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:
"Some people simply look down upon those who get their hands dirty." Interesting comment...I on the other hand, have always been dubious of those fellows that have the nicely manicured soft hands with no callouses...I guess it's all in the angle that you look at it.
This next comment is going to piss some people off, but when I was a member of my local Porsche club, there was a very distinct sense of awe mixed with contempt by some of the members when they considered those (few) of us who worked on our own cars." WOW, I thought I was the only one in the P-club who experienced that!!!
Nice to hear someone else is the car place "back row guy". I spent my life in the back lots of car lots. I often hit 6-10 lots a day after work. Driving from town to town looking for the next great project. My health is bad now, but I still get out once in a while and cruise the back lots near me. Just looking for the one to take with me I guess.
I am 62 years old and have been lucky to own some great vintage cars and still do. My advice to younger collectors, I decided that when I would ask my wife what she thought about buying a certain vintage car my wife would yell at me so now I just buy them so when she gets done yelling I have the car!!
I enjoy fixing things and tinkering with them to see how they work. At least half of my joy of owning a classic is working on it and improving it. I came from a middle class family too and my Dad did most of his own repairs and all of the maintenance on his cars. I watched him and handed him wrenches as I was growing up and that fueled the passion. I still remember when I got my first car My Dad bought a small toolbox and went through his tools and put me a basic set of tools together and said. "Now leave my tools alone" LOL
I have to ask since this picture was taken at McPherson College in KS.....I grew up in Derby, KS and there was a family there that was well-known for all the Corvairs they refurbed and customized. I never knew the family but I sure appreciated seeing their work. The town had appreciation for cars. I grew up more in the garage with him than in the kitchen with my mother. And no one would assume I'm female due to my name. He left me his '64 Pontiac Bonneville we're trying to decide to refurb or customize. We'd prefer original but he was from the days of customizing and he had started in that direction. This article and subject brought back fond memories of my little town.
Great article Kyle,
I drive a Ghia that I suspect is not too much different in feel from the Corvair.
I love it and love to drive it.
To get to the preferred cruising grounds around here one is usually required to navigate 4-8 lane highways. Usability is an important issue and one I'm glad you have brought up.
Distracted driving is a huge concern. The driving task itself seem far down the list of importance to most drivers. A happy problem but still worrisome is when someone is driving next to you at speed trying to get a picture or sitting in your blind spot.
The accolades are nice but some folks just don't get the attention it takes to drive an old car.
Oh well. I guess there are worse problems!
Honing in on the safety consideration...that is my biggest worry, for myself and double if I have a passenger, especially on the highway in my fiberglass '77 Corvette with Massachusetts drivers barreling and weaving all at 80, 90 in their Tahoes, Suburbans, Range Rovers, Explorers, and minivans (oddly, often the most reckless of all). I've imagined in real time the carnage, and it can be frightening. But I grew up owning 60s and 70s vehicles and will never give up on the pleasure I get from driving and maintaining a classic.
"Most cars built 40–50 years ago were simply not built to cruise on the highway at 70 mph". Kyle, who told you that? This is simply not true as any American and most import cars of 1970 and 1980 were fully capable of running at interstate speeds for an extended period. They were designed for it. Maybe not today but when they were new...yes. As a fellow automotive writer, may I respectfully suggest that you verify facts before making a statement as many readers will take your words as truth. Thanks, Joe
Absolutely correct. Remember, Kyle, speed limits were actually higher overall in the 60's and early 70's, so cars produced in those days routinely traveled at higher speeds than we may drive them now.
Correct! I would drive at 90mph between Cleveland and Rochester in a ‘73 Hornet Hatchback (232-6). Car lasted 174,000 miles with the original clutch. It was at 2 to 5am. And yes it involved a girlfriend 😂😂😂
I have a 1963 M38A1 Military Jeep and a 1965 Mustang Fastback and love every minute I’m behind the wheel of either of them. You have to drive both of them rather than take them for a ride. They are a visceral experience. Mostly, they make me smile and today, there’s just too little of that going on.
