Are you searching for the ultimate driving experience on a reasonable budget? Look no further! From sleek luxury sedans to exhilarating Japanese sports cars, buyers are spoilt for choice when looking for a classic car within $100,000.
Whether you're an avid petrolhead or simply seeking practical luxury, this list will help you discover the perfect old-school ride. Own a piece of automotive history thanks to one of these legendary vintage cars.
The Pontiac GTO is a real classic American muscle. The car was produced by General Motors under the Pontiac division from 1964 to 1974, initially as an option package for the Tempest. This legendary vehicle was a crucial part of the first generation of muscle cars of the 1960s.
The car was available as a two-door coupe or convertible and featured a range of V8 engine options. One of the motors offered by Pontiac was a 389-cubic inch "Tri-Power" rated at a whopping 360 horsepower.
Chevrolet Bel Air
The Bel Air has become a symbol of the 1950s automotive style and cultural nostalgia. With its stylish design, chrome accents, and extravagant tail fins, the Bel Air was an embodiment of the 50s.
The Bel Air was available in various body styles, including sedans, coupes, convertibles, and wagons, offering a wide range of options to buyers. Over the years, the Bel Air underwent several design changes and improvements all the way until its discontinuation in 1975. Today, it remains a popular choice among classic car enthusiasts.
The Jaguar E-Type, also known as the Jaguar XK-E in the United States, is a British sports car produced by Jaguar Cars that hit the market in the early 60s. It is considered one of the most beautiful and iconic cars of all time, often hailed as a masterpiece of automotive design. It's pretty easy to see why.
Striking looks with a gorgeous long hood and sleek lines are unmistakable features of the E-Type. The British automaker offered a V12 motor under the hood, as well as an inline-six for the base model. It remains highly cherished by classic car enthusiasts and collectors alike.
The first generation Ford Mustang, produced from 1964 to 1973, is an iconic and influential American pony car. Introduced in April 1964, it quickly became a massive success, reaching one million sales within two years.
The Mustang's design featured an iconic long hood, a short deck, and a stylish interior. Buyers could choose from a variety of motors, ranging from the economical inline-six to the powerful V8s. GT350 and GT500 were the two high-performance variants created for the most demanding buyers, rated at as much as 355 horsepower.
Surprised to see a Ferrari under $100,000? That's right! The Ferrari 328 is a mid-engine sports car produced by the Italian automaker in the second half of the 1980s. Ferrari offered the 328 in both GTB (coupe) and GTS (targa top) body styles.
Powered by a 3.2-liter V8 engine, the 328 produced around 270 horsepower, delivering impressive performance and a top speed of over 160 mph (260 km/h). The 328 offered a more refined driving experience compared to its predecessor, thanks to improved handling and a modern suspension. Today, units in decent running condition can be picked up for under $100,000.
The Plymouth Barracuda is one of the most legendary muscle cars of all time. Produced for a decade starting in 1964, this American icon is known for its impressive performance and distinctive design. The early models shared components with the Valiant, but the Barracuda quickly evolved into a standalone model.
The second generation, from 1967 to 1969, featured a more aggressive look with a fastback design and high-performance packages like the 'Cuda and AAR. Naturally, these models came with powerful V8 engines under the hood.
This gorgeous automobile was Maserati's answer to the growing demand for high-performance sports cars. It offered an ideal blend of elegant design, exceptional engineering, and thrilling performance.
Beneath its stylish exterior, the Maserati Bora housed a powerful V8 engine mounted behind the driver. Initially displacing 4.7 liters, and later upgraded to 4.9 liters and 330 horsepower, allowing the car to reach a top speed of over 170 miles per hour. Finding a Maserati Bora under $100 000 is certainly challenging but not impossible. Don't expect it to be in excellent, concours-ready condition, though!
BMW M3 (E30)
The BMW E30 M3 hit the market in the mid-80s. This absolute legend is the first-ever car in the M3 series. Originally designed for Group A racing, the E30 M3 was required to have road-legal versions for homologation purposes. It was essentially a street-legal race car.
