We asked for it, and man, did we ever get it. In the June '98 issue we ran a story on how we scored a '71 Chevy Kingswood wagon for the near-free price of $300. After throwing less than a grand at it in tune-ups, tires, and other doodads, we had ourselves a totally legit daily driver that was also cool in a way that only big ol' honkin' stawags can be.
In that same story, we asked you to send us examples of the same types of cars. The only stipulations? The car had to be mega mud cheap-anything over $1,000 was put into the "borderline pricey" category. Of course, free was the best deal of all, and many of these cars were scored for the big goose egg. They also had to have the potential to be a cool ride. Most of them didn't need any potential-they're already pegging the cool meter in as-is condition. Check it out and see for yourself.
Full-On Screamin' Deals: Free-$500
400 Thou and Still Goin' Strong
Who: Mike Fanning
Where: San Jose, CA
What: '63 Chevy Wagon
The Owner Says: "I had to write about my '63 Biscayne, six-cylinder, three-speed wagon. My parents bought the car in 1966. In 1969, they gave it to my brother who used to race six-cylinder Ford Falcons with it. He then gave it to my younger brother who finished abusing the car in 1972 when I got ahold of it. The car has 400,000 miles on it. The engine has been rebuilt three times and the trans twice. In 26 years of driving the car, I've got about $2,000 invested in it, not counting normal maintenance costs."
Who: Mark and Albert Contos
Where: Toledo, OH
What: '66 Barracuda
Price: "The prior owner died of a heart attack. His father was in the process of selling the estate and needed some painting and wallpapering work done. My dad does this type of work. He quoted the job and was hired. While working one day, he saw the car sitting and inquired about it. A few days later, the man said my dad could have the car if it would cover the labor for wallpapering a bathroom. My dad said the labor would've been about $250."
Details: The 'Cuda has a slant six and an automatic, buckets, console, a floor shifter, and is a California car with very little rust. It has new tires and brakes. The carb needed to be rebuilt, and it had a loose torque converter. These things are fixed now and it runs good.
Who: Tim Rodgers
Where: N. Canton, OH
What: '67 Rambler
Price: A 30-year mortgage-but a free house was included.
The Owner Says: In November 1997, my wife and I bought a house. There was this old car in the garage. I asked what they were planning on doing with it and they said they were going to junk it to get it out of my way. I told them they could just leave it. They gave me the car and the title. After a carb rebuild, it ran. After replacing the brake lines and wheel cylinders, it stopped too. It has a straight six and a two-speed trans. The wheels are a $30 swap meet buy. Not bad so far for a total investment of about $200. Think of the possibilities."
Who: Matt McAllister
Where: Sullivan, MO
What: '71 Cutlass convertible
Price: Free-his dad gave it to him on the promise that he'd never sell it
Details: His dad bought the car new and drove it for 11 years, then it sat in the garage for another 11. The original 350 is going to get replaced with a 455. The car is shown here in 1994, but it's now apart again as it undergoes a complete "body-off, headache-inducing all-out buildup."
Who: Dunno-he didn't give us his name
Where: Kansas City, MO
What: '57 Chevy four-door
The Owner Says: "A co-worker heard about my obsession with old Chevys and asked me if I would remove an old car from her driveway. It turned out to be a '57 Bel Air sedan. The rear window was broken and it was filled with all sorts of junk. Before it was loaded up, I thought, This thing will never make it. It was a mistake to even agree to haul it off. Then it hit me. You fool! This is a free '57 Chevy! Get it out of here before she changes her mind! It didn't take very long to get it running. Thanks to my Car Craft subscription, I see some real potential in this clunker."