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Answer the Question: New or Classic?

Posted in Chrysler, Classic, Detroit, Dodge, Maintenance, muscle cars by MrAngry | January 24th, 2010 | 8 Responses |

Every now and again my brain wanders with visions of driving an old car as my daily driver. I mean how cool would it be to cruise the streets everyday in a classic Chevelle, Charger or Mustang. People constantly giving you the thumbs up, you’d feel like a rock star at every stoplight and valets would always give you the prime spots. I mean hell, if you’re going to go out and drop 25 or 30 large on a new Mustang or Challenger why not get the original right? Before you consider doing this, however, take heed because I’ve been down this road and want to give ya’ll some real world impressions about driving that classic everyday.

I tried doing this last year for over a month in my modified 1968 Dodge Charger. I started on July 20th and finished up on August 25, 2009 and in that time I logged just under 6000 miles… not bad for one months worth of driving. The reason for all those miles was one big ass road trip around the continental United States. I even rigged my baby out with all the conveniences of a new car by installing navigation, satellite radio, a new comfy interior and even a CB radio.

Throughout that entire month I never encountered one problem as the car ran beautifully. Going back to the above paragraph I can safely say that we were indeed the highlight of every stoplight, intersection and destination that we traveled too. Inquiries and comments a plenty were thrown at us and hell, we even got on the local news a few times. So with that being said, would I drive a classic everyday? The answer is simple… no.

While I had a wonderful time driving my old sled, I have to say that by the end of everyday it was exhausting albeit a bit nerve racking. The main ingredient that new cars have over the classics is 42 years of technology and innovation. Yes, new cars do essentially the same things as old cars, but they do it in much different ways. Things like ride quality, interior cabin noise and safety are leaps and bounds over the classics and don’t even get me started on fuel economy. One must also consider possible breakdowns and parts availability as some items are simply not available any more. Ask anyone whose ever tried to find a replacement grill for a ’68 Charger… it’s a total bitch as well as being SUPER expensive. Maintenance on the classics is a bit cheaper (especially if you’re DIY’er) but will be more frequent than on a new car.

What it all comes down to in the end though is this: new cars are just that… new. They look new, smell new and perform like new. They come with such wonderful things as a warranty, good fuel economy and air conditioning. They’re also safe, quiet and reliable. Where old cars are cool, new cars are practical. Where old cars are a thrill ride, new cars are a safe ride and where old cars look great, new cars just perform great. In the end it is obviously up to the individual to make this decision. Just a word of advice though from someone whose been there.

Buy new, drive safe and get from point A to B without any drama. Just make sure however you have that extra spot in the garage to put that four wheeled dream in when the time comes.

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8 Responses

  1. Guyon says:

    I didn’t know Mr. Angry wrote for RL. You bring up some great points, but you might also add that there are some old cars that make great daily riders. A Dodge Charger is far from that (but still an awesome car!).

  2. Tom says:

    Despite the impracticalities of driving a classic car everyday, I think classic cars are still way more fun to drive.

  3. Lee says:

    “it’s a total bitch as well as being SUPER expensive. Maintenance on the classics is a bit cheaper (especially if you’re DIY’er) but will be more frequent then on a new car.’

    It’s thAn.. For crying out loud.

  4. MrAngry says:

    Where were you in my 6th grade English class Lee… damn…

  5. Those who are most nostalgic for American muscle cars of the 1960s through ’74, are those who have never driven; or even taken a ride in them. The steering was as vague as most Congressional press conferences, brakes faded after two or three times of hard use and the cars were, as Darryl Waltrip once described his stocker, “Just all ate up with engine.”

    There are certain vintage cars that make decent daily drivers. The reason is that their manufacturers were ahead of the game and put on things such as four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering and allowed for a reasonable power-to-weight ratio. Mid-Sixties Volvo 122S sedans are amongst those. Or consider a Nash Rambler from say 1963 through its demise in ’69. Late 1960s Ford Mustangs or Mercury Cougars, especially those with front disc brakes and small displacement V8s – 289, 302 or 351 cid V8s – are fine for cruising freeways or city streets and delightful on country roads.

    True enough is the fact that you won’t find heated seats. And generally, unless you buy or own a luxury make, you’re going to find out about raising and lowering windows with a handle. But living with a vintage car for daily driving can be done.

    Ultimately, paraphrasing something Bette Davis once said about old age, driving a vintage car isn’t for sissies.

  6. Kurt says:

    My take? You buy a modern car to drive, you buy a classic as an investment. Modern cars can be flogged; classics can be driven (on dry days only) to the local burger palace for a Tuesday night car show.

    I never understood the buyers spending serious coin on “resto rods” or driver quality, non-numbers matching muscle cars. You have to be SERIOUSLY “in the moment” to drop $80k on a car that has no chance of increasing in value.

    Of course most bidders at Barrett Jackson have enough money to wipe their ass with $20 bills, so I guess that explains a lot.

  7. oldcarfun says:

    HA! One month? Come on. I drove an all original, matching serial numbers1971 Chevelle, 350 engine with 4 barrel carb, drum brakes, (hard to stop if you go over 40 mph), from 1988 to 2004. Over 300,000 miles. First 10 years was my only method of transportation. 300 to 500 miles per week, rain, snow, ice storms, (with studded snow tires). After that, used once or twice a week.Needed some repair about once a year or so. Cheap, because I could do many repairs myself. Tune ups twice a year. Oil and filter every 3,000 miles. Checked fluids every other day, never let oil level go below 1/2 quart low. Air conditioning broke after first 3 years, I never bothered to fix it. No modern conveniences. Filled the tank every other day. Was in showroom condition when I bought it, had to sell it when there was so much rust that the body was falling apart and it became unsafe to drive. Never broke down on the road, always managed to get it home to fix it. Engine and trans would have gone another 100,000, or more…..everything else, needed total restoration. Would have cost way more than the car was worth.

  8. Tony G. says:

    Air conditioning was available on classic cars, too.
    Heated seats were an option on 1966 to 1969 or 1970 Cadillacs. Front seats for all models except the series 75 which had heated rear seats as an option.

    I like ’60s and ’70s cars and, yes, I do own some (three). For 5 years, my daily driver was a ’76 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Limousine. I still own it, along with 3 other cars.