Alex Robbins 10 years ago

10 Yank Tanks That Ooze Cool And Cost Less Than £5k

Good news: a big, fat slice of Americana can be yours for less than you might think

Remind me later
chevrolet-corvette-1 It’s fair to say that us Brits have a love-hate relationship with the American car. For many of us, their massive V8s, awesome soundtracks, brash styling and ‘if you don’t like it, suck it’ attitude make them objects of desire – though of course, there are plenty more who can’t stand the things thanks to their slushy driving dynamics, crude inefficiency and downright enormity. Mustang-2 After his first drive in a muscle car, CT Editor Alex certainly subscribes to the former viewpoint – so in honour of his new-found love for all things American, we’ve been rooting around the classifieds websites to bring you ten big lumps of Yank metal which won’t cost the earth to buy. If you’re a hater of Stateside rides, you’re about to have a bad time – but if you can’t get enough of them, your world’s about to become a brighter place. So kick back, put some Bruce Springsteen on, and enjoy.

Ford Mustang

1993 Ford Mustang GT As the Mustang was the car that inspired this article, it seems as good a place to start as any. And the good news is that you can indeed buy a real, live Mustang for your £5000. What’s more, it’ll have a V8 under the bonnet, too; none of that prissy V6 or – worse still – four-cylinder nonsense. You will have to compromise in other ways, mind. For your cash, you’ll have to settle for one of the least coveted generations of Mustang around – either a Fox body or its successor, the SN-95 version. Despite these being the most unloved ’Stangs, though, they’ll still look good, go pretty well, and sound fantastic. And they’re sure to rise in value as time marches on and they become more sought after, too.

Chevrolet Corvette

chevrolet-corvette Of course, the Mustang isn’t the only iconic American muscle car out there. Chevrolet’s Corvette has always been one of America’s slinkiest offerings, and with a low nose, long bonnet, and short tail, it’s defined the American sports car for generations. The C4 generation is again probably the least loved right now, but that doesn’t make it a lemon – it’s a handsome thing, in a very ’80s way, and features pop-up headlights, which of course make it instantly cool. This one might be a touch over our budget, but the buyer’s accepting offers and some smart haggling should bring the price down some.

Chevrolet Camaro

chevyhistory Fancy something a little more modern than the ’Vette? How’s about this Camaro? The ad says it’s a ’96 car, which seems unlikely as it’s on a K-plate – so unless it’s wearing an particularly obscure private number, it’s more likely to be an early car dating from 1993. That’d give it a 275bhp version of the LT1 engine, and the early 4L60 transmission - hardly the greatest Camaro ever, then, but that said it will set you back less than three grand, and that’s a lot of car for your money in anyone’s book.

Pontiac Firebird

pontiac-firebird The Camaro’s always had a sister car, though – Pontiac’s Firebird. And this, the third-gen model, was the epitome of ’80s automotive cool – it became K.I.T.T., after all. OK, so this particular example suffers from a ridiculous aftermarket wing, probably a result of its time in Japan, but ditch that and you’d be left with a sound car. It’s a GTA, too, which means it got the 240bhp L98 V8 as standard, as well as a host of other kit that set it apart from the ‘regular’ Trans-Am. In other words, it’s an awesome bit of kit to own, and great value at this price!

Pontiac Fiero

pontiac-fiero-gt If all of these muscle cars are just a little too… well… big for you, how about this for something a little different? The Fiero was exactly that – Pontiac’s attempt to build a true mid-engined, two-seat sports car, and though it couldn’t match the sharpness or efficiency of Toyota’s pert MR2, it did feature a 2.8-litre V6 engine – pretty big for a car of this size and weight. Today it's becoming a cult classic in the US, but here in the UK we haven’t cottoned onto its charms just yet, and a really clean example like this one can still be had for peanuts.

Chevrolet Caprice

chevrolet-caprice Of course, coupés were only the half of it. Some of the best American cars were the extravagant full-size sedans they’ve become best-known for, and this Chevy Caprice is a prime example of the breed. Don’t expect anything approaching sharp handling, or indeed, huge performance – but do bank on a big-chested V8 burble, pillow-soft suspension and acres of room. Oh, and presence. American cars happen to have that by the bucket-load.

Cadillac Brougham

cadillac-brougham That said, the Caprice was really the entry-level American full-size model – for an all-singing, all-dancing land yacht you really need to turn to Cadillac. This Brougham was the top of the General Motors tree when it was produced in 1989 – a vast, chrome-laden sedan powered by a 5.0-litre V8. That didn’t make it particularly quick, mind, thanks to its weight – which, of course, made it stupendously thirsty, too – but this was one of those cars that typified America’s ‘bigger is better’ mentality, which meant it came with vast, squidgy armchairs, more space than a tennis court, and all the toys you could wish for. And yes, that is a blue interior. Deal.

Lincoln Continental MkIV

lincoln-continental That said, the Brougham was perhaps not quite the height of American opulence. That honour had to fall to the Lincoln Continental – and in this MkIV form, it was at its most brash. This was, we should point out, a two-door coupé that measured almost six metres in length, and was over two metres wide, too. Fronted by a gargantuan chrome grille that ripped off Rolls-Royce, and replete with absurd ’70s styling touches like the faux spare wheel cover and opera windows, it was a caricature of a car, and a fantastic example of the American auto industry at its most insane. Which is exactly why we’d have no problem parting with four grand for this one – we reckon it’s impossible to buy quite so much working automotive metal for so little money. Actually, scratch that – we reckon it’s impossible to buy quite so much working automotive metal in one car. Full stop.

Jeep Wrangler

jeep-wrangler Of course, where would we be without an American SUV in the mix here? And what better SUV to turn to than the granddaddy of them all – the Jeep Wrangler? It’s an American icon, after all, and as admired and respected over there as the original Land Rover is over here. Rugged, capable and still deeply cool, a mid-’90s Sahara special edition like this one, complete with a smattering of kit and a chunky four-litre straight six would be a fantastic way of getting into a modern American motor for not a lot of cash.

Chevrolet C/K

chevrolet-ck And of course, if we’re going to talk SUVs, we’ve got to mention that American staple: the pick-up. We’ve always loved the classic, square-jawed lines of Chevy’s C/K, and this example looks tidy. Yep, it’s a bit leggy, but it’s also bloomin’ cheap, and it looks to have been well taken care of too. Plus, having a pick-up is endlessly useful for… uh… picking stuff up. Never again will you have to hire a van for a trip to the tip. And thanks to its 5.7-litre V8 petrol lump up front, it’ll sound pretty awesome when it’s carting your crap around too. Question is, given £5000 to spend, which of these all-American hunks would you plump for?