What’s an enthusiast of regular means to do these days?
Nearly $470 million worth of collector cars traded hands during Monterey Car Week, of which 112 cars sold for at least $1 million. On Bring a Trailer, clean—and not so clean—cars from the 1980s and 1990s are setting new absurd sales records by the week. Japanese classics—long the bastion of budget-minded enthusiasts—are on a particular tear. Exciting stuff, and validating to those of us who have always thought old cars are worthy of attention and money. Yet our beyond bullish market can be intimidating.
Our simple advice: Manage expectations and keep an eye out for the bargains. In between every headline-busting sale of a minty 300ZX Twin Turbo or $22 million Ferrari, there’s ten everyman classics that go for fair money both on the public and private market. On the day of this writing alone, 14 cars sold on Bring a Trailer for under $15,000, with a significant portion under the $10,000 waterline. These weren’t drab junkers, either; August 26 presented an eclectic potpourri made up of a 1959 Austin-Healey race car ($12,500), 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SLC ($11,000), a 2006 Saab 9-3 Aero SportCombi ($5,900), and a one-owner 1988 Suzuki Samurai ($7,350), among others.
Our favorite affordable sale of the week, however, was a $11,760 Daytona. Not a Ferrari Daytona—we got our fill of those in Monterey—but a Dodge Daytona. Nope, not of the Charger variety, either. BaT’s 1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z is a pseudo-forgotten front-wheel drive sports compact from the 1980s that has all of the blocky panache and minuscule proportions of the era’s imports without the cloud of big-bucks that usually follows.
Even if you’ve never put a G-Platform Daytona on your list, it’s a compelling car. When outfitted with the new-for-1987 “Shelby Z” trim, Chrysler’s stout Turbo II 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder spits out a contemporaneously meaty 174 hp and 200 lb-ft. That Shelby association is merely a branding exercise, but the package did add an uprated suspension, bigger brakes, and more aggressive tires. So, standard Shelby stuff.
Sales and performance were strong-ish for the era, but not many buyers saw the need to preserve such a disposable car, so finding one as clean and well-kept as this white-over-tan example is a rare feat. With the exception of the earlier Omni GLH-S, these odd Shelby-fied compacts aren’t particularly hot commodities. Too weird and American for the JDM crowd, and too small and front-wheel-drive for the muscle car folks have kept values and demand relatively low.
So low, in fact, we don’t track the G-Platform Daytonas on the Hagerty Price Guide. Still, since this isn’t the first Daytona sold on BaT, we’re able to get a decent look at the market. A Shelby Z in similar condition with more miles claimed $6,510 back in June, while a 49,000-mile non-Shelby 1989 Daytona Turbo II claimed $9,135 last December.
We’ll chalk this week’s sale up to right on the money for condition and rarity—a statement that’s become trickier and trickier to say as prices continue to rocket out of control. But, as this and many, many other under-the-radar classics continue to prove each day, patience and a willingness to stray a bit off the beaten path can lead you to cool cars for relatively little money.