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Is a classic car right for me?



  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067
    Yes, sorry. I meant to say 1984.

    I don't think the fact it's rare makes it worth anything extra.

    He did mention that he "thinks" it "might" need a universal joint and those have to be sent out to a machine shop on an exchange basis.

    And, I'm thinking that that "pilot bushing" is more likely a bad throwout bearing. I'm smelling a big time money pit here and although I may go take a look, I doubt if I'm going to be a buyer.

    I do "think the worst" because experience has taught me that the worst is usually what the problem is!

  • fintailfintail Posts: 38,032
    When someone "thinks" a car "might" need something, it means they know it broke 3 years ago.

    Sounds more parts car-ish with each new fault.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067

    I love it when they say, " May need a new clutch at some point" or " The A/C just needs some "freezone" put in.

    I called that BMW guy and told him I wouldn't be coming.

    On cars like that maintenance CAN'T be skimped on. They are very unforgiving and they will punish you.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 38,032
    If you buy an old German car in beater condition, you need to either be accepting of its beater status, or prepared to shell out piles of money to put it right. Most of them can rack up lots of miles while not being properly maintained. Deferred maintenance on an old upmarket German sedan is similar to deferred maintenance on a house.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,967
    I'm really late to this discussion, but I'll chime in with the experience I had with a '69 Dodge Dart GT hardtop with a 225 slant six. I usually got around 15-18 mpg around town, and as good as 22-23 on the highway. It had air conditioning, and the a/c didn't seem to hurt fuel econony one bit.

    Now, it was hardly a rocket with that slant six, but it was adequate. I also owned an '80 Malibu and an '82 Cutlass Supreme coupe, both with V-6'es, and it was faster than either of them. In college, a friend of mine had an '86 T-bird with the 232 V-6, and it was faster than that, too.

    I heard the slant six became a bit of a guzzler in later years though, as it didn't take well to emissions controls, and as it went into heavier cars, performance really suffered, too.

    I also had a '68 Dart with a 318, and it was more like 12-13 around town, 16-17 on the highway, maybe high-seventeens if you really babied it. Oddly, my much-heavier '67 Catalina convertible, with its 400-4bbl, gets about the same highway mileage, although around town, I'm lucky to break 10 mpg.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 52,989
    A bad pilot bushing is something you'd hear while you were IN gear and driving, and a bad throw-out bearing is something you'd hear with the clutch IN, not out.

    If he's hearing a growling sound with the clutch OUT in neutral or while driving, that's bad transmission front bearing, not a throwout bearing. (is this the "wheel bearing" he's hearing?)

    In any event, if you drive it around the block, you can determine which it is. Naturally the severity of these maladies is as follows

    (from best case scenario to worst case)

    1. bad throw out bearing

    2. bad pilot bushing

    3. bad trans bearings

    re: DRIVESHAFT -- yep, machine shop *may* be able to rebuild the driveshaft, but it had better be dynamically balanced, too, or you'll be sorr-eee.

    Sounds like you might have to replace items from the flywheel to the differential---a driveline rebuild.

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  • texasestexases Posts: 7,165
    I'd go for a slightly later 535i, I think the 533i was only sold here for just a few years. I'd either look for an '88, or the following series 535i in ''89-'93.
  • Hi all, I'm new to this forum.

    I'm going to be buying my first classic car and I really need to educate myself and this seems a very knowledgeable place so I'm hopping I'm in the right place.
    • My two favorite models are the MB SL and the Karmann Ghia

      My budget is max $15K

      The car will be kept outdoors

      I don't know about cars so before I even start looking, I need to find a very good/fair/honest mechanic that I can always go to for maintenance, repairs.

      I drive daily, all day, but not long distances (city driving)

      I'm in Miami

      I do not want to buy a project, I want to buy one that has been restored or is in good condition already

      This will be my main car
    So, with that info above, what do you think of the SL or the Karmann Ghia? What do I need to think about, look out for, be concerned about?

    Any and all input will be most appreciated

    Thanks from Sunny Miami
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,165
    Either car will be a challenge to use as a daily driver because they're both going to be old and requiring frequent maintenance. I'd go with the newest SL you can find that's in good shape, even though maintenance costs will be high, because the VW is really not suited for modern roads, speeds, and safety requirements. A 560SL would be best, but you will use LOTS of gas.

    How about a Miata instead? More fun, more modern, better mpgs, a better car all around in my opinion.

    Your lack of knowledge of cars will be a major issue in trying to keep a 25+ year old car on the road. Fine if it's a hobby car, looming disaster if it's your only car.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 38,032
    Tough call as the cars you like aren't really similar (and simple "SL" is vague), and the price point is odd for them. 15K should buy a fantastic Ghia, with money left over - it will buy a nice early-mid R129 or any R107 SL with a little left over, or a marginal W113 SL with nothing left over - the latter getting to the age where long distance daily use isn't the best idea. The older SLs and the Ghia can rust pretty easily, so storing them outside in a humid climate will eventually create issues.

