Just thinking of owning a rare car brings up nervous thoughts about how much it would cost just to buy the thing, nevermind trying to keep up with maintenance. The maintenance part is not completely controllable but in this list, we will gladly provide some inspiration to chase away those fears of not ever having a chance to own a rare piece of automotive history.
There are rare cars of all kinds around us on a daily basis, we just have to dig deeper than the surface. Instead of just models, we dug through pages of production breakdowns to find some largely unknown rarities that not only are available on the market but are priced at a reasonable value. Everything listed here on Autotrader is under $30,000; in fact, most of them hardly reach over $20,000. To factor in the rarity aspect, almost every car mentioned only counts less than 10,000 units built (the only exception is the Porsche 911 but we'll get to that later). To further narrow it down, we look at some of the trims and major options that the car is fitted, with such as all-wheel drive and turbocharging.
We see hundreds of cars a day and some of them are truly incredible pieces of machinery that we couldn't dream of affording. However, with some research and determination (also sometimes by annoying the people at the manufacturer's office) we may discover that the rare piece we've been searching for could take us to work on the daily. Here, we've got cars that are all rare and are all available on Autotrader RIGHT NOW!
25 1984 Jeep CJ-7 Scrambler - $23,969
One of the few Jeep pickup models produced over the years, the Scrambler was a longer wheelbase version of the CJ-7 and offered a removable half-cab, creating a pickup bed. A full steel top was even made for the Alaskan Postal Service. Only 27,792 were made through the six-year production run, with only 4,130 made in 1984. Jeep pickups had always been in around in some form until the end of the Comanche in 1992. It'll be interesting how the new Gladiator does on the market, and to see how it affects the company in the future.
24 1996 Toyota Supra - $30,000
Who doesn't love the old Mark IV Supra? Though we see them a lot nowadays, everyone knows how rare they really are. We happened to find a virtually unharmed example, which can be easily bought thanks to the automatic transmission. Either way, only 534 non-turbo Supras were made in 1996 and of those, only 73 come with both an automatic and a Targa roof. If you can get past the automatic bit and would just like an open-top Supra, this is definitely a good option for the relatively cheap price of $30,000.
23 2006 Dodge Magnum R/T AWD - $13,500
Whoever knew a Dodge Magnum would be on this list? Well, with only 3,337 R/T AWD examples built in 2006 and for only around $14,000, this is definitely a good example of a car that is widely under-appreciated by all except for those mopar-heads who love the striking good looks and formidable power of the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The Magnum is better known more for the bonkers 6.1-liter SRT8 trim that was offered for three years between 2006-2008. Only 3,845 of those monsters were made, but exactly 0 of them had AWD.
22 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe - $17,900
This is the only exception to the 10,000 produced rule, with the reason being that it's close enough. With only 728 produced over our limit, the 911 Carrera Coupe may already bring thoughts of some expensive and exclusive machinery. Not the 996, though; the 996 has gone down as perhaps the most underappreciated 911. That makes this Carrera not only the most attainable 911 we can get but also quite a rarity, as well. If anyone wants a 911 but doesn't have the money, the 996 isn't a bad option—just be sure to Google "IMS bearing" first.
21 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLK 32 AMG - $6,995
The late-90s spawned a sporting compact Mercedes-Benz that was offered with a 2.0-liter, supercharged inline-four. This is not that car but it looks much the same. The SLK 32 AMG came with a V6 instead, but adorned on the 3.2-liter V6 is a twin-screw supercharger that bumps the output up from 215 horsepower to almost 350. The car's aesthetics are tasteful as they usually are on AMG trimmed Mercedes. The SLK 32 was made for three years (from 2001 till 2004) and Mercedes only produced 4,333 copies. To further narrow down how special this find is, only 2,056 were imported to the US and only 562 were done so in 2003, making this $7,000 AMG truly attainable by those who desire to own the best Mercedes has to offer.
20 1981 Porsche 928 S - $15,000
The 928 was far apart from anything Porsche was making at the time; its closest relative being the four-cylinder, front-engined 924. The 928 added some V8 flair to the range that made it more powerful but also led Porsche into uncharted territory. The 928 S was introduced in 1980 and added more a more sporting appearance to the touring car by adding a front air-dam and rear spoiler. The one we found was a year younger and only has 1,407 sisters. With how sought after the front-engined Porsches are starting to become, it's a surprise to see the bulbous 928 S not selling for more than $15,000.
19 1989 Shelby Dakota - $11,988
In the 1980s, Dodge had a sort of mild and wild side without much in between. This was caused directly by Shelby, who by this time had already produced the GLHS Omni and Charger. The Dakota was the first pickup Carroll tuned and he paved the way for the 360 in the Dakota and, in another way, the 2001 Dakota R/T. The authentic Shelby Dakotas were only made for one year and only 1,500 were made in total. Only 640 white ones were built, making this Dakota there rarer of the two color options (the other color is red). Pentastar Shelbys haven't taken off yet and we know we'd be picking up this sweet cheap example if we had the ample space to store it among our few dozen other dream machines.
