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11 Affordable Modern Classic Cars to Buy Now

Not all cool cars wear collector vehicle license plates, at least not yet anyway. While many people complain modern automakers don’t build anything interesting anymore, go browse Craigslist for rides between 10 and 25 years old and a change of heart is sure to occur. Whether chasing a unique driving experience, gorgeous lines, rarity, or other interesting automotive traits, snapping up these modern classic cars up will bring joy for years and years. Looking cool behind the wheel of these rides isn’t the only perk or ownership.

There are many benefits to purchasing a modern classic. For example, finding parts generally won’t be a challenge. And forget about having to learn old school driving techniques (using two feet to make sure the engine doesn’t die while coming to a stop, anyone?). Of course, there many be a monetary benefit too, maybe. Like fine wines and some current classic cars, as these vehicles age they may become more desirable and more rare, thus boosting their value. There’s no guarantee though, so buying for passion is certainly safer than purchasing for investment purposes. Now that all of the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s kick this list off with turbocharged neoclassical Chevrolet.

1. Chevrolet HHR SS Panel

hhr ss panel
2009 Chevrolet HHR SS. By Greg Gjerdingen CC BY 2.0

The Chevrolet HHR debuted for the 2006 model year and would remain in the lineup through 2011. While many consumers wouldn’t look twice at these retro station wagons, a few rare options came to market that have now caught the interest of collectors. For 2009, Chevy offered the HHR SS panel, of which only 216 left the factory. This unique ride featured a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0L Ecotec engine pumping out 260 horsepower, racing suspension, available 5-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel disc brakes, rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels, a boost gauge, leather-wrapped steering wheel and ground effects. At the time of writing, no HHR SS panels could be found for sale. If windows on an SS are not a problem, there are options. However, when a listing for an HHR SS panel for sale comes up, expect to pay around $18,000.

2. First Generation Porsche Boxster

porsche boxter
Right hand drive Porsche Boxster

Used Porsche prices seem out of hand these days, even for rusty classics. Thankfully, Porsche enthusiasts without deep pockets still have at least one option. The Porsche Boxster is a two seat roadster that hit the market in 1996 with a 2.5 liter six cylinder engine. The first generations models are fun, sporty rides that can be had for less than $10,000. The second gen debuted in 2005 and lasted until 2012. Those are great too, but will set a buyer back a few more bucks.

3. Nissan 300ZX (1989 – 2000)

nissan 300zx
1990 Nissan 300ZX By Kevauto – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

If Frogger was a car, it’d be the Nissan 300ZX. Built between 1989 and 2000 as a convertible, two seat coupe and a 2+2 coupe, the one to find is the factory twin-turbo with a five speed manual. Expect to shell out upwards of 40 grand for a low mileage example, but more affordable options are out there.

4. Jaguar XK (1996 – 2014)

jaguar xkr
2009 Jaguar XKR. By Andrew Bone from Weymouth, England. CC BY 2.0

There’s plenty of kitties that need good homes, including a few big cats, currently residing at local animal shelters and used car lots. Jaguar introduced the new XK series in 1996 to replace the XJS. It survived for two generations carrying it on until it ran out of its nine lives in 2014. Affordable options of most years of this 2+2 grand tourer can be found, many for under $10,000. Upping the budget closer to $20,000 will net a buyer a lower mileage, newer version with a few extra bells and whistles, including a horn that goes “Meow.” Not really, but that’d be cool, right?

5. Ford Thunderbird (2002-2005)

new ford thunderbird
11th generation Ford Thunderbird. By Kevauto – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Anyone who claims the early 2000s were boring years for cars is simply wrong. Numerous automakers pumped out retro rides in hopes of attracting those going through a mid-life crisis. The 11th generation Ford Thunderbird is one of those cars. While it may not have been a smashing success then or now, it is different, and sometimes that’s all that matters. A buyer can take flight in a decently preserved T-Bird for less than $20,000.

6. Chevrolet HHR

chevy ssr

To be a car, or not to be a car, that is the question, of the retro-styled Chevrolet SSR, anyway. Available from 2003 through 2006, these V8, rear wheel drive El Camino wannabes made quite an impression, but it didn’t last long in Chevy’s lineup. Now they can be had in decent shape for around $25,000. Per usual, expect to pay a fee for that hard-to-find third pedal version with the Corvette engine.

7. Pontiac Solstice / Saturn Sky

pontiac solstice

It’s not quite a Fiero, but it’s still cool. General Motors cooked up some fun with the two seat Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky (and Opel GT in Europe), each featuring an inline four cylinder with turbo options. For the collector, a rare 2010 model is most sought after, of which only 30 left the factory. Those breakdown of those include 12 Pontiac Solstice Coupes, 8 Pontiac Solstice roadsters, 8 Saturn SKYs and 2 Opel GTs. Not interested in rarity? It isn’t hard to snatch one of these for under $10,000.

8. BMW Z3

bmw z3 red
2002 BMW Z3. By The Car Spy – BMW Z3 3.0i Calypso Red 2002, CC BY 2.0

Show up in style with a BMW Z3, produced from September 1995 through 2002. With prices already climbing, act quick, especially if an M model with a six cylinder and a five speed manual transmission is desired. Ready to get really funky? Consider a hardtop coupe, which kind of looks like a clown shoe. It costs about $30,000 for one of those in decent shape, and they don’t say if it fits the left or right foot.

9. Fifth Generation Ford Bronco

new ford bronco

Saddle up! The introduction of the latest Ford Bronco has helped drive classic Bronco prices into the clouds. The last of the full size bucking Broncs, built from 1991 to 1996, are no exception. With some effort, a decent example can be found for under $10,000.

10. Chrysler Crossfire

chrysler crossfire gray
2004 Chrysler Crossfire. By Vauxford – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

During the short marriage of Chrysler and Mercedes, the couple had a child and they named it Crossfire. This rear-wheel-drive, two seat sports car is built on on the Mercedes-Benz R170 platform and shares about 80% of its components with the first generation SLK. For extra fun, search for the six speed supercharged version!

11. Plymouth Prowler

Plymouth prowler

No list of modern classics is complete without the Plymouth Prowler. Heavily influenced by custom car builder Chip Foose, this modern hot rod has been called out time and time again for its lack of a manual transmission or V8 option. What people don’t seem to realize is that the later models could hit zero to sixty in under six seconds and top out at 126 mph. Pretty good for a little V6, right? All in all, only 11,702 examples left the factory, making this a relatively rare poster car for many. Expect to write a check between $30,000 and $40,000 for a decent Plymouth Prowler.

This is only a small sample of the future collectible vehicles that are out there. In fact, they’re beyond future collectibles, they are modern classic cars. Featuring modern drive trains that offer pleasurable driving experiences, these cars are bound to climb in desirability and value. Now, which one would look best in the garage?

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