    There are lots of decent independent shops out there - but lots of sketchy ones too. Join a car club and get references. For your budget and desires, I think a Ghia, a later 107SL, or a 6cyl 129 SL would probably be best.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 52,989
    Fin is right, they are totally different cars. It's hard for me to keep my prejudices at bay, but I'll try (but keep in mind that this view is not objective).

    I think for simplicity of mechanical maintenance, it's a Karman Ghia hands down; however, this car is a bear to restore cosmetically, so you'd better buy one with the nicest, soundest, cleanest body you can afford. You do NOT want to do any rust repair on a Ghia and you do NOT want to be hunting down, and paying for, rare bits of exterior trim. On the minus side, the KG is slow, and lets' face it, not the safest thing you could be in at 60 mph. I'm not sure it would like "outside" very much either.

    As for the SL, it's got to be a 560SL or just forget it. $15K would only buy you a real RAT of a 230-250-280SL, and while you can buy a very nice 380-450SL for that money, the 560SL is a much better car in all respects. Also keep in mind that repairs on a V8 SL are going to be pretty high, so if you don't have backup in your checking account, a V8 SL will slowly drain your resources...or quickly drain them if you have a major catastrophe mechanically.

    So, given all that you've said, I'd say a 560SL is your best choice IF you are lined up with a good independent Benz repair shop that can help you learn about the car and maintain it. You need teamwork to own a car like this.

    If you are in the boonies, or have no such resources as a good indy shop that you trust, then go with the Ghia if you can find a rust-free, damage-free example, and if you don't mind their primitive uncomfortable nature.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067
    I don't see how a VW isn't suited for modern roads?

    They do just fine providing the driver respects the cars limitations.

    I've driven many thousands of miles at 70 MPH and never felt unsafe or threatened in any way.

    The Mercedes can and probably will be a financial disaster. They use tons of gas and they can be nothing but trouble and I'm talking about EXPENSIVE trouble.

    The Miata suggestion is an excellent one! Great cars that are troublefree as can be.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,165
    edited May 2011
    I'm concerned with the 'daily driver' aspect for a VW, driven by someone with self-professed 0 knowledge. The limits of a Ghia in terms of brakes, acceleration, and crash protection just keep me from recommending it to a complete and inexperienced stranger with little car know-how. You, on the other hand, could probably do well with a '53 Gaz...

    That's the problem with giving advice to complete strangers - I will always error on the side of caution...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 52,989
    Yeah, VW brakes are very marginal, the swing axle is squirrelly and the crash protection is empty trunk and a gas tank in front of you. :surprise:

    But you're right of course, if you are careful and respectful then all you have to worry about is the other drivers.

    Of course, there are also issues of comfort. The engines are noisy, sound-deadening is nil, heat and defrost are iffy, seats are primitive.

    I'd consider this a fair weather car at best.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 38,032
    Another thing, she is in FL - you're not going to find AC in a Ghia, and the system in any older SL is going to be mediocre at best.

    There are far better alternatives out there for a daily driver convertible.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 52,989
    Ghia convertible tops are *very* expensive to replace, so that's a consideration right there for a car to be kept outdoors.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067
    My VW's always stopped quite well and I knew what not to do as far as acceleration went. You have to know the car's limits and drive it accordingly.

    I do agree, a VW (Karmann Ghia) has to be owned by a person who understands this and knows how to take care of it.

    By the grace of God, I never got into an accident or I probably wouldn't be typing these words. Ten gallons of gas in your lap and zero crash protection.

    The thought of any nice old car sitting outside bothers me too.

    Seriously, I think the Miata suggestion was spot on!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 38,032
    An SL cloth top wouldn't be cheap either, and removing the hardtop isn't a one man job.

    I am a MB fan but the only SLs I want are ones I can't afford :shades:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,967
    I don't see how a VW isn't suited for modern roads?

    It would be fine for modern's the modern drivers I'd be concerned about!

    I've driven many thousands of miles at 70 MPH and never felt unsafe or threatened in any way.

    How long ago was that, though? You might feel different if you had to drive one today! The newer cars have dumbed us all down a bit, whether we notice it, or want to admit it or not. Often you don't notice how bad something is until you experience and get used to something newer and better, and then go back and experience the old thing again.

    For instance, I was only 24 when I bought my '67 Catalina convertible. And back in those days, there were times when I had gotten it up over 100 mph, and had no trouble handling it. But nowadays, at the ripe old age of 41, I really don't like taking it much above 70-75. Part of it is that I'm simply more cautious now, know I'm not immortal, and it wouldn't take THAT serious of a wreck for me to die in the thing. But, over the years, I also got used to better and better handling. My '79 Newport, '86 Monte Carlo, '89 Gran Fury copcar (that one probably had the best brakes of any car I've ever owned, and its firm-feel power steering felt more like a modern car than something dating to 1976), 2000 Intrepid, and now my 2000 Park Ave.

