I like to kill a few minutes here and there by browsing through the Hemmings app, usually looking at cars I can't afford but occasionally finding a few gems that make me consider clogging up my driveway. I'm typically looking for something undervalued or underappreciated by the masses, ideally for sale by the original owner. One particularly effective category of zclickbait is big classy old cars that are surprisingly cheap. And by "classy" I mean the type of car that people notice and recognize but isn't overly ostentatious. You can find a Turbo R or Eight for under $20,000 but unless you're a senior citizen with a British accent you'll look like a dooshwhistle in a Bentley. I'm looking for the type of car your grandfather bought as a gift to himself on his 69th birthday.
1983 BMW 733i is available for "$15,000 negotiable." And it looks pretty crispy. I love the angular shark-like front ends of early 80s BMWs and the 733i was the flagship of the US line in 1983. It has a straight six making 181 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The 5 speed manual transmission makes it especially choice. It only has 88,000 miles and it's being sold by the owner (as opposed to a used car dealer) who bought it new and states "As I approach 90 need for a highway tourer has diminished and I believe it is time for another caring owner." And it's in Greenwich so the whole story sounds legitimate. The price is well above book value but I suspect it's worth it. If you're looking for a big old Bimmer this is a great place to start--see if you can haggle your way down to $12k and don't look back.
1986 Jaguar XJ6 can be taken home for the paltry sum of $7,900. If not for the fact that we're redoing zbathroom next month I would be hard pressed to come up with a reason not to buy this. The XJ6 might be the most beautiful sedan of the past 45 years. This one has the classic Jag straight 6, under 58,000 miles, very good paint, an excellent interior, and it's about 13 miles from my house--for sale by owner nonetheless. It would be perfect if it were green. But if you're looking to get into a hand-built British luxury car for less than a Nissan Versa (which is the cheapest new car in America), look no further. It's less reliable than the 733i, but you won't find a better combination of price and beauty. People will automatically assume you're old money when you pull up in this thing.
The most obvious big classy cheap car is a four-door Mercedes. There's a reason Jay-Z has a thing for them big body Benzes. They're iconic. The W123 series are also plentiful, nearly indestructible, and typically pampered by their original owners. I have a soft spot for the ones with matching hubcaps and my love of station wagons is well documented. This 1981 300TD pulls especially hard on my heartstrings because it has the legendary turbodiesel 5-cylinder engine. And it's a manual. Yes, that's right, a 35 year old red Mercedes stick-shift inline-5 turbodiesel station wagon with matching hubcaps. I'm completely smitten. It's for sale by a dealer, which gives me pause, but their video is absolutely pornographic.
I would eventually swap out the clear fog lights for yellow ones, that's easy. I can live with the few interior flaws, but the hood ornament doesn't stand up straight which makes me wonder what happened to the front end over the past three-and-a-half decades. And it's in Michigan. If a little old lady in Bronxville was selling this thing though ... I'd be hurtling up the Henry Hudson with $9000 in cash instead of writing this post.