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Where Have All The Affordable Cars Gone?

1964 Jaguar E-Type

If you are going to spend the kind of money needed to own an E-Type, you might as well spring for a Series 1 Roadster. As with many collector cars, the first generation really is the best. The covered headlights look more sleek than the later versions and the toggle switches in the dash are just so much cooler than rocker switches! Those may seem like little details, but it’s details like those that make these early cars so desirable. Just take a look the crazy bidding on this car here on eBay as proof!

E-Type Interior

This car has been battered and bruised. There’s rust and there’s parts missing, but there are more at least a few people out there who can see right through that and imagine what this cat could look like restored. E-Types slotted somewhere between a cheap British roadster and something expensive like an Aston Martin. It could run with the high-end stuff though. As a result these cars were very sought after when new and still are today. Still, I think the seller may be dreaming with that $68k “Buy It Now” price, but you never know. Perhaps these are on their way up too?

Jaguar Inline-Six

The E-Type was on my bucket list, but the price of this rough project dampens my spirits. I was just telling Josh that I’ve accepted the fact that there are just some cars that I’ll never be able to own so there’s no sense in looking at them. He says I’m too realistic and that most people like to dream about things they really can’t have. That’s the appeal behind the whole genie in the bottle thing. Who wouldn’t like to get 3 wishes?


Still, I’m tempted to stick a $5k price cap on everything we feature for a week and see what happens. There would be no E-Types, no 356s, and no big-block muscle cars here. So would anyone even want to come to site anymore? There is something intriguing about a valuable car that is all rusted out even if you still can’t afford it. What do you think though – should I just give up my fight for the cheap classic car and accept the truth?


  1. Avatar photo yaug

    I like seeing the mix of everything. It’s enjoy seeing what people will waste their money on. I personally love seeing the vastly different makes, and models. Maybe one day I will see my own heeps on here.

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  2. Avatar photo Frankie Paige

    With 48 bidders on a car selling for the price of a home in really good shape in Wiscosin I have to wonder if they’re real or recently released from the local mental health hospital. Really nice car, but for the buy it now price someone obviously has some plans for it, that and a butt load of money.

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    • Avatar photo Jesse Staff

      There are actually only 9 bidders and 69 bids, but still.

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      • Avatar photo Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings Jesse,

        Like the idea of a $5K cap for a week, or even every now and then!

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  3. Avatar photo Glenn

    On this occasion the price does seem silly and over the top. But, overall you guys in the USA are getting offered classic cars at about 30% of what they would be worth here in Scotland.
    If only I was younger!?!?
    I saw a REO Speedwagon firetruck abandoned and for sale. Thought it would be worth buying and shipping to USA. Looks like it wouldn’t even cover shipping costs to buy it and send it home.

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  4. Avatar photo Lee H.

    Hey Jesse, no way I could pay $100,000 plus for a rust bucket Porsche, but it’s still fun to read about it!

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  5. Avatar photo ron tyrrell

    Well I think the idea is grand speaking of the 5 K cap. Here are a few cars that can still be bought that are a lot of fun that are under 5 K. M.G.s, Sprites, Sunbeam Alpines, Datsun Roadsters both 2000 and 1600, Datsun 240, Jensen Healys , Triumph Spitfires, Honda Preludes, Fiat 124 and lastly Alpha 2000 roadster with bad fuel injection. I think the 2000 Datsun Roadster is the hidden value here and they will soon be out of this range

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  6. Avatar photo randy

    The series I XKE’s have been stupid priced since the 80’s. It’s just worse now.
    Folks with money need a safe haven for their cash, because the stock market and banks are no longer a safe place to keep extra cash. This bubble will pop eventually, and us poor boys will be able to pick up restored cars for a box of food!

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    • Avatar photo Mike S

      In 1984 I sold my ’67 XKE coupe series 1 1/2(on the cuspe!) for $4500. It was a nice driver cream yellow with biscuit interior. Today I couldn’t afford that car unless I won the lottery!

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  7. Avatar photo fred

    Randy speaks the truth. The high price of old cars is artificial and will eventually plummet, especially on those once revered by us baby boomers (and older) like Model A’s and T’s, 30’s and 40’s, etc. When investors no longer want to park their money in them, down they will go.

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  8. Avatar photo G.P.

    I would take that money and buy me a brand new Hellcat any day of the week.

