Why You Can’t Afford to Not Buy a Classic Car!

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If you like cars, you probably like classic cars. Like looking at them, at least.

But if you’re like most of us, you probably don’t own one – because you’ve probbaly never been able to afford one.

Well, now you can.

At least, if you can afford a new car. Which, arguably, no one can.

New cars have passed several Event Horizons, the first and most obvious being their initial cost. The average price paid for a new car sailed past $35k for the first time last year. This is well-equipped Camry/Accord family car territory.

People routinely spend  this much on minivans, pick-ups and crossover SUVs.

And more on modern muscle cars like Camaro, Mustang and Challenger.

Money in that ballpark could also buy you a classic car – a restored one, brought back to better-than-new mechanical and functional condition. Not necessarily an exotic – but a cool car, regardless.

Including a cool old family car. A classic station wagon, for instance. Or how about a grand land yacht from the ’70s? It may not have air bags – a plus in my mind – but it has something better – lots of steel.

And it’ll be one that won’t be worth a third (or less) what you spent to buy it by the time you finally pay off the loan, as is always the case with new cars.

Which brings us to the second Event Horizon.

Depreciation . . . as opposed to appreciation.

Spend $35k on a new Camry vs. the same sum on restored classic. Gentlemen, start your engines. The relative value of the two will pass each other like cars drag racing in opposite directions. The classic car will  very likely be worth more than what you paid for it after five years; the odds of it being worth significantly less are slim.

The odds of your $35k Camry – or any new car – being worth what you paid for it after five years are nonexistent. Even if you put it in hermetically sealed storage and never drove it. After five years, it’d be a five-year-old used car.

It will certainly be worth a bit more than other cars of its make/model/vintage.

But it won’t be worth what you spent.

And to achieve this “savings,” you won’t even have been able to use the thing for its purpose. What point is there in not driving the new car you just bought in order to keep depreciation at bay?

You’re paying to not have transportation.

The third Event Horizon that makes buying a classic car vs. a new car sound financial sense is the economically limited lifespan of new cars – particularly the newest new cars, which are top-heavy with elaborate technology that will inevitably fail and which is often catastrophically expensive to deal with when it does.

This is an economic pratfall most people aren’t aware of.

They are gulled into buying a new car because it is more “reliable” – and because of “lower maintenance costs.” Both being true, but only up to a point. That point arrives when the modern car’s complex systems – especially complex electronic systems – begin to fail.

These can be fixed, of course – almost nothing being unfixable, in principle.

The problem – the Catch 22 – is the cost to fix, in relation to the depreciated value of the car.

Does it make sense to spend $4,000 on a new eight-speed transmission for a depreciated formerly-new car that’s only worth $8,000  – and which will be worth considerably less after another year of depreciation?

And: Do you want to risk spending $4,000 on the aging $8,000 car knowing that another $4,000 bill could drop in your lap tomorrow?

Any new car will remain new in this one not-so-good way – no matter how old it gets. Which is why all new cars are inherently throw-aways. Their value-to-fix ratio becomes untenable after as little as eight years for some luxury cars, which have the most complicated and expensive to fix systems and also depreciate in value much more quickly than average – and is assured for almost any new-ish car after 12 years or so.

Classic cars, on the other hand, can be economically kept going for decades – for a lifetime – because they cost less to repair, including major repairs – and because they appreciate in value the older they get.

Consider, as an example, the case of a classic SUV like the original 1965-’77 Ford Bronco. A survey of current classic car value guides reveals a professionally restored original example can be bought for about $35,000 – which is actually less than what it would cost you to buy a new 4WD SUV with a V8.

If you were to buy the classic Bronco, the money you spent could be called an investment because that classic Bronco – unlike the new one coming out next year – is almost certain to go up rather than down in value. (My own classic car  – a 1976 Pontiac Trans-Am – is currently worth at least twice what I paid for it back in 1992, when it was just an old car. That is a pretty decent return on my investment.)

And the classic car’s major systems are all simple – and so relatively inexpensive to repair. As well as repairable – as opposed to replaceable. For example, one can repair – or even rebuild – a classic car’s carburetor, which is the entirety of its fuel delivery system, for less than $100.

As opposed to throwing away the electronic fuel injection parts and replacing them with new parts – of which there are many – and few of them inexpensive.

A classic VW Beetle’s engine takes three quarts of oil; there is no filter. No radiator, either.

There aren’t any computer controls – and no air bags. No Lane Keep Assist, Brake Assist – or ASS to be a pain in yours. Classic cars are Big-Brother-Proof and Nanny-free.

And there’s something else.

You’re exempt from government-mandated “safety” and emissions testing in many states – and eligible for permanent (no annual registration fee to the government) license plates. Technically, you’re only suppose to drive the “antique” to and from car shows and for limited “testing” purposes – not as your everyday driver.

But who’s gonna know?

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. What would be some good (near-)classic cars that would be reliable enough as a daily driver and fun and interesting enough to talk about with friends?

    • Hi Sean,

      The possibilities are almost infinite. Much depends on your preference. Keep in mind that all of these classic cars (just about) were once daily drivers. They can be again. And with a few small updates, they can be as reliable as any modern car – and perhaps more so, because they’re much simpler.

      An example: Find a mid-late ’70s-era Chevy Malibu sedan (or coupe; these are neat) in good overall condition. To get modern cold-start/hesitation-free/low-maintenance out of it, replace the carburetor with an aftermarket throttle body (TBI) fuel injection system and have a shop install a more modern (but no computer) overdrive four-speed automatic. You now have a big, comfortable luxury sedan with an ultra-plush ride and a smooth, easygoing and simple V8 engine that should be capable of 30 MPG on the highway and will be much more enjoyable to drive every day than a compact FWD car – as well as much more interesting and easy/cheap to keep up, too!

  2. Eric, interesting that you showed a picture of a VW Beetle’s engine compartment and cited the ease of routine maintenance. Ol’ Ferdy Porsche did have some nutty ideas (his TWO attempts at a gasoline-electric Tiger tank were wisely rejected by the Panzerwaffe and the Waffen Amt as they were likely to overheat and catch fire, sound familiar to Tesla ‘fans’, but they required huge amounts of copper, a bad production feature in a time where the Germans, in order to wire up their aircraft and combat vehicles were combing bombed wreckage and ‘abandoned’ houses to get copper wiring), but his VW Beetle, based in no small part on the Czech Tatra 97 (Porsche readily admitted that he and Tatra’s chief designer freely copied each other), was sheer genius…as a vehicle meant for “Das Volk”, it was to be cheap, reliable, and SIMPLE to repair, not unlike Ford’s Model T. Considering that when the “Kraft Durch Freude Auto”, or “Strength Through Joy Car”, was introduced, the greatest distance across Germany, from, say, Aachen to Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) was about 700 miles, not unlike driving across Texas, there simply wasn’t all that far to go for most Germans, at least not compared to America! And with the Autobahn just barely being constructed (they were really intended for military traffic, but as the Wehrmacht was still fairly much dependent on railroads, the only military that really made use of them was the US Army, mainly the spearheads of Patton’s Third Army in April 1945!), most trips would be on narrow, relatively primitive roads and narrow city and village streets anyway! The Beetle’s rather languid performance with the initial 945 cc engine (about 22 Hp, IIRC) would nevertheless suffice for most “happy motoring” that “Das Volk” would engage in!

