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30 Classic Cars That Require Little Maintenance

Cameron EittreimSeptember 10, 2020

Photo Credit: Orlando Classic Cars

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.

Photo Credit: Motor Car Studio

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.

Photo Credit: Ambassador Automobile Co

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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