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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

6 pros and cons of vintage car ownership

If you got all your vintage car information from TV shows, you’d likely think all classics had paint shinier than the sun and, if they didn’t, had to be restored in 30 days or someone would be forced to sell their shop. The truth is stranger than fiction, though. When contemplating a vintage car purchase, or justifying the one (or two, or three …) you currently own, you’ll waffle between the joys and the inconveniences. The conclusion we reach from weighing these pros and cons will be different for everyone, but don’t shy away; join the conversation and add your own reasons, either for or against, in the comments.

 

I wrote out some of the points of vintage car ownership I have personally debated and discussed with friends and family over the years. These have shaped both my collection and my life, and hopefully they can help shape yours.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/lists/6-pros-and-cons-of-vintage-car-ownership/

143 REPLIES 143
Buzzzzz
Navigator

Actually cars built in the 1960's and early 1970's were built to cruise at 70 mph.  The interstate speed limit was 75 mph at the time.  However, you are correct that it might not be wise to do so in a 50 year old car due the the age of its mechanical components.

drenam
New Driver

In the 60s growing up, we didnt have enough money to buy a nice car.  I got my first car at 16 for $5 bucks  1954 Merc monterey.   It was FUN to fix it up.   We have to remember the FUN part.

Karkrazy1
Passenger

When looking for a collector/vintage vehicle, unless you are absolutely stuck on a Corvair Coupe, be prepared for what is available. I quite literally fell in to a free MGA still roadworthy and have owned Minis (real ones) MG Midgets a 1963 Corvette roadster and now have a 308 Ferrari, 1930 Model A Ford and another FREE MGA which is under reassembly as it came totally apart down to the bare frame. Watch for other peoples tired of cast offs which need work to complete and you may well find something you did not covet but which could be a starter....or your keeper as is my Ford 

PS not knocking the Corvair as it was my first ride and I had to learn four wheel drifting as the throttle stuck in the Monza.

BillL
New Driver

For me owning and driving a vintage car represents an bit of a paradox.  First, we are all quite spoiled by the "new" cars we tend to drive everyday.  No matter how hard I try, it is difficult to avoid carrying over some of those expectations to my old cars.  We all know what they are.  I currently have a few cars that are not daily drivers, including a couple from the 60s and 70s which I absolutely love!  When I am able to take any of the cars out to drive or to a car cruise, etc., I am very proud of them and really enjoy sharing the cars and the histories with others.  But here is what inevitably happens; when a week or two go by and I am not out driving them, and get really anxious to take one out on the open road and enjoy the ride.  When I am out driving them, all I can think about is how to make them better.  It is rare for me not to have some kind of "to-do" list after going out for a drive.  Mostly minor things, but they add up, to a point where I will start to avoid going out again until I get most of the "to-do" list done, only to come up with a few more items to add to the list.  Don't get me wrong, I like working on them too, but the pursuit of perfection is a bit ridiculous, and it really gets in the way of total enjoyment.  I am smart enough to know that my expectations are not completely realistic, but that is little consolation when I stare at the list and know I can still make some improvements.  It is the reason I tell people that a restoration project, not matter how extensive or limited it may be, is never done.  So what should I do?  That's the paradox, but there is no way I would ever give up on the hobby, I just enjoy it too much, even when it is frustrating.  I guess these are the pros and cons.

jimliberty
Pit Crew

I've been in love with cars since a little boy. Not my occupation, but my hobby after retirement. I rented a small shop the week I quit working, nearly twenty years ago. Now I restore one vintage Porsche 356 a year. Here at the shop seven days a week. Pure bliss, not to mention the driving.    .....Jim.

LIBERTY MOTORSPORTS
dooscoop32
Intermediate Driver

I thought of a couple more reasons myself.  One, of course, should be fuel mileage.  Just be realistic about what you expect from a mechanically fuel injected, solid-lifter cammed 327 with 375 HP.  And gearing in the rear ends was for the most part, lower in the 60s cars.   And of course overdrive transmissions were thought of as old technology.  

 

And I'll just say that I also got sick and tired of the sneers and jeers I got from so many other drivers on the road.      The percentage of people who look  up to vintage cars they see nowadays is dwindling like crazy.  Most people don't even give them a second look anymore.  Times have changed unfortunately.  

DT
Detailer

Here In Rural Ohio I have a 95% rate for thumbs up when I drive my !966 Dodge Charger or 1950 Ford Club Coupe. Too bad it isn't that way where you live.  