Just be mindful of what you are driving and it will tell you if there is a problem. I drove my 1965 Bonneville convertible on a 2000 mile trip with only minor problems due to a traffic jam that lasted for hours. It got me to my destination and back with little concern. Or a 1978 Porsche 924 at 70/75 mph for 700 miles with no concerns. I usually like to fix cars so that they can make the long haul if I want to do that. The parking lots that are called interstates now a days is another subject.
Rather than leave some money in investments making minimal interest I chose to invest in classic cars. Now they're appreciating at a greater rate than my investments and I can enjoy them a whole lot more!
Love the "Corsa" having owned 13 Corvairs from a '63 bathtub to a Yenko Stinger and a Fitch Sprint (could have shot myself a thousand times for letting them go), your article is well received.
Current vintage is a fully restored, street legal, 1958 Austin Healey Sprite race car. Never got so much attention in my life as when I take her out of a spin.
Vintage ownership and USE means sheer joy even when it won't start or is stuck in gear.
And doing down the corkscrew at top speed, even if it is only 97 mph is enough to make you .......... well you know.
The joys of vintage car ownership certainly outweigh the cons. Image I'm not really concerned about. I don't often show my cars, other than when the show is part of a bigger car activity. And actually, the maintenance is part of the experience. I'm a tinkerer, and I love restoring and maintaining old cars. Fun? Oh, yeah! Safety is a minor concern, so I stay very alert when driving one of my old cars. But I am also a racer, so I accept the risk as part of the dues. The social aspect is high on the list of pros. When you have a gathering of people who are as passionate about the subject that has brought them together, only positive experiences can develop. And since I keep a modern car for everyday chores, the usability factor is of no importance. Vintage cars are a joy in themselves. Each has a personality. and each gives it's own rewards.
Having an old car (or four) is somewhat like starting a garden -- you have all these dreams and visions of what it'll be like when you're done. And when you finish, it's beautiful...for a day or two before things start to deteriorate and before your inexperience starts to show. So you spend more money, saying, "this time I know how to do it right," and it gets a little better. You keep tinkering, tilling the soil. Suddenly it's been three years since you supposedly finished the car and you realize you've only put 1,500 miles on it because there's no place you're comfortable leaving it unattended. The only place the car ends up going is car shows. And after seeing Karen with the giant metal clad purse is flailing wildly too close to the car, you realize car shows aren't safe either. Pleasure drives become your only outlet...and when you need a relaxing drive the most, in the midst of a pandemic, you'll go out for a drive only to have something go wrong, only to hear a new noise that means you have more work to do before you'll be able to enjoy the car again. When does the fun start?
What with the last 2 comments referring to the name Karen in them? I know it's meant as a manner of disrespect ? As far as your comments I would suggest that you sell any Classics you have because it seems apparent that you are not enjoying the hobby at all .
Today a vintage car spotted anywhere near downtown Seattle here will be vandalized, deemed as a symbol of white privilege from a pre-civil rights era by violent rioters. I am a Patriot and would caution people to stick to Idaho or Wyoming if they want to avoid a brick to their classic car or head.
white privilege : getting out of bed , going to work everyday , raising your kids , paying your bills , avoid reverse discrimination , make sure kids go to school , hope to live long enough to retire on your retirement you saved and not on goverment assistance , and drive that old car you worked tirelessly on . i lived through equal rights amendments , equal opertunity laws that only helped certain people that usually didnt keep the windfalls they received . and never thought of shooting my neighbor because i just wanted to .
My 1968 Corvette has no power brakes, no power steering, no AC, no computers, no airbags, etc. Just a big V8 engine with a car attached...wild, raw and dangerous. However, that happy to be alive feeling cruising down the highway or through town is priceless and just the way I like it.