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    • Avatar photo randy

      I might as well, but the people buying these types of cars probably already have a “his and hers” Hellcat, and one with 8 miles on it in the Basement of their mansion.

      I do not want a 5K cap, unless you can preface the BF’s over or under 5K, so we don’t miss any “good stuff”.

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  9. Avatar photo Oldcarsarecool

    I didn’t seen any pics of the undercarriage in the listing. But it doesn’t appear to be nearly as rusted out as others I’ve seen online. A restoration appears to have been started . . .

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  10. Avatar photo 64 bonneville

    How about a split? under $5K and over $5K scattered through out the barnfinds.com website? When I started in the hobby, in the very early 70s’, I would look at cars under $500.00 and over $500.00. Many that I bought and restored were $75-$150.00 purchase price. Yes, some of them did look the “stupid money” asking prices of today. However there were so many more salvage yards to pick and choose from and parts in the $5.00 to $75.00 range it was not a problem getting the parts needed. a couple of examples were a complete front clip for a 64 Bonneville for $65.00, already pulled, and $25.00 aluminum cased Powerglides that worked!
    Things have surely changed, not necessarily for the better, but it is still a fun hobby, and the basis for many long lasting friendships.

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  11. Avatar photo Gary

    Too many Drunk n High on Crack bidders!

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  12. Avatar photo jimbosidecar

    Anytime I see a series 1 for sale in New England I have to look. I sold a ’67 that I bought as a basketcase in 1982, and restored it. I swore than, I’d never do another E Type. I think I sold it for $16,000 in the mid 1990s.

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  13. Avatar photo Gerry

    Hemmings does a 3 at a time vintage cars priced @ $5000.00 each ? It’s interesting to see what is offered, and the interest in each.

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  14. Avatar photo Coventry Cat

    Must have been parked next to a basket case Porsche and the magical rust spread.

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  15. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    “should I just give up my fight for the cheap classic car and accept the truth?”
    It depends on what you mean by ‘cheap’ and ‘classic’.

    Earlier today this site featured a group of 3 Sprites plus lots of parts for $17K. Fix them up, sell 2, and you could end up with a very cheap Sprite. Is it classic enough? That’s your call.

    There’s no stopping the progression of time, inflation, other car guys’ desires and big budgets, or anything else that affects classic car prices. I suppose you could wait for another big recession or financial meltdown (thanks, Wall St!) to bring prices down, but that would bring a whole bunch of other problems.

    Life is too short to get down because I can’t afford a mega-dollar rusted out 356 or early E-Type that I’ll need to pump more mega-dollars into before it will go down the road under its own power.

    What I do is to think like ron tyrrell: What appeals to me that I can afford? I have owned, or now own, a number of the interesting, cheap cars that he mentions. I find that satisfying. That, and my non-classic 1990s DD that will run rings around all of them without breaking a sweat.

    Then there’s the question, What’s an appealing car right now that’s cheap enough to afford but might get expensive down the road because people might begin to think that it’s “classic”? If you can think of one maybe you should act now.

    I think Glenn’s point is worth keeping in mind. Many No Americans forget, or maybe never realized, that things in No America are more plentiful and cheaper than they are in lots of other places.

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  16. Avatar photo grant

    Personally, I don’t every expect to be able to afford some of these cars. I just like cars. As for some of the rustier ones, they are art to me. There was another site that featured, um, cars in barns, but it hasn’t been updated in forever. I am not sure why. But myself, I like seeing the old, crusty survivors. They are rolling history. And it’s fun to dream.

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  17. Avatar photo Roy

    Still plenty of old iron to be found in South America, with some bargains to be had, if you’re willing to travel. Here’s a link to ebay Uruguay: http://vehiculos.mercadolibre.com.uy/autos-coleccion/.

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Wayne

    Sold, for US$40K+….??????? I must be missing something.

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    • Avatar photo Horse Radish

      NOT SOLD, reserve not met.
      Believe it or not the seller is holding out for more.

      The E-type bubble is crazier than the Porsche 356 or 911 bubble.
      Those Jaguars were crappy cars from what I remember (am I the only one who does ?) 30 years ago.
      With Porsches at least there is hope for a decent outcome.

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  19. Avatar photo Barry T

    $40,650.00 seems to be the ending price.

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    • Avatar photo Francisco

      Did not sell. Reserve was not met.

