First of all, don’t worry. It’s not like any of these affordable classic cars is going to increase in value overnight just because we believe they deserve more recognition. Thing is, however, they might just do that in the near future. After all, we’ve all been witnessing a sort of vintage classics renaissance these last few years or so. And while most of us can pretty much chalk off a vintage Ferrari, Lamborghini or even Plymouth ‘Cuda in fine condition for that matter, there are certain classics that are still reasonably priced and within average Joe and plain Jane’s reach.
Precious few cars are born with that classic car moniker and you know they’ll be as expensive as they come one day. Hell, they’re almost exclusively highly priced from the get-go. Needless to say, we’re not interested in such cars here. What we’ll focus on here are models that have become classics over time. And those that have somehow managed to fly under the radar at the same time. In other words, here are 10 criminally underrated classic cars that won’t break the bank if you decide to pursue them. At least not initially. Don’t forget the maintenance and other issues old timers are plagued with.
1974 Datsun 260Z and 1975-1978 Datsun 280Z
Although having different names, 260Z and 280Z are part of the same Fairlady family and mostly differ in powertrain department. Neither of them is as sought after as their predecessor, the original 240Z, but then again, neither is as expensive as the 240Z. They’re available for between $8,000 and $9,000 on average while 240Z warrants much higher price tag of at least $20,000 on average. Not to mention the mint condition models which often go over $50,000.
240Z was already half the car it initially was in 1973 when new emissions regulations choked the crap out of it. Japanese figured out direct fuel injection would do the trick of bumping performance, but they weren’t ready to offer it just yet. Enter Datsun 260Z available only for 1974 (until 1978 overseas). This in-betweener still featured carburetor induction, but came with 2.6L displacement straight-six engine. 0.2L bump in displacement still wasn’t enough as 260Z only developed 140 horsepower initially and 165 hp from mid-year thanks to the new safety bumpers.
280Z which debuted in 1975 and remained active until 1978 finally switched to direct fuel injection. License-built Bosch L-Jetronic injection paired with 2.8L straight-six mill bumped the power to 170 ponies. Still, however, 280Z failed to perform like the iconic 240Z. Due to more strict safety regulations, 280Z packed quite a few pounds more than its predecessor. Needless to say, impact bumpers and other optional equipment slowed it down quite a bit. Still, both 260Z and 280Z are great affordable classic cars and more than satisfying alternatives to the iconic Fairlady. After all, they’re practically the same cars.