The E30 M3 boasted a lightweight body with distinctive flared fenders that were wider than the base model, as well as other visual touches to hint that this was no ordinary 3-Series. Its beating heart was a high-revving 2.3-liter inline-4 engine, producing an impressive 300 horsepower, allowing the car to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under 7 seconds.
This two-seater convertible was Ford's answer to the Chevrolet Corvette. Unlike the Corvette, however, the Thunderbird was all about class and luxury rather than handling or performance. The stylish design of the car blended elements of a sporty roadster with luxury features, appealing to a wide range of buyers.
The Thunderbird featured a powerful V8 engine and options for both manual and automatic transmissions. Its iconic porthole hardtop was a distinctive design element that added to its allure. The original Thunderbird remains a symbol of American automotive elegance and the start of the car's storied legacy.
General Motors had to act fast, having seen the immediate success of Ford's Mustang. The first-ever Camaro hit the market in 1967 as Chevy's direct competitor to the Mustang. Designed to compete in the pony car segment, the Camaro quickly established itself as a formidable rival.
The Camaro offered a variety of different engine options, ranging from an inline-6 to powerful V8s. Buyers could also choose between coupe and convertible body styles. Special performance packages like the SS and Z/28 added even more excitement to the lineup.
BMW 2002 Turbo
The BMW 2002 Turbo is a significant vehicle in automotive history. That's because it was the first mass-produced turbocharged car in Europe. The model hit the market back in 1973 as a turbocharged engineering marvel based on the regular BMW 2002.
The 2002 Turbo was powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a KKK wastegate turbocharger, a first of its kind. The car also featured a unique braking system with ventilated discs all around. The model was only produced for two years, from 1973 to 1975. Only 1,672 units were built.
The Acura NSX has gone down in automotive history as one of the most innovative sports cars of all time. This modern classic was introduced in 1990 as the first mass-produced car to feature an all-aluminum body, chassis, and suspension. Other automakers would soon follow Honda's approach and step away from steel.
Designed with input from Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, the NSX simply had to perform amazingly. A mid-engine layout provided optimal weight distribution and excellent driving dynamics. The car's 3.0L V6 engine provided plenty of power to make the Acura NSX one of the fastest cars of its time.
Porsche 911 (930 Turbo)
The 911 is by far the most iconic German sports car of all time. The 930 Turbo generation was offered by Porsche from 1975 to 1989 before eventually being replaced by the 964 generation of the 911.
The car came with a powerful turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six Boxer engine mounted in the rear. The 930 Turbo produced between 260 to 330 horsepower, depending on the model year and specifications. Its powerful turbocharged engine combined with a rear-wheel-drive setup required skilled driving, earning it the nickname "the Widowmaker."
Chevrolet Corvette (C2)
The C2 generation, particularly the 1963 model year, is regarded as one of the most beautiful and iconic Corvettes in history. The second-gen featured an all-new, more aggressive design with hidden headlights and an iconic split rear window, which was changed for the following model year.
Under the hood, the 1963 Corvette was available with various V8 engine options, offering up to 360 horsepower for high-performance versions. The Corvette's handling and performance were improved with an independent rear suspension, enhancing its status as a true sports car. It was a major improvement over the first-generation Corvette in terms of both handling and performance.
Mercedes-Benz 280SL "Pagoda"
The 280SL, also known as the "Pagoda," is a classic luxury convertible sold by Mercedes in the second half of the 1960s. It is part of the W113 series, known for its unique hardtop design that resembles the shape of a pagoda roof.
Under the hood, the 280SL was equipped with a 2.8-liter inline-6 engine, producing around 170 to 180 horsepower, depending on the model year. Its engine was paired with a smooth automatic transmission for that ultimate luxury feel. Today, The Mercedes-Benz 280SL "Pagoda" has become highly sought after by classic car enthusiasts and collectors.
