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Is a classic car right for me?



  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    You would buy a VW Golf for reliability?

    You are kidding, arent you?
  • tjgofftjgoff Posts: 2
    Hello. I am an amateur car enthusiast. When I was 16 I restored, or made decisions about restoring a 1965 chevelle. I did not do a wonderful job, but the point is, I love old cars and would like to try again.
    Can someone help me with the value of a car??? I am looking at a 1967 firebird. The person selling knows little about it. It has a 326 with a 2 speed automatic. He doesn't know the mileage. He said it needs brake work. New tires. The guys said it has been painted, so he is not sure of the rust situation. The guy wants $5,500. It seems to be worth less to me, but I know very little, that is why I wanted to ask the professionals (you guys)!! Please help. What do you experts think??
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,423
    Without knowing the body condition there's no way to know. If there's lots of rust/bondo, I wouldn't touch it. Does it run? Is this a car you love? Make sure that you get something you like, you're going to put LOTS of time into it.

    Check out ebaymotors and for more options. No need to rush into it.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    Without seeing the car or at least seeing a bunch of detailed photos, none of us can do anything except guess at it's value.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    $5,500 would be a car in "fair" condition, defined as:

    "Presentable. Runs and drives and will pass safety inspection. Generally in need, or approaching the need of a cosmetic restoration. Chrome pits here and there, small rips or tears, paint chips, a window crack, small hole in carpet, etc. NOT dented or rusted and not in need of major mechanical work"

    So if the car, when you see it, seems less than the above description, deduct accordingly.
  • tjgofftjgoff Posts: 2
    Thanks for the good info. I might look at it, but definitely think $5,500 is too much. He says it does run well, but would need brakes immediately.

    I guess what I should have asked is, is a Firebird with a 326 worth anything, is it desirable? Don't people usually want the 400's and such? But I appreciate the comments.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,423
    Sure, a 326 Firebird is a good hobby car, certainly worth more than a plain-jane sedan is similar condition. And bigger engines make them worth more (sometimes WAY more), that's true too. But you'll pay more to buy one. If you're wanting to make money on your restoration, don't, that's just about impossible for someone like you (or me). So what this means is to figure out what you're wanting with this car. If you are buying it in order to work on it, then lots of options out there. If you're buying it to own, drive, and do the needed repairs, that's different. It doesn't cost less to restore a base Firebird, but you'll recover less of your costs when you go to sell. Better to buy one in good running condition in that case - let the prior owner pay for the major restoration work.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    Nothing "wrong" with the 326. It was more or less the standard engine unless you count that oddball six they offered.

    If it "needs brakes immediately" I would guess it needs EVERYTHING brake related. Drums, master cyl etc.

    A 400 would be more desirable but the 326 doesn't really hurt it like the six would.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    Yeah, good advice. The small V8 is definitely better to have than a 6 cylinder car, but the small V8 will never realize the same prices as the larger engines--as a rough guideline, whatever prices you see for a Firebird 400, you can deduct maybe 30% if it has a 326. On some cars, the price difference between the smallest engine and the largest is....MASSIVE....

    Classic cars, especially during the 50s--70s, when there were so many engine options, are funny this way: If the car only had one size V8, that becomes top dog in value, but if there are numerous engines of increasing power and size, then the pecking order goes according to the engine size.

    In 60s cars especially, Horsepower = $$$, and HP + 4-speed = more $$$.

    Even the option of a 4 barrel carburetor vs. a two barrel on the *same* engine can affect value, and some "tri-power" carb options can affect value as much as a larger engine can.

    1960s BODY STYLE Pecking order (with a few exceptions)

    2D HT
    2D Post
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    edited June 2011
    I recently saw a real oddball of a car.

    It was a 1964 Chevy Impala four door sedan.

    It was a six cylinder with a three speed on the column. No power steering or brakes. Just a stripper.

    Compare the value to that with an SS convertable with a 409 4 speed!

    Back in those days, you could order anything. A friend's dad ordered a 1965 Chevy Biscayne Station Wagon with a 327/300 horse engine with a three speeed and overdrive.

    I think it had an AM radio but nothing else.

    Blackwall tires, tiny hubcaps. Talk about a sleeper!
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    Quite a few 60s era Chevy Sixes are purchased and then rebuilt as 60s "gassers" or drag cars. Of course, the 2-door Biscaynes would be preferred as they are lighter than the 4-doors, and the 2-door post sedans preferred over 2D hardtops (body strength) but a stripped down 4-door with no badges and a big honker of an engine still makes a nice 'sleeper'.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    Yes, but usually not Impala four doors.

