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.
Second Generation Pontiac Firebird
Are hood scoops, a rumbling V8, and T-Tops your thing? Then you might want to take a look at the second generation Pontiac Firebird. It unashamedly screams 'American Iron' as loudly as possible. Perhaps the loudest thing about this car is its enormous Firebird hood decal. It's also the car Burt Reynolds and Sally Fields tore up Texas highways with in 'Smokey and the Bandit,' another American classic. The Pontiac Firebird shares a lot of components with the Chevy Camaro, its more successful sibling. Most Firebirds of this vintage shipped with a 350 ci V8.
"This is the affordable car for all you NASCAR fans," says Gwynn. "You can hotrod it for cheap since speed parts are so readily available." Firebirds of this vintage that need a little TLC can be had for less than $7,000. Spend between $10,00 and $15,000 to get one that's ready to go.
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