You can build a great car collection for $30,000


We’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of a “better” way to collect automobiles. While we’re reticent to state any form of collecting is incorrect, the backbone of our love for cars is the experience they can provide, particularly behind the wheel. Because of that desire to drive, we’re curious if it wouldn’t be better to buy a whole stable of less expensive, yet still collectible, cars rather than one single more expensive car. In this case, would our theoretical $30,000 bank account be better depleted buying a decent Ferrari Mondial or a stable full of five wildly different driving experiences?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/05/08/you-can-build-a-great-car-collection-for-30000


Don’t see this one guys. Look’s like its designed to sell insurance. Would much rather have the Ferrari for 30K

I would walk right past the line of five you have chosen.


They will sell as much insurance on the single Ferrari, so I disagree at the ‘design’ of the article.
Great concept! Variety is the spice of life, and this idea of a 30K stable of five really appeals to having fun doing different things. Collecting means learning, acquiring, enjoying, and sharing your items. The idea in the article allows the ‘everyman’ to be a car collector, rather than reserving the title for the pretentious millionaires.


I would totally agree with the RX-7–great car for the time and not bad even today. I would even consider the Country Squire; hard to imagine how useful these big wagons were. I had a couple of big Pontiac wagons from 1979-1980, and they were absolutely great cars. Have to pass on the Maseratti–hard to imagine where I could get parts or service on that. I had a new 1961 Bug Eye Sprite, and for absolute fun in driving, nothing has ever topped that. They are primitive by today’s standards, but they were so much fun back in the day, and on the rare occasion that you see one today they still bring a smile to everyone who sees one.


Really like this concept. This could become a trend. Having a small stable of near classics allows for more vehicle variety to suit intended uses. Going on a road trip down quesrionable roads, or in iffy weather? Take the old beater 4 door. Going to a fancy place for dinner? Take the GT car. Parking lot autocross? Take the 2 seat sports car. Etc.

Why have all your eggs in one basket?

Main negative to the multi car approach is, you guessed it, SPACE. Where to store them all? Inside is best, if you want them preserved, safe, and ready to use. Space is key to your decision.

Here’s my suggested lineup to suit a 30K budget. I wouldn’t get to caught up in mirror finish paint jobs, etc. Just make sure the vehicle you select is in the best mechanical shape you can afford.

The point here would be, get out and DRIVE EM.

  1. Sports / GT: Porsche 944 - better style & interior than 924S. The later the year, the better. S or S2 models even better. So balanced, so nimble, so easy in traffic, so practical with the hatch, I could go on but won’t. I own one, nuff said. Many made, many are available- buy the best you can afford - $6 to 10 K.

  2. Road Bomber : An older US full size sedan from 61 - 70, for example, Buick Electra 225. Mad Men era GM sedans really were the standard of the world then - hey can’t be beat for a dependale, roomy road tripper with friends or family alike. Other possibilities: Chrysler Newport, Lincoln Continental, Ford LTD. $3 to 5K

  3. Little Sporty Car: Late 80s Honda CRX Si, or possibly an “ABC” series kei car for a real tiny treat (Autozam, Beat, or Cappucino). Zippy, practical little gas-sippers that never fail to put a smile on your face. $5 to 8K

  4. Convertible/ Roadster: Mercedes SL, your choice of two eras, 71-89, or 90-00. Real tanks, dependable, solid road cars, great parts support, undervalued for the build quality. Many choices on the market at any time for $6 - 10K

  5. If there is $ left over, find an older, well looked after, highly optioned US or Japanese pickup, for practical hauling or off road fun, take care of it, and get your money back when you sell it. $3 to 5K.


I’m pleased with the variety of enjoyment I receive from my modest collection:
2008 Ford Mustang GT Bullitt Edition
1972 VW Beetle Classic
2006 Ford F-150 XLT 4x4 Crew Cab
1987 Pontiac Fiero Sport Edition