18 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo - $7,000
I think we can all appreciate a nice 3000GT Mitsu when we see one but the price of some of the nicer ones would make us break a sweat. There is an alternative, though, in the Dodge Stealth that was offered in the states alongside the 3000GT and looked pretty much the same. It's when you got the R/T that the biggest difference was apparent because of the specific spoiler, but it's the Turbo models that are the most sought-after of the bunch. Of the 9,651 Turbos made, 3,016 were made in 1991 and 748 of those were painted Galaxy White.
17 2002 Maserati 4200 GT Spyder - $23,000
Though Maserati is more in the spotlight now, it hasn't always been that way. The Spyder GT was a beauty from Italy that sounded about as great as it looks. The 4200 GT signaled a return to the US after 11 years (the Chrysler TC by Maserati was the last we'd seen of them till this point). Only 13,423 cars were made of both versions of the 4200 GT. With only 574 Spyders produced during the first year of production, these GTs are very underrated and with so few built, they are bound to be quite collectible in the coming years.
16 2010 Hummer H3T - $21,000
With the release of the third (and subsequently final) generation, the Hummer got smaller and more user-friendly than that of the H2 (and definitely the military-based H1). A pickup version was offered in 2008 and continued production up until the line was dismantled in 2010. The 2010 H3 was only made for two months and through that period, 1,266 H3Ts rolled off the factory line, making this H3T one of the last of its kind and a product that marks the end of the Hummer brand.
15 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth - $10,099
The Abarth Fiat 500 was only ever meant to be produced in limited numbers, so it makes sense as to why exactly 3000 of these were made for the 2012 year. The turbocharged hot hatch came out in 2008 and featured a 135-hp, 1.4-liter motor that turned out 152 lb-ft of torque in Sport mode. There's no automatic on these cars, as the closest thing you could get was a semi-auto five-speed. As much as we wished to find a 595, this 500 Abarth is good enough to get us excited and gives the next owner a chance to own the first real hot hatch to come out of the company in recent times.
14 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 - $17,000
The Oldsmobile 442 is more known from being a muscle car back in the height of the muscle car era back in the 1970s. A little-known fact (unless, of course, you've seen one) is that it was also a trim level that was made in the mid-80s. The 1987 442 is the last we've seen of the 442 badging, though we can't say it was a stellar send-off, with only 170 hp coming out of the 307ci V8 and a 0-60 time of 9.5 seconds. Only 4,208 were made for the final manufacturing year.
13 1993 Mercury Capri XR2 - $2,950
Built to give a fight to the very appealing Miata, the Capri fell short much the same way that Honda's products did, by offering a fun looking two-door that couldn't match the Mazda on the fun side. The Capri looks good but didn't offer one thing the Miata did: rear-wheel drive. The XR2 was a more performance-based trim with a firmer suspension setup but the build quality still held the Capri back from grace. The 1991 model year was the most popular, with 4,446 built, while 1992 brought just 707 more. This model year Capri only had 737 examples. The following year was the rarest of the bunch with only 239 cars.
12 2004 Scion xB RS1.0 - $4,500
From the very beginning, there was the RS. Before I go on too far, RS doesn't stand for Rallye Sport but for Release Series. Now that that's all cleared up, we have found a first-model-year xB RS which was made only in Lava Orange. Only a spoiler, a custom grill, and some special interior neon differentiate it from other xB models. Only 2,100 of these tuner-inspired Scions left the plant and at only $4,500, this one is a future collectible that needs to be scooped up.
11 2005 Saturn ION Redline $4,995
This trim seems to have gotten more and more forgotten as time goes on; this is understandable as Saturn wasn't known for its performance cars. The Red Line cars went against the grain back in the mid-90s. More than just an average Ion with a body kit, the Red Line was given the supercharged heart of the Cobalt SS. Only 1,512 were made in 2005, with the rarest color being red (only 286 made that year). For those who desire the rarest of the rare, that would be a red 2007 model year, of which only 116 were made out of the total 554 produced the final year.
10 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati - $12,500
The Chrysler TC by Maserati is well-known for being nothing more than a badge and some fancy looking bits. For those who can look past that and desire to own one, the one we found is definitely the rarer of the bunch. Let's break it down: there 7,300 total produced from 1989 to 1991 while 1989 was the most popular production year with 3,764 produced (the least popular was 1991 with only 1,636 made). Of those 3,764 manufactured, only a mere 387 of them came with the 16V inline-four, an option that would disappear after only selling 114 of them in 1990.
