14 Cars Under $5k – Which Would You Pick?


Reader Robert R. sent in 14 finds under $5,000 from Hemmings Motor News with a challenge: which one would we pick? So we’re asking you–which one would YOU pick?

  • 1964 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, stored since 1989, needs motor and transmission, link here, located in Waverly, Minnesota, $3,500 negotiable.
  • 1965 Cushman Super Eagle scooter, survivor, 9,100 miles, runs and drives excellent, new parts, link here, located in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, $3,600.
  • 1964 Dodge Dart GT convertible, 5oth Anniversary model, 20-year owner, mostly original paint, link here, located in Oakland, California, $4,500.
  • 1963 Ford Falcon Futura, 87k miles on original running gear, runs and drives, needs paint and parking brake, link here, located in Kent, Washington, $3,800 obo.
  • 1968 Fiat 850 Spider, complete except soft top and frame, not running in over 15+ years, rusted floorboards, link here, located in Montgomery City, Missouri, $4,575 firm.
  • 1978 Pontiac Firebird Esprit, stored for 19 years, some rust, second owner, ~156k miles, factory 8-track (!), link here, located in West Central, Indiana, $1,900 firm.
  • 1961 Ford Galaxie, was a daily driver until new radiator started to leak, lots of work done, a/c (non-working), link here, located in Houston, Texas, $4,000 negotiable.
  • 1963 King Midget Series III Convertible, low mileage mostly original car, one repaint, re-powered with 16 hp engine, link here, located in Kearney, Missouri, $4,500 negotiable.
  • 1969 Saab Sonnett II, non-running V-4 that turns freely, fiberglass mostly good, floor pan and rocker rusted out, link here, located in Slatersville, Rhode Island, $2,800 firm.
  • 1952 Studebaker 2R 05 pickup, relatively solid metal, some rust on driver’s floor, half ton short box model, link here, located in Ottertail, Minnesota, $3,950 obo.
  • 1965 Triumph TR4, rust in rockers and lower fenders, engine apart, stored in garage for over 30 years, link here, located in Sunderland, Vermont, $4,000 negotiable.
  • 1969 Chrysler 300, one owner, stored in carport for over 34 years, 440 V-8 turns over, some rust, link here, located in Burien, Washington, $2,750.
  • 1973 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Deluxe, 44k original miles, original paint, no significant rust, needs tuneup, lots of history, link here, located in Brooklyn, New York, $3,500
  • 1966 Volvo P1800S, stored for 8 years after significant work done and new parts installed, needs completion, link here, located in Collingswood, New Jersey, $4,999 negotiable.

So which one would you choose? I’m leaning towards the Vista Cruiser, but I can’t help thinking about the 300. And you could always combine two of the lower-priced cars, such as the 300 and the Esprit. I just can’t decide! I’m looking forward to what you folks have to say below.


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  1. gene sweeney


  2. randy

    Nice wide variety there, I’d take the vista cruiser if it were a lot closer. It has the 350 rocket engine in it. One of the guys I went to high school with got even with the golf course for closing down our motorcross track by doing donuts on their greens in his moms vista cruiser. He got caught of course.
    His mom’s had the 455 engine in it.

  3. Kevin

    1963 King Midget

  4. JW454

    I’d have to go the the Olds. wagon also. My second choice would be the Pontiac Convertible.

  5. David Frank David Member

    I’d take the Olds wagon, the Vista Cruiser. If it’s as advertised, that’s a nice old car for the money, not much fun to drive but useful and a nice ride and not bad looking.

  6. Modifieddriver

    Think I’d have to go with the ’69 Chrysler 300 with 440 engine. Probably the best bang for the buck. The stuck engine hurts, but when was the last time you saw one of these. Second would be the Vista-Cruiser. But being from NY I’d bet there’s some rust issues. Every northern car I’ve owned or looked at has some rust problems underneath.

  7. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    Olds is a good deal…so is the Dart

  8. Rich

    Surprised how much attention that wagon is getting!!! For me it’d be the Studebaker or Volvo.

  9. Glen

    Chrysler 300.

  10. Rudy

    I’d take the Fiat Spider. I know parts are hard to come by and it’s old and Italian, but it’s hard to beat a small roadster flying around back country roads or around town. It also wouldn’t hurt that it’d be something you wouldn’t see every day.

