,000 - $20,000|
Read our full review on the Jaguar XJS
Fiat X1/9 (1972-1989)
This Italian pocket-rocket is all about lightweight. The Bertone-designed, mid-engine, two-seater was produced in nearly 160,000 copies. Earlier models were equipped with a 1.3-liter, Inline-four, which was later replaced by a 1.5-liter. Power was now 85 horsepower (63 kw) and torque, 87 pound-feet (118 Nm).
Small numbers, but keep in mind that the X1/9 weighs around 2,000 lbs (900 kg). This means a 0-60 mph time of just over 10 seconds and a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h). If you are looking for a small, fun, Italian, sports car, now is the time. You can get a well-preserved, late model for around $7,500.
|0 to 60 mph||10 seconds|
|Top Speed||112 mph|
Porsche 944 (1982-1991)
The “Poor man’s Porsche” had to be on the list. Sadly, we’re not talking about the Turbo and Turbo S versions, as those are no longer as attainable as they used to be. If you are willing to settle for a bit less power, though, fear not. You can still get this lightweight, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, German sports car with some adequate power. The base 2.5-liter, inline-four might produce only 163 horsepower and 151 pound-feet (205 Nm), but it’s still enough to propel the 2,600 lbs (1,180 kg) coupe from 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds.
The 944 S comes with 190 horsepower and 170 pound-feet (230 Nm), and the 944 S2 has a 3.0-liter, inline-four with 211 horsepower and 207 pound-feet (280 Nm). The latter is good for a 6.4 second 0-60 mph time and 149 mph (240 km/h) top speed. All versions are equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox, mounted in the back.
While the Turbo and Turbo S models have gone up in value, good non-turbo examples can still be found in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.
|Model||Porsche 944||Porsche 944 S||Porsche 944 S2|
|Engine||2.5-liter, inline-four||2.5-liter, inline-four||3.0-liter, inline-four|
|Horsepower||163 HP||190 HP||211 HP|
|Torque||151 LB-FT||170 LB-FT||207 LB-FT|
|0 to 60 mph||7.4 seconds||6.4 seconds|
|Top Speed||149 mph|
|Price||$5,000 - $10,000|
Read our full review on the Porsche 944
Alfa Romeo Spider 105/115 (1970-1993)
Although they look almost identical on the outside, these are actually three different generations of the Italian convertible. The rear-wheel-drive, Pininfarina-designed convertible was offered with a couple of twin-cam, inline-four engines. Power ranged from 87 to 131 horsepower. In the 2000 Veloce version, 0-60 mph (96 km/h) was achieved in 8.9 seconds, and the top speed is 118 mph (190 km/h).
Over the years, the car experienced minor cosmetic changes, most notably in the rear. When the fourth generation came out in 1990, it ditched the old-school bumpers for sleeker ones that were better integrated into the body.
If you want to grab one of these Italian design-fests, good examples can be found in the $9,000 – $13,000 range. If you want to get one with lower mileage, however, be prepared to pay a few grand extra.
|0 to 60 mph||8.9 seconds|
|Top Speed||1118 mph|
|Price||$9,000 – $ 3,000|
Mazda MX-5 Miata NA (1989-1997)
It’s hard to believe the first-generation Miata is already classified as a classic car. Yes, the affordable, lightweight, Japanese roadster quickly became the epitome of driver involvement for many young enthusiasts on a budget.
It basically took the classic compact sports car formula of the classic British roadsters and added reliability. Initially, the first generation Miata was offered only with a 1.6-liter, inline-four producing 115 horsepower (86 kw) and 100 pound-feet (136 Nm). In 1996, a 1.8-liter engine was added. It was rated at 133 horsepower (99 kw) and 114 pound-feet (155 Nm). Not enough for you? You can always go mad with engine swaps or forced induction.
It’s worth noting the Miata weighs just 2,092 lbs (949 kg), which means even the base version is able to hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in 8.4 seconds. Beware though, prices have already started creeping up. Pristine or fully restored examples are already in the $9,000 - $11,000 range. However, you can easily find decent examples for $2,500 - $6,000. And, of course, watch out for rust.
|Horsepower||115 HP / 133 HP|
|Torque||100 LB-FT / 114 LB-FT|
|0 to 60 mph||8.4 seconds|
|Price||$2,500 - $6,000|
Read our full review on the Mazda MX-5 Miata NA
Chevrolet Corvette C4 (1984-1996)
The fourth-generation Chevrolet Corvette is often regarded as the most hated generation. Not only was it still strangled by emissions regulations in terms of performance, but it also turned away from the luscious form of its predecessor.
That said, the Corvette was always one of America’s definitive sports cars. It still had torquey V-8 engines that produced epic soundtracks and had that distinctive and vast front end that made it look like a Stingray, a name that was also left behind for some time.
The 5.7-liter (350 cui) Chevy small block produced from 282 to 300 horsepower and 322 pound-feet (437 Nm) to 340 pound-feet (461 Nm). Transmission options were a four-speed automatic and a six-speed ZF manual. 0-60 mph (96 km/h) is possible in 5.1 seconds, and the top speed is 158 mph (254 km/h) with the manual.
