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30 Classic Cars That Require Little Maintenance

Cameron EittreimSeptember 10, 2020

The classic car market has been expanding in the last two decades. Everyone eyes a classic car at some point in time. Whether you want the car as an investment or it’s been on your bucket list to drive a classic ride, values are going through the roof. But an old car comes with costly maintenance costs.

If you’re ready to take on those bills, then a classic car might be worth investing in. Consumer tastes are changing right in front of us. What was recently considered a used car has now become a classic, and many of these cars are collectibles. Some classic cars require much less maintenance than others. We took a look at 30 “classic” cars that require less maintenance than usual via Hagerty below.

Photo Credit: Mecum

30: Plymouth Fury

Does the Plymouth Fury get enough credit for being fun to drive and easy to maintain muscle car? No, it doesn’t, and that is simply a shame because the Fury was an icon at one point. Not only did the Fury come with the optional Hemi V8 engine that made Chrysler famous, but it also provided lightweight driving characteristics that most other sports cars couldn’t match. The Fury was in production for quite some time until Chrysler hit financial trouble and the car had to be discontinued.

Photo Credit: Old Cars Weekly

Nevertheless, the Plymouth Fury is one of the most iconic muscle cars you seldom hear about. The timeless design of the car made it a great choice for just about anyone who wanted something fun to drive and relatively simple to maintain. Which at the time was the main component of the muscle car era and the movement of new cars.

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29: Chevy Bel Air

Long known as the original car for gearheads, the Chevy Bel Air is an easy-to-work-on platform that offers a lot of room for improvement. Modern upgrades for these cars include swapping over to an LS series engine, and this is just one of the many upgrades you can do to the Bel Air. Because the car is so popular in the hot rodding scene, resale values of these models has gone through the roof. But if you can obtain an original model, you’ll have an easycar to work on that can still be a challenging experience.

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The Bel Air was one of the last Chevrolets to feature the iconic styling of the fifties, and it still looks great to this day. With a little bit of work, the Bel Air can become a classic car that will fetch a pretty penny at the auctions. You can build these cars up to be something special while at the same time offering a lot of personalization.

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28: 1972 Chevrolet El Camino SS

Few classic muscle cars are as popular as the El Camino SS. During the time that the El Camino hit the market, the car was a bit of a novelty. It wasn’t a full-size pickup truck and it wasn’t a compact truck. Instead, it was a performance car (Chevelle) that had a truck bed attached to it. The El Camino managed to gain a loyal following at the time, although the overall sales were never quite what GM had hoped for.

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Maintenance of the El Camino is very affordable and these cars are generally reliable. The GM 350 V8 engine is one of the most iconic powerplants in the world. You’ll have more issues that arise out of the transmission than you ever will from the iconic engine. GM did a great job of designing these cars and parts are fairly easy to obtain.

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27: Chevy Nova

The Nova is one of the most iconic muscle cars to come out of Detroit. GM had marketed the car as a fuel-efficient alternative to the larger models that were dominating the market such as the Chevelle. The design of the car makes it easy to work on and upgrade, including the factory powerplant and options. The Nova was always an exceptional performer on the track, and the street characteristics of the car are worth noting.

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While you might not recognize the Nova as well as say a Chevrolet Chevelle, the Nova is an excellent choice for a classic car that requires little maintenance to get the job done. Upgrades for the Nova are quite common and there are more than a few companies that specialize in aftermarket parts for these vehicles.

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26: 1969 Mercury Cyclone

Not only is the 1969 Mercury Cyclone an extremely rare muscle car, but it’s also one of the easiest classic cars to maintain. The Ford parts that you’ll find under the hood are very common and can be found easily. Upgrading the car to have modern technology is also a very easy thing to do and Ford has an abundance of SVT aftermarket accessories that bolt right onto the engine and exterior. Ford has done a great job of building these cars and upkeep is not that difficult if you can find a clean example.

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The 1969 Mercury Cyclone is unlike anything else on the road, and part of the reason for this is the iconic design of the platform. Mercury cars are a piece of automotive history, and the chance to own a Cyclone helps you stand out from the crowd.

