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Cheap Collector Cars That are Sure to Appreciate

Updated on December 25, 2011
Only Jay Leno Can Afford a Cobra
Only Jay Leno Can Afford a Cobra

A Convertible Truck? Watch...

Cheap Collectible Cars? Do they Exist?

Investing in collectible old cars doesn't have to be a millionaire's game nor do the vehicles need to be perfect magazine cover cream puffs. By finding unusual or unique cars, some that have been all but forgotten, anyone can spend as little as $1,000 to get into the game. These rare but cheap classics (some not actually that rare) can be a good investment over time and a fun hobby as well. Keep an eye on the "car for sale" ads to find some car makes and models that are a good bet to appreciate over time.

Dodge Dakota Convertible Pickup
Dodge Dakota Convertible Pickup
Buick Reatta
Buick Reatta
Cadillac Cimarron
Cadillac Cimarron
Checker Marathon
Checker Marathon
International Scout
International Scout
Jeep w/Special Body
Jeep w/Special Body
Honda Civic CRX
Honda Civic CRX
Mazda RX2 Sedan
Mazda RX2 Sedan

Remember Any of These?

  • A surefire solid investment, and a real head turner, is the Dodge Dakota convertible pickup Truck. There were about 4,000 or so made from 1989 to 1991. Rare, but not terribly expensive, they can be had for $5,000-$10,000...if you can find one. These are so unusual that the value can only go up and up.
  • Another unique but affordable collector car is the Buick Reatta, a two seat, handmade luxury sports car. Built from 1988-91, the total production was about 22,000 units. A convertible version was added in 1990 and these definitely have the most potential for future appreciation. About 2,500 convertibles were made and can probably be bought for under $10,000, depending on the car's condition. Cadillac also had it’s version which was called the Allante.
  • What was the worst Cadillac ever? Many would say the Cadillac Cimarron, a dressed up, rebadged Chevy which was rushed to the market in 1981 to fill Caddy’s need for a smaller model. The final year of production, 1988, saw the Cimarron so much improved that it was truly Caddy-like and is worthy of investment as a collectible auto. Plan to spend $4,000 and up for a nice ‘88 specimen. Don't bother with other years unless the car is exceptional.
  • Should you consider investing in a Checker, the big basic car that even cabbies couldn’t kill? Maybe. Checkers don’t have the panache of many other makes but they did make a consumer version, the Marathon, starting in 1964. These are certainly more desirable than the taxicab models.Checker also made some specially bodied cars, such as the “medicab” which was meant to transport wheelchair patients, a stretch limo and an eight (8) door “Aerobus.” While not especially popular among car collectors, a rarer model or body style should appreciate nicely. Reliable used price guidelines are hard to come by. Anyway, if you buy one it’ll run forever.
  • The International Harvester Scout was in production from 1961 to 1980 and any year or model is probably collectible. Later models with diesel engines are especially in demand. The Scout is considered by most to be the first true SUV. It also came in pickup versions and a soft top, with many engine variations available. Look for a vehicle in good condition (many are not) and plan to spend $3,000 to $15,000 for a well-preserved one.
  • The widely available Jeep pickup should be a pretty solid investment which can be utilitarian as well. It was produced from 1962-88. Prices are quite reasonable with solid examples selling for $3-6,000. Most were sold as “Gladiator” models but many used only a “J” designation. Look for special versions such as the Honcho package or special chassis models, such as wreckers or stake beds. Because there are many of these around, this is a longer term and slower-to-grow investment than some other vehicles.
  • Are Japanese makes collectable? They are now and will be even more so in the future. One excellent example is the Honda Civic CRX, a two seater sports coupe introduced in 1984. With a lot of zip and good handling, the CRX still managed around 40 mpg. This is an ideal car for someone with more collector savvy than money. A CRX can be had for $2500 in decent usable condition. Low mileage ones are rare (probably due to the car’s reliability) but if you spot a creampuff, buy it - for anything up to $10,000.
  • Fast and fun describes the Mazda RX2 and RX3 sedans. Produced from 1970 to 1978 they are collectible because of their unique rotary Wankel engine power plant. These sedans, the only ones ever powered by a rotary engine, were later updated and changed to piston type powerplants. From 1974-77 Mazda also sold a rotary pickup, the REPU. All rotary engined Mazda’s are collectible, but the sedans and pickups are most prized. You can sometimes find them for as little as a few thousand dollars, but these older engines can be high maintenance. If you do find a nice original, pay the price and then garage it. It’s like money in the bank. The Mazda rotary soldiered on only in the sport coupe RX models.


Submit a Comment

  • Hugh Williamson profile imageAUTHOR

    Hugh Williamson 

    8 years ago from Northeast USA

    Hi CP and thanks for reading & commenting.

    I think I remember reading that Petty raced these for a short time. You can't get a better recommendation than that.

  • Christopher Price profile image

    Christopher Price 

    8 years ago from Vermont, USA

    Good hub with good recommendations. I'd love one of those convertible Dakota pickups.

    Another desirable vehicle that can only appreciate is the Dodge Magnum...the Hemi-powered station wagon. Only about 4000 were produced. And they still look great going down the road...and they will go really rapidly!


  • Hugh Williamson profile imageAUTHOR

    Hugh Williamson 

    8 years ago from Northeast USA

    Hi Earnest - I'm a car fan also. I once owned a Nash and later an Edsel -- not to collect but to drive. You'd think that would have turned me against cars, but it didn't

  • earnestshub profile image


    8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    Thank you for writing this. Despite being an absolute car fanatic, I had missed some of these models and have been informed greatly here.

  • Hugh Williamson profile imageAUTHOR

    Hugh Williamson 

    8 years ago from Northeast USA

    Hi Avi -- Thanks for reading. My nephew had a CRX and really put it through it's paces. However, I'll bet that it's probably still running somewhere.

  • Avi90 profile image


    8 years ago from United States

    Very nice, now I'm considering keeping my old Honda CRX.

  • HarperSmith profile image


    9 years ago

    Nice Hub. I would love to have an International Harvester Scout. I would probably spent more time playing with it, not restoring. Thanks


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