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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

5 must-have mods for your vintage ride

Our beloved cars and trucks were perfect the day they left the assembly line. Well, sort of, if you consider how manufacturing has improved decade after decade. Yes, time marches on, and everything from engineering to materials science moves forward with it.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/hagerty-community/5-must-have-mods-for-your-vintage-ride/
209 REPLIES 209
dbier
Intermediate Driver

If you owned the Mona Lisa that would be your prerogative.
brians356
Detailer

>> This setup separates the front and rear braking circuits

Wrong! It separates in an X pattern, so you are unlikely to lose both front brakes, or one whole side or the other. E.g. left front+right rear tied together, and right front+left rear. If one circuit fails, you still have one front brake and the opposite rear brake, which reduces the good front brake pulling to its side.
Tinkerah
Technician

Respectfully disagree. All of my American branded vehicles from 1967 up, including light trucks were/are split into front and rear. Master cylinders on front disc/rear drum vehicles even have different reservoir volumes to account for their different requirements.
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

Almost all AMERICAN systems are front to rear split while many European and some Japanese use diagonal split -some set up so you will never totally lose front brakes (2 hoses to each caliper)
65Bug
New Driver

Great suggestions. I would probably add lap seat belts to the list for those cars that didn't come with them. Just added them to the rear seat of my 65 bug.
Air_and_Water
Advanced Driver

For the record, after 1962 all German cars required 3-point seat belt mounts in all 4 outboard positions, so that's an option if you'd like. The mounts for the shoulder belts are hidden under the headliner and easy to find once you know where to look.

I have 3-point belts all the way around in my '66, as they're far, far safer than 2-point belts. They're period correct (from Wolfsburg West) and look original. If I had it to do over again I might go with retractable belts, as they don't slacken as you drive, but they'd look out of place compared to my chrome buckles and gray webbing.
RickL
Intermediate Driver

Some people like "the way they were back in the day", some like the "experience" of driving an older classic with modern upgrades. Does it really matter? Only to the person who owns it. Do what you want, don't worry about what someone else thinks. If you are in it to flip it at a B-J Auction that is you prerogative. Some folks like the "nostalgia" of an older car but have aged themselves some and want some conveniences. I am sure there are a lot of us that have had some medical procedures over the years which means we are not "stock" anymore. Do you regret doing that? Live and let live, but everybody has an "opinion" and no one is completely right, are they?
ENJOY the hobby whatever way you want. DRIVE them until the wheels fall off, or have your posse over to look at it in your "man-cave". As the the Isley Brothers sang "It's your thing, do what you want to do".......;
SJM1
Pit Crew

The reason that I have a collector car is to enjoy the OLD tech. Digital dash is not anything that I really want, even in my NEW cars. Disc brakes on a 100 year old chassis? I can imagine the extra forces on the suspension, transverse leaf springs and spindly control arms. Part of the charm is to enjoy and master the necessary skills to drive a car with the old tech. Of course, if you have an old Corvette, you may want better brakes, especially if the engine has been improved. A C2 with disc brakes is fine with me. The model featured discs half way through its production. Updating within the production run is not a sin in my book.
That said, my collection is a bit newer, running from 50~60 year old race cars with license plates. They already have disc brakes, some have dual master cylinders, one still has its single master cylinder.
My modifications are to ensure reliability, and center around the ignition system, and the elimination of the often troublesome points. This one change, that fits under the OE distributor cap, can result in years of stable timing, and eliminate tuneups every couple of thousand miles.
Alternators are also a good mod, and now, if you are one of those owners who craves originality, can be had in a generator identical case. Stable voltage, even at low speeds, to keep your battery charged and your lights shining brightly. NO, they don't cause fires, as the voltage is the same as a generator, but if you have an old electrical system, check into a replacement harness and rewire the car. Nothing kills the enjoyment of a collector car more than unreliability. Bad electrics are the most common problem with older collector cars. Rewiring is the cure. For most of us, it's a new discipline, but rewiring is not an impossible task and is not hard to learn. I have rewired a few, and even my first try at rewiring a British sports car, from scratch, was successful and incredibly satisfying.