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25: 1973 Cadillac Eldorado

The Eldorado has come a long way since its inception, and 1973 is one of the most memorable models. 1973 was synonymous with quality, which included high-quality interior materials. The standard engine had a top speed of 120MPH which at the time was quite impressive for a car of this weight. The reliability of this Eldorado is not terrible by any means, you can expect to do routine maintenance. Naturally, as the car is quite old, you’re going to have maintenance items going out from time to time.

Photo Credit: Premier Auction Group

Cadillacs from this period were praised when it came to ride quality. The 1973 Eldorado is iconic for introducing the world to a new generation of luxury. The resale value on these are going to rise, but you can still get a reasonable deal on a used one. If you have been looking for a retro Cadillac project, the 1973 Eldorado might be worth considering.

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24: 1964 Ford Thunderbird

Few classic cars are as iconic as the 1964 Thunderbird. The swooping lines and the convertible styling made the car iconic with American ingenuity. The Thunderbird was designed to stand out from the crowd when it came to a personal luxury coupe. Early-model Ford Thunderbirds were generally easy to maintain for a lot of reasons, and the Thunderbird in general was relatively easy to repair.

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Cars from this generation that came out of Ford had a relatively similar setup. Parts are rather affordable if you’re trying to maintain a vehicle like this. In recent years there has been a new market of enthusiasts who are perfecting modern engine swaps. The process is relatively easy to do and the Thunderbird in general is a classic.

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23: 1968 Ford Mustang

Longevity is king in the automotive game and the Mustang is one of the longest-running nameplates around. There are a lot of Mustangs still on the road, both old and new. There are several reasons for that and reliability is one of them. The Mustang is cheap to own and a blast to drive. Early models were especially reliable. The 302 cubic-inch 2V B8 is shared with the Thunderbird from this period.

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Maintenance on these engines is relatively easy to figure out, and as long as you keep the vehicle from overheating, you’ll have a great car. The great thing about the Mustang from this generation is the onslaught of accessories on the market.

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22: 1974 Chevrolet Nova

The Chevelle SS and the Camaro get all the glory as a muscle car, but if you’re strapped for cash the Nova is a great alternative. The Nova doesn’t get the love it deserves. Reliability comes from the 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8 rated at 255 standard hp engine. Maintenance on these motors is relatively inexpensive, the worst thing that you are going to encounter is carburetor tuning.

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As your journey with owning a Nova goes on, you’ll likely end up swapping the factory carb out. The Nova had a lot going for it which is why the model has been so popular. Prices aren’t as high as some of the more mainstream muscle cars, which allows for an affordable entry point. The 1974 Nova is especially sought after for its classic design and relatively easy to repair components.

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21: 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass

The Cutlass was always an underrated classic when compared to other muscle cars at the time. The stock configuration on the Cutlass was what made it a sales success for the brand. It had the brawn of a muscle car with the aesthetics of something a lot nicer. This was always the type of market that Oldsmobile was attempting to target. Maintenance on the three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 transmission is fairly easy, and swapping out for a modern unit isn’t difficult.

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Factory options such as dual exhaust made the Cutlass a standout performance car. A lot of the dynamics of the vehicle look and feel like the Chevelle SS of the time. If you want a car that has a lot of potential to build upon, the 1969 Cutlass is a great choice. The values on these cars remain steady and build quality is top-notch.

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20: 1964 Pontiac GTO

There’s a reason why the original Pontiac GTO has remained as popular as it has for all these decades. The car has standout styling and the GTO is synonymous with creating the muscle car boom during the ’70s. The GTO came with a 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8 rated at 325 hp (242 kW) at 4,800 rpm with a single Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust pipes. The combination made for a stock muscle car that sounded great and performed even nicer.

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As the years progressed the GTO would get more and more advanced. The design was changed up in the later incarnations but the car held to its roots. The 1964 GTO is one of the easiest cars in terms of maintenance. The setup is nice and there is plenty of room for improvements and upgrades.

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19: 1970 Plymouth Barracuda

Plymouth doesn’t get a lot of credit for the advances it made to the muscle car world. The 1970 Plymouth Barracuda was designed from a standpoint of value and speed. The 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi is the motor drivers want to go for. The reliability of this motor was one of the strong points for it. This is why the Hemi line has gone on to this day in terms of popularity and usage in Chrysler vehicles. Another great thing about the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda was that it marked a new exterior design for the car.

