1 February 2010

Hagerty Announces ATM Autos: Cool Collector Cars for $5,000 or Less

Traverse City, Mich. (Monday, February 01, 2010) - Popular perception has long been that collector cars are an expensive luxury and only for the wealthy. In reality, the average collector car can be had for $25,000 to $35,000 with rare exceptions ranging in the hundreds of thousands or millions. However, there are lots of really cool and unique cars out there that can be had for under $5,000.

“ATM Autos get their name from the fact that they can generally be bought with cash from several trips to the ATM,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty Insurance. “We’re not talking about smoking, rusty junkers either. Every car on the list can be bought for $5,000 or less in good drivable condition, making them an affordable option for classic car enthusiasts.”

Below are Hagerty's picks of "The Top Ten ATM Autos." The leading collectible car price guide,

Hagerty's Cars that Matter, has determined the approximate value of each vehicle.

1. 1985-93 Ford Mustang 5.0 HO ($3,000): The late 1970's and early 1980's were the “malaise era” for American performance cars. V8's with 125 hp or less and 19 second quarter mile times were the norm. Performance car fans should build a shrine somewhere to the Fox-platform five liter HO Mustang which single-handedly returned affordable V8 performance to the masses. It’s the only V8 on our list and prices are trending up on them, so hurry. Extra points if you find one of the black and white ex-California Highway Patrol cars.

2. 1975-80 AMC Pacer ($4,300): A fishbowl on wheels and the ultimate dork-mobile, there’s nothing like a Pacer. Pretty ordinary (and durable) mechanically, you’re guaranteed to attract more attention in a Pacer than a new Boxster, particularly at midnight showings of “Wayne’s World.” Party on Garth!

3. 1974-80 Triumph Spitfire 1500 ($5,000): British sports cars were the rage in the 1950's and 1960's. By the 1970's, safety and emission regulations, and the decline of the British auto industry in general had killed most of them off. The Spitfire 1500 was among the last of the traditional convertible sports cars to go. Spitfires handle like go-carts, get phenomenal gas mileage. But remember: they are tiny cars — you’ll be looking over your left shoulder squarely at the Cadillac wreath on the wheel center of the Escalade in the next lane.

4. 1975-78 Datsun 280Z ($5,000): The 280Z was the final update of the famous Datsun 240Z (the ancestor of the Nissan 370Z). Most collectors tend to ignore them because of their larger bumpers or confuse them with the softer, disco-inspired 280ZX. In reality, the fuel injected engines of the 280Z and optional factory A/C make them more practical drivers than the 240Z. Prices have been on the upswing lately, but decent examples still fit in the budget at$5,000.

5. 1989-91 Ford Taurus SHO ($3,400): The Blue Oval people weren't’t totally napping when BMW started importing the M3, M5 and M6. Although a front-driver, the Taurus was a modern sedan that lent itself well to performance tweaks. Powered by a Yamaha-developed 220 hp DOHC V6, the SHO was capable of 6.6 second 0-60 times with a manual transmission. Astonishingly, while redlined at 7000 rpm, the SHO V6 could safely be revved to over 8000 RPM's. Sadly, there are few of these cars remaining and those looking for a nice SHO often find themselves SOL.

6. 1977-83 BMW 320i ($3,900): Fewer cars have done a greater disappearing act than the 320i. Once symbolic with Perrier-sipping 1980's yuppiedom, after their original owners abandoned them for the latest 3 Series (and eventually a corner office and a Seven series), the 320i virtually disappeared. Not yet widely collected like its predecessor the BMW 2002, nice examples can be had for a song. They’re not fast, but they are well-balanced and handsome. A 320i is the perfect accessory in which to show up at a John Hughes film festival.

7. 1968-76 Volkswagen Beetle ($5,000): No list of significant collector cars would be complete without a classic VW Beetle. Unfortunately, the most collectible of them (those built pre-1968) don’t fit within our budget. Still, the post-’67 cars are full of air-cooled, funky goodness too. Parts are dirt cheap and most maintenance can be performed with an adequate set of hand tools. You’ve also got an immediate conversation starter; virtually anyone you meet over forty will have a story about one.

8. 1986-88 Pontiac Fiero GT ($5,000): Perhaps the dark horse of the list, the original four-cylinder Fiero was sold to gullible GM brass as a two-seater “commuter” car. It was a nice looking car. Later six-cylinder fastback GT's added more looks and performance and a slick five-speed Getrag gearbox. 1988 (the last year) is the best year with handling tweaks by Lotus.

9. 1956 Buick Roadmaster Sedan ($5,000): We struggled to find something for five grand or less from the fifties and in the end, decided on one of the most stylish—a finned Roadmaster sedan. Not the most exciting or sporty car on the list, but if you want a two-door hard top or convertible from the 1950's, you’ll need to budget three to four times as much. On a cost-per-pound basis, the Radomes is by far the best deal on the list.

10. 1979-81 Fiat Spider 2000 ($5,000): As the new owner of Chrysler, Fiat is poised to return to the US market in 2011. The Spider 2000 is probably their best remembered product. Nicely appointed, with a twin-cam two-liter engine, a five speed and one of the best convertible tops ever designed (you can put it down faster than you can say “ciao baby”), it’s a mystery why these continue to be so cheap.

The term “ATM Autos” was coined by Hagerty’s Rob Sass in his new book Ran When Parked. Sass oversees production of Hagerty's magazine and is Hagerty's Senior Manager for Media Services.

Hagerty Insurance Agency, Inc. is the leading insurance agency for collector vehicles in the world and host to the largest network of collector car owners. Hagerty offers insurance for collector cars, motorcycles and motorcycle safety equipment, tractors, automotive tools and spare parts, and even “automobilia” (any historic or collectible item linked with motor vehicles). Hagerty also offers overseas shipping/touring insurance coverage, commercial coverage and club liability coverage. For more information, call (800) 922-4050 or visit www.hagerty.com.