Under The Hood

Bargain '50s rides

Cars from the 1950s remain hot, and their price tags continue to reflect that fact. But while looking through the Crown Victoria Association’s publication Fomoco Times for 1954-’56 Ford enthusiasts, I noticed how relatively affordable driver-quality Crown Victorias are, and glasstop Crown Victoria Skyliners aren’t much more. It had me thinking about bargains for other cool 1955-and-later rides. Here are a few picks for wild finned and chromed cars priced at $20,000 or less:

1957-’58 Plymouth two-door hardtops. Buy a ’57, and you can have your Tulsarama in your garage! If you don’t need a Fury, these cars can be found for $10,000-15,000 in very nice driver condition.

1955-’56 Ford Crown Victoria – Here’s a rare instance in which the two-door sedan outclasses a hardtop. These tiara-capped beauties are from the start of Detroit’s styling heyday, and not only are they easy on the eyes, they are relatively easy on the wallet. Look for a driver needing some work to start around $15,000 and escalate quickly into the $20,000-plus range. Unfortunately, show cars start in the $30,000 range and quickly escalate into the stratosphere. If you don’t mind a challenge, restorable Crowns can be found for less than $10,000, but be prepared for paint, interior and other work to be necessary.

1959 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupes – Get behind the wheel of your very own Batmobile before their prices follow their fins into space. I think there’s a lot of room for prices to rise on Impalas, so get into a driver for less than $20,000, and quick! Smart shoppers will skip the top-of-the-line Impalas and make a beeline for the Bel Airs and Biscaynes that, even in two-door sedan form, are fine-looking machines. Unlike preceding years of Chevrolet production, the difference in sedan and hardtop design isn’t too different in 1959 and 1960, and both make very handsome cruisers.

Of course, the real bargains lie in pre-1955 cars, many of which can be had for less than $10,000, and that’s for driver-quality two-door door models.

Are there any steals for less than $20,000 missing from this list? Let me know what you think!

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