    A Beetle in decent condition can still be readily had for not too much, less than $5,000, and most are pre-1976, so they wouldn’t be subject to California smog rules, at least not now. Parts are still readily available for cheap! It would be sensible to find such a Beetle, or even a Karhmann Ghia (mechanically the same) or Transporter (aka VW “Bus”, but those do cost considerably more, the real ‘find’ is the rare “VW Pickup”), an stock up on brake parts, carb rebuild kits, points, plugs, wire, cap and rotor, a clutch kit, generator rebuild kit (no need to buy a rebuilt generator, they’re simple to rebuild) spare headlamps and fuses, and even an engine rebuild kit or a spare engine! Not only would this be reliable and easily maintainable transportation, likely the thing will only INCREASE in value, especially IF you get a “Thing” (Kubelwagen). I can expect that if ENOUGH folks take to keeping these old Volkswagens going, though, the Cali(porn)ia bureaucrats will come up with some garbage scheme to keep them from being legally registered, all in the purported interests of “Smog” or S-A-A-A-A-A-F-T-E-E-E!

      • Hi John,

        “Horrible” depends… I’ve owned and driven old Beetles as daily drivers, including daily driving in DC traffic. My ’74 Beetle got me to work and back nine times out of ten and the tenth time – when it didn’t – I was able to fix it and get there eventually.

        No AC – and not much power – but the thing cost me almost nothing to buy or keep or drive, which are the virtues of this elegantly primitive car.

        It also had personality.

        Granted, it was more like the personality of a pet snapping turtle I once owned. But personality!

        • And an old Beetle is sure 1000x more interesting than a stupid Neon or Hyundai or Chevy equivalent …or anything that passes for an “economy car” these days……

          Simple, cheap transportation, with personality! Today’s “economy cars” are none of those things.

          It would be cool to drive an old Bug; I think I’d rather die than drive a Neon or equivalent!

      • You have to look at the VW in the United States in the context of its foreign competition. In the 1950s and 1960s (before the Japs got serious here) foreign jobs consisted primarily of horrid little French, Italian, and British cars that had terrible reliability and spotty dealer and parts networks. The Volkwagen was cramped, noisy, underpowered, and had a laughable heater but it had excellent build quality and most importantly would start just about every time. VW built up a strong dealership and parts distribution network that the others could not match, so parts and service were no problem when needed.

        Check out a VW versus something like a Renault Dauphine and you’ll quickly see why the VW became so popular here. I can remember when the streets were full of them and it is not all that uncommon to spot them today.

    • I think that’s just a ‘trial balloon’; it’s not at all the final proposal. Either that, or it’s what they call a ‘throwaway’ in negotiation. When the ‘authorities’ get pushback on this, then they’ll offer up the mileage based tax, since it’s more ‘reasonable’, don’t you know…

  3. A quick word search of this page indicates that no one, including Eric, has yet mentioned the fact that–unlike a new car–a “classic” car will not spy and narc on its owner because, hey, it can’t. Believe me, this is the first benefit that occurred to me.

      • Depends on the choice of phone. If you have a smartphone you are screwed blued and tattooed. However, if you have a simple phone with removable battery you can leave it completely dormant until you need to use it.

      • Guess who has never carried a smart phone. And never will, until they pry one into my cold dead hands. Meanwhile, my “dumb” flip phone is always locator-off, is never used while I am behind the wheel and never collects, stores nor transmits data about my driving. While not yet 25, my ride is at least limited when it comes to such mischief-making. Someday, I hope to afford a classic car as an accessory to my classic cell phone.

          • Jason, the same several BILLION who have gleefully signed up for Facebook and bought ‘smart’phones, and who get flu shots….and….and…..rush headlong to do everything else that comes dowen the pike without a care in the world.

            We have truly entered a new Dark Age.

            • I have to laugh a bit. My last flip phone was a smart phone with just a shitty screen. it spied just like a smartphone that had more features and would take a screen shot of you, probably that flip phone did too.

              You can’t have a wireless phone(or any other)now that’s not a spy machine. I don’t take any pleasure in saying this. Just the opposite. I’d like to take Mark Zuckerberg out to the pasture and learn his dumb ass up a little. Oh, he knew what he was doing. He joined into the Israeli and US deep state in order to stay in good stead with the deep state.

              No telling what would have happened to FB, Guuugle and others if the general public knew(or cared) what they were, the NSA, CIA, DIA and every other agency that spies on everyone, all the time.

              • Well, my phone has no camera, has no provision for loading “apps”, and has a removable battery. Of course when it’s powered up it is still a tracking device but it’s left turned off most of the time with the battery removed. There are still some very basic phones available but it would not surprise me if at some point they are discontinued.

                • I find it interesting that when my ancient $19 Trac-fone became so obsolete thast it would not work on the 3G network…they gave me a new phone….for free.

                  This thing is not a smartphone- but too damn close to being like one for comfort- i.e. touchscreen and all that.

                  Why would they send me a phone for free? It’s not like I’m a good customer- I spend $60 a year to keep the service acticve….

                  Picture Ron Popiel or Crazy Eddie saying “What’s that ya say?! We can’t goad you into buying a $600-$1000 smartphone? We can’t get you interested in a cheapie smartphone? We can’t even get ya interested in buying a more modern $20 dumb phone? Well then, we’ll just give you a phone, lest you slip through the cracks of the surveillance state!”

                  • Nunz,

                    It might partly be for surveillance. I had a Motorola Star Tac; it was a GREAT flip phone! They were discontinued. The Verizon salesman told me that he could’ve sold all he wanted, because they were popular with the customers.

                    Anyway, I lost mine, so I got another Motorola flip phone. Some time later, I found my old Star Tac. I took it in to the Verizon store to get it reactivated. The guy told me he COULDN’T reactivate it. You want to know WHY? Because it didn’t have GPS tracking, that’s why! I still have the phone, BTW. Now with the roll out of 5G, I doubt it would work anymore.

                    That said, I still have a flip phone. I don’t even use all the features it has; WTF would I get a smart phone with a thousand features I don’t use?!

                    • What may happen once 5G is pervasive the 3G service that simple phones are compatible with will be discontinued. (The older 2G service is long gone.)

                      When that happens it may well be that only smartphones will be compatible with the cellular network.

                    • Hi Jason,

                      This is exactly what will happen. Just as land lines have been de facto eliminated by simply no wiring new building and homes with outlets. And by leaving existing infrastructure to rot away. They are “nudging” us into the future…

                    • ***”I don’t even use all the features it has; WTF would I get a smart phone with a thousand features I don’t use?”***

                      Ha! Yeah, Mark. I turn my phone on maybe 3x per year…. Meanwhile, this non-smartphone has three screens full of icons- all crap that I’ll never even touch.

                      They’ll phase-out 3G gradually, like they did with 2G. I’ll likely be out of here before 5G becomes the only game in town- but if not, I will simply cease using a cellphone.

                      When I think of how great landline service was 50 years ago- crisp, clear and ultra-reliable – using antiquated equipment, in many cases from the 1930’s- vs. today, now that the system has been computerized, and is much less robust, and of much lower quality. The old hard-wired equipment would have continued working forever- but this newer stuff is falling apart already. The landline network will collapse virtually overnight.

                      Extrapolate that to every other sphere of endeavor- where delicate high-tech is replacing/has replaced robust older technology.

                      Noiw that the old stuff is largely gone…when the new stuff crashes and burns, there is nothing to fall back on, and those who have become dependent will be thrust into the Dark Ages in an instant.

