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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/

Replies (103)

Replies (103)

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. 

Intermediate Driver

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!

Pit Crew

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...

Pit Crew

I meet new people every time I take my 52  Muntz Jet out.

And most of the time it’s the guy that just started working the flatbed at the local garage.

Passenger

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...

New Driver

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. 

Passenger

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!

New Driver

One of the cons not listed is this....if you do upgrade your vehicle to something with some modern conveniences, there are those out there that will cry that you ruined the car.  Fuel injection and brakes are the 2 biggest upgrades you can do to an old car that can improve the driving dynamics significantly.  But take that old quadrajet off the car and someone will say you ruined the authenticity of the car and that they can make a quad sing.  Maybe, but it still wouldn't match the drivability of a fuel injection unit.   

Pit Crew

Older cars smell, ride and feel different.  They remind you of your youth and when your parents were at their peak.  My old car is weathered, but it starts right up and can run for hours at 75 mph on the highway.  I’m proud to have kept it running all these years and I think it is a reflection of me—patina shows it’s age but still running well.   

Passenger

The satisfaction you get from saving a junkyard treasure and reviving it to street-worthy status is the best hands-on accomplishment you can get nowadays! I feel better when I save one of my projects from the scrapyard than when I completed my masters.. you cant teach this level of creativity! Feel free to check out my Youtube channel 'FastNLoaded' for more fun projects (Please take down post if not allowed)

Passenger

Good information. Just sold a 69 mustang and bought a 91 ZR-1, out of the frying pan and into the fire. Cars in great shape for it’s age, but I had to replace a power steering hose which I hope I never have to do again, but the fun is in the fixing and enjoying the car. May not be for everyone but I enjoy it. Beats real work any day!

Passenger

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. 

Intermediate Driver

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

Pit Crew

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

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. 

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. 

Passenger

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!'"

New Driver

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’. 

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. 

Passenger

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.

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.

New Driver

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.

Passenger

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.  

Pit Crew

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.

Navigator

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.

Passenger

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.

Passenger

Kyle was, obviously, not around 50 or 60 years ago when the speed limit on the newly built super highways criss-crossing our country was 65-75 MPH and the cars being built back then certainly WERE designed to cruise at those speeds (or more).  I don't know where people get the idea that cars from the 50s, 60s & 70s are not capable of "keeping up with modern traffic".  Those of us who were driving them, back then, can sure remember spending all day long crossing several states at 70-80 mph, with no ill effect on the machinery.  Kyle, when I'm driving one of my classics on the "Super Slab/Lemming Lanes" today, I find that I'm usually in the passing lane and doing exactly what that lane was designated to be for.

So, why do I drive classic cars?  Well, first and foremost it's because I've been driving them since they were new and I haven't found anything else that even comes close to delivering the driving pleasure my classics (BMW 2002, Porsche 356 and a small herd of MGs and VWs) do for such a reasonable cost and that I can maintain/repair/rebuild/restore MYSELF.  I find modern cars very boring and frightfully expensive to buy and maintain.  Yeah, I have a couple of them to use for my daily driving needs, but, as soon as I retire, my modern money pit is GONE.  I'll probably switch back to my trusty Super Beetle, when I need to run an errand, or go to the doctor's office during the "driving season" and use my '87 VW Quantum Syncro wagon for winter service.  The wife, however, insists on a modern car, so I'll be stuck with one of those, I'm afraid.

New Driver

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!

New Driver

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! 

New Driver

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. 

New Driver