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Top 20 Classic Coupes That Are Still Affordable

Vukasin Herbez October 18, 2018

Although the ’80s have become a hot decade when it comes to collectible cars, the majority of car enthusiasts look to the ’60s and ’70s for their favorite models, and it’s easy to see why. The ’60s and early ’70s brought some of the most memorable sports and muscle coupes. It was the combination of style and performance that created legends that are still relevant. For sports and muscle fans, the ’60s and early ’70s are the golden age of the car industry.

So here is an interesting list of affordable American and foreign coupes they produced in that period and imported to U.S. soil. But you won’t see any expensive Porsche 911s, Jaguar E-Types, Shelby Mustangs or six figures models on this list. These are the cars you can still buy for a reasonable amount of money. You can enjoy these classics without worrying that driving will damage their value.

The ’60s and the ’70s are interesting decades for research since they offer a wealth of models that all have classic car status. In that time, American car manufacturers faced serious competition in the form of several European brands. There was even a significant attack from some upcoming Japanese companies. So keep reading to learn about some eclectic and colorful classic coupes that won’t break your budget.

  1. Datsun 510

The 510 is an interesting car. Today, it is popular among JDM enthusiasts in America. However, this wasn’t a proper sports car. Standard 510s were just regular, affordable, compact sedans or wagons that were popular with cash-strapped buyers in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

But, the small, lightweight body, lively engines, independent rear suspension and rear-wheel drive transformed this economy compact into a small performance car similar to the BMW 2002 or Alfa Giulia Ti.

The base engine was a 1.6-liter four cylinder with 96 HP. But with the 1.8-liter unit with twin barrel carburetors; this little car had some power and a convincing performance. It was also available as a two-door coupe, which became a popular basis for modifications. The 510 was one of the first successful racing cars in America. Also, it was SCCA champion in the capable hands of John Morton from the Brock Racing Enterprises team.

  1. Lancia Fulvia Coupe

Today, Lancia is a forgotten company. They are still active but offer nothing interesting in their lineup besides selling rebadged Chryslers. But, back in the ’60s, Lancia was an independent luxury manufacturer with highly respected cars with unique designs and technical solutions. So, when the company presented the Fulvia Coupe in 1965, the car world took notice.

The Fulvia Coupe was a little 2+2 two-door car with a narrow-angle V4 in the front powering the front wheels. This unique layout handled fantastically and with the small weight, it presented a vivid performance. Despite having from 85 to 115 HP, that Lancia Fulvia Coupe was a rally champion.

It was also an extremely rewarding car to drive fast on winding roads. You can still find decent Fulvia Coupes starting at around $20,000. They imported the Fulvia Coupe to the U.S. when it was new, so you can find dozens for sale right now.

  1. Opel GT

In the late ’60s, the German brand Opel was one of the most popular economy car manufacturers in Europe. Since General Motors owned it, they approved and styled the design of all Opel models. This meant that most Opel models looked like scaled down versions of Chevrolets or Buicks. And this was exactly the case with the Opel GT. It was a sporty affordable coupe they presented in 1968.

Opel needed a sports car to base on the Kadett, its entry-level model. So, in the mid-60s, it got the approval from GM to introduce such a vehicle. In fact, the Corvette and the GM concepts from the mid-60s heavily influenced the design. With covered headlights, the curvy Coke bottle design, twin round tail lights and similar silhouette, the Opel GT was a scaled-down version of the Corvette.

It even appeared on the market at the same time as the Vette’s third generation. With its 1.3 and 1.9-liter four-cylinder engines, the Opel GT didn’t have any of the Corvette’s power or performance, but it had the looks. It sold well in America through the Buick dealership network. In fact, they sold more Opel GTs in the U.S. than in Europe during its five-year production run.

  1. Ford Capri

The success of the Mustang was influential and inspired most American brands into offering a pony car model of their own. Even in Europe, the Mustang was popular and common. But Ford wanted to explore the market further with a smaller, European version. It would be less expensive and more suited to the needs of European buyers. And that is how the Ford Capri came to be in 1969.

Designed in the UK, the Capri was a European Mustang in every way. Using the long hood-short deck formula and semi-fastback styling, the Capri looked great and had a fantastic stance. Despite being based on the standard Cortina floor plan and using the same engines, the Capri looked like a thoroughbred sports or a muscle car.