67sunroof
Pit Crew

I don't have a problem with "hidden upgrades." Aluminum pistons are a good example.

Who would want or use cast iron pistons in a Model T? The same goes for substituting a solid state voltage regulator and the like. But at some point, your Model A with the 260 Ford V-8, disc brakes, air etc. ceases to really be a Model A. And it's not only "trailer queens" that are original cars. That is as Ike said, "Actual poppycock." Over the years I've owned probably 25 or so Model As and Model Ts and I traveled many a mile in them as they were with only a handful of breakdowns.  I am too old for them now and I am sticking to my vintage VW Beetles. Modern enough for me.  One even has an 8-track player. What else do you need?

1970s cars have indeed been dominating the shows and cars & coffee gatherings of late.

Even some less than interesting 1980s models as well. It costs as much love, money and attention to refurbish a Ford Granada as it does a 1941 Oldsmobile.  Maybe a little less due to the high cost of pre-WW parts. And that Granada has all of the amenities mentioned in these posts. I'm seeing cars at these events that I wouldn't buy when they were brand new.

I agree with the purists. Get yourself a GM land yacht with self dimming headlights, cold air and pretty music and live it up! Keep your antique as a piece of American history that should be preserved for our progeny to wonder about and enjoy.

Air_and_Water
Advanced Driver

The problem with that mindset is that at a certain point (and uncomfortably not-too-distant point at that!) we will be gone and either the hobby will be passed along to younger people or it won't. I for one want the next generation to actually want these cars, not just send them off to the scrap heap when gramps goes off to the great beyond.
ALTurkeyBum
Pit Crew

Anyone considering taking the plunge into a fuel injection conversion should seriously think through the details, namely that you are going to need a new fuel tank, or at least are going to need to seriously modify your existing tank, in order to accommodate the return fuel line.

The shop restoring our 87 Grand Wagoneer talked us into fuel injection. Sounded good, since the car would be lightly driven, and what with ethanol, varnish and all the other issues with carbs, seemed like a way to eliminate frustration. Wrong.

The Wagoneer has a plastic fuel tank. There was no way to cut a hole for the return fitting, so they rigged up a way to put the fuel pickup and the fuel gauge sending unit into the same hole, and used the old fuel pickup hole for the return. After 200 miles, the fuel gauge quit working. Back to the shop, drain and drop the tank to hook everything back up, and 200 miles later, no fuel gauge. Again. Drain, drop, repeat, third time give up on having a gauge and don't drive more than 150 miles without filling up.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the Wagoneer tank has no baffles, so all that fuel sloshing around works relentlessly to disconnect any fittings inside the tank.

Google "fuel injection conversion tank" and you'll see that several companies make retrofit tanks with the necessary pickup, return and sending unit fittings for several common classic cars. But, unfortunately, haven't been able to find one for a Wagoneer. So now I'm looking at having a custom tank fabricated ($$$$) and I'm told that due to the complex shape of the plastic tank it will be difficult or impossible to duplicate it in aluminum, so the custom tank will probably hold quite a bit less gas than the old tank, which at 10 - 12 MPG means I'll be stopping for gas every 150 - 200 miles or so anyway. So screw it, I'll just drive with no gauge and stop every 150 miles and save the money.

I'm not saying that fuel injection is necessarily a bad idea, just do your homework first.
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

You needed a better mechanic. adding a return line to the gauge unit is simple - as is installing a later model tank (1988-91) designed for fuel injection and IIRC a direct bolt in with a baffled sump for the fuel pump??
FlatheadsFoe
Intermediate Driver

Pertronix is my best friend, hands down!
Pushrod36
New Driver

I think brakes a ignition are the only item here I agree with. Here’s mine.