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The 1970 Plymouth Barracuda has risen in value dramatically in the last decade. The Barracuda also came available in a lot of unique paint colors. This made the Plymouth stand out from other muscle cars at the time with a unique and fun appearance. These cars are a beast on the track and just about anywhere else that you take them.

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18: 1973 Cadillac Eldorado

The 1973 Cadillac Eldorado is more reliable than you’d expect. The ninth-generation Eldorados were exceptionally clean in terms of design and features. The 500 cu in (8.2 L) V8 (1971-76) was notable for being a powerhouse. The engine set a sales record for the brand in 1971 and that also makes finding parts for these cars easy. Inexpensive repairs and a large engine bay make the 1973 Cadillac Eldorado a breeze for maintenance.

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The great thing about the Eldorado besides the large body size is the fact that the powerful motor can be upgraded tremendously. These cars are notorious for performance and smooth riding experience, living up to the original Cadillac standard. This is why the Eldorado is a symbol of American quality.

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17: 1954 Jeep CJ-5

Jeeps have been increasingly popular in the current automotive market, but who wants to spend $50,000-plus on a brand new one? The older classic Jeep models are collectible and easy to maintain which is a strong selling point. The CJ-5 is the Wrangler before the Wrangler was even a reality. If you want an all-around offroad vehicle and looks aren’t too important, the 1954 Jeep CJ-5 is the car for you. The basic design is amazingly affordable for maintenance and parts are plentiful.

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Values for these models have been rising and with good reason, because the days of a standard 4X4 are long gone. The 1954 Jeep CJ-5 is basic transportation that you can take off-road and build up, but with the benefit of Jeep reliability. This SUV has been used for everything from being a military vehicle to being one of the vehicles the USPS used for decades.

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16: 1969 Dodge Charger

Dodge has brought many different notable vehicles onto the classic car market, but the 426 cu in (7.0 L) 2×4bbl Hemi V8 Charger is the most desirable. You might remember this car as the original Dukes of Hazard General Lee, but there’s more to it than that. The Charger was a defining muscle car for the Chrysler brand and Dodge in general. There were various engine choices for the Charger but the Hemi was the most noticeable out of the bunch.

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The design of the Dodge Charger was similar to brand stablemate the Barracuda. But Dodge did a series of small things to make the Charger stand out. Body colors were different and the interior was styled differently. The Dodge Charger was a standout choice in the muscle car market. The B-Body style cars from Chrysler, in general, are noted for being some of the most popular vehicles ever released. They’re also some of the easiest in terms of maintenance.

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15: 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Released at a time when Volkswagen was looking at building on the success of the Beetle, the 1969 Karmann Ghia was a nice little car that is fairly easy in terms of maintenance. The OHV four-stroke air-cooled flat 4 “Volkswagen” motor is fairly easy to work on and the lack of cooling parts makes it much more reliable.

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Volkswagen put a lot of effort into the design of this car, although it wasn’t as popular as the Beetle. The fact that it was a convertible model made it a much nicer alternative to other lightweight cars on the market. The closest car to the Karmann Ghia is of term design is the Fiat Spyder.

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14: 1976 Triumph TR6

There was a time when Triumph made more than just motorcycles, and the cars were quite cool. The 1976 Triumph TR6 is a fun roadster that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance. The thing about the 1976 Triumph TR6 is that it handles twists and turns beautifully. The 2.5-liter straight-six stands out as being one of the easiest to work on motors around. The basic design of the car mirrors a lot of the company’s motorcycle design.

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The 1976 Triumph TR6 could be a great first car for someone or even a weekend car to take on a few twists and turns. Triumph knows how to build a great car and the overall design stands out from the crowd. Although there were similar convertibles around this time, the 1976 Triumph TR6 is one of the most notable.

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13: Buick Riviera – 1963-65

Buick has had a lot of interesting vehicles throughout the brand’s existence, but the Riviera stands out from the crowd. The “coke bottle” styling of the Riviera from this generation has made the car a hit even to this day. The car looked a lot like the muscle cars from the era but incorporated luxury features. Because the Riviera shared a lot of components with other GM cars at the time that it made maintenance affordable. There are a lot of things that made the Buick Riviera desirable at the time.

