These American Classics Are Way More Affordable Than They Look – HotCars

These instantly recognizable American automotive icons may look expensive, but they’re currently massive bargains on the used market.
Everyone loves a good classic. But as they all say, not everyone can afford a good classic, right? Actually, wrong. Because there are plenty of cool and pricey-looking American classics that are way more affordable than they look.
Gleaming paint, tons of chrome, and usually hefty in size, classic cars are usually thought of as expensive, and many of them are, egged on by auctions of the rarer examples. Affordable classics, on the whole, are dubbed together with barn-finds, DIY project cars, or junkyard rescues. But there are plenty of classics in good running condition that can be yours without hurting your wallet.
Here’s a quick 10-car list of American classics that are cool, and will add a lot to your everyday routine. They come cheap on the market mostly because they are underrated as classics, and not as well-known as the famed muscle cars like the Pontiac GTO and the Mustangs or Camaros. However, they will still add shine and sparkle to your garage.'
The 1971 Continental MK III was a masterpiece and remains one of the finest luxury cars of its generation. Making its debut in the late 1960s, the Mark III had the best of everything from the Lincoln division of Ford.
It carried a massive 7.5-liter V8 mill under its hood capable of churning out plenty of power and torque. This is a Lincoln, after all, and surprisingly, is an affordable American classic today. A clear example can be found for under $13,000. Take this one out and all eyes are likely to be on you. Or at least, your classic ride.
The 1970s was the dawn of a new era, in that this was the time when the muscle was taking a backseat to comfort in the auto world. The Eldorados was one of the American classics, meant for the crème de la crème of society. They were expensive and continue to be collectible today.
With an 8.2-Liter V8 powerplant under its hood and an incredibly luxurious cabin, the Eldorado knew how to keep its owners as well as sidewalk onlookers awestruck. $20,000 for a timeless '70s classic is a steal and very affordable at that.
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This was the underdog of the late 1970s and it came out with flying colors straight through the emissions loophole. It stunned everybody by clocking 60 MPH from a standstill in just 7.5 seconds, becoming the fastest four-wheeler in 1979.
It was an interesting moment in American automotive history and the Dodge Lil' Red Express became a timeless American classic. Despite its fame and popularity, the Lil’ Red Express is an affordable American classic. Hagerty values an excellent condition in 1979 at around $25,000 for example.
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Ford introduced the T-bird to lock horns with the Corvette and other European sports cars in the mid-1950s. The 1962 Thunderbird was in its third generation and came with a fresh aerodynamic design. The car’s streamlined design was so inspiring that even John F. Kennedy used 50 of them in his inaugural parade.
All 1962 T-birds were armed with Ford’s 6.4-liter V8 engine married to a three-speed automatic transmission. The V8 could crank out 300 horses; however, there was a 340-horsepower M-Code version as well. $20,500 is a very affordable price tag for this American classic.
Related: These Classic Fords Are Notoriously Underpriced
In the 1970s, if you wanted to show off your fortune then buyers went for a Cadillac. However, the luxurious Buicks were the cars of the white-collar professionals. It spoke quietly of their monetary status instead of yelling it. Plus it came with lavish amenities.
All Electras housed a four-barrel 7.5-liter V8 as its heart pumped out 250 horses. Its bulletproof drivetrain and legendary Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 automatic transmission make it an exceptional classic. There’s one for sale for just $25,000 with around 22,000 miles showing on the odometer, making it one of the most affordable American classics to buy.
The Impala enjoys a special status in the hearts of American autophiles and ruled the car bazaar in the sixties. In 1970, it started to move away from its muscle car origins and became a luxury family-style car.
The new avatar stole the hearts of many and the 1970 Impala continued to be at the top of the sales charts. Now, the Impala was supremely refined, had a sizeable cabin, and carried a solid drivetrain under its bonnet. And it makes for an affordable American classic at $18,500.
Pontiac ruled in its heydays and for many good reasons like plenty of power married with style. In 1962, Pontiac introduced Grand Prix to take the Ford T-bird head-on. The idea clicked instantly and the Grand Prix became Pontiac's third best-selling model for the 1964 model year.
With a vast roster of big-displacement V8 powertrains and flawless styling, it was a lot of car for the money. The 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix exemplifies the delight of a giant American V8 of the 1960s. According to Hagerty, a good condition example is valued at under $16,000, making it a wonderfully affordable American classic.
Another Pontiac which is impossible to ignore is Firebird. Its Trans Am version was featured in the 1977 hit movie Smokey and the Bandit with Burt Reynolds at the wheel and later on, another model year became K.I.T.T. in the cult TV series, Knight Rider.
The 1979 Firebird was an impeccable blend of exquisite styling, terrific handling, and solid Pontiac V8 muscle. Plus, 1979 was the 10th anniversary of the Trans Am, a year before the stricter emissions and fuel economy regulations muffled it's performance. So this powerful, American classic can be yours for the affordable price of less than $20,000.
Related: Cheap Muscle: 10 Brawniest Muscle Cars For Enthusiasts On A Budget
This car has got everything you need in a luxury classic car of the 1970s. It’s got a heavy-duty 7.5-liter V8; significant as this was the last year for the biggest of big-blocks, Blue Oval’s most popular, longest-lasting engines.
Other amenities include power-steering, three-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel power disc brakes, and a rare sunroof option. Famous for its over-the-top luxe features, this beauty can still attract a lot of eyeballs on the street and is way more affordable than most American classics at $10,000. Just look at that beautiful behind,
The 1981 Corvette came with a rather subdued engine as the new emissions and fuel economy regulations completely muffled the performance. At 190 horsepower this 1981 Vette may not be the strongest one around but it did have something unique about its existence.
For only one year in its entire life, this 1981 Corvette was manufactured at two different places at the same time, St. Louis, MO and Bowling Green, KY. And the only engine offered was a 190-horsepower small-block 5.7-liter V8 although you could choose between a manual or an automatic transmission. This American classic is for sale at CarGurus for less than $8,000 and is very affordable for that price.
Sources: ClassicCars, Autotrader, Hagerty, CarForSale, Hemmings, CarGurus
Not only do these cool muscle cars make the perfect platforms for mods, but their prices put them in reach of any gearhead.
Arun Singh Pundir has been a longtime media crackerjack and worked most of his life in sales and marketing. In 2018, he officially flipped and switched sides to the editorial. He lives with his wife, two rascally sons and is a car and motorcycle nut in his free time. Not that he has too much free time. He currently writes news, features, and listicles for HotCars on anything that has any number or kind of wheels. He is also penning pop culture, lifestyle and all things rich for TheRichest. For now, he considers his Isuzu D-Max V-Cross, Suzuki Ciaz, and Royal Enfield Classic 500, the three current flames of his life. His dream is to drive around the world; even if it takes more than eighty days.