Brakes
Tires
Seat belts/restraints
Headlights
Electronic ignition
Bunka
Intermediate Driver

I definitely believe that "Original" is imperative for old cars with one "exception". Was the original engineering adequate? If the original brakes were inadequate as it came from the factory, then please make them adequate. Both drums and discs can be improved. Are the old headlights and taillights adequate. If not then go to LED lights. Six volt LEDS can solve the problem. Six volt systems seem to be pretty adequate. Why go to 12 Volts when the issue is the bulbs? An added bonus is the greatly reduced drain on the generator. The biggest modification improvement is installing seat and shoulder belts. Originality does not count when it comes to your and others safety. Originality does count with radios, engine size, upholstery, trim and other non-safety areas. Ironically, new rubber pieces are made out of much improved materials and a lot of replacement metal is much better now than the original so just replacing parts with original looking parts can have the effect of an unintended consequence and modification.
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

The brakes on my old Ranger were adequate when it was built with little 14 inch wheels. When I put the 16 inch TorqThrusts on it would hardly stop because the different mechanical advantage with the bigger rolling diameter. I put 12 inch rotors on from a Sport Trac (that came with 16 inch wheels) using a small caliper adapter and now it stops like it used to. Any relatively SMALL change can have un-intended and unanticipated results --- The old truck is 25 years old now with 274000Km -and heated seats, backup camera, side view camera and 8" touch screen stereo/navigation unit as well as add-on junk-box AC

GRP_Photo
Instructor

The first thing I put into an old car is seat belts.
KwikDraw
Pit Crew

One of the first things I added was seatbelts! The other was turn signals. I have a 1953 Studebaker half-ton pickup, and apparently turn signals were not standard equipment. I also switched the system to 12 volt with an alternator and converted it to disk brakes on the front. The goal was to be a more drivable "original".
Patrician
Intermediate Driver

I totally disagree with electronic fuel injection. Where are you going to get the parts for a after market kit that's ten years old? Map sensors, ECM, fuel pressure regulator etc. Carburetors are reliable, easy to fix and pretty generic.
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

Use a system that uses OEM parts - particularly sensors and injectors. Lots of nice conversions out there using late-model pre-obd EFI and electronic ignition - or do the "roll-your-own" like a Megasquirt - which uses oem parts that will be available for a LONG time

GMB
New Driver

Looking at the photos in this article, I notice most of them are from a late model corvair. I have put the dual master cylinder on. Electronic ignition and fuel injection are available for Corvair, as well as disk brake conversion. All nice additions to our vintage cars. Glad to see the Corvair has come out as a collector car. It was called the "Poor Mans Porsche" back in the 60's, but suffered from negative publicity being featured in the book Unsafe at Any Speed, by Ralph Nader. Of all the cars from the 60's, it is one of the lower price cars to purchase, and many parts are available with all the upgrades listed in this piece as well as many more.
Mapleleaf
New Driver

If you drive an old car, you need to understand its limitations. Yes it will take longer to stop with primitive brakes and skinny tires and no you can’t expect to drive thousands of miles between service but, if it is driven and maintained properly you can get many miles of enjoyment from your rig.

First off, you need to view the car as a system, not as a piecemeal collection of parts. If you want air conditioning, a fancy stereo system, and other power accessories, you will need determine whether your charging system can handle it. If not, a charging system upgrade will be required but wait, what about the wiring! Old and brittle wiring is a fire waiting to happen. The original Amp Gauge in most old cars will not handle the current capacity of a modern upgraded alternator and, an in-dash fire will quickly turn you're your collector car into toast!

Same thing goes with fuel injection system conversions. Fuel injection systems require much higher fuel pressure that carburetor systems do. You will need a higher capacity pump, usually mounted in-tank, to feed the system. All the fuel lines must be upgraded to handle the increased pressure (i.e. no hose clamps) and be cognizant of the fact that a fuel leak from a 60 PSI system is much more risky than a 6 psi drip.