                    • Eric,

                      I think what’s also happening is that land line service is EXPENSIVE. They bundle services so, say you only want caller ID and voice mail like I do, I have to pay for call waiting, call forwarding, three way calling, etc. too. Anyway, I spend $70/month for my land line. When I first had a land line in 1980, I think I paid $7 or so a month.

                    • Guess I shouldn’t complain- I pay $56/mo. for landline and internet.

                      Funny thing is: They’ll lease ya a DSL modem for $10 a month. Why pay $10/mo. in perpetuity when ya can just buy a modem online for $30? Which is what I did.

                      One day the internet goes down, and I call and report it. They send someone out. Modem had died. They gave me one of their modems…. Didn’t say anything about a charge; no charge ever materialized. Every year or so, their modem craps out, and they send somebody out with a new one to replace it….

                      Gotta love a small-town rural phone company! (It even has “rural” in it’s name).

    • Hi Marcus,

      Yup – any car made before the ’90s is Big Brother-free. It’s a very strong argument, all by itself, for acquiring one!

    • Besides coming up with bureaucratic hurdles to registering old iron, in the name of “clean air” and “s-a-a-a-f-t-e-e-e-e”, the almighty DMV could just require that even if they “allow” you to drive your ’68 Chevelle on California’s highways and roads, it must be equipped with some manner of monitoring device, likely including an override that shuts down the vehicle’s implanted “brain”, and can’t be restored until the car is rescued from impound (if the cops didn’t already plant a joint in the passenger compartment to justify its seizure and sale) for considerable fees, and a “restoration” fee paid to the DMV to make your ride “legal” again. Of course, the cops would be able to shut your ride down at will, and recourse in case they’ve done so w/o cause will, not, in practicality, exist. Naturally, IF you “tamper” with this electronic overseer, not only will you lose your ride and be hit with substantial fines, likely you’ll get a nice stay in one of California’s “pound-em-in-the-ass” prisons, and be ordered by the judge to pay for THAT as well!

  4. I would love to have an older car, and had one lined up, a Mercury Marquis which was awesome, but the 15 miles per gallon gave me pause to think.

    • Syn,

      Unless you’re commuting 100 miles a day, do the math: 15MPG compared even to 25 or 30MPG, when you figure out how many miles you drive, usually only amounts to a few hundred bucks per year.

      • The 90’s Marqui’s are a nightmare for heater cores. If that goes bad, you’re in for a job. Other than that, they are great cars and 17-18 is doable in them.

        Like Nunzio say’s, MPG doesn’t make a big difference in the grand scheme of things.

        • Some years ago a friend with a contemporary Thunderbird had to have the heater core replaced. It required stripping out the dash to the bare firewall. Big $$$ is shop labor to replace a relatively inexpensive part. No doubt the Marquis is pretty much the same. (From what I’ve read this is the case on a lot of vehicles. It’s as though the manufacturers build them from the HVAC system out.)

          • Dash units are usually installed as complete modular units. It is to make assembly line faster and cheaper.

            The poor schmuck who has to fix something in it is not part of the engineering equation. I know first hand from working in manufacturing as I have had several frustrating conversations about ‘what if this bit that is two inches wider than the access door needs replacing?’. Management and engineering both had the same answer, ‘Not our concern, we won’t be doing it, this saves us money’.

            Eg. Ford truck cab removal for engine work.

            • Not sure if you were agreeing or disagreeing with me but that was my point, stuff is burried under another module optimized for assembling, not repair of an individual pre-installed component.

        • My former ’92 Town Car (same platform as Marquis) with the 4.6 used to get 23MPG on the highway! -And like Ancap says, 17-18MPG in town- Half of the little 4-bangers and V-6’s out there are barely getting those numbers after they’re a few years old.

  5. Best car that I bought and sold: ’76/’77 Olds Cutlass Supreme Brougham aka Bro-ham. Olds 350/4BBL.

    I bought and sold 19 of them. every color under the sun but my FAV: Firethrone Red (color code 36) with white vinyl 1/2 top, white pin stripping and add those t-tops. Yes, the seats were Burgundy PILLOW PLUSHMOBILE. True story, I was sell one of those loaded red cars with the Cutlass rally wheels and BFGoodrich Radial T/A’s, got 2 calls 15 minutes apart. Both showed up at my home at exact same time and both REALLY wanted it. Customer #1, 16 YO teen. Customer #2, 65 YO Senior citizen. Tell me what car out there TODAY can sell to the total opposite age group who both REALLY want it.

    My FAV that I owned: 1978 Bronco Dearborn Special. Raise your hand if you heard of this one. Factory package was: Dark Chocolate Brown with a gold felt in the paint, customer factory striping, two-tone interior, factory custom captain chairs, Coleman center padded console cooler with cupholders!, sunroof all to start the feature creatures. 351/4BBL. And it loved to wander on it own to those west Michigan sand dunes for some odd reason. try finding that one today. I would pay big for one of these today and let it wander back to those sandy dunes again.

  6. The problem is I can’t buy a classic and drive it year round. It will be rusted out pile in a few years.
    Yes I know there are active ways to stop that and one can do body work interventions. But that takes skills and the capital equipment to do it. Some people do it of course, but their time is worth something too.

  7. This was a cool article to sit down to this evening after finishing a cruise in my 73 Toronado. I love land yachts.

    • A friend had a 73, a damn good car. My sister had an 86 I think it was, a veritable POS. No power, no fuel mileage, and, as I would discover one day, wouldn’t even stop, not lock up a tire or even try hard. I mentioned it to my nephew and he said it had been that way since she bought it off the showroom floor. Horrible handling, horrible brakes, no power….what more could you not ask for?

      • GM struggled with everything except for pickups in the late 80’s.

        I had a 76 years ago in my early twenty’s. I wish I had treated it better. I would have, had I known just what was going to happen with cars. I’d love to have the OD tranny to put in my 73. That’s my only complaint. The OD tranny was better for cruising speeds and in mid range at 40-55.

  8. Maybe I can’t eat a classic car, but I can live in a van, should the dollar turn to dust.
    After the petrodollar dissolves, classic cars will be available for pennies on the dollar, like everything else.
    My counsel is to make sure that you are liquid in whatever the sellers will demand in a buyer’s market.
    That means PMs, cash, and negotiable items not stored in a closed bank.

    • Bill, I agree with ysa, except about the PMs. For those who have a lot of money and are looking preserve their wealth long-term (like decades after the crash) PMs will do it- but for the rest of us regular schmoes….I think PMs are gonna be dirt cheap during and after the crash…’cause there are so many small (i.e. regular) people in PM market these days…that when the going gets tough, the first thing they’re gonna do is sell off their PMs- and even so for many of the medium-sized players, and even some of the big boys.

      • It all depends on how their value is calculated after Goldman-Sachs stops holding it down, as they have for many decades.
        The usual calculation is to divide the national debt by how many ounces of gold held by the government. There have been several reliable reporters that placed the latter number at zero. Goldman-Sachs paper gold is at 200x physical holdings. The number of people trading or holding is irrelevant. It all boils down to simple supply and demand.
        Gold and silver circulated as money during the Great Depression and they will do so again after the Great Correction. Only those who hold physical will get anything.

        • ” It all boils down to simple supply and demand.”

          Assuming that the demand comes from people who can pay you in something you want.