So, people often confused for a U.S.-built Ford. This affordable coupe was almost as successful as the Mustang, selling in the millions throughout its 16-year lifespan. They also imported it to America as the Mercury Capri in the mid-70s.

  1. Fiat Dino Coupe

Back in 1967, Fiat introduced the Dino, a coupe and a convertible sports car. It featured a Ferrari V6 engine straight from the 246 GT Dino. Bertone designed the coupe, while Pininfarina styled the convertible. The two cars shared the mechanics, engine and performance, but each design was different.

They officially sold the Fiat Dino Coupe in America and you can find them in the classifieds for as little as $15,000. This is the most affordable way to own a piece of Ferrari magic for a Ford Fiesta price. If you are a budget-minded enthusiast, look for the Dino Coupe since it is more common and affordable than the convertible. Also, look for later 2.4-liter V6 versions, since they are better and faster than the early 2.0-liter models.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro

On September 22, 1967, Chevrolet unveiled the Camaro to an eager audience. The motoring journalists and the automotive public saw the new, elegant coupe and convertible. It had a modern design, classic long hood and short deck proportions. The sporty stance and nicely executed details and trim made it cool-looking, too. But Chevrolet abandoned the third body style like the Mustang or Barracuda.

And from this standpoint, it was a good decision. The new Camaro came with a selection of straight six and V8 engines. They started from a small 230 six cylinder and went all the way to the mighty 396 V8 with 325 HP. The idea was to offer a wider arrangement and more powerful engines than Ford to attract sporty buyers. That is why Chevrolet offered three performance versions, the SS, RS and Z/28.

The 1967 Camaro was a success since they sold over 220,000. The performance versions were quite popular with car enthusiasts. Over the next decades, the Camaro became Chevrolet’s prime sporty coupe and muscle car. Those special models like the Z/28 and the SS 396 are expensive, but the baseline models are still affordable.

  1. Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV Tipo 105

One of the most iconic Italian sports coupes is the gorgeous Alfa Romeo Giulia Coupe. Car fans often called it the Tipo 105 Coupe for its chassis code. This was a Bertone-designed two-door version of the legendary Giulia sedan that was Alfa’s main model during the ’60s. Thanks to its styling, details, engines and racing success, the Alfa Giulia Coupe was popular as a separate model, not just a coupe version of a mass-produced sedan.

The introduced it in 1963 under the name, the Giulia Sprint GT. And this little Alfa stunned the car world with its sculptured lines and perfect stance. Under the hood was a small 1.6-liter four-cylinder twin-cam engine with advertised 105 HP. The Tipo 105 had live rear axle and four-wheel disc brakes, which was unheard of in the mid-60s.

Over the years, the power grew to 1.8-liters and 2.0-liters in later models. You can recognize the final versions by the four headlights, wider tail lights and 2000 GTV badge. Those cars have 136 HP and a glorious soundtrack thanks to the high revving, all alloy engine. Alfa Romeo Tipo 105 Coupes were inexpensive, but in recent years, the price spike has affected this model.

Despite getting more expensive, they are still affordable. So, for around $30,000, you can find a perfect example of this little Italian gem, which car fans call “the poor man’s Ferrari.”

  1. MG B GT V8

One of the most popular and typical British roadsters from the ‘60s is the MG B. They introduced it in 1962 as the successor to the MG A, which helped establish the roadster class in the U.S. For the standards of the day, the MG B was a modern car with unibody construction, a roomy interior, and a decent suspension and steering.

But, the star of the show is the coupe version they called the GT. MG equipped it with a V8 engine. And it turned this small two-seater open top into a proper V8-powered muscle car. They presented the MG B GT VI in 1973. It was powered by a 3.5-liter engine with 175 HP, which a good figure for the early ’70s. The car immediately became a strong seller because it combined the practicality of a bigger cabin and a trunk with the performance of the V8 engine.

And it had acceleration times of 0 to 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds. American buyers loved the GT V8 since it offered compact dimensions, improved practicality and much more power and performance. This was a winning combination in anyone’s book.

  1. Datsun 240Z

The 240Z was the first highly successful Japanese sports car on the American market. And it is a legend that is still highly desirable, even today. The 240Z was a proper sports model that featured a bigger engine and better construction. And it delivered more power and performance than anything coming from Japan in those days.

