Used Cars: 5 Great Retro-Rides for Under $15k

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2014 Camaro Z28 *NOT available for under $15k
2014 Camaro Z28 *NOT available for under $15k

When I build a motorcycle for myself, I like to build it to look old but to run like brand new. I like a ton of chrome and black with a bobbed rear fender and no front fender at all, but I also like a fuel injected v-twin beneath me so that I know when I am ready to roll it will be ready, too. American automakers are building cars that are a lot like that. It seems that each domestic automaker has at least one model that has its roots in another era. They are inspired by 1960s and 1970s muscle cars and every year they seem to take on more nostalgic characteristics but they run better than those old cars ever could. They are fun to drive, they have loads of curb appeal, and they make a great first car because of their overall “heft.” Here is a short list of some great retro-rides that can be purchased for less than $15k if you take advantage of used car websites like
2006 Ford Mustang GT
2006 Ford Mustang GTOne of the leading manufacturers of modern retrospective vehicles is the Ford Motor Company. Although the Mustang has been produced continuously since 1964, sales had dwindled in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, so Ford began producing the fifth phase of the mustang in 2005. It would take inspiration from the earliest renditions of the Mustang and, as it turns out, would be wildly successful. You may opt to purchase a much more expensive new Mustang but if you want to get maximum bang for your buck, this car can meet your needs. The GT trim level indicates that this Mustang is equipped with a 300-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine and either a five-speed manual or five speed automatic transmission. Antilock disc brakes, premium audio equipment, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, sport tuned suspension system, and foglamps are some of what you can expect from a moderately equipped 2006 Mustang GT. Electronic traction control was standard equipment for this car but no stability control was offered for the ‘Stang in 2006. Side impact airbags are optional but full length side curtain airbags are still a few years away for this Ford.
2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SSWhile the nomenclature is certainly nostalgic, the running gear configuration leaves a bit to be desired. Nevertheless, it is a great car and worthy to be noted among the retro-rides for under $15k. Here is why: Despite the fact that it is front wheel drive, it has a massive 5.3-liter V8 engine chugging away under the hood. This car makes 300-hp and looks fantastic doing so. Antilock brakes and electronic traction control are standard equipment on the SS, as are front seat side impact airbags. A sport tuned suspension, heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission, specially designed 18-inch alloy wheels, heated leather front seating surfaces, fog lamps, full ground effects kit are also standard and a sunroof was offered as an option. This car was built with a functional interior that is spacious and comfortable. The leather seating is especially luxurious, plush, and beautiful. This is a great looking car that will get a lot of attention wherever you drive.
2010 Dodge Challenger SE
2010 Dodge Challenger SELet me start by saying that I love Chevys. I have always been a Chevrolet man; if you cut me tiny little Chevys will drive out and drive all-over me. Give me an average Chevy and I can beat all of the imports, Dodges, and Fords in its class within a very short period of time. Having said that — let me say that I love the appearance of the Challenger (the retro-Challenger, not that twist of a car that Dodge imported for a time during the dark days of the cold war). It more closely resembles the original version of the 1970 and 1971 Challenger and Barracuda models than all of the other retro-rides resemble their respective inspirational rides. The SE trim level is not particularly impressive but the car looks so darn good that it must be considered. Despite this car listing 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, tilting and telescoping steering column, a power adjustable driver’s seat, a split bench style back seat with trunk access, air conditioning, and an audio system with a CD Player and MP3 jack, it is powered by a V6 engine. It is not a lame duck V6; at 3.5-liters and 250-hp and a five-speed automatic transmission and it can be had for less than $15k. If this car is short on cylinders then it is long on safety equipment with electronic stability control and side curtain airbags offered as standard equipment.
2006 Pontiac GTO
2006 Pontiac GTOAs the first muscle car the Pontiac GTO retro-ride has some mighty big shoes to fill. This rear-wheel drive Australian built coupe can flat out fill those shoes and another half-shoe, as well. It starts with a massive 400-hp 400 lb.-ft. of torque producing 6.0-liter V8 engine and standard four-speed automatic transmission but the six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox is strongly recommended. Whichever you choose, it sends power to the rear wheels via a limited slip differential outfitted with electronic traction control (with an “OFF” button). This GTO can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.2-seconds and turn the quarter-mile in 12.5-seconds. This car is far more powerful and quick than its ancestors and much more comfortable, as well. It is called a 2+2 Coupe and comes with leather upholstery, 17-inch aluminum wheels, a power adjustable driver’s seat, Bllaupunkt premium audio system with six-disc CD player/changer, power accessories, a sport tuned suspension, and a trip computer. The front seating is roomy and lavish but, as expected the 2+2 rear seating is virtually non-existent. Standard safety fare on the 2006 GTO included four-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic traction control, multi-stage front airbags, and an automatic engine shutdown and passenger compartment unlock in the event of an airbag deployment.
2010 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT
2010 Chevrolet Camaro 1LTThe Camaro is also equipped with a V6 engine for less than $15k. The big difference is direct fuel injection that helps the 3.6-liter to yield 300-hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, instead of the paltry 250-hp produced by the great looking Dodge Challenger. It was sold with two different transmission options; the first is a six-speed automatic (with manual shift control and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters) and the second is a six-speed manual. Despite being a V6 equipped car, the 2010 Camaro can manage to get from 0 to 60 mph in 6-seconds. Cloth bucket seats, keyless entry, 18-inch wheels, tilting and telescoping steering column, cruise control, and air conditioning are standard equipment on this trim level. Full-length side curtain airbags, front side impact airbags, electronic stability and traction control, and four-wheel antilock disc brakes are all counted as standard on the 2010 Camaro with 1LT.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.