        • Not much gold circulated after Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6102 in 1933 removed most of it from circulation, except for the 5oz each citizen could still keep, plus the “collectible coins” that wouldn’t circulate anyway. Then, after paying $20.67 for each ounce of gold, the government jacks the price up to $35 per ounce, making themselves a nice profit. Roosevelt was a pos.

        • Won’t matter what any calculated price is- the trouble will be that there will be a ton of people looking to get rid of their gold when necessary commodities become scarce/they can’t pay their mortgage/etc. but few looking to buy it.

          Only things that have functionality, and which satisfy some need(Tools, machines, parts, medicines, food, ammo) and or make life more pleasurable (Coffee, cigarettes, drugs, manually operated things that can do what electric things cam do when there is no electricity) will matter.

    • The best things to have, beside LAND in a very RURAL area (but one that you can readily “bug out” to), is plenty of non-perishable foods and essential toiletries, farming implements, seeds, firearms, ammo, fishing gear and tackle, and camping gear. Get an old, used trailer and park it on your land…preferably UNREGISTERED (put it on blocks and call it a ‘shed’), HIDDEN from view where possible. Potable water, at least two weeks worth per person, is essential, but you’ll also need a means of water purification or put in a well on your property…again, you may have to do this furtively and self-help, as a well driller will get a permit which the county and state, and Department of Homeland Security, will instantly know about. You can better believe that once the SHTF is afoot, the DHS will identify every semi-rural and rural patch of ground that’s applied for a well permit in the past five years, and what choppers and SUVs they can crew and fuel will pay you a ‘visit’…not exactly a “social call”, I’ll wager!

      Few folks could necessarily live “off-grid” forever, but the good news is, it doesn’t have to be so…for example, the biggest danger in a “limited” nuclear exchange like depicted in Whitley Strieber’s “Warday” (1984) or the original “Red Dawn” movie won’t be the nuclear explosions or even fallout (most of which, save in the targeted areas, dies down to tolerable levels in two weeks or less), it will be the breakdown in communications and the exchange of monies, to be followed by social unrest and societal breakdown…at least for awhile. A “limited” nuclear exchange might produce far less casualties than even Gen. “Buck” Turgidson’s optimistic prediction of the effect of a poorly-coordinated Soviet retaliatory strike on the USA ca. 1964, after the initial unapproved strike from the B-52s of Gen. Ripper’s 843rd Bomb Wing, most of them orbiting at their “Fail-Safe” areas under Operation “Chrome Dome”, and the full-scale initial strike, presumably of a counter-force nature, that Turgidson vehemently advocates that President Muffley authorize, promising that it’d be tantamount to get one’s hair “mussed” (“Only ten to twenty million killed…er..depending on the breaks!”), admonishing his Commander-in-Chief that a dire choice is being given to them in the “War Room” (where they’re not supposed to fight!)…either 20 millions or 150 millions of Americans dead, which Turgidson warns the latter will happen if his requested (and maybe conspired?) unprovoked first strike is granted.

      No, the biggest danger would be the loss of the Internet and related telephony, which would render not only the civilian sector but much of the government and military deaf, dumb, and blind. Add to that the likelihood that most of the power generation and/or distribution will also be crippled, even if most of the power generating facilities are spared. With pipelines shut down, even if they’ve not been physically damaged, fuel is effectively shut off. Local supplies of food stuffs, essential toiletries, and fuels would be quickly stripped bare, accompanied by considerable violence in the panic that ensues.

      The good news is that eventually, after the paradigm of “survival of the fittest” works its cruel math, a new order will arise. Hopefully it won’t be a case of “meet the NEW boss…SAME as the OLD boss!” But at least following these basic “prepper” ideas will give a decent chance of surviving at all, let alone reasonably fed and healthy.

  9. I keep seeing that old caddy just sitting there…
    Probably has at least a 425 (that I can work on myself) looks solid, just needs paint.
    Damn. I need a new ride anyway….

    • Hi Spkrman,

      I have my eye on an ’84 Cutlass… original, with T-tops and a carbureted 307 Olds… if I didn’t have to hand over another huge “rent” payment to the local thugs who constitute “the government” in order to be permitted to remain in the house I paid for 15 years ago, I would buy it this weekend.

      • Hey, Eric,

        You’ve had your eye on that Olds for AGES!@ I would think if it’s for sale and still availkable after all this time, there’s either something seriously messed up about it…or it’s ridiculously over-priced (And from what I remember ya saying, I think it was actually quite cheap).

        What is up with that car?!

        • Hi Nunz,

          It’s inside baseball stuff; it’s not formally for sale. But I am good friends with a guy who knows the owner – an old man who has owned it since new… and that’s all I can say about that!

          • Eric, I SO wish you could get that car! Those cars- late 70’s-Mid 80’s Cutlasses/Grand Pricks/Regals(What was the Chebby variant- Malibu?) were IMO some of the last truly great cars. They rode and handled nice; were mechanically simple (Well…after ya straightened out the carbs and gutted the emissions BS); looked good; held up well/had real frames- They were among the last “real” cars- and I always loved my ’79 Regal- and wish I had it today!

            • Hiya Nunz!

              Me too… and I hopefully will. I would have bought it by now – except the money was stolen by the government. I had to hand over $1,000 two days ago – “for the children.” That is to say, for other people’s children. Which wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that money is being used to cripple the minds of these kids in government schools – which is what I am forced to “help” finance, via the taxes I am forced to pay on the house I paid for 15 years ago.

              I would have $30,000 to spend on a car if it were not for these taxes… just these taxes. Not counting the other taxes.

              • Why, Eric! I’m surprised at you! Don’t you know that the money you “contribute” goes to help those chil’en hear wonderful fairy tales? Like the one about how 80 billion years ago, nothing exploded and created the universe, and us!

                Or the one about us living “In a free country…the greatest country on earth”.

                And without those kids being properly trained, where on earth would the TSA find 300 lb. dykes to molest and abuse people in order to “keep them safe from terrorists 10,000 miles away, who hate us because we invade their coun…err..uh…because ‘we are free’?!


                It’s sickening, isn’t it? Being forced to pay to warp the minds of kids…and if you resist that robbery, then they take even more- ‘your’ land and house. But you can go out and father 18 kids by 10 different women, and then it’s somehow someone else’s obligation to support and indoctrinate them. And the majority of people around us having been so indoctrinated, can not see the logical contradiction in that…and gladly vote and even fight for the ‘privilege’ of having more of it.

                Check this out: I came across this vintage promotional material advertising little lots to build cottages on, near the lake in the place where I grew up. -it’s froim 90-100 years ago- this just shows how long these collectivist ideas have been being pushed in every sphere of endeavor:

                “We are a big strong healthy Country, with the highest average intelligence ever known. There will be no revolution while we have FREE SCHOOLS. The living cost is up- but things that go up – come down. We are passing through a period cause by WASTE but our first work will cut it short and the waste bill will soon be paid. In the meantime nothing can harm us – except ourselves. Here then is one encouraging sign that “all’s well” – Land is now in greater demand than for many years past. People are BUYING land because – IT IS THE SAFEST INVESTMENT KNOWN.”

                Note: That place today, is among the most expensive to live in, and the most tyrannical….. Hmmm…how’d the thoughts expressed in that sales brochure work out for them?! THAT’S what ‘free’ schools gave us. (Eric, why are we paying those taxes- the schools are :”free”: don’t ya know!)