Some critics say it was a copy of several European designs. Nevertheless, the 240Z managed to win many buyers over and create its own segment. They introduced it in America in 1970, and the 240Z was a perfect car for the times. The muscle car craze started to wind down and the safety regulations killed domestic performance cars.

So, people were looking for alternatives that could provide similar driving excitement with better handling at budget prices. The European models were too expensive, so the Datsun 240Z was the right car for the moment. The early models got 150 HP from a 2.4-liter six-cylinder and that was more than enough for a lively performance.

Over the years, Datsun improved the original model with bigger engines, 2.6 and 2.8-liter units, and several restyles. But the demand was always fantastic. So, when they discontinued the first series of Z cars in 1978, Datsun had made over 300,000 of them. This makes the 240Z one of the most successful sports cars in history.

  1. Lancia Scorpion

So, you are looking for a limited production Italian sports car from the ’70s with two seats and a mid-engine layout. But, you only have around $20,000 to spare. Although it may sound impossible, it isn’t since there is a solution to your problem. And it is the Lancia Scorpion.

In 1976, Lancia presented the Scorpion, a U.S. spec version of its Beta Montecarlo model. For the American market, they couldn’t use the Monte Carlo name since Chevrolet already had a Monte Carlo. So, Lancia decided to go with the aggressive Scorpion nameplate. However, despite the modern looks and technical layout, the Scorpion wasn’t a great performer.

This is because its four-cylinder engine delivered only 81 HP in U.S. spec. They offered the Scorpion was for two years, in 1976 and 1977, selling around 1,800 of them in America. Today, these Lancias are rare, but not expensive. In fact, they’ve upgraded most of them with Fiat’s 2.0-liter engines. They produce more power and give Scorpion the performance it deserves

  1. Toyota Celica A20 and A30

After the sales flop of the beautiful and highly advanced Toyota 2000 GT in the late ’60s, the Japanese company didn’t give up. They still wanted to enter the affordable American sports car market. Toyota realized they needed a more conventional model with a much lower price. But, it needed a design similar to their already known form. And that is how the first generation, from 1970 to 1977 Toyota Celica came to be.

Toyota built it on the standard Toyota Carina base. But the Celica was one step above the popular Corolla in terms of size, technology and engine power. They introduced the new Celica to American buyers in 1970 with two body styles, a regular two-door coupe and a hardtop fastback. Immediately, people compared the new Celica to the Ford Mustang because they were clearly inspired by Ford’s pony car.

In fact, the Celica was a sportier version of Toyota’s regular production sedan, just like the Mustang was for Ford. The Celica proved to be popular, so by the end of 1977, they sold more than 200,000. The most popular versions were the 2.0 and 2.2-liter engines that delivered a solid performance and satisfying driving dynamics at a modest price.

  1. Ford Mustang

Most of the market was fascinated when they first saw the Mustang in 1964. It was compact but had sporty looks, a long hood and short deck. And at an affordable price, it seemed unreal. But there was a small portion of knowledgeable car enthusiasts who were disappointed. The reason was the technology and engine choices.

The Mustang shared modest underpinnings with the economy Falcon. And the engine lineup included some mild versions of six and small V8 units. The power output was nothing special and the performance was somewhat below expectations. So Ford responded by hiring Carroll Shelby to produce an almost race-ready GT 350 in 1965.

But most owners got the 200 to 221 HP V8 model that used the 289 V8 engine and delivered enough grunt to satisfy most customers. The early 1964 to 1967 models are still affordable. In fact, Ford produced over one million of the, so finding one to suit your needs is easy.

  1. Porsche 914

The Porsche 911 is one of the most sought-after classic cars on the market. The prices for ordinary decent examples are close to $50,000. But they can go near $1 million for the rare and racing models. Most classic 911s sell for over $100,000, which is crazy since the early cars are rust-prone and hard to drive.

They are uncomfortable and not all that fast, either. However, it is fashionable to own a classic 911 and the prices reflect that. On the other hand, you can own a classic Porsche with a centrally mounted engine, lots of power, and a Targa top for around $15,000 in the form of the two-seater 914. They built the Porsche 914 from 1969 to 1976 as an entry-level model.

They designed and produced it in cooperation with Volkswagen, so people sometimes call it the VW-Porsche 914. Behind the driver is a Volkswagen-derived flat four engine with around 100 HP. It doesn’t sound like much, but the car is quite light, so the performance is lively. And the perfect weight distribution guarantees superb road holding.

