They’ve started selling cars at the 46th annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector-Car Auction, which runs now through Jan. 22. But here’s the deal: The earlier days of the auction feature lower-priced cars, making them a good opportunity to pick up classic — or at least eclectic — rides for not a lot of money.
So we’re going to call today “Thrifty Tuesday,” with my selection of 20 fun, funky or downright unusual cars that won’t break the bank.
1966 Ford Mustang GT
This is the car that changed the world forever. The first-generation Mustangs will never be super-expensive because Ford made so many of them, but they will always have a following. Check out the very cool Emberglo Orange paint. And because it’s a GT, it comes with the excellent 289-cubic-inch Ford small-block powerplant.
1950 Oldsmobile 88
For you music lovers out there, the song “Rocket 88” was recorded in March 1951 by singer Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm. “Rocket 88” is generally acknowledged to be the first rock ‘n’ roll record ever, an ode to Oldsmobile’s revolutionary Rocket 88 overhead-valve engine, which was introduced in 1949. And the Rocket 88 was a favorite of both early NASCAR racers and moonshine runners, many of whom dabbled in both lines of work.
1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
Another one of the most significant cars in the history of the American automobile industry was the 1955 Chevrolet, the first to offer the automaker’s legendary small-block V-8, which would remain in production for decades. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the 1955-57 Chevys became popular to customize and modify, and this one’s been done up nicely.
1968 American Motors AMX
You don’t see a whole lot of two-seat AMX sports coupes, because American Motors didn’t make all that many of them. The consignor said this highly original example was one of just 415 made with the 343-cubic-inch V-8 and 4-speed transmission. Definitely a nice alternative to the myriad Mustangs and Camaros of the day.
1984 Studebaker Avanti
The original Avanti was introduced in 1962, with one given to race-car driver Roger Ward for winning that year’s Indianapolis 500. Alas, Studebaker shut down in December 1963, although a succession of companies continued to churn out small numbers of the stylish Avanti sports coupes well into the early 2000s.
1948 Lincoln Continental
Remember when Sonny Corleone got whacked in the original “The Godfather?” He was driving a ’41 Lincoln Continental coupe at the moment of his untimely demise. This one is a little newer, but it definitely has that film noir vibe to it, which is very cool.
1958 BMW Isetta
Microcars have always had something of a cult following, and in recent years, they’ve gotten really hot. This little fellow is powered by a 298-cubic-centimeter — not cubic-inch — engine that produces a whopping 13 horsepower.
2005 Ford Thunderbird
When Ford briefly resurrected the two-seat Thunderbird in the early 2000s, they built a car that was attractive and contemporary, although not as sporty to drive as it should have been. That said, the modern T-Birds are nice weekend cruisers, easy to maintain and have a solid resale market.
1987 Citroen CX
The French, well, they think differently than we do here in North America. Want proof? Check out this utterly bizarre and total cool late-80s Citroen sedan. It is billed as “the last real” Citroen model made before the French automaker sold out to rival Peugeot.
1970 Chrysler Town & Country
Nothing says “Clark Griswold” quite like a Leviathan American station wagon from the 1970s. This big old woody wagon practically screams “Family Truckster” and has a big V-8 engine and seating for nine. Nine. And it scoffs at your modern, fuel-efficient crossover.
1984 Pontiac Fiero
On paper, the Fiero was a brilliant idea, an inexpensive, mid-engined two-seater that should have been a blast to drive. Unfortunately, poor execution of the concept resulted in a mediocre car and not a viable alternative to fancy European sports cars. Still, this is an Indy 500 pace car edition, which the seller says has only 22,000 original miles.
1972 Meyers Manx Dune Buggy
Bruce Meyers created a cottage industry in Southern California in the mid-1960s, when he plopped a fiberglass body on top of a shortened Volkswagen Beetle chassis, creating the Meyers Manx and spawning the entire dune buggy industry. These are great fun to drive off road.
1972 Chevrolet Cheyenne C-10 pickup
You can absolutely count on Barrett-Jackson having a huge selection of used pickup trucks of every description. This is a well-equipped C-10 with a 350 V-8 engine, automatic transmission, rare factory air conditioning and power steering. It’s not flashy, certainly, but it is classic.
1974 Triumph TR-6
Back in the day, the TR-6 was high up on the British sports car food chain. Unfortunately, they were also notoriously unreliable thanks to their Lucas – a/k/a “Prince of Darkness” — electronics. Thankfully, this one has been upgraded with modern components.
1968 Cadillac DeVille convertible
Now here’s a land yacht for you, and I mean it in a good way. A burgundy 1968 Cadillac DeVille convertible that looks sharp just sitting still. Of course, remember the old auction adage: When the top goes down, the price goes up.
1940 Ford Deluxe Coupe
An enduring design, the ’40 Ford was a favorite of traveling salesmen and moonshiners early on, and drag racers and hot rodders later. This unrestored example is rare in that it was never modified or altered and carries the natural patina of age.
2011 Chevrolet Camaro
With the demise of GM’s Pontiac brand in 2010, there are no new Trans Ams being produced. So some enterprising customers have been taking Camaros and converting them to look like Trans Ams. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but interesting nevertheless.
1995 NASCAR Ford Thunderbird
This is pretty cool — the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector-Car auction will sell this T-Bird that Rick Mast drove to an eighth-place finish in the 1995 Brickyard 400. Richard Jackson was the owner of this car, which is described in the catalog as an “ old racer has a few dings and scratches showing character. It's powered by a Ford 358ci racing engine and still retains the full NASCAR equipment of its day.”
2007 Maserati Quattroporte
You can usually find some late-model, high-end European cars at Barrett-Jackson auctions, and the Quattroporte is beautiful, elegant and fun to drive. The stickers price on this new was more than $124,000. It is said to have only 60,000 miles and a clean CARFAX report.
1969 Plymouth GTX convertible
Classic Mopar muscle here: A Plum Crazy GTX “re-creation” that has been tastefully customized. Features a big block, 440-cubic-inch motor and a 4-speed transmission. And the white interior contrasts nicely with the purple paint.