                • It will be interesting to see what happens when there are several people with “title” to the same acreage. Land is only worth what can be done with it, and most of that held by the wealthy just sits there.
                  Land in a war zone ain’t worth much, especially after it is radioactive, as much of America’s will be after the Trump-Bolton-Pompeo wars are ended. What is an acre of land downwind from Chernobyl worth?

                  • Yeah, in the Western World, one can never truly own land, anyway- The government really owns it- and if you don’t pay them their “rent”, they take it and find another share-cropper who will pay their extortion; plus, at any time, they can just impose zoning and or codes and restrictiuons which limit or regulate what you can do on/with “your” land.

                    There can be no liberty- or ture ownership of anything, in a society where the ultimacy of property rights is not respected.

                    What we have is nothing more than feudal serfdom with the nomenclature to convince the simple that they are free men.

              • eric, I turned the corner in town headed to the PO and saw a nice crew cab 4WD one ton dually with a long bed and watched the people walk away from it. I couldn’t get the old b&c to drop me off and meet me at a friend barn. Ok, i wouldn’t have stolen it but it was tempting. I think it was a 94-92.

                That’s what I can an investment that keeps on giving. All those late 80’s and early ’90s GM pickups were long lived, hence they wouldn’t be around.

                I see them everywhere in various states and almost never see any other brand from that period.

      • Buy it. I had a few early ’80’s Cutlass Supreme Brougham 2dr loaded up Plushmobiles. One sporty T-Top Black 442. My ’81 CSB was a 5.7diesel but puked (injectors got plugged up since the fuel pump shredded shavings while functioning (GM VERY BAD DESIGN and it was not the pump manf fault)) so I found an Olds 260gasser and swapped it out. Did a complete vehicle conversion. Could not tell it was an ex-diesel. However, couldn’t get the engine code changed on the VIN number. Bummer. The ’81 GM’s was the first year for onboard computers but I dropped an pre-81 engine so didn’t have to bother with that nightmare.

        Did 4 diesel conversions and the great thing after the swap was when driving them. The insulation on the firewall for the diesel models was 3x thicker than the gas engine Olds. You could not hear the motor at all, total silence.

        Once GM started the onboard computer crap in ’81, the diesel conversion days were over. That and trying to find Olds engines became impossible because people were swapping to gassers right and left. First the 350s totally disappeared and all that was left were a few 260s which only fitted in the small Cutlass size cars. A 260 in an Olds 98 boat, nope.

  10. “(My own classic car – a 1976 Pontiac Trans-Am – is currently worth at least twice what I paid for it back in 1992, when it was just an old car. That is a pretty decent return on my investment.)

    I believe a 2019 US dollar is worth considerably less than a 1992 US dollar. What is the comparison in adjusted 2019 dollars?

      • Personal cars aren’t long term investment vehicles. I doubt your financial analysis is accurate. You ignore your careful maintenance costs. yearly insurance and garaging, rebuild, tires, etc. as well as likely, personal property taxes (license fees). It is easy to overlook these “ownership” expenses because we all expect them.
        Contrast that with buying an S&P 500 mutual fund in 2002. I’m sure it would exceed original purchase price plus dividends added. Other than some income tax on dividend income, likely less than 15% of that, no holding costs. Since that old auto is a “collectible” per the IRS it faces about a 28% tax rate when sold. The mutual fund faces a 15% LT cap gains rate of tax or possibly even less.
        Car purchases are not “investments” but purchase of daily living expenses for transportation. Unless you walk everywhere or mooch rides, this is always a net financial expense. Nothing mechanical (for actual use) is ever a good financial investment. It wears out, rusts, becomes obsolete. Don’t confuse this with actual savings/investments. Rarely do collectibles make owners money at all comparable to financial investments over time. Just take a look at “Pawn Stars” if you don’t believe that. It is apples & oranges. Buying a depreciated car doesn’t turn an apple into an orange.

        • I have to agree, Muggles. Buying a classic car is a better deal than buying a new car- but it;s niot an “investment”- It’s a deteriorating asset (especially if you actually use it- which is the whole point)-

          Also, I think like many other things these days, classic cars are in a bubble. People who watch TV tell me otherwise…but in the real world, I believe prices have plateaued and are already starting to decline.

          When the next major economic bumblephuk occurs- be it a recession, depression or big crash, I think we will see prices come back down to earth on many things, and especially classic cars. Cars; real estate; precious metals….just like in The Great Depressiion- pennies on the dollar, as there is a big sell-off but few to buy.

          • I don’t think economics will kill the old car market, I think the people who appreciate them dropping dead will. There just won’t be enough people who can drive without a computer nanny left to buy them.

            Ask anyone under 30 what a choke is…….
            And manual transmissions……. “You mean I have to shift gears myself!?”

            • I think all of the above, Anon.

              Older folks dropping dead = less demand for the cars they grew up with.

              Economics will necessitate that few will be able to afford high price for old cars.

              The sprogs will reason: “Why pay $60K for an old muscle car, when a $30K modern car can run circles around it?”.

              People tell me that they have these TV shows where they see classic cars selling at auctions for obscene prices- but I rember hearing the same thing about pawn shop items, and self-storage lockers….and look what happened to those! Seems like when thery try a prop something up by publicizing it in TV shows, you know the end is near.

          • Hi Nunz,

            It depends… my TA has appreciated such that whatever I spent to buy it (and what I have spent to maintain it) is less in the aggregate. Put another way, it has proved to be a storehouse of value. A way to avoid limit the bite of inflation.

            The sad thing, of course, is that not many kids could afford to buy a car like my TA today. But when I was a kid, I could afford it.

            • True, Eric- even if after all the expenses you still come out ahead, the thing is, in today’s market one would never find such a deal. Just like with real estate, where in the past, it was a given that anything would appreciate; today, one’s lucky if the value of their RE just holds steady and doesn’t depreciate.

              Of course though, one shouldn’t look at a car as an investment- just like a home. It’s more of a practical thing; a lifestyle; a passion. And you’ve made good choices in those things, so that you can have what you enjoy, and still be far better off than you’d be if you had bought a new car or a tract house. And any appreciation of value, is gravy!

              • Most real estate appreciation is attributable to inflation by appraisal in overheated markets. The glut will bring prices down faster than appreciation will boost them.
                I spend my summers in a tourist town and when the tourists stop coming because of destitution, the hotels will become cheap apartment complexes instead of closing for the winter.

  11. Don;t overlook the amazingly solid Benzes with the five cylinder diesels from mid-1970’s to mid-1980’s. I’ve got a 1977 non-turbo that runs like a Swiss watch. returns mid-20’s in highway or town driving, and has been one of the most reliable cars ever. I’ve known others, the 300 SD’s early 1980’s, return thirty plus, are an absolute delight to drive, handle like not much else out there. sure they won’t win in the Stoplight Derby, but so what? Safe, reliable, comfortable, classic looking.. I’ve known some of these cars to still be going strong at 750K miles, almost nothing done to them. They can be found out there runnihg decently for maybe $5K…..parts are readily available, NAOA and AutoZone have things like alternators ,water umps, somethmes on the shelf, or overnight. Last Benz diesel water pump I bought for a customer cost me $35 new German. There are so many millions of thise beasts still happily tootling about parts are still ready to hand. AND their systems are not that complicated, so di it yerselfers can still mnage.