  11. Mark E

    You know me and strange old cars. I’d love that King Midget! ^_^

  12. jim s

    i will take the falcon as a driver, it is ready to go and is a manual. a lot of interesting vehicles and work went into this. great fun. thanks

  13. Ceezy

    I’d have to go with that 300.

  14. High Hope

    How could anyone actually put 9,100 miles on that hard tail Cushman? Is that a typo, and it really should read 910 miles? If so, even that would be torture.

    I’ll take the Vista Cruiser, hands down. Lots to like about that one.

  15. Bobsmyuncle

    I’m with you. Vista and 300. Be tough to decide which though…

    While I’m typing does anyone else find responding to posts on a mobile to be a terribly glitch filled experience? Trying to decide if it’s the phone or the site?

  16. don

    the Vista wagon

  17. Rob

    64 Bonnie, 61 Galaxie, 69 300, 64 Dart, 78 Firebird would be my top 5.

  18. George

    The Vista Cruiser has an attractive price and the condition looks really good. However it doesn’t have the Vista roof which drops it down a few pegs. Popup Vista vent? Looks like your standard aftermarket sunroof to me. I wouldn’t want to be in the back though, AC in these were weak at best and definitely did not reach the back. That’s why most wagons had a rear window that went down, so you could asphyxiate the kids from the exhaust while they tried to cool off.

    I don’t think they even took it out of the garage if it snowed. My grandfather rented a garage a good distance away from his apartment in Brooklyn, so his car was also in great condition with low miles mainly in jaunts upstate or to Long Island.

  19. George

    I do like the hood latch on the Dart though!

  20. Gary

    I would go with the ’64 Bonneville ragtop, providing rust is not a major issue. My second choice would have to be the Dodge Dart ragtop, I’m a convertible guy no doubt….

  21. dennis

    1969 300 For sure! Love those things. I used to go to the Chrysler Plymouth(remember them) dealer every 4 days and look at the Mopars in the summer of 69 They were brand new.. I can still smell them, just awesome.. I’ll never forget it..

  22. scottymac

    I always wanted a Studebaker pickup like this one. Take a grill from a B-61 Mack and make a Mack pickup truck. The cabs look so similar I think a person could pull it off.

  23. Mark

    I’d pass on all of them. They’re all over priced and not worth the cost to repair or restore.

  24. chirs Member

    The TR for sure

  25. Rex Kahrs Member

    I really like this concept of choosing between a group of cars at this price point…kudos to whomever came up with this idea.

    I’ve owned the Dart and the Volvo. On these two cars, the rust repair gets quite expensive. Mechanically speaking, the DIY restorer can handle both of these cars, and parts aren’t too prohibitive. Of the whole group, the Volvo may have the best upside potential as these sporty little tanks gain popularity.

    My vote is the Vista Cruiser….looks to have the least amount of rust, has nice exterior cosmetics, and if it runs and drives well, it could be a cheap fun summer cruiser to drive to Home Depot for that new grill or window air conditioner unit. Come Friday night drive it to Sonic for a Chicago-style hotdog, fries, and a Coke. Perfect.

  26. fogline

    Studebaker – looks pretty straight and not too bad. Rust on the floor seems like an easy fix.

    The Vista Cruiser is the same year and same car as my first (a Cutlass Supreme) with 2 (3) more doors, which would bring back memories. That 350 engine was just great! Certainly a boat, but think of all the uses. I can’t imagine my girlfriends parents would have allowed her to go out with me in that though. Definitely a close second.

  27. novadude

    Studebaker all the way, would probably make it a driver with updated drive train and possibly a frame swap,,,

  28. Jim Simpson

    The 1969 Saab Sonett V-4 cool cars with many things to recommend them, not the fastest car in the bunch but quirky and cool and fun to drive, with its 4 on the tree…

  29. Steve

    The Volvo. Always liked the look. Underpowered but built strong and are becoming more valuable by the week

  30. MikeH

    After wasting more time than I can afford, there is too much rust for this southern boy. You can buy these cars in Texas WITHOUT rust. I don’t think I would want any of these cars. The Midget is the best buy.

  31. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    The first one to catch my eye was the Galaxie. It would be a cool cruiser.
    But, I’d probably go for the 300.

    You should do this more often.

  32. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    the 300….then the midget….

  33. St. Ramone de V8

    Great feature! Good fun. I’d take the Pontiac convert, or do a “Barney Fife” tribute with the Galaxie.

  34. Ric Parrish

    The ‘4, hands down.

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