I have a GREAT old wagon story to share. Last September I bought a 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser thru an on-line auction in upstate NY ( I live in Silicon Valley ) Saw it, just had to have it, so I bought it. The ad said it had sat in a barn for over 15 years and “had been previously owned by a mechanic”…whatever that means The pictures showed an absolutely mint condition wagon ( it’s Emerald Green w/ the vinyl wood paneling ) It was in NY, had a 15 year old expired tag and NO title…so I got it pretty cheap. Showed up 2 months later and after the driver rolled it off the truck and I started it up, I suddenly realized this wasn’t your grandpa’s wagon! Searching by the VIN number, it came back to a guy in Wake Forrest, NC. So I got on yellow pages. com and literally started cold-calling every person in Wake Forest w/ the same last name…after about 25 calls, Woman answered the phone and when I asked if there was a John ( last name withheld ) she paused and said well John was my father. I replied that I’d just purchased an old wagon on-line, and she blurts out OMG is it green, Said yea it sure is. Then she said “Oh, that was dads favorite toy” and I asked what do yo mean by toy? Then she tells me that her father was a NASCAR team racing mechanic his whole career!! and he’d built this to go racing in.

Turns out he’d put in an over-sized radiator, dropped in a big block Olds 403 motor that had been bored out “30 over” w/ racing pistons, rods, rings, bearings, cam lifters, intake manifold, 4 barrel Edelbrock carb…which brought it up to just about 450 H.P.!!! Not happy with that, he married this monster of an engine to the transmission, drivetrain, POSI-traction rear end plus coil springs over air bags + H.D. shocks + anti-sway bar…all of which came from an 87 Buick GNX!!! So she sent me a picture of her dad at a drag strip with the front wheels OFF THE GROUND as the christmas tree turns green. And his times were 0 -60 in 5.1 seconds and a 1/4 mile time of 13.24!! for a friggin station wagon. I still can’t believe he got the front end in the air when you see the size of the massive hunka hunka iron that consumes the entire engine bay!! Also has the “Rally Cluster” dashboard w/ a tachometer and the “SSII” mag wheels ( like the 442 had ), dual exhausts with a pair of Flow Masters on him, all new AC, which had frozen up sitting in the barn, and large front wheel disk brakes…none of which were available on the station wagons. A stone cold massive racing car hiding inside a mint condition, totally gorgeous SLEEPER!! with 36,000 original miles on him. I “stole” it for $6500, cost me $1200 for shipping, and a couple grand for all new belts, hoses, fluids, a new gas tank, etc. So I’ve got about $11,000 invested and have already turned down $30,000 for my “80WOODY” cause I had to get the new (old style) CA plates that are yellow w/ black background I have never had so much fun in my life nor met so many people who just go ga-ga over “WOODY”


I’m not a fan of foreign cars so I wouldn’t pick any on the list but I do like the idea of a variety of American cars which is pretty much how my collection is structured.


I like this concept, but I personally am into driver quality cars and I like variety. We have an old Mazda Miata - tons of fun, reasonably priced and readily available, decently priced parts. The maintenance record on these cars is good. You can also find Corvairs at bargain basement prices. I consider mine to be a poor-man’s Porche. I also like station wagons and pickup trucks. Another fun niche is micro cars. Vintage speedsters are a lot of fun too.


That Country Squire reminds me of the family truckster from the Griswalds


Or do what most AMC/Rambler guys have done – pick a less popular make. Many got into AMCs because the prices were lower than comparable, more popular cars. Popularity drives price, not rarity! If you have the last of a make/model and no one wants it, doesn’t matter that it’s rare – it’s only worth what someone will give for it, and if no one wants it… I get “I can’t remember the last time I saw a Rambler station wagon, that must be worth some money!” all the time. I like the idea of spreading your collector money over a variety of lower priced cars, one make or many. Can’t be in it for the money though, just for the fun of owning and driving. Another bonus is you’re more likely to drive a $5-8K car than a more expensive collectible. Of course many of us Rambler guys fret a little over accidents because collision repair parts are hard to find – have to be used, as no one repros them, and NOS is extremely hard to find. I’ve always kept a parts car mainly for that reason, or at least a collection of parts from a stripped rust bucket. If I need a front fender I’m good, but only have a right rear quarter… stripped my car that was totaled (T-boned on drivers side) of usable parts and have held onto them for years… and will continue as long as I own the car! Doesn’t matter that the car is only worth $10-12K in the open market… it’s MINE and I put a lot of sweat into it! A guy at a show kept bugging me as to what it was worth. I finally told him I’d take $20K for it. His surprised reaction was “it’s worth that much?” I told him honestly no, it wasn’t, but that’s what it would take to buy it from me.


For affordability and personal preference, I’m going to go in all 80s on this one.