    • And , in Cali(porn)ia, you can have a Diesel “Benz” up to the 1997 models without having to SMOG them, or buy the “Blue Urine” piss water to add to your oil burner.

      The time to buy a mid-70’s to late 80’s Diesel Benz, with either the OM617 5 cylinder or the OM612 four-banger, is when gas/diesel prices are LOW, as interest in diesel cars declines when gas prices are LOW.

      The simplest would be a 1974 to 1979 vintage 240D with standard shift. Don’t get the automatic, the car is slow enough as it is, and clutch replacement on a RWD car is simple. A 300D or 300SD Five-banger is the most common, but the four-banger sips diesel, 30 mpg on what’s tantamount to a decent mid-sized car isn’t unheard of.

  12. My first car was a 1973 Plymouth Satellite station wagon with 318 under the hood. I can only imagine what it would be worth now. Ah, yes, those were the good old days.

    • Amen. I’ll take the 1971 nine-passenger Plymouth station wagon my dad bought new, with the 440 and Tor Red paint scheme. Such, such were the days.

    • That old Satellite wagon, even if in showroom condition, wouldn’t fetch all that much, but it’d be one pleasure to RIDE in.

      Of course, being a ’73, if some restoration is needed anyway, plenty of 400 big-blocks out there to move that B-Body beast around, and it won’t require smog at all. A 400 or 440, with even the much-maligned Carter Thermoquad, with a decent low-end cam, will generate gobs of TORQUE, which is what you need to get off the line anyway! The nice thing is, you can either change to a 2.73 axle, and with the B block, still have enough moxie to smoke the tires at the stoplight without being out of wind at 75 mph! And never mind the possibilities of using a stroker kit if you have to rebuild the engine. As the saying goes, “No REPLACEMENT for DISPLACEMENT!”.

  13. Give me a 1970 Dodge Dart with a 225 slant-6, and a three on the tree for my daily driver. Bullet proof motor, decent gas mileage, and plenty of room for passengers and luggage. It would have to have AC, which might be a problem to find.

    Next, a 1970 AMX, 390 GoPack, 4 speed, and of course AC. This would be my weekend driver.

    If I have enough money left over, any 67-69 Barracuda, 340, Auto, etc.

    One can dream.

    • Hi Rush,

      One can readily – and fairly easy – add aftermarket AC to an older car such as that ’70 Dart. It’s not cheap – but it’s a lot less expensive than buying a new car with AC!

      • In the case of the Dart and Valiant, those cars never had the AC integrated into the dash so an under-dash aftermarket system from someplace like Vintage Air will practically look factory. 🙂

      • It is difficult to call it stock though.
        My current van is the first vehicle I have owned with AC, and it was the only one on the lot, so I’m just enjoying it rather than valuing it.

        • That’s the way it should be, Bill. When people start attaching values to things beyond their actual usefullness/functionality….we end up with prices that make the actual commodity unaffordable to those who would actually use them for what they were intended for, and instead create a “collector” market, where people just buy things to keep in a garage or on a shelf and never use, and then eventually sell it to someone else who does the same.

          That’s one of the reasons we have bubbles- whether it’s old cars selling for $60K, or shares of stock in companies that have never earned a profit, but which operate at a deficit selling for $300 a share. Everyone becomes a speculator, and commodities are valued at many times their inherent worth.

      • As long as I’m moving in my old ’71 Chevy pickup I don’t need any air conditioning. Just open up the vents in the kick panels, along with the wing windows and open the back slider window. Plenty of fresh air moving through the cab with hardly any wind noise. Even on a hot humid mid 90 degree day it is a comfortable drive, until you get stuck in traffic.

        • I live in St. Petersburg, FL, and July-September is brutal. 90+ everyday, with 90% humidity. I had a 2002 Ranger with a defective compressor that I drove for about 2 years. Even with the windows open, and moving, it looked like you had just stepped out of the shower when you got out, lol. Never again. AC in Florida is as mandatory as a heater is in Minnesota.

      • Indeed, with many Mopars, and I think that ’70 Dart is one of them, you could only get A/C as a dealer-installed item. It was that way with the ’66 Fury II that my #1 son and I are restoring. A little patience in scouring wrecking yards and/or swap meets, and, of course, EBay or other online sellers (avoid Craigslist like the plague, there’s a reason it’s nickname is “Thieflist”), and you should be able to put together the necessary pieces. The nice thing is the Slant Six is robust enough that adding A/C doesn’t overburden it one iota. At worst, you may have to get a more robust radiator, as most dealer “kits” involved changing the standard single-row radiator that came with Slant Six and standard shift with the two-row item intended for automatics (AC or not), so plug up the AT fittings if you’re using a manual gear box.

        One other hack that works on A-Bodies (Dart, Valiants, early Barracudas, Dusters, and Demons)…if you want overdrive, you don’t have to buy an expensive add-on OD and have some custom driveline work to fit it. In the same era (1964-1969), AMC Ramblers and Marlins that came with their Six and manual had as standard an OVERDRIVE built in (activated by pulling out a handle on the left side under the dash). This unit is a bolt-in replacement, as until Chrysler got the New Process plant going to build their own manual boxes, they bought Borg-Warner units, dubbing them the A903, which was standard issue for A-bodies with the Slant Six. If you find an AMC 3 speed OD unit, all you have to do to make it fit into your Dart or Valiant is to swap the input shafts, as the pilot hub nose and the input shaft splines are different than the AMC models. That’s it! Of course, if you’ve nabbed the cabling and handle from the AMC “donor” at the salvage yard, then you’ve everything you need to give your Mopar Overdrive, and have saved about $2,500 on the project!

    • I once owned a ‘69 AMX with the 390 and 4 speed. Absolutely LOVED that car but I sold it in the early ‘90’s due to being stationed in Ft. Jackson SC, and I couldn’t take the car with me. Was there only a month when my knee went out and they sent me home on a medical.

      If my crystal ball was working I would have NEVER sold it! I paid $2500 for it in 1987-88, and now they can go for 40k plus now. 😟

      The best thing about them was you couldn’t fake ‘em. Either you had a two seat AMX or you didn’t. You can fake a big block ‘Vette, you can turn a Mustang into a Shelby, but no way can you turn a Javelin into an AMX. 👍

  14. Good timing;

    Me and my wife were talking about this earlier today, she actually brought it up, which made me suspicious. I asked if she was hinting that I need to start wrenching again. She didn’t say no, which means she has her eyes on something. She probably found a Mustang or a Bug on that damned facebook marketplace. Ah well, it might be time to start looking for a winter project anyway, every few years I get the itch.

    I might look for a keeper for a change, Eric makes a sound argument for why I should and I’ve certainly bitched about never owning another car I can’t fix often enough to make everyone sick of hearing about it.

  15. Oh, now I’m triggered. You just HAD to show that “Brand X” Spitfire picture. What, no good pics of REAL British LBC’s, like MGs?

    I’m kidding of course, any LBC at this point is a good LBC.

    The number two reason to not rely on a modern car out past 10 years is all that damn plastic in the interior, and in the front and rear fascias. I’ve got a nice ’02 Beetle TDI, and the big problem with it now is the door panels cracking and falling apart. $500 each, IF you can find them. Junkyard parts are no solution for the plastic problem, they will be just as bad as the same-age originals.

    On the other hand, my ’67 MGB still has its chrome bumpers, metal dashboard, and British tinworms, er, bodywork 🙂

    Know why the British never went into the PC market? They couldn’t figure out how to make them leak oil!

