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The car hobby includes everything from the most humble old four door sedans to multi million dollar classic cars. A great thing about the community of vintage vehicle lovers is that they will welcome you to most car shows regardless of how much you paid for your pride and joy. Don’t let the perceived cost of owning a collector car stop you from enjoying the greatest hobby in the world.

Here are some suggestions on how much, or how little, to pay to be able to show up and show off your car.

$5,000 and under: Yes, it is possible to get a special interest or collector car for very little money. It may not be of special interest to some others, or they may not want to add it to their collection, but you’ll be greeted with open arms at the local car show. In this price range you’ll find “projects”, fully functional cars and some surprising good deals. A lot of average to very good condition Corvairs, Ramblers & AMCs, 1960’s & 1970’s mid sized compacts and luxury cars can be purchased in this price range. Some may be ragged around the edges but they will start, run and stop safely. Many cars in the four digit category will be in good condition and, if not, what better way is there to spend an evening than tinkering on your car?

$10,000 and under: You may be surprised with the exceptional cars that can be purchased in this range. Do you miss your VW Beetle that you cruised in while listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival? These fun cars are amazingly affordable and can often be purchased fully restored for under ten grand. Do you like T-Birds? The underappreciated 1964 to 1966 model years are classy, very luxurious, well built and

often in very good condition. I’ve seen many in the recent past that are in excellent shape and priced at $8000. Another underappreciated car is the Pontiac Fiero. It is hard to find one in good condition but when you do it will only take five or six thousand dollars to buy one in pristine show car condition.

$15,000 and under: OK, now you are going to be able to get something really special. It won’t be the perfect 1940 Ford hot rod or 1957 Chevrolet BelAir but it will be a great looking car that will bring you pleasure and lots of thumbs up. How about a decent 1946 Ford sedan with a high performance flathead engine? Perhaps newer technology is more to your liking. 1960’s through 1980’s Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds in good condition can be easily found in this price range. Do you like trucks? The beauty of a pickup is that it usually sells for 25% to 50% less than the same year’s two door sedan or hardtop.

Where can a buyer find these cars? Larger communities have dealers that specialize in special interest cars and the local newspaper want ads or website will offer collector cars for sale both by private and commercial sellers. The internet is a great place to find cars and also gives you the opportunity to do your homework and find out what is the right price to pay for a specific car.

Another surprise is the low cost of classic car insurance. Insurers have learned that owners of these cars drive them very carefully and take great care to keep them in good working order. Some policies are as low as $80 to $150 per year for full coverage.

My advice is to never buy a car without actually seeing it. Many buyers have bought a car based solely on the description and photos from an on-line ad only to find that the car delivered to their driveway is nothing like what they expected. If you can’t personally look at the car then hire an appraiser to do a pre-purchase inspection. Perhaps you have a trusted friend or relative that can look at it, or you can find a member of a national car club that lives near the car and is willing to check it out for you?

I hope that you are feeling confident that you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to be a participant in the old car hobby. You won’t find a more welcoming and fun loving group anywhere and, best of all, can you think of anything better than loading up the spouse and kids, driving to a car show at the local park and meeting new people that start conversations with “Hey, I used to have a car just like this. I was in high school and……..”