DLP
Pit Crew

I had a 1966 Corvair Corsa that I dearly loved. It was a 180hp turbo that I bought from the Chevy dealership that I was working at, at that time. It was one of the dealership owners personal demo. I traded in my much loved Dodge Polara 500, 383 2bl. It was through the Corvair that I had an opportunity to meet and get to know Don Yenko, who at that time was developing and building the Yenko Stinger. Another story for another time. I enjoy hearing about your Corvair however. Thank you.

Javman
Pit Crew

In 1972 as a 19 year old wide eyed kid, I fell head over heels for a Jolly green with white c stripe brand new Javelin SST.  My cousin had an AMC dealership so credit was easy, gas was cheap and I was the envy of all my buds. After 3 or 4 years of immense enjoyment I sold it as my taste driffted to sporty cars, an Opel GT to be exact, and have regretted it since. Last fall I picked up my bucket list ride, a 1972 Javelin SST 360 in Big Bad Green @ 90% done. I was going to have a shop finish it but because of Covid and the lockdown in Canada and the need to self isolate, I decided to tackle the items on my finish list. I have taken it to pretty close to being finished doing things like paint and clearcoat repairs, installed a black c stripe, took care of mechanical issues etc. As I complete each item on my list I get great satisfaction that I did it on my own. Pretty hard to find any other hobby that can put a bigger smile on your face than that. Hopefully next year the car shows, show and shines etc. will be back and I will be ready to share my ride with other enthusiasts. After all isn't that what it is all about? Till then I will go for a ride or just sit in my shop and admire a beautiful work of art. No matter what car your taste leans toward, enjoy it, that's what they were built for.

elk5989
Passenger

I loved your extremely well-written Post,Kyle...As usual..Thank you...

degifford
Passenger

I love the comment about freeway driving. My '67 GT350 is running at 3000 RPMs at 60, 4000 at 70.  My 2016 car is doing 1800 at 80 MPH.  But the sound of the '67 beats everything.  I won't even mention the "power steering" of the old days.

dclaxon
Pit Crew

Would that be the "armstrong" power steering? (Or was it strongarm?) I think my '70 Boss 302 had the same system. And it almost took both feet to push the clutch.

Rider79
Instructor

I would say that most US cars (at least mid-priced and above ones) of 50 years ago were made to cruise at 70, sometimes-wandering  bias-ply tires notwithstanding.  Until the 55 MPH limit went into effect in early 1974, I believe that most states had limits of 70 or more.  My dad's 1961, 1964, and 1968 Buicks, and my grandfather's 1967 Dodge Monaco, certainly had no such trouble.  Nor does my 1975 Olds 88 convertible, nor did my former 1968 327 Impala.  Perhaps some 6-cylinder compacts and such were not comfortable at 70, I don't know.

 

My 1969 Beetle would seemingly cruise at 70 all day, but it was German, after all.

Real_Life
Intermediate Driver

I tell anyone who wants to listen that buying a classic gives you two hobbies, driving the car, and maintaining it.  Accept it and enjoy the ride.

Jnick
Intermediate Driver

My old cars are my passion aind the worse shape they begin the more rewarding the project! Consider this when thinking about a vintage car:

 I have a 1969 Camaro, when it needed a muffler it was $60 installed, when I needed the heads milled, new valves, springs and cam I still paid less than $1500 for all that work. All the parts were readily available even with COVID. The car sounds right, looks right and takes me where I want to go. All the mechanical labor costs remain about the same as 1990. Alternators and starters are still less than $50!

 As far as safety is concerned, if the cell phone is in the glove box or better yet the trunk, there are nearly zero distractions. I know how to turn on the heater by pulling the 3 knobs down and the AM radio gets tuned by turning the dial till you hear what you want. No Bluetooth, fancy auto heat, nav screens, or any number of “features” to fiddle around with. I ask you what can top the staccato thump of a solid lifter Duntov cam anyway?

cultleader
Pit Crew

ABS & discs don’t make a car safer. They just result in more speed & tailgating. 

LeeH
New Driver

My biggest driving thrill is to startup my 1940 hotrod, take in the smells and sounds, and go for a drive.   Cruising in that thing just brings a smile to my face.   I also think that if done correctly, owning an old car doesn't have to be expensive.  If you buy the best condition car you can afford, then maintain and upgrade it as needed, your costs over the long term will be no higher than if you buy a brand new model and have it depreciate just sitting in the garage.  My 1940 is no show car, but 20 years from now, it will still be worth more than a 2020 SUV and the miles per smile will be far greater.

audiobycarmine
Advanced Driver

Kyle; this is as honest and well-written an article as I’ve seen. The “Image” section especially so.

You write “cars of the 1960s were never expected to last 60 years…”, and you’re right, but most cars of the 1960s, and even 1950s, would last longer age-wise than their 1970s and 80s descendants. Their build quality was usually higher.