So what about brakes? Yep, disc brakes are much more efficient at stopping the vehicle but, as the author points out, tires become the next limitation. And, if you use silicone-based DOT5 fluid, remember that DOT5 fluid does not absorb water. Any air-born moisture that does get into the brake system can form water pockets and could cause corrosion in the system. DOT3 and DOT4 fluids will absorb water and that will reduce its boiling point, a consideration if heavy braking increases temperature in the system. In any case, regular brake fluid flushes (time rather than mileage based) and system inspection and maintenance should not be neglected.

Other upgrades like digital dash and LED lighting tend to be more owner preference.

In summation, old cars typically require much more frequent maintenance that a modern vehicle does. The owners manual of my Model A carefully explained what is needed, both time based and mileage based. You, as the owner/driver, were expected to adjust the mechanical brakes regularly, change the oil every 500 miles, ensure that the tires were in good shape, that the lights and horn worked, and that it was safe and ready to roll. The payback is the satisfaction that comes from learning all about your old car … knowledge that will come in handy if you have a hiccup out on the highway … so you can actually enjoy the experience rather than entrusting everything to “your mechanic”.
Mbhcid
Pit Crew

#1 should be seat belts.
390AMX
Pit Crew

Several Corvair examples pictured... nice to see
chrlsful
Instructor

agreed - "give or take" (year of manufacture, deff of 'classic', traffic, use, comfort, need for oe, local climate, etc). Ie - I'd skip some, add some. 8^ )
Inline8OD
Detailer

Sounds like most -- not all, thankfully, but most -- the posters don't really want an old or vintage car. We've no idea what "classic" means unless you're referring to those listed by the CCCA. What most these posters seem to want is a modern car with fakey do bodywork. Part of the covenant with a properly sorted vintage cars is, gasp, getting your hands dirty from more than polishing compound.
Janedon, above, gets it: "destroying via modernizing." As do MapleLeaf, SJM1 and a few others.
If you can't survive without your Smartphone and GPS, or CD player, stay home and look at shiny pictures of old cars online.
Interesting that only three (3) posters mentioned seat belts. Fuel injection? Such systems take vastly higher, and more dangerous, fuel pressure; modern cars 40, even 60 psi, and why accidents of such are often horrible conflagrations.
Much of this discussion is simply because there are few mechanics who know, or are willing, to work on old cars.
This be a slippery slope. Subtle upgrades, fine-tuning of an already well fettled car are one thing. Slapping in Pertronix, radials on a wheezer another.
Arnold above is right about modern lubricants and nylon bushings. Today's black molybdenum/graphite grease is, according to a petrochemist w/ one of the major oil companies a couple decades ago, himself owning an authentic '40s car, eight-fold better than the orange fiber grease used into the mid '70s. Same with motor oils, and forget the ZDDP scare. Zinc levels are back to their 1970s levels today, and Joe Sixpak wasn't blaming the oil for his SBC coming unglued back then.
RichH is right about DOT 5. We've used nothing but in our '30s and '40s stock cars. Again, subtle refinements to existing engineering, now you're talking. My 75-year-old car has urethane sway bar bushings, a 55-amp, 6-volt, positive-ground alternator simply as that's what a dealership would've installed in the late '50s had the company endured. It also saves weight, which is always the enemy in any road car. Same with the radial tires i now run, tho' in a bias ply size so they look right, as the metric SUV sort most use in '40s US cars look ridiculous. Tho' these are offered with wide whitewalls, many of us who like understatement skip these, as did most in the day who considered such gauche, tacky. If your car needs every option and bauble you can tack on, it wasn't a good design. Also have a higher compression cylinder head but from the era. It left the factory with overdrive, but there are modern, unseen versions which make life easier and longer for your original, properly rebuilt engine if a stock unit never available.
Again, you can always pull out your car's heart and soul and replace it with requisite SBC 350, TurboHydraMatic, but perhaps you're better off shopping for a low-mileage '74 Chevy?
Power steering? Perhaps a few push ups, chin ups daily, a vegan diet instead, and make sure your front end alignment's right, that you've got enough air in your tires. Bankers' little wives and 5' 3" actresses routinely parked Packard Twelves and Pierce-Arrows weighing as much as Escalades, Expeditions, Excursions, and dig those crazy names. "Sport utility vehicle" has to be the biggest automotive oxymoron ever. Sorry, but you can't have it all. Not then, not now.
The same posters listing various upgrades, ranging from $100 for a Petronix ignition that can leave you stranded while points always get you home, to thousands of dollars for disc brakes, fuel injection, and the rest of it lament not being "able to afford" an authentic old car. Again, read: Don't want to get my hands dirty, and/or too soft, too lazy to spend a few hours in the garage doing basic maintenance any teenager at the corner gas station did routinely not so long ago.
You want something bad enough, turn off your computer and hustle. Get out and get under.
When you're done, you'll have something to be proud of, that will reward you with a time machine experience you cannot imagine, if you can find roads not teeming with the traffic of a third of a billion people.
Not one poster above mentions avoiding antifreeze unless exposed to a hard freeze, 30 or below to consecutive nights, or if you have AC, which requires 15% even in LA or Phoenix. Or why you should never use distilled water, only soft or reverse osmosis.
Perhaps the smartest thing is to email, phone, or write your congressfolk and senators (Congressional switchboard open 24/7, 202-224-3121) to enact legislation encouraging adoption over breeding, or to have only "one or none;" tax breaks for those adopting since we're all of the same DNA. Our cars were not intended for a nation of a third of a billion, and patchwork garage bolt-ons and replacements will not make them so, only lose you the wonderful time stilling experience of driving the real thing.
Air_and_Water
Advanced Driver

