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Ten Cars for $100K

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

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Ten Cars for $100K

Bill Crittenden
October 12, 2013


Talking with my wife a few months ago when the big lottery payout was in the news the subject of what we could do with a million bucks came around.  I mentioned a house with modest living space, an office for my Library and a ten car garage.

I have my priorities.

She said that didn't leave much left to fill the garage with.  I said that with my taste in cars it didn't take much to fill it with meaningful cars that I'd enjoy.

So here's how I would fill a garage with ten awesome or meaningful cars on a couple hundred grand:

1.) 1965 Rambler American 440 convertible, teal with white, $6,000 at the 2011 Mecum Auction in St. Charles.  One of my all-time favorite cars in a color that'd match our interior decor.  Score!

2 & 3.) 2003 Pontiac Vibe.  I actually already own this car, but I'd need a daily driver to replace it while I fixed it up.  I love the Subaru Impreza STi, it's the car I wish my Vibe could have been.  I also love weird cars, so for me it'd be a Saab 92x, the Impreza-based Scandanavian style wagon.  I'm seeing examples for sale online for less than ten grand, so I'll say ten with some fixes.  And another ten to put into starting the Vibe's next life.

4.) Who doesn't want their first car back?  My first car was a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, silver with a blue interior and a black vinyl top.  The engine was a horrifying pain in the ass, and so I'd prefer a 1986, the same in almost every way except the fuel injected engine and third brake light.  I actually already own the shop manuals for this car.  I can't imagine a 1985 Cutlass Ciera goes for more than a few thousand, I paid $1,000 for mine in 1998.  Finding one, now that's the hard part.

5.) My mom's last car, which my dad still owns in mint condition (the only flaw on the car being that the L fell off of the back), has a suggested retail of close to $7,000.  It's a 2003 Hyundai XG350L, my mom's third Hyundai and fifth in the family.  It was also Hyundai's first attempt to sell an upmarket car in the U.S.  I really wanted a dark gray one when they came out (I was in my nice-pants-and-sweater-vest phase at the time) and then my mom bought one.  I'd give my dad ten grand for it if I had the money.

6.) Oh, yeah.  My dad reminds me of something.  Gonna need a pickup truck.  Even though modern Walmart has had it's deep disappointments, particularly in my family, the principles of Mr. Sam Walton were solid, and he was a great American.  1978 Ford F-150, red & white, just like he had, and I'm not quite sure exactly how much but based on other trucks of the era I've seen sold about $15,000.

7.) I have no idea how much it'd cost in the end, but I would love to put a 2JZ into a 1968 Pontiac Firebird, set it up for drifting, and badge it a 1968 Pontiac Vibe.  I found a rough coupe in driveable condition going for six grand locally, so I suppose I could find a body in fair enough shape to start grinding on and taking apart for about ten grand.  The rest can come later.

8.) For a retro-classic Pontiac the whole family could drive I'd love to get my version of Trans Am Depot's 6T9 Goat, which is a body kit to make a new Camaro look like a '69 GTO Judge.  My version is a six-cylinder automatic transmission Camaro (it's just easier on road trips) with a white GTO body badged as a Pontiac LeMans Sprint.  Figure on $20,000 for a used Camaro and then some $10,000 more for the body kit & paint.

9.) Another wonderful project car starts with an open hot rod frame, involving half a Pontiac Sunfire convertible body and a 60's Pontiac V8.  I'm running out of money but I could start accumulating a few of the parts for this.  I think that counts!

10.)  Aside from the Library of printed material I always thought it'd be fascinating to collect examples of some of the worst cars in history, or the overlooked historical cars because they weren't performance cars.  Such as a Renault Alliance, or a 1984 first-year Dodge Caravan.  I wonder if anyone has a Hyundai Excel that still runs?  Ford Tempo?  Cadillac Cimarron?  Thankfully cheap, the last car would be a couple grand on the first piece of changing my Library into a serious museum.



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