      • Interesting, had not heard that one Jason. I knew the Brits did a lot of early computing work, but had never heard of that particular machine. I certainly hope the electricals were Pye or Metrovick (or Marconi, or EMI), not Lucas! Lord Lucas, the Lord of Darkness.

        Digressing for half a ‘mo…Ozzie Osbourne worked for (and I hear was sacked from) Lucas…he tuned car horns I understand. Maybe he tuned the remaining original Lucas horn in my MGB…hmmm! Explains why when I sound the horn it barks out “I am Iron Man!”, eh?

    • Oooh, that ’50 Hudson ‘vert looks very sweet. One of those with a 308 cube Twin-H flathead Six would be killer. Or that ’66 Newport, another Elwood Engle styling job that wears very well, even today. Classics!

  16. I agree with the message. But there are a few drawbacks that must be factored in.

    1. You gonna have to pay CASH for your $35,000 classic, because banks aren’t making loans on 20+ year old cars. So now….who’s still a player?
    2. And insurance wise, you can’t have it both ways. If you want $35,000 worth of coverage on your classic, get ready for some breathtakingly high premiums.
    3. Someone already mentioned property taxes. If you paid 35K, and tell your insurance company the car is worth that much, you know that most states will tax it accordingly. And your classic car will not depreciate (Eric’s premise,) so don’t expect registration fees to decline over the years like a new car’s would. That “classic car” exemption will soon be nothing but a wistful memory, too.

    Now, an 18 year old used car won’t cost as much (or retain its value) like a real classic. But I don’t see no pics of cars like that above. So I presume that’s not what we’re talking’ about. 😉

    • actually antique / classic insurance can be much lower. Like Eric said antique plates are like $40 in Texas. No emission or safety testing required. And you only have to renew every 5 years. In Illinois its different (of course). Youre restricted to driving 8 months of the year or so. Which is actually fine. You dont want to be driving these old cars over salted roads. The worst you’d ever get is a fine if the cop thinks youre not following antique plate guidelines which 99% probably have no clue of.

      • Mark3,

        You’re probably right about antique/classic insurance being affordable. That’s because it’s based on the premise that such cars are going to spend most of their lives sitting in garages. Eric however seems to be talking about using them as daily drivers. In some, not all, states it may be possible to avoid classic car plate tickets. But insurance companies don’t rack up big profits by overlooking things like “classic” insured cars being used a lot. Count on it.

        With some classic cars, this may all be worth it. But older cars had a lot of issues that sucked much of the pleasure out of driving them.

        I still think that the automotive high water mark was in the early to mid- 2000s. Not valuable “classics.” But compared to brand new, or older cars, some of them are an absolute joy to drive.

        • well those cars wont qualify for antique plates yet. So you have emissions and yearly registration. Yes the insurance does require proof a garage space usually. They arent going to know how much you drive it. But then its like 300-400 a year. In my experience

          • In AZ, many counties outside of the metro zones of Phoenix and Tucson do not require emissions testing. And registration fees for my “non-antique” 2004 Acura TL are pretty low anyway.

            I just wanted to make the point that there can be financial challenges involved in using classic cars as daily drivers. And if you don’t have one sitting in your garage already, that all-cash buy in is probably the biggest challenge of all.

            For those who can afford it, just ask yourself if it’s worth it to you. If the answer is “yes,” go for it!

              • No offense intended, but I avoid Yuma at all costs. Guess you’re saying they require emission tests there too?

                Just one more reason not to live there.

                • I remember the folks in Phoenix discussing the extension of the testing program to the “fastest growing border crossing in the state.” I have a lot more reasons for not living there, starting with not having enough hispanic ancestry to qualify for a truck driving job there. Then there is the city law, passed by a city council where half the members were RV park owners, which prohibits overnight RV parking in private parking lots. In fact, the best reason for living there would be proximity to Algodones’ reasonably priced medical services, but I’m too healthy to worry about that, so far. I did get a couple of gold crowns there several years ago for $300 each. One of them fell off a couple of years ago, but I found a domestic dentist to glue it back in.

  17. A buddy of mine years ago had a 1971 Buick Electra 225 2-door. A neighbor told him if he could get it running , he could have it for free. Turned out to be a broken timing chain. Once replaced, that 455 came to life. The car turned into our “party barge” on the weekends with room for 6 + people. I wished that old car was still around. It be worth restoring and running.

    • Hi Allen,

      Cars like that are not only still around – they are still cheap. For now. I’ve been looking – and in my area, one can find very nice (solid “Number 2” condition) mid-late 70s Oldsmobiles, Caddys and Buicks – the big sedans, wagons and even coupes (e.g., 88s and 98s, DeVilles) for $15k or less. These are cars in excellent condition, that would win at regional-level car shows. If you just want a “driver” – a mechanically sound one – less than $10k will easily buy you one.

      • Too bad the hit-to-pass guys wrecked all the 1978-1985 Malibu, LeMans, etc.

        Real cars with real frames and simple mechanicals.

        Sorry to all, as I sold mine to an HtP racer.

      • They’re “cheap” because they’ll cost a FORTUNE to put gas in! So unless your daily commute is but a few miles, they’ll kill ya on the gas cost!

        • Hi Doug,

          Not necessarily. Certainly not relative to new cars – most of which are startlingly thirsty.

          My Trans-Am can get close to 20 MPG if I drive it gently – and that’s with a huge 455 V8. But it has an overdrive transmission, which cuts the revs while cruising to less than 2,000 – like a modern car.

          Now, if I had an ordinary Firebird (not a TA) with a 350 in it and a TBI instead of the 4 BBL and the overdrive transmission, I would be willing to be it could get close to 30 on the highway and maybe better.

          That’s not far from you’d get out of any current mid-sized family car…

          • Eric, my guess is that Firebird TA didn’t come with the O/D stock; and it was a wise investment to put one in, even if it set you back about three grand for the unit and the custom driveline work necessary to fit it. Although you can buy a helluva lot of gas for $3,000, even at today’s confiscatory prices, an O/D unit will not only let you turn lower RPMs at freeway speeds, saving on not only gas but engine wear and tear, but, you can have a lower gear ratio, say, like a 3:55 instead of the stock 2.94, and not only “chirp” the tires on take-off, but the lower final drive will be easier on your ride when cruising at low speeds around town.

            Read one of my other posts about a relatively cheap hack to put O/D in a mopar by transplanting an O/D unit from an AMC product of similar vintage.

            Something like that battleship with chrome and hub caps called a Buick Electra 225, however, you’re really out of options in making it anything more than the occasional boat you take out for a comfy cruise. I doubt that any O/D unit could be grafted into that drivetrain, as if the torque from the Buick’s 455 won’t grind it into shavings anyway. Same reason no one gets too worked up about a mint condition, 1974 vintage Pontiac Safari station wagon with the tailgate that disappears into the body, OR swings out or down! Assuming that somehow that ‘wagon’ hasn’t had its switches and wiring degrade with time, yes, you could fire up the same Pontiac 455 that’s in your T/A (and it’s an honest-to-Gawd PONTIAC engine, not some “GM Corporate” nonsense), and with that long stroke that the 455 had, even filled with the tribe and all their luggage on the roof rack, it’ll pull away effortlessly from the stop light, nose high and ass dragging!

            It comes down to not enough collector value to justify restoring the old sled; if you get one for cheap and it’s in great shape, then just drive the damn thing for as much as you can afford the gas and when something major breaks, strip it for parts!