9 1984 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible - $27,995
It's been a decade since we've seen a Cadillac convertible; the XLR was the last, if my memory serves me any good. Though the 1984 Eldorado is far from the type of elegance Cadillac was serving back in its heyday, the convertible is still a nice piece of rare nostalgia. The Biarritz was the cream of the crop when it comes to Eldorados and only 3,300 of them were made for the debut 1984 model year. The Eldorado name has been gone a long time now, but these beautiful examples of 80s luxury (take that as you like) still survive in wonderful condition.
8 2009 Chevrolet HHR SS Panel - $9,500
Oh man, now we're getting into some truly wonderful, rare automobilia. The HHR wasn't more than GM using old design cues to make a retro-looking van. However, when they stuck a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder in it and called it the SS, things got interesting. Turning out 260 horsepower, the HHR SS was sure to get some attention but not many fans know that Chevrolet also applied this formula to the panel van version of the HHR, making a wicked cool van that would become quite rare. And it just so happens there is one for sale on Autotrader with the release of this article. Only 216 were made in 2009 and for $9,500, this is a deal too good to pass up if you have the money.
7 1991 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe - $9,450
We have a soft spot for the full-sized muscle cruiser that was the Thunderbird. Produced continuously from 1955 till 1997, the Super Coupe came around in the tenth generation. First offered in 1989, the Super Coupe produced 210 horsepower out of the supercharged, 3.8-liter Essex V6. The special trim lasted six years but was only produced in small numbers throughout the entire run. Only 7,039 examples of the 1991 SC exist, and one is for sale right now for less than $10,000. It may not have a 5.0-liter but the supercharger should more than make up for the lack of two additional cylinders.
6 2004 Oldsmobile Silhouette Final 500 - $5,000
Storytime! During the final days of Oldsmobile production, they produced special-edition cars that were all painted Dark Cherry Metallic and feature special “Final 500” edition badges that were inspired by the original Oldsmobile badges. Each model was given the proper “Final 500” treatment—except for the Silhouette. The minivan's production was cut short to make room for Chevrolet fleet van back-orders; because of this, there are only 360 “Final 500” editions produced, making it one of the most unappreciated cars in the company's history, and perhaps a future collectible that should start a restoration process soon, if it hasn't already submitted to the “glass slipper” effect.
5 2008 Hyundai Tiburon - $3,199
Who would've known that a popular Hyundai would be on a rarity list? Well, as much as the first two generations lasted through the early 2000s, when the tuner scene was in full swing, the latter half of the second generation got a redesigned look but sales continued to decline until the model was discontinued in 2009. Only 9,111 Tiburons were sold in the US in 2008 (though these are not technically production numbers, you cannot sell what you haven't produced).
4 1991 Infiniti M30 Convertible - $5,000
Though the M-Series survives today and has been built continuously since 2003, the model has actually been around since Infiniti's inception in 1990. Only coupes were built for the first year, with the convertibles coming into production 1991 and lasting only until the next year, after which the M-Series was put on hold. Only around 2,800 were built in 1991, with a further 3,112 built the following year. Since the M30's discontinuance, it has garnered a cult following of enthusiasts and lovers of one of the first production Infiniti.
3 1989 Volvo 780 Bertone - $4,500
Did anyone know that Volvo made two-door coupe back in the 1980s? No, I'm not talking about that weird looking 262C, but rather its successor. We had almost forgotten about the 780 Bertone that was made for only four years starting in 1986 through 1990. This special two-door Volvo wasn't built in Sweden, but Turin, Italy, at the Bertone shop. Only 9,086 were made in total—which already qualifies our 780 for this list—but to break it down more, only 2,499 were produced in 1989, making this sleek looking Volvo all the more special.
2 1985 Toyota Celica GT-S Convertible - $15,999
If you crave something older and more open-top than the Supra mentioned earlier (also for a cheaper price), we have found this Toyota Celica GT-S, which oozes 80s cool with flip-up headlights and fender flares to give it a seriously unique look that's only aided by the black soft-top. The GT-S was the top of the line as far as these convertibles went and only 4,248 were produced during its entire run. For about $16,000, this beautiful example of 1980s Toyota build quality is well worth it.
1 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 Aerocoupe - $17,990
For those that know about the Monte Carlo Aerocoupe, they may also know about the shorter-lived Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2. Made for only a single year in 1986, the NASCAR homologation model was only made in very low numbers, with 1,225 produced in total, leaving some of us to wish there were more around for those who desire them. Though I've seen one of these before going for about $5,000 less, the only one I discovered on Autotrader still isn't a bad price on what could be quite the looker to those who love 80s Pontiacs.
Sources: VolvoBertone, Hemmings, and CustomMagnums.