1985 Mustang GT-last year of carb with the highest output (210 hp), while still wearing the 4 eye nose and sweet Marchal fog lights. Can still be had for 6-8 grand in nice condition.

1984 Porsche 944-I know the 924 is cheaper, but I have to go with the bigger brother. Probably my favorite German from this era. I picked 84 because its year 2 and they can be had for under 9 grand in relatively clean shape. Plus, I’m a sucker for fender flares and Fuchs…which brings me to my next choice

1989 Conquest TSI -Fender flares galore! Also my favorite Japanese from this era. Last year of model and has the wider rear wheel/tire option. 188 turbocharged hp fun. Also can be had under 9 grand in decent shape. (praying for mercy from the Mitsubishi electric gremlins gods)

1985 Olds 442-would like to put a turbo Regal here, but funds won’t allow. So a 442 is not a bad consolation. Very sharp car, 180 hp, and a way cool cruiser. These are a little harder to find under 10 grand in nice shape, but I think I can fit it in.


Give is reasonable but our seven cover pretty much what we enjoy. Admittedly, we are not within the $30k cap, but here goes:

1915 Hudson Six-40 Phaeton is a dependable comfortable car for Brass-Era touring

1930 Packard 733 Dual Windshield 7-passenger Touring is a “relatively” affordable open “Full Classic” and is perfect for Caravan and Glidden tours, as well as cross-state weekends

1937 Buick Raodmaster Phaeton - a 4-door convertible sedan Parade Car with the presence, class, and style to exude the elegance of the era, but the guts and stamina to head out cross-country without apology

1941 Cadillac convertible cabriolet - the single most popular CCCA Classic, magnificent style combined with supreme dependability and class - an all-around favorite, both ours and everyone who sees us drive it

1954 Cadillac convertible - the ultimate '50s Luxo-cruiser. We have enjoyed this delightful and veluptuous enchantress on a 10,000 mile road trip, and expect to do it over and over again - put smiles on our faces, and everyone who sees us on the road

1966 Corvair Monza convertible - just the basic 110hp engine, rowed with the 4-speed stick - likely the most fun you could have on a strict budget - this thing is Americas answer to/ improvement on a Porsche, and without the Swing Axle which Ralphie Nader didn’t fully understand was even worse in the V-Dub/Porsche

1988 Red Corvette Convertible - the most comfortable, dependable, economical, fun-to-drive low-cost true sports car. We cruise cross-country top-down with the A/C blasting, cruise control set to the West Texas 80mph limit, old cassette tapes of ABBA, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Beach Boys, Beatles, etc, - sun in our faces, wind in what is left of my hair, my bride of 49 years at my side - life does not get any better!

Do I want other toys? Of course, but for now these will do . Five nay have been the guideline for this thread, but sometimes we just choose to think outside the box, and to color outside of the lines. I

3 very different cars

@Harrdware - Nice well rounded list. I like the inclusion of the CRX SI, as it would be a reliable affordable sporty driving car. I would take the CRX over a Beat or Autozam just based on the ability to do highway speeds comfortably.


I got all stoked up when I saw the '81 RX7 because I had a GSL model in exactly the same color combo with the Recaro seats. Great commute car except for the constant shifting between 1st and 2nd in bumper to bumper traffic. I disagree, however, with the assessment that the car was slow. Mine was certainly a decent comparison to the '72 240Z that I had previously. I have noticed that both those cars have almost disappeared from the scene in recent years. Unfortunately I think that you concentrated on too many really “meh” European cars and not enough vintage American iron. Who cares if the Masarati (sp?) is cheap? It’s a basically uninteresting Italian POS. The Ford LTD Squire wagon is something from the back row of a used car lot. The 924 was an embarrassment when they were new. And the alternative Mundial is just a click better than the Masarati. Another “who cares” Italian with expensive maintenance costs.


But wait a minute: first you’ll have to spend 30 grand or more to acquire the land and build a storage facility for that fleet of collectibles or figure on monthly storage that will be huge over the long term. So the cost doesn’t even begin to compare to that of owning one vehicle purchased for the same price and kept at home in your garage. Add the maintenance, licensing and insurance costs and the bar is even higher.


