Every issue of ACC includes five best buys — the cars our staff consider to be the best deals in each issue.

For me, one of the best parts of reading the magazine is trying to pick the cars I would have bought had I been standing among the bidders at each auction. I can’t resist doing it.

Of course, reality doesn’t always support my car fantasies. Neither does my wife. And the front seats of these cars, comfortable as they may be, probably aren’t good for sleeping. So for now, my collection isn’t growing.

But I can have my car fantasies, and now that 2013 is drawing to a close, I can’t resist rolling back through the last 12 months to pick my own personal best buys — the cars that I think were the absolute best deals of the year at the prices paid.

In a perfect world of massive shops, unlimited parking, and cruising every night, these are the cars I would have brought home:

Number 5.  Lot 21. 1990 Chevrolet Corvette Callaway Aerobody coupe, Worldwide Auctioneers, Lake Forest, IL, 9/13. ACC# 228119


Teal/graphite leather. Odo: 29,159 miles. 350-ci 390-hp turbocharged V8, 4-sp. Paint consistent with its age. Interior worn and torn. Removable smoked-glass roof. Twin Turbo Callaway Aerobody conversion (designed by Paul Deutschman) replaces the nose and tail caps, as well as the side panels. Twin turbos bring hp up to an estimated 390. One of an estimated 59 produced for 1990. Cond: 3+.

SOLD AT $11,550.

Auction Analyst Joseph Seminetta says: I spoke to the new buyer after the sale. He did not like the teal color but could not pass up the good deal. Only 29k miles, but how many of them were smoking the rear tires? Well bought.

Jim says: Under $12k for this? Cheap fun, and you can part it out if you toast the motor.

Number 4. Lot 101. 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-dr hard top. Worldwide Auctioneers, Montgomery, TX, 5/13. ACC# 215973


Blue & white/blue & white vinyl. Odo: 26,033 miles. 265-ci V8, 2-bbl, 3-sp. Spectacular car with great attention to detail and wonderful options and accessories. Excellent preparation and paint. Perfect chrome and trim with bumper tips, steel rocker moldings, dual outside mirrors and fender skirts among the optional items accessorizing the car. Great door fit. Interior also excellent. Reproduction seat kit and carpeting. Seatbelts, prism, tissue dispenser and other goodies. Spotless engine bay, dual exhaust. Cond: 1-.

SOLD AT $34,100.

Auction Analyst John Lyons says: The only reason I can come up with to explain why this car sold so softly is the 1956 model year. A ’55 or ’57 this well restored and optioned would have sold for twice the price paid here, if not more. Very well bought. Perhaps the bargain of the sale.

Jim says: This was a lot of tri-five for not a lot of money. A great cruiser in a great ’50s color.

Number 3. Lot 172. 1968 Plymouth Road Runner sedan. MidAmerica Auctions, St Paul, MN, 6/13. ACC# 225808


Red/two-tone red vinyl. Odo: 42,124 miles. 383-ci V8, 4-bbl, auto. Decent topical repaint a few years ago, still with quite a bit of overspray on the undercarriage. Mix of new and old brightwork. Heavily dented and dinged trunk lid rear trim. Decent original interior. Modern sound system mounted in dash, with crude speakers in rear footwell. Older engine repaint and low-impact detailing now very dusty. Dog-dish hubcaps and modern radials on steel wheels. Minimal options. Cond: 3-.

SOLD AT $13,770.

Auction Analyst B. Mitchell Carlson says: This is what the original Road Runner was all about: go without the goodies. Unladen with an a/c compressor or power-accessory motors, a B-body Mopar can move out pretty well with the standard Road Runner 383 in it. Remember, they did put slant-sixes in the lesser B-body models. This one’s just a driver—but with lots of easy potential to make it better. Easily surpassing the $10,500 reserve, this was a pretty decent buy.

Jim says: It may have a few needs, but you really can’t argue with the price — especially if you can do some clean-up work yourself. I’d put a 4-speed in it.

Number 2. Lot S56. 1966 Chevrolet Corvette 327/300 convertible, Mecum Auctions, Champaign, IL, 6/13. ACC# 225792


Nassau Blue/blue hard top/white cloth soft top/black vinyl. Odo: 10,180 miles. 327-ci 300-hp V8, 4-bbl, 4-sp. Solid, original, two-owner car. Nice restoration with excellent attention to detail. Nice color combo. Also has the optional hard top. Four-speed manual is icing on the cake. Cond: 2.

SOLD AT $50,825.

Auction Analyst Pat Campion says: This was a very nice restoration of a very nice original car. It sold for $48k at Mecum KC in April (ACC# 224968). Considering transport costs and auction premiums, the seller probably barely broke even, but the buyer got a great deal. Well bought.

Jim says: I love mid-year Corvettes, and this one had a lot going for it as a usable driver. Nice price for the condition of the car.

Number 1.  S166.1, 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Nickey 2-dr hard top. Mecum Auctions, Houston, TX, 4/13. ACC# 215909


Ermine White & black/black vinyl. Odo: 7,124 miles. 396-ci V8, 4-bbl, 4-sp. Registered and certified by the Nickey Registry. Frame-off restored. Paint chip in trunk recess. Dry spray noted near driver’s door; otherwise, very even paint. Shiny brightwork; scratches in stainless below windshield. Little wear inside. Interior door-handle-surrounds are well worn and obviously
overlooked in restoration. Engine bay is exceptionally well detailed with a few correct chrome accents. Cond: 3+.

SOLD AT $40,125.

Auction Analyst Cody Tayloe says: Correct restoration with a long list of Nickey additions that were original to the car. The new owner bought into an exclusive club for little more than you’d pay for a nicely restored Chevelle SS. Well bought.

Jim says: What’s not to love about a Nickey Chevelle? Rare, fast, and good-looking, and the price was downright cheap for the quality of the car. Hell, I’d sleep in this one.

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