You’ve played this game, admit it. Maybe over beers with your car friends, maybe just in your head every once in a while. “If I had $______, what car would I buy?” It’s fun to set an imaginary, arbitrary budget and let your imagination go wild, right?
We do this kind of automotive daydreaming all the time at Insider, too, so we combed through our massive, ever-expanding transaction database to make things a little more interesting. Looking at all the vehicles sold at auction over the past month, we set a cap of $70K (which in scientific terms is definitely-not-cheap-but-also-not-crazy-expensive territory), had a look, and narrowed it down to four. Which would you put in your imaginary garage? Or your real one, if you have the space?
2012 Cadillac CTS-V Station Wagon
Sold for $55,000 at Mecum Indy
The CTS-V blended Cadillac refinement and luxury with the thrust of one of GM’s most powerful engines. It’s more than just a straight line machine, too—the CTS-V got MagneRide suspension and Brembo brakes, and could put down some serious lap times in its day. Though it came in three flavors: sedan, coupe, and wagon, these days enthusiasts and the market prefer the long-roof Caddy. Especially with the available 6-speed manual.
This one isn’t a manual, sadly, but 6-speeds are beginning to fetch crazy money – sometimes over $100K. This one is in a good color and looks clean, but it also has enough mileage that you wouldn’t be afraid to use it. Honorable mention goes to the newer, bluer, just-barely-over-our-price-cap 2023 CT4-V Blackwing that sold for $73,941 on Bring a Trailer.
1938 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe
Sold for $68,200 at Mecum Indy
The Zephyr was notable for making 12-cylinder power a little more accessible with an engine loosely based on the humble flathead Ford V-8. With some 19,751 Zephyrs sold in 1938, it was a popular car for its segment when new, and this one would be great on drives and at events today.
This Zephyr’s traveled just 20,191 miles and boasts clean, original condition to match. The long and sleek Eugene “Bob” Gregorie-designed three-window coupe body and 267-cid, 110-hp flathead V-12 oozes style and sophistication. It’s lots of car for the money, and slides right in between the Condition #2 (Excellent) and #3 (Good) values in the Hagerty Price Guide.
1977 Pontiac Can Am
Sold for $51,700 at Mecum Indy
A limited-edition version of the LeMans Sport, the Pontiac Can Am is mustache muscle at its best. The one-year-only model got a 400-cid, 200-hp V-8 under a shaker hood scoop, a prominent Pontiac beak, louvered quarter windows, and decals…bright, beautiful decals. After about 1400 were built, the tool for making the fiberglass rear spoiler broke, and rather than fix the tool, GM threw its hands up and canceled the whole project.
This one looks to be in excellent condition, and it better be, because it brought more than 13 grand over its Condition #1 (Concours) value.
1970 Fiat Michelotti Shellette
Sold for $63,000 on Bring a Trailer
Are you tempted by the open-air, wicker-chair charm of a Fiat Jolly but want something cheaper, rarer, and a little less cute? A collaboration between yacht designer Phillip Schell and Italian pen-for-hire Giovanni Michelotti, the Shellette follows the same basic concept of the Jolly but with a more streamlined fiberglass body. And with 47 hp on tap, it will smoke a 29-hp Jolly on the way back to the beach house. Just 80 were built, so this is a lot of exclusivity per dollar.
So, how do these choices look? Which jumps out at you, or would you have spent your theoretical $70K on something else this past month? Let us know in the comments.