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In the present generation, the Buick Riviera makes for a stellar classic car. The 401 cu in (6.6 L) Nailhead V8 is well worth it, with an easy to repair design. In addition to the easy to repair engine, the 3-speed ST-400 automatic is also a very reliable setup. The Riviera will often get shadowed by other classic cars on the market, but this one is worth looking into.

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12: Chevrolet Bel Air – 1953-54

Chevrolet has always been the flagship brand for GM and the Bel Air was once its flagship car. The 1953 Bel Air had an interesting look and that helped the car keep a timeless styling. The stock motor was incredibly easy to work on and a recent trend for these cars has been to swap an LS series motor. The 215.5 cu in (3.5 L) “Thriftmaster” 1-bbl. valve-in-head 92 hp I6 has an incredible factory sound to it. These cars have been popular on the lowrider circuit and the overall design is timeless.

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If you want to experience one of the earliest commercially successful Chevies, the Bel Air is at the top of the food chain. There is a lot that makes the 1953-54 models stand out from the crowd. If you want a car that’s a classic and easy in terms of maintenance. the Bel Air is a sedan or coupe you should add to your collection.

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11: AMC AMX – 1968-’69

The AMC brand was at a crossroads during the rise of the muscle car era, and this made the brand have to stand out from the crowd. Consumer tastes for AMC cars were not strong at this period and the company had hoped the AMX would change this. The AMX had strong styling points that made it stand out from other muscle cars. The “AMX 390” engines are renowned for being easy to repair.

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The BorgWarner T-10 four-speed manual transmission was standard, and maintenance was quite simple. These cars had an interesting looking rear end and a lot of enthusiasts are not too fond of it. The resale value on these cars is also affordable so you can get a stellar deal on an AMX compared to other models.

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10: Lincoln Continental – 1961-66

Lincoln has long been a staple of the American automotive industry, especially large luxury cars. The Continental was an iconic nameplate that most people could associate with quality during this period. You couldn’t go wrong with what the car had to offer. The 430 V8 is a powerful motor and one of the most reliable engines Ford has ever produced. In addition to that, there are a lot of modifications and aftermarket parts you can add to this setup.

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The Continental was long the bread and butter of the Lincoln brand. Parts are fairly cheap and easy to come by which makes the car perfect for a first-time driver. If you have been looking for a cheap to maintain classic the Continental is an excellent choice. You can create a stellar classic by building on the Continental.

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9: Pontiac Grand Prix – 1962

If you don’t have the money set aside to get a Pontiac GTO, there is another stellar model that you can get. The Pontiac Grand Prix is another classic and one of the longest-running nameplates in the GM portfolio. For years, the Grand Prix tore up city streets and drag strips and was even on the NASCAR circuit. The 1962 models were well known for the extent of the design that went into the car. Muscle car styling made the Grand Prix look a lot like the other cars of the period, which bolstered sales.

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The 303 hp (226 kW) 389 cu in (6.4 L) V8 motivated the large sedan with authority at a time when sedans were still sluggish. In addition to the notable power upgrades, the interior was higher quality than Pontiac models on the market at the time. The Grand Prix is worth considering if you want an instant classic.

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8: Studebaker Golden Hawk – 1956-58

There was a time when there were other automotive brands on the market that came out of America. Studebaker had a good series of successes for some time but its vehicles became tired and outdated. The Studebaker Golden Hawk was a supercharged car worth considering if you want a classic that doesn’t look like anything else on the road. The Golden Hawk is a (4.7 L) V8-powered beast on the tracck and anywhere else.

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The Golden Hawk is not going to have what you’d expect from a car of this caliber, but the performance will more than make up for it. Maintenance on these cars is not too difficult to figure out and there’s a community of enthusiasts that are full of knowledge. You can build up a Studebaker sedan pretty easily with a little bit of work.

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7: Pontiac Firebird – 1970-73

GM F-Body cars are synonymous with performance from a period when pony cars were increasing in popularity. The Pontiac Firebird in its second generation was far more advanced than the original cars, and this helped in terms of reliability. The second-generation F-Body cars are generally easy to repair and inexpensive in terms of maintenance. These cars have been building in value but the price is still affordable enough to get in.