This iconic Japanese sports car played a significant role in popularizing affordable and enjoyable performance cars around the globe. Marketed as the Nissan Fairlady Z in Japan, the 240Z was the first generation of the Z-car series.
Under the enormous hood, the 240z was powered by a 2.4-liter inline-6 engine rated at roughly 150 horsepower. Although far from the most powerful vehicle at the time, the 240Z was agile and incredibly fun to drive. The vehicle was praised for its well-balanced handling and performance.
Every fan of James Bond recognizes the Lotus Esprit. This automotive icon was Bond's car in "The Spy Who Loved Me". Lotus perfected the gorgeous Esprit during its lengthy production run, which lasted from the mid-70s all the way until 2004.
The original Esprit featured a mid-engine layout and a fiberglass body, contributing to its lightweight and agile performance. Over the years, it received various engine upgrades, including turbocharged versions, significantly improving its power output. Pop-up headlights remained a distinctive feature of the Esprit all the way until the model's 2004 discontinuation.
The Dodge Charger is another American classic. This muscle car became famous for its bold design and powerful performance. 1969 is among the most desired years of the Charger, appealing to collectors worldwide.
The '69 Charger features a distinctive fastback design with a full-width front grille, hidden headlights, and an iconic rear end, all making it instantly recognizable. It offered various engine options, including powerful V8s, ranging from the 318 cubic-inch to the legendary 426 Hemi and the 440-cubic-inch Magnum rated at over 400 horsepower!
Chevrolet Corvette C3
The third generation of America's first sports car debuted for the 1968 model year. It has gone down in history as arguably the most legendary generation of the Corvette.
The C3 Corvette featured a sleek, curvaceous body with hidden headlights and a removable T-top roof. It was offered with all kinds of V8 motors, from underpowered small blocks rated at under 200 horsepower all the way to powerful big blocks. The Chevrolet Corvette C3 has become a beloved classic, admired by enthusiasts and collectors alike. The model was eventually replaced by the fourth-gen Corvette for the 1984 model year.
Pontiac Trans Am
We all remember "Smokey And The Bandit," starring Burt Reynolds, who was driving a gorgeous second-gen Pontiac Trans Am. The car is essentially a high-performance version of the Firebird.
The 2nd gen Trans Am featured bold exterior design elements, such as the iconic "screaming chicken" decal on the hood and special body graphics, which made it instantly recognizable. The Trans Am was available with various engine options, the 455 Super Duty V8 being the most powerful one of them all. It offered plenty of power as well as torque, making the Trans Am a proper muscle car.
The Buick Skylark is a classic American car introduced by Buick in the first half of the 1950s. Originally developed as a full-size, it eventually transformed into a midsize by the 1960s.
The Skylark was known for its stylish design and exceptionally smooth ride. The car was available in various body styles over the years, including convertible, coupe, and sedan. Throughout its production run, the Skylark was equipped with different engine choices ranging from economical V6s to powerful V8s.
This is easily one of the most hardcore American cars of all time. The Dodge Viper was a monstrous sports car that hit the market in the early 90s. Inspired by the Lamborghini Diablo, this beast packed a 400-horsepower 8-liter V10 beneath the hood. To make matters even more extreme, Dodge only offered the car with a stick-shift transmission.
The Viper was a raw and unrefined car but also very powerful. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of over 180 mph. Its light body weighs just 3300 pounds.
Many muscle car fans seem to overlook this legendary classic. The name of this Oldsmobile refers to its four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts, which were key features of this powerful muscle car.
The 442 is a souped-up monstrosity based on the Oldsmobile Cutlass. In its most powerful variant, the Oldsmobile 442 came powered by a 455 cubic-inch V8 motor. Today, it remains highly sought-after by collectors and muscle car enthusiasts alike.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The ZR1 has got to be one of the most underrated Corvettes of all time. This is quite surprising, as it was one of the fastest production cars in the world at the time of its 1990 debut.