    • Ah, the Deuce-and-a-Quarter. True American land yacht heavy iron. Haven’t seen one of those in 20 years. That car would probably survive the next ice age, if the salt didn’t rot it to Swiss cheese before then. That was the real problem with cars pre-1985 or so. Abysimal metal protection. Numerous mud and leaf traps. The thing was just so easy, most 70’s cars (yes, Japanese too! Remember the Toyota Corroda?) would become powder just sitting in the garage. That’s one thing they’ve definitely improved on of late.

      • Crusty:
        ” most 70’s cars (yes, Japanese too! ”

        ESPECIALLY those early Jap cars. There are still a lot of 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s American rust-buckets running around- ‘specially the ones that the owners took decent care of and cleaned, etc- but when’s the last time you saw a 1978 Datsun B210 or Toyota Corona (Unless ya live in southern Ca; AZ or NM)? Even 25 years ago, ya didn’t see any of them.

      • Oh, BUT THE Park Avenue aka Park Av is the 225 plushed out to the MAX. The ’75/’76 were the sweetest big boats around. Just the emission crap that those Buick 455’s had to deal with for those years. But, the sound of those 4 barrels doing their kicks under the hood on those V8’s instead of today’s 4 squirrels engines getting their winey high turbo pitch.

  18. I just rented a camry. it has a little 4cyl. it barely gets out of it’s own way unless you floor it. it feels cheap too. camry used to be a lot better.

    • Depending on what year, I may have just driven one much like it; obsessively drove it everywhere in Sport mode for a week during which time I discovered that the shifts in that mode are incredibly harsh and feel like a completely un-rev-matched manual shift. It felt like it had enough power to get itself going but my normal car is a 1996 Ford Escort so I probably wouldn’t be a good judge of that. Unfortunately I never had a chance to figure out anything more about how it drove because the area I was in was infested with non-drivers.

    • I do not want to buy a classic, but have good luck with good plain used cars, like four, five years old. I have spent about $11 k each for good used cars the last several years, for family members. F150, Silverado, Camry and V6 Avalon with moderately severe hail damage. All paid 11 k, with lowish miles like around 38k. QUESTION: What generation of Camry is most relieable, easy to get fixed, runs best, etc. I want good reliable commuter. I KNOW I do not want the current generation. Will buy one with about 30 to 55 k miles.

      ps I want to buy a Ford Ranger 2010 or so for spouse. I feel like this will be a good reliable, easy to fix truck to run stuff around. Correct me if you disagree. AGAIN< I have NO interest in a newer vehicle. Too expensive to buy, too many computers, too expensive to fix.

      • Sara, I suggest an early model GM pickup. Simple as hell, easy to fix and cheap aftermarket parts for everything. They even get good fuel mileage. X cab and crew cab hold, according to seating arrangements, 5 or 6 people.

        Good sight lines from them too and good fuel mileage. My 93 turbo diesel got over 16 at 80 mph with wider wheels and tires than stock. That was a one ton “light duty” meaning single rear wheel in a 3500.

        Not a computer on it, zilch, nada. Replace the factory waste gate with an aftermarket and it was heaven on earth. Some people don’t like X cabs and long beds…but then most people dont really want a pickup, just something to hold 5 or 6 people. The bed is just so it is registered as a truck but probably the SUV’s that register as trucks are cheaper on insurance.

        These are start and drive vehicles, with nearly nothing to go wrong. The 2WD models get really good fuel mileage and have simple small block Chevy 350 engines with TBI and an HEI didstributor, two things that very seldomly give you trouble. You’ll get more smiles, waves and thumbs up with one than any other vehicle I can think of that age or above. Good seats, and lots of room before 95. The cutoff date for me is 94 since there’s no airbags and loads of room inside. Play around with changing shocks, steering bushings, and sway bars and you’ll have a car-like drive and ride.

  19. Nice Vista Cruiser in that pic! Can I get it for $200, like my sister did when she bought one in the early 80’s?

    Heh, this article sounds like something I might have written! Eric, I’m not used to seeing actual journalists making such sense, and figuring stuff like this out! 😀

    Gotta be carefull these days, with classics being worth so much these days- people are cobbling cars together, that look good and may be perfectly functional, but are way over-priced for what they are.

    Check this out, for one eggsample:
    Nice-looking “72” Duster at what seems to be a bargain price…but isn’t (I never would have caught all of this stuff)

  20. Modern garages might be an issue. When I go out of town for an extended time I’ll usually park the work truck (2011 F-150) in the garage. It barely fits, although much of that is because I have cabinetry and a work bench along the back wall. But I’ve seen some very small garages in new homes, even when they’re billed as two car there’s no way the 1970s 4 door land barges could fit.

    But they are nice vehicles if you’re not in the northeast.

  21. Ha! The other “end run” is on states that have personal property taxes. These are based on the Blue Book value of the car. Now, a restored classic might be judged differently. So, unsure how that would go. Maybe after a certain age, the county might judge it as a collectible! However, a (restored) 1973 Pontiac has no taxable value, but as a fully functional machine is worth big $$!

    • Yeah…Cali(porn)ia is getting wise to that, although for some reason, no “personal property” tax (shh…don’t give ’em any ideas). They just call it a “Smog Abatement” Fee, though owners of classics know it’s tanatmount to a tax based on market value. If that’s not a personal property tax, then what is?

  22. Those 88s and 98s were comfortable and nice driving cars. That said,

    My favorite is a 1968 GTO 428 with a 4 on the floor Hurst shift. You can pick them up for 30-50,000 in new condition. If I wasn’t 70 and fixin to pack it in, in a few years……..

    Yea, dream on,,,,,

    Uncle will soon probably tell me I am too old and to be driving…. for my saaaaaaafety.

    • Sold, I’ll take it. Replace the springs and bag the rear, use poly bushings on the front and big sway bars front and rear with lower profile tires and it’s a totally different car. Replace the sound deadening and door gaskets and you’ll have a nice ride. Cholley Jack would be in heaven. I’ve noticed for decades you can’t keep a good dog out of a station wagon or SUV. Once they’ve had a taste of being in the back with all that glass around, they’re hooked.

  23. Also, there are classic car refurbishers almost anywhere in the country, just search for them online. For example, somewhere on the west coast, there is Geo Jeff who restores Metros to like new showroom condition.

    • Hi Anonymous,

      As soon as I can hoard up a few thousand bucks, I am buying a mid-late ’70s sedan or coupe; an Olds Cutlass or 88 or 98. A big comfortable barge without Uncle-ized “features” that I can drive every day, anywhere.

      • Eric, someone in my area HAS such a barge! The chap has a late 70s-early 80s Olds 98 that he drives all the time. I saw him on the main drag the other day…

      • eric, I nearly hijacked an old woman’s car Thursday. It was a brown Buick Skylark early 70’s. Instead I complimented her on it. It was in good shape.

      • Eric,
        For the Cutlass, get the Brougham or sport 442. For the 98, got to be the Regency, no questions. The Brougham and Regency were the Pillow-Button Plushmobile. For the 88, Royale for the top comfort. I would pass on the 88 and target the 98-Regency. I upgrade converted a ’74 98-LS to a 98-Regency. Sold it to a buddy of mine while in high school and let us say, the car what the the car. Sad what GM did to the Olds division in the mid 80’s. Totally destroyed the top division in those days.


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