    If I was a dealer in those days, I would be scared to death that someone would order one of these oddball cars and then back out of the deal leaving an impossible car to sell.

    Probably why most manufacturers no longer build cars to order.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,346
    The weak spot on Pontiac V-8's in those days were the timing gears. This especially applied to the 389's. The plastic gear teeth would wear out around the 70,000 mark.

    A person who owned one was wise to just have the job done along with a new water pump around 70,000 miles.

    Kinda like a timing belt job on a modern car?

    Otherwise, they were pretty good engines!
  • astphardastphard Posts: 24
    I don't really know where to put this, but in one of the archived discussions (about FWD vehicles) several people talked about how much more difficult it would be to maintain FWD vehicles (vs RWD, I suppose). Why is that?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    Well in the realm of "classics" (which is what this forum is about) that's probably true, since older FWD cars are few and far between, and pretty quirky. If you want to talk about *modern* cars, let me know and I'll direct you to the right place.

    One general rule is that doing clutch or transmission work is more time consuming on a FWD vehicle.
  • astphardastphard Posts: 24
    edited June 2011
    Despite some difficulties, I still haven't given up the idea of having a collectible as a daily driver. Here's what I'm currently thinking about:

    -BMW 2002 (or ti or tii)
    -BMW 3.0 CS (or CSi or CSL)
    -Mercedes 280CE
    -Mercedes 350SLC
    -Mercedes 450SLC
    -Mercedes 300CD (turbodiesel)
    -VW Karmann Ghia (but only if it can be modified to get up to decent speeds without wrecking the vehicle)

    I know I probably won't be able to get everything on my wishlist, but I wanted:

    -a backseat big enough for at least small children
    -a trunk that could fit 2 carry-on suitcases
    -some creature comforts like a/c and cruise (though I'd be willing to add these on)
    -ideally 20+ mpg, or at least as close as I can get to that
    -something fun

    I know that BMW & MB repair costs can be quite expensive. But if a clean model was purchased, would $1-2k a year in maintenance costs be sufficient, or would it need more?

    Also, is it even possible to modify a Karmann Ghia enough where it's not torture to drive on an interstate?

    Any comments about these cars, or which you would rank as better/worse (generally, or for me specifically), would be greatly appreciated.


    P.S. Shifty, the FWD/RWD question was because I read about it in the Classics archives. Though come to think of it, I think all of these are FWD so does that mean these will have greater repair difficulties?
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,423
    If you can find a clean, non-rusted one, I like the 2002. The 3.0 would be long-term work and problems. Of the MBs get the newest, cleanest one that fits your needs, it would probably be the best daily driver choice. But I've always liked the 2002.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    edited June 2011
    All of those are RWD.

    You said you are in Florida, right? I would also worry about rust with the humid climate there. At the least you'd want a car that has undergone a body restoration with proper sealing.

    You won't get 20 mpg out of a US market SLC - those old MB V8s can be real pigs. But I think you could easily keep one on the road for 2K/year if you buy a properly maintained one and know a good specialist. The smaller coupes you mention will be more economical to run, and are able of passing 20mpg on the highway.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    -BMW 2002 (or ti or tii) --- GREAT cars but a Tii is not practical and is very $$$ to repair. Nicest 2002s are pre-1975, manual transmission. Fun, pretty comfy, good on modern roads, lots of parts available. Check for rust of course.

    -BMW 3.0 CS (or CSi or CSL) -- beautiful RUSTBUCKETS, expensive to fix, fussy, demonic, unreliable.

    -Mercedes 280CE --- okay but kinda boring--not Mercedes best years and will never increase very much in value. Unloved model. Pretty hard to find one anyway.

    -Mercedes 350SLC -- lotta car for the money but a gas hog. Watch out for AC/Heat system problems. Worth a shot. The 350s are prettier than later ones.

    -Mercedes 450SLC -- ditto as above, even worse gas hog, though.

    -Mercedes 300CD (turbodiesel) -- solid, economical, reliable, noisy, hard to find one that isn't a completely worn out beater. Also boring but can serve you well, and yes, you can get 20 mpg.

    -VW Karmann Ghia -- more of a toy than a real car, but attractive, easy to fix eXCEPT for bodywork. Some parts are unobtanium, so the only way to buy a Ghia is in excellent condition.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    "...would $1-2k a year in maintenance costs be sufficient, or would."

    Much would depend on how many miles per year you would drive it. For 10,000-15,000 miles per year, I'd plan on a minimum of $2,000 per year for maintenance and repairs, average, over five years, but probably something more than that. The Karmann Ghia might cost less than $2,000, average.
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