Why drive a soul-crushing sedan or family hauler if you don't have to? Driving a retro car is a lot fun and more affordable than you might think.
There's a healthy supply of both American muscle cars and European two-seaters that cost less than a new Toyota Corolla or Kia Sedona. You can't cram a gaggle of kids into the retro cars we love, but they'll put a grin on your face and save you money.
San Francisco hot rodder and mechanic Jeff Gwynn has worked on cars for more than 30 years and says that budgets shouldn't get in the way of having fun. Besides wrenching on classics and late-model cars like his own BMW 2002tii, 1957 Chevy Nomad, and 1967 Chevy C10 pickup, Gwynn has gone as far as building a $500 vintage BMW into a race-ready machine to win 24 Hours of Lemons. He suggests looking for cars that are cosmetically sound and that haven't been garaged for too long.
"A good clean body and nice interior is important," Gwynn said. "It's a lot easier to fix mechanical flaws than sand the whole body down and paint it."
Older cars aren't impressive in terms of gas mileage, but the extra fuel cost can be offset by low insurance rates.
Ready to have an affair with the Mrs. Robinsons of autos? Besides Gwynn, several other retro car experts helps us find a few models that make the cut.
Produced between 1996 and 2002, the BMW Z3 features curves and styling reminiscent of older European roadsters. Making its debut in the 1995 James Bond flick 'GoldenEye,' the BMW Z3 was a star before it ever hit dealer lots. Some accuse early BMW Z3s of having more style than substance due to an underpowered 1.9L engine that only put out 138hp. BMW remedied the issue by offering a more powerful 2.8L V6 and packing a 240hp engine into the M Coupe and M Roadster variants.
"The Z3 M Coupe is the one that's somewhat valuable and has a more aggressive look," says Gwynn. BMW Z3 convertibles in good condition sell for about $12,000 to $16,000. A lot of people apparently bought the BMW Z3 as a weekend car, which means you can grab one with less than 40,000 miles in this price range. Used M Coupes start at about $17,000, but those in great condition can cost over $30,000.