Thanks again.

RJ
Intermediate Driver

Very nicely written article - thanks for the re-affirmation of all my automotive beliefs.  Funny thing is - this hit my in-box with the Subject line "6 Pro and Cons of Vintage car owners."  My wife had a bit to add to that.

DaveA
Detailer

Excellent article! You are absolutely correct about community (“Want to make new friends? Just drive a vintage car into a public place and smile”). I drive my DeLorean everywhere and I’ve met so many nice people because of it. Just today I had it parked at a local coffee shop. Within a few minutes a father and son had walked over to get some pictures. I walked back to the car to greet them and let them sit inside. It made their day, especially the young boy. The smiles on their faces and the excitement in their voices is partially why I keep putting money into it: so everyone can enjoy it. 

impman
Passenger

It still beats the Nipponese clonemobile any day.

60V
Passenger

My first and favorite car was a 1960 Plymouth Valiant. 3 speed on the floor. Simple to work on, fun to drive, big trunk space. Paid $75.00 for it in 1971. I have a 1966 Mustang now and I love it but nothing can take the place of my first love. Perhaps that’s influenced by the fact that it’s the car I shared so many months and memories with the first true love of my life. Her name was and still is, Joyce. I lost her and the car in the mid seventies. 

Maestro1
Instructor

I also want to share that I have a 41 year old Japanese small truck, 138,000 original miles, I bought it at 98,000 miles 13 years ago, so it hasn't had much use.

0-60 in five years; it's a 2 liter  with a reluctant 4 speed transmission and no power steering. This is called minimalist motoring.

The family loves it, the girls use it to go to the store occasionally, I use it as a parts runner, but generally it sits,  waiting for the next trip. The thing gives me no trouble at all, starts every time and is mildly bizarre in general. Because I live in a village every body knows it, there aren't any here, so they all honk and wave at it when they see it in traffic (pardon the expression; it's a village)

I try to avoid driving it on the nearby highway at highway speeds because it's old and I think it's a bad idea in terms of overall safety. For that I use one of my other passenger cars instead. But it's perfect for running around. I have no intention of selling it. When I die it will go to the family and they may do with it what they wish with the caveat that no freeway driving unless they throw a lot of money at a full restoration.

Once again, thank you Kyle for good work.

ttopfirebird
Passenger

Amen.

ttopfirebird
Passenger

Amen

Tootall
Passenger

If a kid goes out fishing for the first time and lands a lunker, it's the kid who just got hooked.  May be similar with cars... was for me. 

mjposner
Pit Crew

I also have a 65 Corvair. I have owned for 8 years, and have done very little maintenance wise, regular oil changes, plugs, points, front springs, new wheels and tires and a battery.  Still drives very well.  Of course in 8 years I have only driven about 4,000 miles, and the car is always garaged.

KMac
Passenger

I am from Boston, currently residing in Dallas, and for me the beauty of driving my older Porsche convertible, was heading to Cape Cod for the weekend. The 90 mile drive did more for my spirit and well being than years of psychotherapy. My recommendation is to purchase a classic car, drive it for wellbeing and save money over ‘shrinks’. 

elginx1987
Passenger

I must say you know what you're talkin about. Especially the part when you mention staying in your lane and hoping everybody understand your speed on the freeway. Thanks for mentioning the speed. I have 69 impala for 8 years. I've never taken it over 75 miles an hour. When I get close to 70 I just don't feel safe. So freeway is 55> 60 miles an hour. Thanks I appreciate you.

SilentKnight
Passenger

Spot-on article! Everything was something we all relate to. For example, moving to Richmond VA from Albany NY was a stressful thing 20 years ago. We had NO friends. Thanks to our antique cars we have dozens of friends and hundreds of acquaintances who know us for our cars. 98% of our friends are "car people". If it weren't for the cars, we'd have few friends!

Bendomatic
Passenger

Good on ya for loving a '65 Corvair.  We love our '65 convertible.  Absolutely a thrill every time we drive it. 

Altema22
New Driver

I don't know about the reliability bit. Breakdowns on our 1970 Karmann Ghia over that last decade were limited to the thermostat sticking once, the carburetor float valve sticking twice, and the original throttle cable finally breaking. Engine was rebuilt eight years ago and is a delight (1.6L, balanced and blueprinted).

 

My first long trip with the new engine was through the mountains, and it did better than some of the modern cars, though I have to admit that being tuned by a former racing mechanic was helpful 😉

 

It does get lots of attention, though I have been attacked for not restoring it.

 

What is this "safety" you are speaking of? I've got my whole spare tire and a gas tank in front of me!