All I hear is "old man yells at cloud".

If we all had that attitude then there would be nobody to pass the torch to in another generation. Lighten up, let other people enjoy their cars and (and this is going to be the tough part) actually encourage people to own/drive vintage cars, even if they don't do it the same way you would.
Inline8OD
Detailer

Experience + erudition= old? Many of us like Vivaldi, but aren't 300, and the Beatles, but aren't Sir McCartney's age.
What, exactly, do you think you'll be passing to another generation, a pastiche of "well, we think it was a 1960s GMobile, but it seems to have various bits and pieces circa 1980-2020. Huh, well, maybe the Smithsonian or Petersen Automotive Museum will take it."
Try another look at what i wrote. Reading cognition helps.
Air_and_Water
Advanced Driver

Not at all. I'm saying that we shouldn't discourage the hobby in whatever form it takes, and no matter how it's happening. THAT is what will kill it in the future. Just because it isn't how you like it doesn't mean it isn't legit. Also, the term you're looking for is "comprehension".
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

OK - what's your rationale for "soft water" or "reverse osmosis" but not distilled???

Just wondering, when rain water is "soft water" and is also "distilled water". If you mean "softened" water - from an ion exchange water softener like the ones that use salt in your house, I'm afraid I have to disagree with whatever thesis you have come up with. Also, not using "coolant" instead of water makes no sense at all. The "antifreeze" coolant is also a corrosion inhibitor and water-pump lubricant as well as an "antiboil". Sure water transmits heat MARGINALLY better than a 50% antifreeze solution but optimizing the fan / shroud / radiator solves any theoretical problem  your not using antifreeze might be be intended to solve. Also I've never had an electronic ignition conversion - pertronix in particular EVER let me down, while I have been stranded by a broken spring on a set of points and by numerous OEM ballast resistors. Carry a set of points and condenser in the trunk if you are paranoid about the Pertronix. Then you have them IF you need them instead of WHEN you need them when running points - - -  and the manufacturers would not have put 6 volt alternators in the cars because alternators didn't exist antill well after virtually all manufacturers switched to 12 volts - so the 12 volt conversion is more logical than a 6 volt alternator - - - 

 

 I get my hands dirty modifying AND maintaining my vehicles and I love DRIVING my older vehicles (and hate waxing ANY vehicle -- - 