Prices for decent examples are in the $8,000 – $16,000. For pristine examples, be prepared to pay closer to $20,000.
|Engine||5.7-liter (350 cui) V-8|
|Transmission||4-speed automatic/ 6-speed ZF manual|
|0 to 60 mph||5.1 seconds|
|Top Speed||158 mph|
|Price||$8,000 – $16,000|
Saab 900 (1978-1994)
Time for some Swedish metal! The Saab 900 is one of those quirky cars that incorporate some very interesting engineering solutions. For starters, it has a longitudinally-mounted, 45 degree, slanted inline-four engine while being front-wheel-drive.
Power ranges from 100 all the way up to 173 horsepower for the later Turbo 16 versions. Those were able to achieve a 0-60 mph time of around 7.9 seconds, on to a top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h). Peak torque for the Turbo 16 was 188 pound-feet (255 Nm).
The Saab 900 is slowly gaining popularity on the classic car scene. Whilst you can still pick up a good entry-level 900 for around $3,000, a pristine 900 Turbo will set you back around $ 10,000.
|Engine||45 degree slanted inline-four|
|0 to 60 mph||7.9 seconds|
|Top Speed||135 mph|
Toyota MR2 / AW10-AW11 (1984-1989)
Toyota’s small, mid-engine, sports car is a popular weapon of choice for many JDM enthusiasts. The small pocket rocket is the epitome of snap-oversteer, so you best be awake when driving it. Initially, it came out with a 1.5-liter, inline-four, producing 82 horsepower (64 kw). However, the AW11 facelift gave us the fabled, rev-happy, 1.6-liter 4A-GE engine.
In base form, the 4A-GE unit developed 112 horsepower (84 kw) in US-spec. For Europe and UK it produced 122 (91 kw) and 128 (95 kw) horsepower, respectively. The same engine also had a supercharged version that produced 145 horsepower and 137 pound-feet (186 Nm).
All this, combined with a curb weight of 2,282 lbs (1,035 kg) – 2,493 lbs (1,131 kg), means the MR2 is able to hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. For the supercharged version, the sprint happens in 6.7 seconds. Beware, though, prices are already going up. Examples in great shape can cost from $ 7,500 to $ 12,500.
|Engine||1.5-liter, inline-four, supercharged|
|Curb weight||2,282 lbs|
|0 to 60 mph||6.7 seconds|
|Price||$7,500 - $12,500|
BMW 3-Series / E30 (1982-1994)
In recent times, the BMW E30 has been a synonym for affordable fun. So much so, that it will not be affordable for much longer. Once you drive one of these, you quickly understand why. They are light, nimble and, in the case of the 325i, quite eager to go. Needless to say, power goes to the rear wheels. However, there is also an all-wheel-drive version.
The 325i accommodates the M20B25, single overhead cam, inline-six in the front. It produces 171 horsepower (128 kw) and 167 pound-feet (226 Nm). This allows the 2,888 lbs (1,310 kg) young-timer, to get to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 8.3 seconds and achieve a 134 mph (216 km/h) top speed.
If this is not enough, the aftermarket for these is quite supportive. You can put anything from an S-54 to a LS-3 Chevrolet V-8 in the engine bay if you are into project cars. You can still get these relatively cheap. Decent examples are in the $4,000 to $8,000 range.
|Engine||single overhead cam, inline-six|
|0 to 60 mph||8.3 seconds|
|Top Speed||134 mph|
|Price||$4,000 to $8,000|
Nissan 300 ZX / Z32 (1989-2000)
The 1990s were a golden era for the Japanese automotive industry. High-tech, high-performance vehicles dominated the car scene and offered performance rivalling that of some high-end exotic cars at the time. The Nissan 300ZX was one of these cars. For a while, the Z32 generation was overlooked because of cars like the Skyline GT-R and Supra which stole the show.
However, since these cars greatly appreciated in value, more and more people started turning their attention to the 300 ZX. The VG30 engine was put hard at work in the Z32. In its base form, the DOHC 3.0-liter, V-6 produced around 222 horsepower (166 kw) and 198 pound-feet (268 Nm).
The turbocharged VG30 DETT brought these numbers up to 300 horsepower (224 kw) and 283 pound-feet (383 Nm) of torque. In this trim, the 300 ZX had the potential to perform the 0-60 mph (96 km/h) sprint in 5.0 seconds. Delimited, it could do nearly 175 mph (280 km/h). The car also featured active rear-wheel-steering.
Prices range from $4,000 to $7,000 for the normally-aspirated models. However, the Turbo variants start from $9,500 and can up to $20,000 depending on mileage and condition. Similar to the Skyline, unmodified ones are increasingly harder to find.
|0 to 60 mph||5.0 seconds|
|Top Speed||175 mph|
|Price||$4,000 - $7,000|
Read our full review on the Nissan 300 ZX