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Thread: Things to think about before you buy a classic car

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Things to think about before you buy a classic car

    Everyone has their weakness - and one of mine is oddball old cars. I almost bought another one last week - but for once, I took a moment to think it through.

    It turned out to be the right choice.

    Here's why:

    * Not enough room -

    The car I was looking at - a '75 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham d' Elegance sedan - was so huge (almost 20 feet, tip to tail) it would have completely dominated my two car garage. I already have one classic car (my '76 Trans Am) parked there, along with several motorcycles and lots of tools and equipment. Add one oversize Caddy and there would have been no room to work, barely enough room to walk through. A stuffed to the walls/cluttered up garage is not my idea of a good time. Luckily, I measured the car and transposed those dimensions onto the available space before committing to anything.

    Lesson: Be sure you have enough space for all your toys.

    * Not enough time -

    Then I got to thinking about the fact that I already own a classic car, plus a classic motorcycle, plus two modern bikes, plus a diesel tractor, riding lawn mower, have a mini zoo of animals and a wife who likes me to Get Things Done around the house. Between all that and my paid work I don't have a surplus of free time. And old cars need your time - lots of it. Otherwise, they get neglected and decay. In fact, disuse/lack of regular upkeep will rot an old car almost as effectively as just parking the thing in a grass field ands letting nature have its way. This is a cruel fate for a worthy old car. And you will despise yourself for having been involved.

    Lesson: If you haven't got a couple hours' of free time available each week to tinker with/tune/marvel at the gem in your garage, then you probably shouldn't have bought it.

    * Not enough money -

    This may be the biggest thing of all, even though it's the one many don't take into account. At least, not fully.

    In the case of the Caddy, the up-front amount was not especially huge (about $4k). But then I got to thinking about all the stuff any "new" old car needs as a matter of course (complete basic service, including tune-up, oil and filter changes, maybe brake work) plus all the side stuff (insurance, taxes, title fees) and then the stuff that it might and probably will need (in the Caddy's case, AC work and tires) and the bill got bigger.

    Then I thought about the "what ifs" - things that could crop up in my regular life that involved cutting checks. For example, my daily driver is an 11-year-old pick-up with about 115,000 miles on her. The truck runs great but it's at the age where stuff does go wrong sometimes. What if it needs a new clutch? Or something else fairly major goes south? Maybe the house's AC will go on the fritz - or we'll need to buy a new dishwasher.

    Pre-Caddy, no worries. Plenty of cash on hand to deal with such things. Post-Caddy, not so much.

    Since I hate the prospect of debt and prize always having enough cash money on hand to pay outright for just about anything, buying the Caddy seemed increasingly dicey.

    Lesson: Run the numbers and be sure you can acquire the car without jeopardizing your finances. Debt sucks - especially when you get into it over something that's not essential to you/your family's security.

    You know, like another old car!

  2. #2
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    Sorry to hear about that. That would have been a cool car. It is good to run the numbers for sure. I did that prior to buying my #2 car. Of course, there's no way in hell I would own 3 cars unless I won the lottery.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    Sorry to hear about that. That would have been a cool car. It is good to run the numbers for sure. I did that prior to buying my #2 car. Of course, there's no way in hell I would own 3 cars unless I won the lottery.
    Yeah.

    I'm just leery about spending any money on non-essentials right now. Even though the Caddy would have been less than $5k total outlay (the car itself plus taxes, insurance, necessary basic maintenance, etc) that's $5k I feel I need to put toward stuff like ammunition, tools, supplies, and so on.

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    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Yeah.

    I'm just leery about spending any money on non-essentials right now. Even though the Caddy would have been less than $5k total outlay (the car itself plus taxes, insurance, necessary basic maintenance, etc) that's $5k I feel I need to put toward stuff like ammunition, tools, supplies, and so on.