The ZR1 was powered by a 5.7-liter LT5 V8 engine, co-engineered with Lotus. The motor was based on the L98 V8 found in the base model, though it included a bunch of upgrades. In fact, the LT5 motor featured dual overhead camshafts and 32 valves. It produced 375 horsepower, which was a rather generous bump from the 245-horsepower base model C4.
Ford has just revived the legendary Bronco nameplate. The new Bronco is an homage to the legendary off-roader that dates back to the mid-60s. The original Ford Bronco was based on the Ford F100 pickup truck and came with either a 2.8L six-cylinder motor or a more powerful 3.0L V8 engine. Both engine options were paired with a four-speed stick shift.
The Bronco remains known for its rugged construction and its excellent ability to handle difficult terrain. The Bronco was also relatively affordable, which made it a popular choice for budget-minded buyers. Today, the classic Ford Bronco is a dream car among off-road enthusiasts and vintage car collectors alike.
Chevrolet El Camino SS
The El Camino has gone down in history as one of the only successful unibody pickups in the world. This unique vehicle combined the practicality of a pickup truck with the comfort of a coupe. Its most powerful variant, the El Camino SS, became a sought-after classic car.
The El Camino SS is a high-performance version of the Chevrolet El Camino. It came powered by a big-block 454-cubic inch V8 motor rated at an astonishing 380 horsepower. As a result, this muscle truck could reach 60 miles per hour in just 5.2 seconds!
The Javelin was a pony car produced by American Motors Corporation from 1967 to 1974. It was available with various engines, starting from a weak six-cylinder, barely pushing 140 horsepower for the base model. The more powerful variants came powered by monstrous V8 motors, including big blocks for the most demanding buyers.
The Javelin's successful motorsport career boosted its reputation even further. The car won the Trans-Am championship in '71, '72, '76. A decline in sales following the oil crisis eventually led to the discontinuation of the car after 1974.
The Impala remains one of the most legendary nameplates in GM's history. The model first appeared on the market in the late 50s and quickly became one of the best-selling vehicles in the US within the next decade.
Buyers were truly spoilt for choice when buying the Impala. The car was available in a variety of body styles, including two-door hardtop coupe, four-door hardtop sedan, four-door sedan, two-door convertible, and four-door station wagon. Available engines ranged from a weak four-cylinder motor for the base model, though buyers could upgrade to a selection of different V8 powerplants.
Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
This is one of the original rally legends. The Ford Sierra RS Cosworth was born thanks to regulations for the Group A rally racing league, which required automakers to offer roadgoing variants of the cars they'd race.
The Cosworth may have been based on an unappealing Ford Sierra, but it was powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter Cosworth YBD engine that produced 204 horsepower. The car's revised suspension made it a really lightweight beast. Unsurprisingly, The Sierra RS Cosworth was a success in motorsport, winning several races in the British Touring Car Championship and the World Rally Championship.
Porsche 911 964
Porsche unveiled the third generation of its flagship sports car, the 911, back in 1989. The first major redesign of the 911 since the 1973 G-model featured a new bodyshell with integrated bumpers, a wider track, and a more powerful engine.
The 964 was praised for its improved handling, its more powerful engine, and its luxurious interior. The 964 is widely considered to be one of the best 911 generations ever made. The souped-up Turbo and Turbo Cabriolet variants were all-wheel drive, a first for the 911. Every unit came powered by an air-cooled boxer engine fitted in the rear of the car.
The third and final generation of the Mazda RX7, one of the most legendary JDM cars of all time, arrived for the 1993 model year. It came powered by a 13B-REW twin-turbocharged rotary engine that produced 255 horsepower in the base model and 280 horsepower in the R2 variant.
Mazda managed to build around 68 000 units of the third-gen RX7. The car saw impressive success in motorsport. The RX7 was raced in a variety of series, including the IMSA GTU Championship and the Super GT Championship. It has quickly become a modern classic.
