13 Cool Classic Cars That Are Perfect for a Collector on a Budget

These classics deliver collector credibility without breaking the bank.

DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles

Just because you don't have $50,000 to spend doesn't mean you can't afford a cool classic car. With a little searching, these are the best vintage cars you can regularly find for $20,000 or less, according to you.

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Keno Brothers
Datsun 240Z/260Z/280Z

The Datsun Z family of cars is considered one of the prettiest Japanese vehicles ever built. A sleek two-door shape with a long nose and short overhangs compliments a fantastic rear-wheel drive layout and wonderful chassis, paired to a straight-six engine. Prices are going up, but there are still deals to be found if you act fast—and don't mind a little tinkering.

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YouTubeGoodwood Road & Racing
Volkswagen GTI (Mk1 or Mk2)

The GTI has been around since the 1980s, and the earliest models remain the coolest. Lightweight, simple, and agile, the Mk1 and Mk2 GTIs both feature boxy looks and signature round headlights that any enthusiast will love.

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Bob Hall/Mazda
Mazda MX-5 Miata (NA)

We know it's hard to believe, but the first Miata is already nearly 30 years old. It first debuted in 1989 as a 1990 model year car, making it a certified classic. It's still one of the best cars you can buy, and since Mazda made so many, prices tend to stay low.

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Chevrolet El Camino

We were supposed to see an El Camino revival with the Pontiac G8 ST, but thanks to the economic meltdown, that didn't happen. Still, a classic El Camino is always going to be cool, and you can easily find them for decent prices.

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Datsun 510

It may have borrowed a bit from some of the European sedans at the time, but the Datsun 510 is more than a knockoff BMW. It's a fun little car in its own right. And thanks to Datsun's big-time involvement in racing at the time, this car has a ton of motorsports history.

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Fiat 124 Spider

Yeah, you can buy a new 124 Spider, but spending your money on a classic is more of an adventure. Besides, the old 124s have far more style and class than the newer versions. An added bonus: You''ll have something to work on every Saturday for the rest of your life.

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Ford F-100

Everybody loves a classic truck on the road, even if you're not a "truck person." If you can find an old Ford F-100 that you can pick up (pun intended), you absolutely should. Just look at those fenders.

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Jeep Jeepster

CJs are always great, but if you're going to buy a classic Jeep, why not get something a little different? Skip the go-to CJ and get yourself a two-tone Jeepster to standout from the crowd.

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Mercedes-Benz W115

There's an inherent coolness that comes with driving an old Mercedes, but if you don't want to look like you bought one because it was cheap, you have to reach back a little further than the W124. That's where something like a 220D comes in. Such a classic look.

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MGB GT

The BMW Clown Shoe is a collector's dream, but those cars have gotten incredibly pricey lately. For a shooting brake on a budget, look to the MGB GT instead. We wouldn't blame you for picking the drop-top version of the MGB, but the GT is the one for us.

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Plymouth Valiant

The first-generation Valiant had a design only a mother could love, but by the mid-1960s, it was updated and looking pretty good. It was sold in several different body styles, including a convertible, and the engines are famous for lasting forever. On a budget, you can't go wrong here.

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Pontiac Firebird

You can spend a lot of money on one of these if you really want to, but late-1970s Firebirds can also be pretty good deals if you keep an eye out for them. And even if it's not black, you'll still be able to live out your Smokey and the Bandit fantasies. Just make sure you have some Jerry Reed 8-tracks ready to go.

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Volvo 122

Volvo has quite a few lustworthy classics out there, but if you're trying to keep it affordable, you'll have a hard time finding a better deal than a Volvo 122. It's not quite a P1800, but you still get plenty of style. And if you're concerned about safety, the 122 was the first car to offer a three-point seatbelt as standard back in 1959.

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