Inline8OD
Detailer

Distilled water is ion hungry; leaches minerals, like lead, tin, solder, from your radiator, cooling system. For more information, see the tech info link on www.no-rosion.com
No-Rosion's Rust & Corrosion Inhibitor is an outgrowth of that formulated to protect monstrously expensive industrial cooling towers, with their dissimilar metals and ferocious temperatures.
The difference in heat transfer betwixt straight water and a 50/50 water/antifreeze mix is not "marginal," and why race cars able to get by with minute frontal area.
Automotive alternators first appeared in WWII equipment with radios, after the war optional in ambulances, taxis, tow trucks.
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

rain water is by definition both distilled and soft. What you do NOT want is "de-ionized" water. RO water, direct from the RO filter is as pure as you can get. Bottled RO water sold for drinking often has calcium added back in to give it some "taste" as pure ro water is pretty "flat".

Bottled distilled drinking water often also has minerals added.  These minerals will still cause scaling at high temperatures - but the BIG problem is both RO and distilled water are "de-ionized" - or "ion thirsty" and will strip metallic ions from the cooling system components. "softened" water exchanges the scale causing calcium,manganese, etc ions for sodium ions - therefore reducing scaling without ion-scouring the cooling system - with possible effects from higher sodium content.

Properly compounded coolants have components to prevent ion stripping, scaling, and corrosion if the pH is kept in proper balance.ot use glycol antifreeze is because of their propensity to crash or puncture engine blocks releasing the toxix ethylene glycol onto the track - where it also makes the track SLIPPERY. Water foesn't do much harm when spilled on the track, so most racers today use something like Summit's "Ice Water Coolant" which has most of the advantages of antifreeze coolant without the freeze protection and behaves like water on the track, as well as being basically non-toxic.  Running straight water is hard on the metal engine components and often causes cavitation damage from localized boiling as well as corrosion.

 

The difference between cooling efficiency between pure water and 50/50 antifreeze is 17% at 200F. HOWEVER raising the Delta T by being able to run at 226F open and about 256 at 16psi pretty much cancels out the difference in a functioning cooling system.

 

Military equipment in WW2 was almost exclusively 24 volts with the "alternators" usually outputting 400Hz AC for radio equipment.

 The first automotive "DC Alternator was intriduced by Chrysler with the slant six as an option in 1959. Yes, some military equipment used DC alternators with huge unreliable inefficient Selenium rectifiers external to the unit. I even have one in the garage - but that is a 28 volt 100 amp unit the size of a hungry man's lunch box that weighs as much as today's 135 amp automotive alternator, complete. For anyone interested it is a Leece Neville 1029CP with ordinance # 7954343. Most of those ambulances and towtrucks were 24 volt military surplus vehicles (our ex military PowerWagon tow truck was converted to 12 volts with a generator).

csnyder
Intermediate Driver

".ot use glycol antifreeze is because of their propensity to crash " SHOULD have read "The reason racers don't use glycol antifreeze is because of their propensity to crash"

Microbob_1984
Pit Crew

Bravo Zulu for the comments about replacing the stock single-circuit master cylinder with a dual-circuit part. Originality be damned, I want redundancy wherever possible when it comes to critical safety systems like brakes and steering. Also, adding things like alternators, electronic ignition and electronic fuel injection strongly suggests that you need to upgrade six-volt electrical systems to twelve-volts. That goes double for positive ground systems, like those found on many post-WWII British vehicles. Twelve-volt, negative-ground electrical systems became the standard in the mid-1950's, and converting an older system to the modern standard simplifies maintenance, as electrical parts, such as radios, lightbulbs, gages and ignition coils are much easier to find and much cheaper as well.
lockitt
Pit Crew

While in Vienna Austria about six years ago, I noted that the horse drawn carriages used for tours around the palace by the tourists were fitted with disc brakes. Now that is what I call an update.
The carriages were only two horsepower so fade was probably not a problem.
I didn't think to ask if they were using Dot 5 fluid. Haha
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

seeing them on the old order and "Dave Martin" Mennonites ' buggies up here in Ontario too lately. - One and 2 HP.

