During the holiday season, everyone is looking for a bargain. Here are five of our favorite vintage performance cars, all priced at less than a modestly-equipped Chevy Cruze:
- 1968-74 AMC Javelin: The first-generation Mustang fastback is perhaps one of the best-looking pony cars around. The trouble is they’ve gotten super-pricey. Respectable cars are all well north of $30,000 now. Enter the AMC Javelin, American Motors’ answer to the Mustang. They’re extremely good-looking rear-wheel-drive V-8 performance cars, and like the Mustang, Challenger and Camaro, the Javelin did very well in the SCCA Trans Am race series. While parts are a bit harder to find than those for a Mustang, they sell for less than half the price.
- 1984-96 Chevrolet Corvette: The C4 Corvette has yet to find the love from collectors and ranks as perhaps the biggest Corvette bargain out there. Even final year production C4s with 300 hp rarely come close to $20,000. Coupes are often half that, with early cars even under $10,000. Best to stay away from the 1984; just like the first year C3 from 1968, it had some issues.
- 1998-2006 Jaguar XKR coupe: The XK8/XKR was the first undeniably beautiful car that Jaguar produced since the last E-Type was built in 1974. Sharing a platform with the equally lovely but far more expensive Aston Martin DB7, think of the XKR as the British take on the American muscle car formula; with its rear wheel drive and V-8 power, the twist was a supercharger that boosted power to a lofty 370 hp. Fewer than 10,000 XKR coupes were built, and only the lack of a manual transmission option keeps the XKR from being completely irresistible. Around 15 grand buys one with low miles.
- 2002 Camaro SS 35th Anniversary coupe: As we get ready to say goodbye to the fifth-generation Camaro, it seems appropriate to look back to one of the best of the fourth generation. When the Camaro went out of production in 2002, it would be on hiatus for eight years until the brilliant 2005 Mustang shamed GM into resurrecting it. But at least it went out with a bang—the 325-hp Aniversary SS went like stink and looked great in Rally Red with huge stripe graphics. You can still find them for well under $20,000.
- 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra 5.0: Fox Body Mustangs (1979-92) are up-and-comers in the collector car world, and this effort from Ford’s Special Vehicles Team is—along with the Cobra R and SVO—among the most collectible of the Fox Mustangs. With a conservatively rated 230 hp in a relatively lightweight package, it’s definitely an enjoyable ride.