Porsche also produced the 914-6 with 110 HP coming from a flat six engine, but this is a rare model. During its seven years of production, they built over 118,000 914s, selling most of them in America. This means that there are plenty of cars to choose from and lots of affordable options.

  1. Triumph GT6

You are probably familiar with the famous British roadster, the Triumph Spitfire. From the start of its production in the early ’60s until 1980, this was one of the bestselling open-top two-seaters in America and in the world, as well. However, the small, light and underpowered Spitfire had a more mature twin brother under the name of the Triumph GT6.

The GT6 project was started in the mid-60s when Triumph realized they needed a coupe version of their popular roadster. However, just putting the roof on Spitfire wouldn’t do the trick. They needed to extensively re-engineer the car and add a more powerful engine for the chassis to cope with the added weight of the coupe body style.

So, the Triumph engineers installed a 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 106 HP, providing the GT6 with more power and performance than the similar Spitfire. They officially presented the GT6 in 1966 and discontinued it in 1973 after producing approximately 45,000. The GT6 was never as popular as the Spitfire, but it was a better car and a cool-looking alternative to other sports coupes on the market.

  1. Volvo P1800

Volvo was a dull brand in the ’60s that produced boring yet dependable cars. However, with the introduction of the P1800 in 1961, all of that changed. This coupe was one of the best looking cars on the market at the moment.

They took the platform and drivetrain from the well-known Amazon sedan model. But the coupe body was all new and they designed it in Italy. The Volvo P1800 was the perfect alternative to exclusive Jaguars. But, it came at a lower price and with more dependable mechanics. In 12 years of production, they made around 40,000 of them, selling most in the States.

  1. Sunbeam Rapier

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, the market for affordable sports coupes was booming. So Sunbeam introduced the Rapier fastback with an interesting design, but rather ordinary mechanics. Despite the interesting looks and that Chrysler, owner of the Sunbeam brand at the moment, aggressively marketed the car, Rapier only had 100 HP. This meant it was rather slow.

Unfortunately for Sunbeam, the Ford Capri was a better offering. So in 1976, they ended the production of the Rapier after producing around 46.000 of them. They sold most of the cars on the domestic market and in Europe. Today, Rapier is an affordable, interesting option for somebody who wants a rare, unusual coupe.

  1. Mazda RX7

One of most interesting and mass-produced sports coupes from the ’70s and ’80s is the Mazda RX7. They introduced the first generation in 1978 and it stayed on the market until 1985. During that period, they built almost 500,000 RX-7s, selling most of them in America.

Under the hood was a 1.1 to 1.3-liter Wankel rotary engine, which was the RX-7`s most notable feature. The extremely compact and light engine produced 102 to 135 HP. That was more than enough for the lively performance of this little coupe.

  1. Nissan 300 ZX

One of the best cars in the long line of Z-named Nissan sports coupes was the 300 ZX. They introduced it in 1990 and discontinued it in 1996. Car enthusiasts respect this model since the 300 ZX was a proper sports coupe with the technology and performance that could rival much more expensive, exclusive cars.

The twin-turbo V6 engine pumped out 300 HP. The 300 ZX could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds and top 150 mph. Today, the 300 ZX is a coveted modern classic and one of the most universally usable cars on this list.

  1. Toyota Celica Supra

For those customers who found the standard Celica not agile or powerful enough, Toyota introduced the 1978 Celica Supra. It came with a cool-looking hatchback body style and six-cylinder engine powering the rear wheels. The base engine for the Celica Supra was a 2.5 liter straight six with 110 HP.

But for those who wanted more power, the 3.0-liter with 116 HP was also available. Although it wasn’t anything special in terms of output, the Celica Supra had sharp handling. It also had an optional limited slip differential that helped with drifting and spirited driving. The model was popular, so the Supra later evolved into a separate model.

  1. Renault 15/17

Introduced in the early ’70s, the Renault 15 and 17 were basically the same cars, but with slightly different coupe bodies. This made them interesting on the market because the approach was unique for the times.

However, with 1.6-liter four-cylinder under the hood, the performance was quite mild, even by ’70s standards. What the cars lacked in performance, they made up in design and style. So if you are looking for a French coupe on a budget, either of these will work perfectly.

These are the 20 best classic coupes that are still affordable. Have you chosen your favorite from this list? If you’ve been dreaming of owning one, start looking now before they become even more expensive and hard to find.

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