77GL
Intermediate Driver

Must haves? Not a single one of these is a must have. The originals all work fine unless broken. If broken, fix it. There are so few unmolested survivors left.
Gragathaz
Pit Crew

I was massively dissapointed by this article. It advocates taking parts of the original *systems* and replacing them with totally inappropriate modern equivalents. Fuel injection will give you a little better fuel economy, a little more power, and a lot less of the authentic experience of owning and maintaining and driving a classic car. If you have what are nowadays thought of as inadequate brakes, learn how to drive safely with them, rather than upgrade them (and, as many have pointed out, risk damage to other parts of the car, which was never designed to take the increased torque).

As several have said, if you want a modern car, *get* one. If you don't know what to do with carburetters or points ignition, either find a mechanic who does (not always impossible) or *learn*. Working on old cars is part of the joy of owning them. And, for the most part, the original systems worked just fine in their day, and if they have limitations, learning to handle them is part of the joy of driving them. I don't see why one would want to kill the satisfaction of knowing that *all* of the car is functioning.

What I *expected* to see, and would strongly advocate:
1) Seat belts. Others have advocated for these as well.
2) Safety glass.
3) If it can be accomplished, dashboard padding.
4) If appropriate and available, radial tyres.
5) If possible, impact-absorbing bumpers. (I honestly don't know how realistic this is, but someone should start making them if they're not available already.)

See where I'm going with this? If you drive a classic, you don't want to die in it, and you don't want to kill anyone else with it. Safety glass isn't a visible alteration, but will make a big difference if your head is thrown into it. Seat belts may look out of place, but again, you'll thank yourself for installing them if you ever are unfortunate enough to need them.

Note that the rest of my list has a lot of "ifs" -- these may not be possible. But I would argue that any one of my suggested modifications is more important than all of Kyle's put together. Another of the joys of driving an old car is *knowing how to drive it well*. In some cases (say, the Corvair, a few of which I have owned and loved): classics handle very differently from their modern equivalents by their very nature. I saw Ralph Nader give a talk at a Corvair convention (!!), and one of his points was that the Corvair was sold as an average economy car, not something for enthusiasts to learn how to handle effectively. Whether or not that was a smart move on Chevy's part at the time, I argue that it's precisely correct now. Learn how to make do with -- and take advantage of -- what your car has on offer, and it'll do well by you.
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

Model As and '28 chevys had "impact absorbing bumpers" - they were "springs".

One thing NO-ONE has mentioned is a collapsible steering column. First mod we did to the TD

Gragathaz
Pit Crew

Good point -- and something definitely less obtrusive to the interior aesthetics than adding dashboard padding!
csnyder
Intermediate Driver

Collapsible safety steering column does more for the driver - - - and also can be very "unobtrusive"

67sunroof
Pit Crew

I did fail to mention seat belts. I, too, always install them in any collector car whether it came with them or not. A seat belt has saved my life more than once during 55 years of driving, so on that score I am a true believer. Also, rarely do you find a vintage car that hasn't had its original sheet glass replaced with safety glass, so that is a must as well.

This whole post has been an interesting endeavor and everyone has a valid point or opinion in the end of the end. 

But remember one thing I always tell newbie, young owners. You aren't going to own it forever. When you do decide to sell it the next guy may reject it from the get-go if it is over modified to his tastes. I feel the same about color changes, funky wheels, and outrageously incorrect interiors. But, then again, that's just me.

Enjoy your car.