I agree, you can build a collection for $30k. I Love all kinds of cars and your suggested collection sounds great. I started to do something similar, but I seemed to have skewed toward the British cars. I have a wish list of about 40 cars, but it seems like ones that are not on the list keep popping up that are too hard to resist. The first and favorite is my 1992 Jaguar XJS V12 convertible. I was looking for a first gen Miata when I found that one. Then came the 1993 Cadillac Allanté. Next was a rescue, the 1992 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign that I bid on because the price was too low. It has turned out to be a very reliable rust-free gem and a pleasure to drive. Then when I wasn’t looking, a friend that has a TR8 ran across a one family Triumph TR7 with only 23k miles, no rust, just needing a few minor things and some TLC. I couldn’t pass it up for $1,200 including shipping. It is going to be a nice one. So, except for the XJ6, all are two seat roadsters. I still have a ways to go before I spend $30k. Hagerty insurance is very reasonable. Annual tags here are only $20 and no emissions after the Allanté’s last test in August. I’m in clubs for all of them and drive all of them regularly to different events and shows. When I retire, sell my house and move to my other house with room for a garage/shop, I WILL be building one. I’ll also have room for more cars from that list then. :wink:


So the insurance on all these would not be great. The insurance on the Ferrari, as a weekend driver, would be about $550…annually. I’m guessing for the 5 cars, with maintenance, your at $3-4000 annually. Now if the Ferrari goes sideways on you from a repair standpoint the 5 car setup would be looking pretty good. The Ferrari requires a belt service every 15000 miles or 7 years and that can run $2500-$9000 depending… AMHIK


Nope, my four together are about half of my daily driver annual insurance. It is all based on the agreed value and your driving history and the coverage on your primary vehicle from your primary insurance company. Adding my TR7 was next to nothing. With them stacked or whatever they call it, the more you have the less it costs. Give Hagerty a call and get a quote, the next time you are considering adding another car or two. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. If it weren’t for them, I couldn’t afford to collect.


Ok, I’ll play. I’ve given it some thought and tried to mix it up enough not to make anyone upset over being too much import or too much domestic. A couple of the picks are coming from personal experience and I still own one on the list. My picks lean more toward sportiness as that tends to be the type of vehicle I prefer.
The list:

  1. 1988 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe-Fox body without being a Mustang, same 2.3 litre turbo motor as found in the SVO Mustang making close to 200 HP slightly detuned because well, it wasn’t a Mustang. The previous redesign of the T-Bird was a sales disaster for Ford but this model helped Ford recover somewhat. Love the menacing looking hood nostrils, make mine black with red side moulding stripes please. Decent examples can be found for $5000 or so.

  2. 1980-'83 BMW 320i-I’m giving away a personal secret here, but this is one great collectible car that is flying well under the radar. No, it’s not an E30, who cares? there’s too many posers flying around in clapped out E30’s anyway. No, I’ll stick with my E21’s, same iconic M10 motor as found in the 2002 and some of Paul Bracqs best styling in my opinion. Bulletproof mechanicals and dead easy to work on. Very good examples can be found for less than $5000 (Ask me how I know.)

  3. Late 70’s Volvo 240 Wagon-The utilitarian of this group. Load it up with the dogs, fishing gear, plywood, landscape blocks, whatever, It works. The “brick” had a long time reputation for setting industry standards for safety and guess what, It’s really slow, perfect for your new teen age driver to get their feet wet without getting in trouble. Pick one up for around $3500-4000.

  4. 1984 Dodge Daytona Turbo-Another long forgotten flyer from the '80’s. One of Lee Iaccoca’s hot rod takes on the K-Car. 2.2 litre turbo making 142 HP pushing the front wheels in a beautifully designed fastback body. I had a new one in 1984 and it is one car that I’d really love to have back, when that turbo spooled up and it sang it’s song, there wasn’t many cars of the era that would stay with it. The earlier bodies with the open headlights without all the aero-goo-gaws and swiss cheese wheels are much prettier in my opinion.It had comparable performance numbers to the Porsche 944 of the same year. One disclaimer: Wicked nasty torque steer, be forewarned!
    You can have them all day at $5000 if you can find them.

And that would leave me with $11,000 or so which could open a number of possibilities including;
'66 MGB-one of the best years of the chrome bumper B’s making the biggest HP for these cars before the feds wrecked them, any number of Corvair Monza’s, a Model A Ford.
I might even have money left to get them all insured on my Hagerty’s policy. Now where am I going to put them all…