Designed by Ferdinand Porsche and released right before WW2, the Beetle is one of the world's most popular cars, with over 21 million units sold worldwide. The model was produced all the way until 2019, so buyers have plenty of generations and variants to choose from.
The Beetle was originally intended to be a cheap and reliable car that would be affordable for the average citizen. It came powered by an air-cooled boxer engine mounted in the rear of the car, a drivetrain very similar to the one found in early Porsche 911s.
You may be surprised to hear that $100 000 may get you a Lamborghini supercar. The Jalpa was a sports car produced by the Italian automaker from 1981 to 1988. It was a successor to the Silhouette and was based on the same platform. It has become criminally underrated and forgotten just a couple of years after its initial debut.
The Jalpa comes powered by a 3.5-liter V8 engine that produces 255 horsepower. The car was offered with a 5-speed stick shift or a 3-speed automatic transmission. Patient buyers may be able to get one under $100,000, but it is no easy task.
The De Tomaso Pantera is a sports car that was produced by Italian automaker De Tomaso from 1971 to 1993, and sold by Ford via Lincoln-Mercury dealerships across the United States. The American automaker eventually stopped offering the Pantera to US buyers in 1975, having sold just 5000 units.
The Pantera came powered by a V8 motor mounted behind the driver. Buyers were able to pick between coupe and targa-top body styles. The car was only offered with a stick shift transmission for that ultimate driving experience.
Lancia Delta HF Integrale
Much like the previously mentioned Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale is yet another rallying legend. In fact, this high-performance Italian rally machine won the World Rally Championship titles six years in a row starting in 1987!
This beast was based on the Lancia Delta, but it was powered by a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produced 200 horsepower. The car was only offered with a five-speed manual transmission, making it a popular choice for racing drivers and die-hard petrolheads. The Delta HF Integrale was eventually discontinued in 1994.
Nissan Skyline GTR
The R32 generation of the GTR marked a crucial milestone for Nissan. It was the first generation of the car to be exported outside of Japan, and it quickly became a cult classic among car enthusiasts worldwide.
The R32 was powered by a 2.6-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 engine that produced 276 horsepower. It was available with a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic transmission. The R32 was praised for its performance, handling, and reliability. It was also relatively affordable, making it a popular choice for racing and tuning.
This luxurious American car was produced by Cadillac from 1967 to 1970. It was part of the fourth generation of the Eldorado, which is famous for its opulent design.
The Eldorado came in both coupe and convertible versions, offering a choice of open-air driving or luxurious closed-top comfort. Under the hood, the Eldorado was powered by a monstrous V8 engine.
Plymouth Road Runner
This is yet another legendary muscle car that can be purchased for less than $100 000. The Plymouth Road Runner was essentially a souped-up monstrosity based on the Plymouth Valiant. It was offered from 1968 all the way until 1980.
The iconic first generation of the car was sold for just 3 model years starting in 1968. It was named after a cartoon character from the Looney Tunes series. The automaker designed it to be a fun and affordable car that was also capable of high performance.
This is your chance to own a piece of automotive history. The Porsche 356 is the automaker's first production car. This is the vehicle that established the German company as a key player in the automotive world.
The 356 was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. This sports car was based on the Volkswagen Beetle. The 356 came powered by a rear-mounted air-cooled flat-four engine that produced 40 to 110 horsepower, depending on the year and variant. The 356 was eventually discontinued in the mid-1960s and replaced by the Porsche 911.
BMW 3.0 CSL
The 3.0CSL is one of the most legendary BMW sports cars of all time. It debuted in 1971 as a lightweight, race-ready version of the 3.0CS. The 3.0CSL was a real race car disguised as a regular coupe.
The BMW 3.0CSL was powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that produced 200 horsepower. The car was instantly praised by critics and owners alike for its excellent handling, jaw-dropping performance, and unique style. The 3.0CSL saw major success in motorsport, winning several races in the European Touring Car Championship.