Purchasing a classic car
Good news if you’re planning on obtaining a classic car: It’s much easier to get and keep it running. The bad news is that it’s going to cost you more now than it did when you were young.
Deciding on a car
Make sure you do your research and only look at cars that you really like. Remember, not every old car is a classic. One good way to tell if it’s a classic is to look at the values for the car you’re interested in. Haggerty online has a valuation tool. If the value is low compared to other similar cars, it’s likely not a classic. I think it’s important to get a car that’s considered to be a classic because when you get tired of it, and you probably will, you’ll need to sell it.
In my book, Chevrolet Corvairs are almost cool. They have nice styling, but they lack in the engine department, and honestly, they have bad history. They are cheap, and the resale value is low and it’s going to take some time to sell it. The Ford Falcon is cheap and always will be. Usually, cars that were cool when they came out are the cars that are classics now. The Falcon was an economy car in its day. Economy cars usually do not become classics. There has to be something about them, great styling, powerful engine, or both to shoot them into the world of a classic today. For example, the 1955 Chevy isn’t a classic just because it’s old. When the 1955 Chevy came out it was very cool. It had great styling, powerful new engines and they were lightweight. Not many realize this, but a 1955 Chevy car weighs about 3300 lbs. A 2016 Chevy Camaro weighs about 3500 lbs. Even though the 55 Chevy was styled to look much bigger, it’s weight was low and that’s why any performance modifications done make a big difference in acceleration and handling.
The Classic Car Market
I’ve noticed a lot of increased activity surrounding the classic car market recently (recently meaning the last 10 years). This increased interest has also raised the prices of these vehicles significantly. Here’s the old man in me coming out about this subject. I can remember when I bought a 1969 Pontiac Lemans convertible for $750 bucks. I towed it home, worked on it for a weekend—$200 and a trip to the wrecking yard later—and I was driving it around the neighborhood. That car would be worth about $15,000 now. Another car I bought back in the day was a 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 two door hardtop for $250. I towed it home, cleaned out the gas tank, rebuilt the carb and it started right up. It would be worth about $10,000 in that condition today. One more: I bought a 1955 Chevy Belair two door hardtop in great condition for $8,500. The same car is worth $35,000 now. I have many more of these stories and of course I don’t have any of those cars anymore.
I believe that a lot of the increased interest is caused by scarcity, they’re not making them any more unless you include the work Dynacorn is doing, and there are a plethora of TV shows and internet channels surrounding this hobby. Also, there are so many parts and kits available that were not available back in the day. Some of the parts needed to make the car work had to be fabricated from scratch or borrowed from another car. Now, for mainstream cars, just about any part can be ordered. I’m installing Air Conditioning on a 1960 Chevy impala. I’m using the Vintage air kit. Every part for the conversion, except the belt and the heater hoses are included in this kit. I installed air conditioning on a car back in the 80s and I had to make many trips to the wrecking yard, then I had to have a shop fabricate the A/C hoses because I didn’t have the special tools for this job. It’s a lot easier now because of the parts situation.
Good luck and happy hunting.