    All this talk about Fleetwoods must be having an international effect. Having not even heard of the 'Fleetwood' until this thread started, today I went shopping and there, in the middle of the Horncastle, Tesco, car park was an immaculate Caddy Fleetwood in Black with soft grey leather trim. Compared with the 4X4s it was parked alongside it looked huge!

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    All this talk about Fleetwoods must be having an international effect. Having not even heard of the 'Fleetwood' until this thread started, today I went shopping and there, in the middle of the Horncastle, Tesco, car park was an immaculate Caddy Fleetwood in Black with soft grey leather trim. Compared with the 4X4s it was parked alongside it looked huge!

    Ken.
    They are just beasts. Wonderful ones (like a Great Dane) but we are talking "super size me" ... times 3!

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    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    They are just beasts. Wonderful ones (like a Great Dane) but we are talking "super size me" ... times 3!
    Yep, they are land Yachts. Here on this side of the Rockies, they are not such a collector item, at least not in my mind. We have to many hills, and they just don't get that great of mileage. I'd rather be driving a 30' Motorhome and have something like that on a trailer. I would be getting a lot better milage...lol The resale of one of these super sized rigs don't seem to have much of resale value here. at least not for a gotta have one. They really have to be something very special. Maybe an Eldorado Convertible, with Fuel Injection from the mid '70s . Any of these "BIG" cars would be like trying to pilot the "QE II" though a river of Dinghy's.

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    Not all cars are "Collectable" as in valuable, some are desired by an individual, some are desired by many, like that Fleetwood, nice example of excess and luxury in it's time, but desired by few to the degree of full on restoration due to the cost versus future return, certainly not to the degree it will have a hidden side of gaining much value to it's collectability like a big block Chevelle, Nova or Road Runner has done. But then, it's hard to find one of those in any condition that isn't already over priced due to it's collectability.

    A 1975 Fleetwood in No. 1 condition, seems to be worth around $15,000 to $18,000 right now (Old Car Price Guide", unless it's on BJ's or those type of auction house's, but then, most of those auction pieces are usually "Over" restored to begin with, plus falling into the desired catagory before drawing Ego money.

    I collect Old Muscle cars not for resale (most of the desire for those type of cars will die before my kids have a chance to sell one, so any value will have dropped - I hope I live that long), but because I love those brute force, poor handling modes of transportation.

    Personally, I think they're a poor choice for investment, much like Teck stock, too risky, own for your enjoyment, spend to fix to your desire's, not future value, then drive em like you own em, then fix em all over again.

    Rex

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    " I collect Old Muscle cars not for resale (most of the desire for those type of cars will die before my kids have a chance to sell one, so any value will have dropped - I hope I live that long), but because I love those brute force, poor handling modes of transportation."

    I think you're right about that.

    Have you noticed that in "buff magazines" like Car Craft and (in my case) High Performance Pontiac the owners of featured cars (as well as most of the writers) are almost all guys in their 40s and older? They've aged along with their rides!

    Go back 20 years and in these same mags, the images you'd see were generally much more youthful; most of the owners were in their 20s and 30s.

    Same at cars shows - at least those I attend. The typical muscle car owner is a 40-ish or older guy, with a pot belly and starting to go gray.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that (I'm almost there myself)!

    But the point is, I think you're right. For the most part, interest in muscle cars will diminish greatly as the generations that understood and revered them (mostly Boomers and Generation X) grow older and eventually die off. I think there will always (as long as civilization exists) be a few people who are interested (as with, say, Civil War re-enactments or steam powered locomotives). But the hobby will indeed grow smaller as time goes by.

    A contributing factor, beyond the age issue, is that modern cars now offer much better performance with vastly superior reliability. If modern cars were all slow and pathetic little shitboxes, more people would still turn to muscle cars for their Speed Jones.

    But why (unless you just like the car for what it is) would you even bother with something like my '76 TA given something new like a lightly hopped-up Lancer EVO will destroy it in every category of performance - with the AC on - while getting much better mileage and being both everyday drivable and everyday reliable?

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