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.
Mid 1970s to 1982 Corvette
The third generation Corvette marked the last of the Sting Rays, the classic sweeping body that made the brand stick out from the rest of the muscle car heap. "This is a true period car," Gwynn says. "All the Corvettes from 1963 through 1982 were closely related until Chevy totally changed the body style in 1983." Cars were being transformed during that era due to new emissions and safety standards. Chrome bumpers were being eliminated in favor of chunkier bumpers that would actually protect motorists. Most Corvettes manufactured in this era came with a 350 ci small block. Those looking for more torque and horsepower will want to find a Corvette with the optional 454 ci big block engine. Steer clear of the underpowered 305 ci V8 gas saver from 1980. Show-quality Corvettes from this period sell for well over $100,000, but those suited for regular duty sell for $15,000 to $22,000.