One hot summer night in the late 60s, a buddy and I were cruising the main drag in our home town in his 1965 Mustang. As we pulled up to one of the few stop lights in town, we couldn’t help but notice two cute “chicks” in the car next to us. To try and impress them, one of us geniuses decided we should roll up the windows and act like we were in an air conditioned car. Since a/c was a bit of a rarity in those days, they would think we were rich dudes! Of course they didn’t even noticed us as we sat there sweating like a couple of idiots inside the super-heated interior. Fortunately the light changed, they drove off and we quickly rolled down the windows before we passed out.
The point of this story is not to convince you that all teenage boys are in fact idiots (we all know that by now), but to give you a reality check of what that dream car you saw at a auto show this summer is really like. Things we take for granted on even the most lowly of cars today were an option, if even available, when many classic cars were new. “Armstrong steering” was standard. The only “air conditioning” worked at 70 miles per hour when all four windows were down. Early muscle cars accelerated much better than they stopped, having manually adjusted drum brakes on all four wheels. Engines needed a lot more routine maintenance at mileage intervals as low as 5,000 to 10,000 miles, including things such as new plugs and points, valve and carburetor adjustments.
Don’t get me wrong, owning a collector car is a great hobby, but it’s also a serious hobby, in terms of both the time and money commitment. So before you run out and change from being a “non-owner car enthusiast” to a true classic car owner and collector, it’s wise to do some home work to make sure you have realistic expectations about your dream car. First identify what is your first pick dream car. Then do a reality check – can you afford your dream? Next do some internet research on the car make you have in mind. Talk to other enthusiasts. Try to find a similar model to at least drive one before you start shopping seriously. Don’t expect that 30 to 70 year old car to drive like a new one -unless you are spending top dollar for a professionally restored and updated vehicle, it won’t. After all, the whole idea of buying a ’55 Chevy is to take you back to 1955, right?
Watch the attached video that talks about what to expect from a classic car. It gives some good advice that I think you will find useful.
This week’s Trivia Question: What was the year and make of the first American car to offer an automatic transmission?
Answer to last week’s Trivia Question: The AMC Gremlin was first sketched on an airlines motion sickness bag and first introduced on April Fools Day 1970.
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