The ,000 Challenge, end-of-summer edition
Up in Vermont, the days are getting noticeably shorter and the nights cooler. Our trees haven’t really started changing color yet, but that’s coming in the next few weeks, and it won’t be too much longer before the snow starts to fly. With winter on the horizon, it’s time once again to ponder a project car to pass the long hours before next year’s show season begins.
Most of the cars in this $5,000 Challenge need work, but none require the kind of effort that would clog up a garage stall for years. Call these “light” projects, then, that with a bit of diligence could be ready to run by the time next year’s show season begins. Some need little more than detailing and perhaps a bit of maintenance, while a few others may even tax one’s panel-beating skills. Which would you want in your garage to wrench on over the winter season?
La Junta sits on Colorado’s high plains about 60 miles east of Pueblo. Some would call the area high plains desert, since the annual rainfall totals just over 11 inches (though the annual snowfall adds another 21 inches). Grit, not salt, is used to provide traction for winter driving, meaning that La Junta isn’t a bad choice for sourcing a collector vehicle. This 1971 Ford F100 Ranger long bed has spent its life in the small farming community, likely hauling melons to market and supplies back to the farm. Considering its life as a work truck, it appears remarkably well-preserved, and likely wouldn’t need much work to keep using it for weekend chores. Even a show-quality restoration should be relatively economical for the do-it-yourselfer, given the pickup’s $4,995 asking price.
For those who’d proclaim that the old car hobby is priced beyond the means of the average person, we offer this 1967 Plymouth Valiant as evidence to the contrary. Described as “unrestored” by the seller, the slant-six powered Plymouth has an unmistakable “driven to church on Sunday by a retired schoolteacher” vibe about it, and appears to need little more than a thorough cleaning and detailing to get it ready for next year. We’d probably spend our time researching the car’s backstory, since someone obviously treated this sensible sedan with reverence. The asking price? $4,995.
Sold here from 1971 to 1971, Volkswagen’s Type 4 is something of an odd footnote to the brand’s history. Never as popular as the similar Type 3, the VW 411 (and later, 412) offered a body styled by Pininfarina and a fuel-injected engine shared with the Porsche 914. Survivors are a rare sight today, which is why this example needs to find a home with an air-cooled VW enthusiast. As the seller points out, the three-door wagon needs some bodywork (most notably, on the passenger side), and sourcing (or building) replacement panels may take a bit of effort. The net result will be a practical weekend driver that draws plenty of “What is that?” comments, even from fans of more contemporary VWs. The asking price? $2,300.
This car’s description is brief, and the few included pictures don’t add much to the story. That said, it’s described as “in excellent drivable condition,” with fresh upholstery and a respray in the original under-the-radar brown often favored by law enforcement agencies. For $4,000, the next owner will be getting a low-mileage weekend driver that could, potentially, generate revenue if leased to studios for period films.
Said to be an original car fresh from three decades in dry storage, the seller is upfront about the car’s strong points (everything works, no modifications or aftermarket parts) and well as its flaws (needs floor work and a small amount of frame work). For the hobbyist with the right skill set, neither would be daunting enough to cross the Poncho off the “interesting find” list, assuming that an inspection backs up the seller’s claims. The asking price? $4,995.