Five Interesting Cars you can Buy for About Five Thousand Dollars.

So while we spend a lot of time doing insurance for expensive classic cars, rare muscle cars, and even exotic racecars, we also spend  time watching what is on the market. We spend a lot of time looking at cars and talking about cars, and we don’t just hang out at high end car shows. We are at the street meets where kids bring their stanced Acura out and park it next to the Miata with an LS swap, as well as at the shows where every car is at least $100,000. One of the my favorite conversations at every meet is “what you would do with $100,000?” For some of us it would mean one nice high end car, and that’s great. But for others, it would mean a garage full of $5000 cars. In that spirit (and since that is always my answer) I thought I’d go through Craigslist and see what kind if interesting cars you could get (and insure) for less than $5k. Most likely, by the time you read this, these ads will be long gone, but this is a selection culled on November 18, 2013 from the Dallas, TX Craigslist. Obviously, these picks are no more than my opinion – but you can get a “Special interest” car for much cheaper than you think. Any one of these would be eligible for a stated value or agreed value collector car insurance policy, as long as you have an “every day” driver car to put a regular policy on. My only parameters were that the car be running and driving, so it can be enjoyed at the time of purchase – there are a ton of cool “projects” available for under $5000, but it’s more fun if you can actually drive what you buy. That being said, let’s go shopping!


1. Either first or second generation Toyota MR2. The MR2 was Toyota’s mid engine sportscar, produced from 1984 – 2007. On today’s craigslist you can go for a 1st generation 1984 MR2 for the whopping sum of $900. I am assuming you have the budget of $5000 altogether, because while this car does run, drive and is tagged, I’m guessing that it has some deferred maintenance issues as well as cosmetic fixes you will need to attend to right away. With about $4000 in your pocket, you can come out of this deal with a pretty nice mid engine sportscar.

This is a $900 MR2
This is a $900 MR2

If you like the MR2 idea, but would like a little more power and a little less project, there is a second generation 1991 MR2 Turbo available as well, though it’s listed for $4000. Along with several photos comes a list of completed items, including several aftermarket bolt-ons and a long list of maintenance recently done. The addition of the turbo puts this little rollerskate in the 200hp range – good fun.

This is a $4000 MR2

Both of these cars are under 100,000 miles, and are both potential classic cars in the years to come. Since both are over 20 years old, both can find a home on a classic auto insurance policy, and will likely cost under $100 a year to insure.


2. Your choice of hot Mustangs. Full disclosure here; I am not a big Mustang fan. I don’t know why, but the marque doesn’t appeal to me. That being said, I’m not stupid, and recognize a classic when I see it, and here you once again have a choice of two generations of vehicles for under $5000. Sure, there are a lot of mustangs around that can be had for less than that, but the two I have found today are ones that will command some interest in the future – and there is nothing better than actually making money on a car, trust me.

For $4000, you can snag this 1988 fastback Mustang GT. In basic black, it looks good, and has a reported 50,000 miles on the clock. I think that the Fox body mustang is getting ready to “pop”, collectability wise, and a nice, low mileage, unmolested GT from this era has a real upside potential. Being an ’88 it isn’t technically a “classic” yet, but it’s rapidly appreciating. Buy one of these now before the price settles in the five figure range.

1988 Mustang GT - $4000
1988 Mustang GT – $4000

This next mustang is a hair over $5000 at $5400, but I am counting on you to have some sort of negotiation skills and talk them down into your price range – and you should, because the car we are talking about is a 1998 Ford SVT Cobra Convertible. This body style of mustang is my least favorite, but as a Cobra Convertible, I would guess that in a few years it will also command some collector interest.

1998 Cobra Mustang. $5400.
1998 Cobra Mustang. $5400.

3. One Camaro. Once again, there are some different generations of Camaro available in this price range, but most of the F-body examples are pretty beat. Instead, we will go a little bit older and take a look at this 1989 Camaro listed as “completely restored”. This car looks to be a solid runner, in a body style you don’t’ see around that much any more. While it’d be nice if it were an IROC or an RS, the fact that it looks so nice makes up for the (still good) 305 engine. While this car might not make you a ton of money going forward, it would be a nice sunny day driver to get some looks. At 42,000 miles, you still have quite a ways to go before your engine starts to get tired.

1989 Camaro, $4800


4. A mint condition 1979 Buick Regal.  Sure, there are lots of “hot” cars out there, as can be seen above, but the real rare cars are the ones that just got “used up” – and the 1970’s family sedan is a great example of that class. In the 1970’s they were kings of the road, by the 1990’s they were outdated boats that were the first car for many high school students, and in the past decade they have quietly disappeared from the roads. I can tell you from personal experience that there is no better ride than a giant 1970’s American family sedan. Plenty of room, lots of luxury, and miles of windshield. This 1979 2 door regal is listed as having some minor paint wear and under 90,000 original miles. These types of cars are getting rarer and rarer in this original condition, and I think this example would be a solid investment. At $4000 in value, you would once again be insuring this classic car for about $100 a year.

1979 Buick REgal, $4000

5. A running, driving 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza convertible. The Corvair was Chevrolet’s answer to the Porsche 911, and was in fact slated to become its own “brand”, like Saturn or Scion – but bad press derailed that plan shortly into production. This Corvair Convertible, while a little rougher than my other picks, is a solid start to a project. The seller states that it is a good start for restoration, but that it can also be enjoyed as is. That being the case, this is certainly a car that can be purchased cheaply, enjoyed, and then most likely sold at a profit, even if the new owner never turns a wrench. It’s too bad that the Corvair line didn’t take off, as they are (in my opinion) beautiful cars. For $3750, this is an inexpensive way to buy a true classic.

1964 Corvair Convertible, $3750

And because this car is so pretty, it gets two photos in the article.

The dash isn’t even cracked!

As you can see, it doesn’t take a ton of money to get into the classic car hobby. While we would all love to stumble across a Super Bee in a barn somewhere, the more likely scenario is that it’s easy to find our favorite “fun” car, but it’s very hard to justify the cost for a car that might get driven a few days a month, if it’s nice. Look around, determine what your budget is, and then be open to “potential” classics as well. There are a whole group of people that had posters of the hottest cars in 1986 on their walls as kids. Those folks now have enough disposable income to see about making the car on that poster a reality; position yourself to be ahead of the market, rather than chasing it.

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