Jim
Pit Crew

 

 

Spyderman63
Passenger

I am still driving and enjoying my 63 Corvair Spyder convertible that I bought new. It performs on the interstate as well as our 2015 Impalla.

mistmeister
Passenger

My 1949 Dodge pickup has a reasonable top speed (with a tailwind) of 45 mph. I always pull over for the faster cars and routinely get a honk, wave or thumbs up. If I was driving a more current car slowly, I am certain the hand signal would be significantly different. Classic cars seem to make people smile. 

xrotaryguy
Navigator

Drum brakes can provide just as much stopping force as disc brakes. The issue is that they require more maintenance than discs to keep the car stopping straight. They can also overheat with repeated hard braking like in road racing or descending a mountain road too aggressively. 

 

The tires under my 69 Corvair are 255 wide and 200TW autocross tires. The stock drums with stock shoes are able to lock up all for wheels! 

😎👍

irphil
Pit Crew

It's a shame that Nader killed the Corvair.  The problem was the early ones had a swing axle.  Drivers who weren't used to handling the resulting tendency for the rear of the car trying to get to apex ahead of the nose were in for a painful surprise.  Having owned a couple of Porsche 356's and a Mercedes 300S coupe, that had  swing rear axles even though it was front engined, I found them to be great driving cars.  GM later went to non swingers but by that time the vairs carried a stigma. More the pity because it could have evolved in to the poor man's Porsche.

Johnsfolly
New Driver

I've loved MGs since I discovered a MG-TD at age 6 in a used car lot where my father was looking at a '53 Pontiac. Used several $500 MG's as daily transport, including harrowing cross-country trips as a kid. Now I own a 40-year old restoration of a '53 TD, a '68 Midget for vintage racing, and a '79 MGB with a Buick aluminum V-8. A car for every mood and I still make harrowing multi-state excursions. But now I understand: "whining toddlers screaming 'Gimme!'"

blueskies
Passenger

Thanks for the ideas, I have a 1955 Buick century 4dr. sedan. I have installed three  point seat belts, if done right these can be done on a 2dr, hardtop. I really get up set going down the road at the speed limit of 65, and passing some old car [from the late 50s to early 60s] doing 50 mph because it's  an old car. Can you hear the car just screaming drive me like I should be driven? On the subject of safety, I have disk brakes on the front, if you just look at different magazines you will find that there are companies out there that can retro fit disk brakes for safety and put them back to stock if you want to sell the car. {most disk can not be seen with steel, wheels and hubcaps. it just upsets me to not drive a car and enjoy it. 

freia1943
Passenger

well, he's right on all points. The steering that I thought was natural 50 years ago has suddenly become anything  but firm and power steering used to be too light to feel the road. You just have to adjust and figure you better keep your eye on the driving pretty much every second. Vintage cars do not drive themselves as the dummy cars of today. Starting your old car is not exactly just turn the key. Many vintage have a certain way you need to know, kind of like starting your boyfriend, there is a trick to it. Rattles in the body have their own life, and the many unique steering wheels are BIG compared to today (please don't put in a modern one) but in crash it should make a nice big round mark on your chest. Vapor lock is a way of life in hot climates if you keep the ol' carb and use today's fuel. But then, you put the  top down and shine up the paint and there is nothing like cruising. 

LINY
New Driver

When your having a crappy day, uncover the old car and go for a ride, it makes everything better. JMHO

Barracuda68
New Driver

One con, People always want to tailgate really close, presumably to get a better look, or to read the badging. Drives me crazy that I'm going to get rear ended, although I have to assume that their modern cars have much improved stopping power than my '68 Barracuda with 4 14" drums has.

jaysalserVW
Detailer

I had a friend who bought a vintage vehicle which was destined for scrap.  He did an admirable reconditioning job on the car, including a to-kill-for-vintage-stock engine.   However, along the way, little things needed adjusting or a more keen repair.  I could sense that this was wearing on my friend.  It wasn't but about 2 years into ownership that he announced that he was selling his car.  I did not attempt to deter him--because it would have served only to delay the process which was in full motion.  I see part of the challenge of vintage ownership as over-coming the odds (which sometimes seem to be stacked against the vintage vehicle owner).  Thanks for reminding us, Kyle, of not only the difficulties of vintage ownership but also the inherent joys, as well!  jay salser

jonZ
Instructor

Great article. Spent an hour or more reading all the comments. In regards to maintenance remember that the last suit you wear won't need pockets. Image...I get more thumbs up than the middle finger salute even if I am holding up traffic. Fun...more than a barrel of monkey wrenches, Usability, depends on the amount of maintenance. Community...I think our responses to these articles proves Kyle is right.