I am a technologist by trade. Hi-tech is constantly and rapidly changing. Things break through no fault of your own. What you learned last year may have no relevance today. On the flip side....
The "Pro" of classic car ownership for me is Effort = Rewards. It's predictable, timeless, and knowledge gained has value over many years and usually over many different models. I can put in maximum effort and know those efforts - when done right - can last a lifetime. There is a tangible result in front of you... to admire, to drive, to enjoy.
Con: There is never enough garage space...
Everything is a compromise. My classic is a 1993 Miata, it is not a chick magnet, it is not the fastest, it has a very narrow interest group, it isn't a long distance highway cruiser (in fact a long drive does a number on my right knee), it is most assuredly the most comfortable, it doesn't have a lot of luggage room, it is a car that outsider guys love making fun of because it is a "Chick's car", and at present it is terrifying to drive because the timing belt should be replaced.
It makes me smile, I have had it for over twenty years and I have enjoyed just about every single inch I have driven it and if I have to take a wrench to it or pay someone else to take a wrench to it I look at that as what has to be done so that the smile stays on my face.
At the end of the day if it makes you happy and it isn't making someone else miserable that is all that matters. Thanks for the reminder Kyle. I will say this, I would enjoy a weekend out of town driving the Miata if I could just get there in another car that was better on a road trip. Like I said, everything is a compromise.
While my "41 Packard" is pretty much all original, there remains the expensive option of a owning a restomod. A classic redone with modern safety equipment, yet still keeping the old world charm and looks.
So true on all accounts except I would argue that the cars of 40 or 50 years ago do not go down the road so well at 70mph... In 1956 Michigan created highway speed limits of 65 in the day and 55 at night... That was 64 years ago. My 67 Riviera does just fine at 75mph, drives great, granted the RPM is around 3000 If I remember correctly...
It is funny at times when someone approaches you to chat when they see your vintage vehicle. When the conversation gets going, invariably they say something like "I would sure like to own a bike like that. It is so cool!"
So, when they say that about my 1931 Indian 101 Scout motorcycle, my answer is something like this:
"It can be a challenge learning to use the foot clutch, hand shift, and left hand throttle, but once you get going, it is loud, smelly, doesnt accelerate like a new bike, won't stop like a new bike, and with no rear suspension, it is a pretty bumpy ride. But is sure is COOL!"
For me, a beautiful day on a quiet road, that old beast with all its anachronisms is sure to put a smile on my face!
Also, like many others here, if I could'nt build it I wouldnt be able to have it. I have only ever purchased one finished toy, and I only had the money for that because one of my vehicles was stolen. Hagerty was amazing at handling my claim!
I’ve owned my 1968 Camaro RS convertible for nearly 20 years. I have taken it on quite a few drives of over 200 miles and have had no problems. At the same time, however, running errands around town can sometimes result in a minor inconvenience of not starting due to starter or alternator problems. It overall, it is an absolute blast just to run a normally mundane errand in a classic.
Byron Nelson, Fort Payne, Alabama
My 1966 Pontiac was built for 70 mph speeds and it cruises those speeds just fine. The problem I notice is the moral hazard that comes with all four disk brakes and ABS. People think they can stop on a dime and will snuggle up to the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead of them at 70 mph. I prefer a generous following distance and to match the speed of the car ahead of me. Sure enough the brake lights up ahead signal a jam up and when I get there, some tail sniffer got to close to the rear bumper ahead of him!
I enjoy my vintage Corvettes. I have owned some of them for many years and still enjoy then every time I take a cruise, attend car club meetings, or attending a car show. They often are a ticket to meet new friends and they are the reason to take a ride to no where in particular.
Sure older cars have disadvantages. Safety? Reliability? Fuel economy? Comfort? Yes all of these are cons. Regardless, the pros far out weigh the cons.
