Everyone knows that the classic car market is on an upswing at the moment. The pessimists are fond of saying that there’s nothing left that’s cheap and worth owning or that has any chance of appreciating in the future. We say: BS. Here are five that you can still buy for 10 grand or less and that have an upside:
1. 1975-78 Datsun 280Z: The 280Z’s predecessor, the 240Z, has already taken its long-anticipated increase in price. The dirty little secret is that the 280 is actually the better car. The 240Z made do with a set of antiquated side-draft carburetors that were actually license-built pre-war British SU carbs. They were fiddly to keep in sync and when emission control laws started to get strict, drivability went into the toilet. The 280Z was essentially the original Nissan S30 sports car with modern Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection. The ungainly 5 mph bumper that the car grew was the only downer. The last nice under-$10,000 280Z will probably sell somewhere in the U.S. in 2015.
2. 1990-96 Nissan 300ZX: The 1990s was the second golden age of the Japanese sports car, with the 300ZX, Acura NSX, Mazda Miata and the third-generation RX7 all in the marketplace. NSX’s have always been pricey as have nice RX7s, and an upside for the Miata might have to wait for the herd to thin a bit, but the 300ZX seems like a car whose time is coming. Few cars of the era look better and it incorporated numerous advanced features like the Super HICAS rear wheel steering. Nice ones still can be had for $10,000.
3. 1987-1992 BMW E30 convertible: The E30 version of the M3 is already a valuable collectible and the sedan and coupe versions are popular with tuners. But the open-air 325i and 318i still haven’t caught on. They’re among the few sporting four-seater convertibles available with a manual transmission and a backseat for the kids.
4. 1981-86 Alfa Romeo GTV6: Alfa is back in the U.S. after a 20-year hiatus. The GTV6 was the last GT that Alfa sold in America and it was a very good car indeed. It was blessed with one of the best-looking and -sounding V-6 engines of all time, and with its rear-mounted transaxle, the GTV6 went and handled quite well. With classic Alfas from the 1960s now virtually untouchable, how long can it be before these start to climb?
5. 1980-82 Triumph TR8: There have been relatively few V-8 British two-seaters produced over the years. The Allard J2, AC Cobra, Sunbeam Tiger, Daimler SP250 and Morgan Plus 8 come to mind; the cheapest of them is 40 grand or so. Then there’s the door-stop shaped Triumph TR8. Powered by the ubiquitous ex-Buick, Olds, Pontiac aluminum V-8 that Rover bought and improved, they’re a blast to drive and quite rare. Ten grand still snaps one up for now.