    So now, when I get behind the wheel of that Catalina, it feels incredibly vague, floaty, and unstable. Not at all the way I remember it. And since I put the bigger wheels/tires and had some transmission work done on it, it doesn't even chirp the rear tires on the 2-3 shift anymore, like it used to back in the old days. :cry:

    I'd imagine the experience would be similar with any old car.

    Also, I don't have nearly the driving experience that you have, but even in the 25 years I've been driving, I've noticed a change in habits. People tailgate more, are more likely to cut you off, slam on the brakes in front of you, drive too fast in the rain, snow, etc. And then throw on cell phones, smart phones, sexting, etc, and people are not only driving more aggressively today, but more distracted. And there are a lot more big trucks and SUV's out there these days. Way back in 1994, my ~4000 lb Catalina was one of the bigger vehicles on the road. Nowadays, even a lot of midsized cars are pushing the 4000 lb mark.

    Personally, I think I'd be afraid to depend too much on something like an old VW Bug nowadays. I think I'd feel a bit safer in a Karmann-Ghia (justified or not), but I'd still feel vulnerable.

    If I had to depend on an old car day in and day out, I think the smallest/slowest I'd feel safe in would be something like a Dart or Valiant with the larger 225 slant six, or a Chevy II with one of the larger 6-cyl engines. Wouldn't be opposed to something smaller, but I just wouldn't want to have to depend on it as my primary transportation.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067
    Still kind of looking for a fun car myself.

    Went and looked at a 1990 325i convertable this week.

    The owner made a huge deal out of the fact it had the optional hardtop and couldn't believe it when I told him I had zero use for it. He didn't mention that the soft top needed to be replaced.

    German Made - 1800.00
    USA made - 1580.00
    OEM - 3800.00

    Beautiful car that had a 100% perfect body and paint. Interior was 90% very nice!

    Check Engine light on - "Probably just needs to be reset" - (owner's comments")

    SRS light on - " Probably just a seat belt latch"

    A/C inop - " Probably just needs a recharge"

    Speedo custler replaced with a used one - Makes the car a TMU (true miles unknown) car.

    Asking price - 4500.00

    Way overpriced especially with the problems - PASS
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 52,989
    Yeah but she wants a "classic". Miatas are really swell cars but a dime a dozen--hundreds of thousands of them swarming like bees. I think she has her eyes on the unusual, not the ordinary, in this case.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 38,032
    Crackpipe. Sounds about 100% overpriced. The hardtop for an E30 is indeed very rare, but it's not worth thousands. Probably needs emissions work and a compressor or something.

    There was a Top Gear with E30 convertibles not long ago. The guys bought them cheap and had experts look them over - they each needed like 9K *pounds* of work to be put right. German cars...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 52,989

    Why are 99% of all removable hardtops in pristine condition?

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067
    Your point is well taken and you are absoultly correct.

    I used to think nothing of commuting on busy So. Calif freeways in my VW Beetles but doing so today would probably terrify me and for good reason.

    I remember once driving my 1962 Buick Special straight through from Seattle to L.A. I was going to stop for the night in Redding but after eating I felt like driving on and I did! I remember driving 100 MPH for about an hour straight.

    Sloppy suspension, bias ply tires, a lap belt and I was invincible!

    A cop pulled me over on that trip and gave me a warning. He said he didn't want to be the one to call my parents to inform them I had been killed on I-5.

    It doesn't take much to get killed in an old VW and Karmann Ghias wouldn't be one bit safer!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067

    Probably because they get hung up in a garage and don't ever get used!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 52,989
    Exactly. If we concur that the price of an object is based upon supply and demand, then even though the hardtop is rare, there's not much demand for it.

    If it were another type of car, say an older Corvette, you could justify asking extra for the hardtop, or even say for an Alfa Spider---but for a BMW 325, the tops are pretty weathertight and quiet---so what's the point?

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,067
    They made hardtops for S-2000's too and I don't recall our store ever selling one. They were close to 4000.00 which was nuts!

    We did buy a nice black S-2000 at the auction once that had a hardtop until someone broke into it one night and stole the hardtop and the seats!
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Probably because everyone bought theirs from hardtopguy. :P
  • astphardastphard Posts: 24
    So is it that the SL and Karmann Ghia aren't recommended for reliability, or that no car (that's 25+ years old) is recommended for reliability?
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,165
    No 25+ year old car is reliable for daily use. If your job depends on your car, you don't want to depend on a 'classic'. If you have options for transportation if it's in the shop, then you can think about a classic.
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