Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Greg asks: Hi Eric, I’ve heard you a few times on David Knight. I am thinking about looking for an older car (maybe 1970s). I’m a performing musician and have to be places on time. Is there a company (or companies) that takes older great cars and restores them so they are like new as far as reliability goes but don’t have all the computers/bells, etc.
My reply: Absolutely; and there is probably one in your town – or not far from it. Not necessarily a restoration shop – just a shop that does good quality body and mechanical work.
I make the distinction because you plan to use your car as a daily driver – as opposed to a car that will be taken out only for pleasure and to car shows. You want functionality and reliability more than concours paint and a “correct” engine that will win you trophies.
This is actually a good thing – for you – because it is easier to find a shop that does good mechanical/body work but hard to find one that does meticulous restos capable of winning a national-level show. Also, functionality is a helluva lot less expensive than pedantic perfection!
The key to your plan is to start with a car that is already a naturally good candidate for daily driverhood.
You mentioned the ’70s – and that you’re a musician – so I will recommend a large sedan or – better yet – station wagon. Plenty of room for you and your gear – and your band mates/their gear, too. A Chevy Impala or Malibu; or equivalent Bucik/Olds versions of the same. Something like that. Ford Country Squire – etc.
These are very simple/straightforward vehicles that can be driven every day in factory stock trim – or improved a lot via things like transistorized ignition (if the car didn’t have it originally) and a simple/stand-alone throttle body (TBI) fuel injection kit in lieu of the factory carburetor. Many kits available and they are easy to install; any competent shop can do this for you. And once done, the car will start/run like a new car – but better, because it won’t have ASS or direct injection and half a dozen nudgy “assists” you may not want.
You’ll be surprised, too, about gas mileage. If you get one of the above with a small V8 (e.g., a 305/350 for the GMs) and have the shop replace the factory three-speed non-overdrive automatic with a modern four-speed overdrive automatic, you will probably get close to 30 on the highway.
Start with a solid “driver” – which you ought to be able to find for $5k or even less – and with another $5k or so of work put in, you’ll have a cool ride to go with the groovy tunes!
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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