Hotrodbuilder
New Driver

Number one should be seatbelts for all passengers. Most older cars do not have seatbelts or shoulder harnesses. 

perry1
New Driver

i have a 69 chevelle SS396 375 now 427 old school big block stuffed with all the big block goodies like low comp pistons,7.5s comp cam roller LS6 heads from the gm wharehouse not the new engine 219i--188ex with a pair if 830 hollies on top a blower 871 and while it tears up as- 990s you cant beat the sound of old big block roar i know the technonogiy like a hellcat red eye with a little work could put me away but but at the end of the day which car would you want ill stick to my old school rear drum brakes point tirggered ign with a little bit of tech help i love to drive my untaimed beast on the road , no ac, well yes it does 50plus2 helps and i have new gt500 not old school but i dont think of it as being so i know it left the show room all engineered up but i do respect both in their own prespective catagories
Billthecat707
Detailer

Wow. A lot of my way is the only way opinions here. All these ideas are good suggestions and appropriate in some situations. There's room for everyone in the hobby. Let's be inclusive and realize that it's better for someone to mildly modernize their car so they can enjoy it, than to let it sit neglected. Many who buy vintage cars now don't have the knowledge or desire to put up with o.e. shortcomings, but let's appreciate that they still enjoy the experience.
abc
New Driver

Don't forget to upgrade your air conditioner. The upgrade will not hurt the cars value

1320metalman
New Driver

For all of us being car people here, we sure seem to have a lot of anger, vengeance, and hypocritical advice for 1 another here.
Maybe 1 day we will try to be bith honest & supportive to other's interests and perspectives. Only thing missing in this article was the hate between Ford, GM, & Mopar fans. Im still holding out hope thou we may see it.

Gragathaz
Pit Crew

I think the issue here is that this article is entitled "5 must-have mods for your vintage vehicle". The anger and vengeance is directed at the implied notion that you're a fool for not putting fuel injection and electronic ignition and disc brakes on every vintage car that ever passes through your possession.
Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

FB_IMG_1622423038786.jpgI sometimes feel like I live in a different world than a lot of other enthusiasts... I have multiple cars that run reliably with points and carburetors, while I read page-after-page of forums, etc. dealing with "this is my second attempt at finding a good _____ ignition module..." or "can I run an OEM GM sensor in my _______ aftermarket EFI..."

Now this is not to say points and carbs are superior to EI and EFI, but most often only by the era when OEM's perfected it. In the meantime, I keep starting reliably with my old-tymey parts.

I just plucked a well-maintained survivor 1969 Chrysler from a very long-term (25+ year) dry, indoor storage. I basically went through the brakes, flushing fluids and replacing the wheel cylinders. I was going to do the hoses, but the China-made replacements were 1/4" short and I didn't want to tear them loose during some lock-to-lock parking maneuver, so I just inspected the OEMs very closely. The shoes were about half-life, and I figured they were probably asbestos, thus better, so I cleaned them and kept rolling. They are "grabbier" than discs, but once you get used to it, you learn how to modulate them.

I did tires and other obvious stuff as well. Gradually, I just started driving the car further and further during non-rush hour times. Eventually that was a 60 mile round trip to work, 95% expressway speeds. It performed flawlessly. Then, being a convertible, I used it on a parade, literally 2 hours of 2 mph driving with an 80-degree ambient temp. No electric fans, no wiz-bang coolants, no 5-row aluminum radiators and no overheating either. So obviously my big-block is capable of staying cool on just 50 y/o factory parts. But I see no shortage of threads about what is needed to "improve" cooling.

All of my electrical connections are clean. I know this because it charges at idle with my foot on the brake. My lights don't dim, my turn signals don't slow down. There's plenty of power for the 2 watt AM radio.

The point of my saying all this is to note that a failure to root-cause problems leads to a lot of "upgrades" that mask these issues. If not for some cars kept original, (and in excellent repair) a person born 30 years ago probably thinks an old car simply cannot be used without modifications. They fail to realize that 50-60-70+ years ago, people drove them to work every day and those bosses expected them to be on time.

You can upgrade your car all you like, this being the beauty of a free country (not intended for use in California) but the other side of that coin is that I can think (and say) a lot of you just enjoy wasting time and money.

Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

whoops, double post.