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The Pontiac Firebird from this generation is also remembered for being the ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ car. In addition to that, the Firebird has some distinct features that separate it from the Camaro. When it comes to choosing a classic car that you can build on for cheap, the 1970-73 Firebird is the right choice.

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6: Mercury Cougar – 1967-68

The 1967-68 Cougar is a car that was based on the popular Mustang and added a sense of style to the car that the original never had. The Cougar from this generation has a timeless style and the factory 200hp 289 c.i. V-8 moved the car with authority. The benefit of the Cougar is the fact that it’s based on the Mustang, which has sold millions of examples during its production run.

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Parts are easy to come by and this makes maintenance on a Mustang or Cougar affordable. The Cougar is a lightweight performance car and the perfect car for someone who wants a project car that won’t break the bank. There’s a lot the Cougar has to offer and you can find these cars relatively affordably.

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5: Ford Falcon — 1964-’65

Surprisingly enough, the Falcon is another car built on the Mustang platform, and that helps things out when it comes to performance. Interesting features like the three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission are unique to this car. The interior was also unique to the Falcon and it offers a lot of room. If you’re lucky enough to get a factory interior that’s still in good shape, you’ll have a great car that will last you.

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If you’ve been looking for a classic car that doesn’t take a whole lot of money to get your hands on, this could be it. The Falcon is a notable performance car for several reasons and in the Ford community, you can’t go wrong with it. Mustang roots and a powerful standard engine make the Falcon a great choice.

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4: Chevrolet Impala – 1965

The Impala is one of the longest-running and most iconic nameplates in the auto world. That has to do with the quality design of the car. The 1965 models especially were known for their long sloping styling and powerful engine. All of this combined made for a spectacular driving experience. The SS model is going to set you back some serious change, but standard models are a bit easier to come across. If you are on a budget the Impala is going to set you back, but you can find a barn model that might need some work.

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If you are willing to put the work into it, the Impala is one of the most iconic models on the road. The car has a lot to offer in terms of design and the performance still lives up to the expectations. The styling is iconic and whether you are designing a streetcar or a lowrider, the Impala is a great choice.

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3: Cadillac Series 62 – 1957

The Cadillac Series 62 is one of the most iconic original Cadillac models on the road. When you think about a performance sedan, the Series 62 wasn’t it, but the car could hold its own on the road. The shark fin styling became iconic for big and bold American sedans and the 365 cu in (6.0 L) OHV V8 could handle its own. The reliability of the Series 62 was one of the strongest selling points for the car. There were four-door and two-door models and there was even a convertible version of the car as well.

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Cadillac did a great job of selling Series 62 to the public and as such, there is a surplus of used models on the market. The Series 62 is not as well known as the Eldorado, which made the car rarer to find and customize. But the value is more affordable and you can build one of these cars pretty easily.

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2: De Soto Fireflite Hemi – 1955-’56

Rare and fun to drive are two things that come to mind when you think of the De Soto Fireflite Hemi. The Fireflite was one of the few cars in existence that got a Mopar-derived Hemi V8 engine. The powerband gave the car a serious amount of power to play with at the time. The 426 Hemi is reliable and easy for maintenance. The six-passenger seating makes for a comfortable riding experience, and the design of the car is timeless.

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There are very few cars on the road that don’t have a Chrysler badge while still possessing a Hemi powerplant. If you want a great base for building a Mopar powered rig the Fireflite Hemi is a standout car that you can enjoy for a long time. A fun fact about the Fireflite is the fact that it was also an Indianapolis 500 pace car.

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1: Chevrolet Corvair Corsa – 1965-’66

Finally, we come across one of the cheapest and fun to drive classic cars on the market. The underrated Chevrolet Corvair Corsa, a car that needs no introduction. The styling was a blend of the Corvette and the Camaro combined. While you might not expect a car that combines like this to make an interesting proposition, the Corvair Corsa is it. The 140-hp configuration of the 161-ci, air-cooled boxer six was unique for a car at this time frame. The interior of the Corvair Corsa is relatively basic but roomy enough compared to other cars in this class.

Photo Credit: Ambassador Automobile Co

Parts for this car are relatively cheap and easy to come by, making maintenance a breeze. Another good thing about this car is the shared components with other GM rides. The Corvair Corsa might not be the most well-known classic car on the market, but it does offer great value for the price you can find one for.

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