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  20. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Yes, sadly, I think we have to give up on affordable USABLE cars. Once in a while, an unknowing person will feature a car ( usually with no automotive knowledge) and a good deal can be had, but unless you live under a rock, you should know old cars bring big money ( theoretically) regardless of condition.
    I too have always wanted an E type, but there’s no way now. I came close, though. When I bought my ’71 MGB in ’73, on the lot right next to the MG was a ’70 E type convertible. They wanted $1995 for the MG and $2895 for the Jag. $900 was a lot of money then, and the bank wouldn’t give me more than $2000. Try as I did to get the extra money for the Jag, the bank guy wouldn’t do it ( I was just a kid out of high school) The MG was a great car, always remember, I was “this” close to a Jag.

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  21. Avatar photo leiniedude Member

    Not sure why I find this funny, the ad said for questions call Ray or Dan Crook. Honey, I just bought a Jag from a couple of Crooks!

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    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      Hi lienedude, HA, that’s your “Wisconsin dry humor” coming through.

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      • Avatar photo leiniedude Member

        You nailed it Howard! Have a great New Year! Mike.

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    • Avatar photo randy

      No better profession for a couple of Crooks, eh?

      Who’da ever thunk that two boys named Crook would have grown up to be used car salesmen.

      I bet they have heard them all more than once.

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  22. Avatar photo Chuck F 55chevy

    I have a neat looking Jag XK convertible for sale at only $3900! Everyone in my small town thinks it’s the neatest looking car. Granted, it’s a 1997 XK8, but when I drive it topless, I imagine it’s really a XKE, and young ladies like to wave at me, better get you one before the prices go up. ;) I know, some one should make a fiberglass kit to make an XK8 look like an XKE, maybe just adding chrome bumperettes might work.
    There was a decent E Type coupe on craigslist in my area for only $9,000 last summer, I was surprised it took a while to sell it, the seller told me he wanted a local sale and wouldn’t work with an out of town buyer to ship it.

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    • Avatar photo Thomas K

      I agree — there are so many interesting cars available for 5K or less. One just has to look outside the standard set of cars. If you want a Jag you can buy XK8’s or XJS’s for less than 10K every day. Need a sedan? No problem you can buy X-types or S-types for the same money. Wait –you say they’re complicated? So were E-types when compared to a ’64 Impala. Parts are hard to find? Simply not true. Keep your eyes open — they are out there. Happy New Year!

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  23. Avatar photo Nessy

    In 1995 which was not that long ago, I bought a good looking and running 70 E Type for 5000 which I still have today. Yes, it’s a 2+2 which I happen to like the longer body anyway and it’s an automatic. However, the car never let me down and even the AC blows cold.

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  24. Avatar photo derek

    The last RHD flat-floor OTS that sold (restored) went for GBP290,000 (US$427k) in 2015 so the later series 1 OTS cars (incl. LHD which are often converted to RHD) are starting to climb.

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  25. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    Volvo 1800: $3500. Renault Caravelle: $2000. MGB: $2200. MB Ponton 190D: $1800. BMW 2002 with no rust and blown engine: $600. 65 Skylark with 300V8: $3000. That’s what, $13,100 for 6 cars.

    With the exception of the BMW , these are/were running and driving cars that I improved, enjoyed, and sold on the next owner. The BMW cost me 6K to rebuild the engine and brakes and suspension, but it runs like new and is still in the garage. The Buick need some rust repair and an interior, but otherwise runs like new as I bought it. I cruise the Buick every day.

    None of these cars are split-windows or E-types, but they are lots of fun and hobby enjoyment for reasonable money, and none of them broke the bank in replacement parts or repairs. Next in my sights? Something AMC I’m thinking, or a Studebaker Daytona. Maybe a truck. Yes there are reasonable projects out there.

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  26. Avatar photo Monsieur le Baton

    I would say hold out for the etype if you really want it. But you need to be realistic about what you’re after. Cabriolets have been $30k plus for the last 3-4 years. If you’re looking to get into the etype market it’s still possible to do. Series 2 and 3 2+2’s are still the good entry points . I bought a decent running s2 2+2 from Calif for $12k 2 years ago. So it can be done :)

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  27. Avatar photo jd

    Price cap would be a good idea~Looking at the ~Uh Hum used cars here~Gets people to thinking their junk is gold~Gold does not rust!

    Like 0

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