I attended a certain car show for many years where I met a gentleman who always brought a best in show contender...one of his 20 or 30 cars. Even though I knew my best efforts would generally fall short, I was proud of my car because I built it. I do not have an 18 wheeler to transport my car like he had. I might have even felt a bit superior since I built and maintained my car instead of using a great deal of money to buy my car (which I certainly do not have). Grease under the finger nails, check! A happy vintage car owner, check!
The safety angle can be a big concern. In 1963 or so I had a 56 Renault Dauphine that had to be put in second gear or even first to slowly crawl up small hills that any modern car, even the most inexpensive ones, can sail over at 70 mph without any noticeable effort. In today's traffic it would be a real hazard. And drum brakes were a true nightmare - if you had to make a panic stop while traveling 65, by the time you got stopped the brakes were starting to fade.
I love the older cars because thy don't have all the technology crap in them and they don't look like bizarre insects on wheels. They have character, bizarre design or otherwise, and are in general more fun to be around.
I don't do my own work anymore because I've had a stroke but I'm still in the Hobby, 82 years old, 30 days till 83 if I make it, and I'm not going anyplace.
Very good work as always Kyle, and I thank you.
I guess my '81 Trans AM SE doesn't quite qualify as Vintage, but it certainly is a classic muscle car. I can do some minor stuff on my car, but it sat for the better part of a year, with the radiator off, while I was trying to find the time to finish installing a Vintage AC. I ended up having it towed to a shop, and having the job finished. I decided then, I'd rather pay a shop to get'er done quickly, than let the car sit for ages in an unusable state.
I bought a '77 Formula Firebird off the dealer lot about 6 months after I graduated from college, and sold it 15 years ago so my wife could have room to park her car in the garage. Now, there'd have to be some serious discarding to get any kind of a car in the garage. Thus, there are at least three reasons not to repaint the car anytime soon.
It's a survivor car with the original paint; I want to finish the mechanical resto-mod work before I think about painting the car; And I want to have a place to keep the car out of the elements once I get the car repainted.
I drove the car many years, as a daily driver, and never really appreciated what I had - 4BBL carb, 4-speed manual, posi-trac rear end, and a 6.6L Pontiac engine. My T/A has the biggest Pontiac engine available that year - 4.9L, and boy do I miss those extra 1.7 L!
I would say a bigger, heavier car is safer than a smaller, lighter car. My T/A weighs almost 2 tons; a good part of that is its steel frame and body. Not saying there wouldn't be any damage to my car, but it would crush today's econo-boxes like egg shells.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you actually want damage when your car hits another car. Two cars hitting each other creates a lot of energy that has to go somewhere. Ideally, you want that energy used up by bending metal instead of breaking bones. Newer cars may look worse after an accident but they actually protect their occupants better than a vintage car, by redirecting that energy. Airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, whiplash protection, etc also help.
Good points. But as a antique car owner and a person who does 1860's living history, the true time travel event is an immersion history event. No modern items around, no modern buildings or people of 2020 attending. That's time travel.
I just finished totally redoing my 73 Stingray's interior. My proudest achievement in the laborious task was I tore apart the clock and fixed it. The clock had never worked which is not uncommon in the old boats and its something I had been wanting to do ever since buying it 20 years ago. I have owned new vettes, a few year old vettes, but this one is the car I have liked the most. The bad thing about old cars is once you replace any single thing that is within view it makes all the other things you didn't replace look "OLD". There is the catch and why vintage repro stuff must be the best business in the world because when you make the mistake of replacing that rearview mirror with a nice, crisp repro you end up replacing the entire interior to match that $50 new mirror at a completed cost that just made the whole idea of a good investment go very bad. But you know I am so happy with my car I just can't stop running to the QT for a drink or to get that gallon of milk for the wife without complaining. In fact, I am hoping she needs something before I finish typing this or I am going to need to top off my fuel. Cheers to all of us who drive and work on youthful dreams we now own.