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"Non-Collectible" Old Cars

a_l_hubcapsa_l_hubcaps Posts: 518
edited March 7 in Pontiac
This is going to be my version of a Car Talk "Rant and Rave" (those of you who don't know what I'm talking about need to spend some time at cartalk.com). The thrust of my rant is the nonchalant way in which people in this topic are always shooting others down for being interested in a "non-collectible" old car. I think anyone who thinks only about the monetary value and exquisiteness when looking for a "classic" car is missing the point. About a year and a half ago, when I made up my mind to purchase my first car (I'm now 18), I chose to buy a rusty, faded blue 1986 Pontiac Parisienne Safari with bad tires, bad brakes and a good-sized dent in the RF fender. Most people would have laughed and walked away when they found out the old geezer who was selling it wouldn't budge below a whopping $3,000. But I saw something in that car and I just had to buy it and fix it up. Over the past 1 1/2 years, I've added new tires, rear brakes, battery, oil, filters, headliner, floor mats, etc. etc. and a Maaco paint job in the original light met blue with dark blue pinstripes (as much as people like to make fun of Maaco, the paint still looks great after over a year). It looks and runs like it's nearly new (a few flaws, but it is a daily driver), and I keep it clean and well-maintained. It has 44,000 original miles and I even have the original window sticker listing it as $14,464 MSRP new in 1986. Talk about obsession, I even know my VIN# by heart (1G2BL35H6GX215808, thank you very much!). Now, by conventional definition, this car is neither classic nor collectible, but I didn't buy based on whether it was 25 model years old or had a certain blue-book value. I bought it because I saw it rusting away in the guy's yard and it was just the right car for me, and I don't regret that. And apparently I'm not the only one who loves it; I've had random people I've never met before tell me what a beautiful car I have. So my conclusion is that we shouldn't be so quick to tell people that a car is not worth renovating. If someone had told me that back in 3/00, I might have bought a nice, boring '92 Corolla with my $3,000, and the Parisienne would still be sitting in that old guy's yard rusting into the ground. And believe me, that would have been a mistake.
-Andrew L


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Comments

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...Back in '93, this lady that went to my church had an '85 that was in pristine condition...well, except for a big gash in the passenger-side door where it looked like someone swiped it with their bumper in a parking lot. It only had 29,000 miles on it. Well, this lady gave it to her daughter to drive, but then one day, they came to church in a new Saturn. I asked 'em about the Parisienne, and they said they traded it. Only got something like $800.00 for it. D'OH!! Wish I'd known...I would've bought it from them for that!

    I've always liked big Pontiacs, so I've always thought the Parisienne was pretty cool. I liked the '77-81 Catalina/Bonneville better, because they just felt more like "true" Pontiacs, where you can see a lot more Caprice/Impala poking through with the Parisienne. Back in high school, my English teacher had a 1978 Catalina coupe with an Olds 403, done up in a two-tone burgundy/red. This was in '87. She wanted to sell it, and would've taken $500.00 for it. Unfortunately, my Mom refusted to let me buy it!

    I tend to like a lot of old cars that most people would thumb their noses at. I've always liked bigger cars, so where most people would prefer a compact or intermediate muscle car, I'd rather have a full-size car with a big engine! I know 4-doors tend to not be worth much, but I always thought the 4-door Hardtop was a beautiful design.
  • andre1969-
    Nice to see someone else who appreciates a wider range of vehicles than your typical Porsche/Ferrari/Corvette enthusiast. I too like big cars, though I try to be a practical person, which is why I picked a station wagon...it gets bad gas mileage, but at least it's a versatile, highly useful car.

    Another car I would love to own is a '76-77 Chevy Monte Carlo (with the double stacked headlights), but I just couldn't justify owning a 2-door car with miserable gas mileage, at least not as a daily driver. Maybe I'll look into that if I ever get the opportunity to buy a second car.

    At any rate, I plan to keep my Parisienne forever. It may truly be a rare (if not "collectible") car one day, as a disturbing number of the old full-size American wagons are being destroyed in demolition derbies every day. I'm told that the old '71-76 GM wagons are nearing extinction thanks to demo derbies. Who would have guessed 25 years ago that the then-ubiquitous station wagons would one day be rare cars?
    -Andrew L
  • dweezildweezil Posts: 271
    I think it's great what you've done.Plus you know your own mind about what you like and hang the rest.I think you'll find that to be useful in ALL areas of your life.
    There are several that I'd love to have again, like the 84 Citation II 2 door notchback I once owned [and collected as much info as possible on as well],my 66 Mercury Comet 2dr. hardtop, parent's 66 Mercury Montclair 4door sedan[my first love],72 AMC Ambassador 4 door Brougham sedan and 71 Gremlin. I'd love to have a Pontiac Sunbird 2 door notchback with the 2.5 litre OHV Iron Duke as well as an early Cavalier from 82 or 83.
    To me the ones I had or ones my parents had were all friends, part of a personal history. Which probably explains why I've had my 63 Valiant for 20 years-noone gave a hang for them when I bought it for 600.00 in 1981, now everyone thinks it's the bomb! Just do what makes YOU feel good. Your car will always love you when noone else does!!!Congrats; Dave
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    I bought it from the junkyard for something like $250.00. Truthfully, I should've let it stay there, because it had its share of problems. Hey, it was in the junkyard for a reason, right? ;-) I think over the two years I owned it, I sunk about $2500 into it. But when you think about it, that only comes out to about $100 a month. What kind of new car could you get for $100 a month? Sometimes I regret getting rid of that car, and wish I could find another R-body in halfway decent shape...this time with a 360!
  • dweezil-
    Oh, you like the GM J-Cars too...I've always had a thing for them myself. My friend's dad has a mid-80s Cavalier TYPE-10 Liftback that just won't die, even after being sideswiped by a school bus. I always thought a Sunbird station wagon would be a cool little car to own. I agree with you about cars being part of a "personal history". It's entirely possible that one day I will end up buying a car my parents owned when I was a little kid. I can still vaguely remember the 1978 Ford Fairmont station wagon we had in the '80s. I wouldn't mind owning one of those...in fact, I still see them on the road sometimes, so they must be fairly well-made.

    Andre-
    Old RWD Chryslers include some interesting models. I especially like the Mirada and Cordoba, though I've heard from some that they're not reliable. I also like the look of the late-70s midsize Chrysler station wagons (I believe they were Aspens and Volares).

    I always like hearing from people who have bought and renovated unusual old cars that most enthusiasts don't care about. I recently saw a website for a guy who saved a 1979 Subaru DL 4WD Wagon from the crusher and restored it to near-new condition. Who would have thought?
    -Andrew L
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    AMEN!!!! YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

    I am in the same situation as you, and everybody tells me I'm stupid. I have a 1978 Grand Marquis that my grandmother gave me when I turned 16. It's the last brand new car she ever bought. Everything else she's had has been bought used. Anyway, this is the first car I ever rode in in my entire life, not to mention, my first car. It's got a 400M engine (a dog), and a 3-speed automatic. It's light green, 4-doors, vinyl top, in other words, the typical old folks car, and everybody tells me after I sink 10 grand into her, she'll be worth 2 or 3 grand at the most. But I really don't care what she'll be worth, as I never plan on selling the thing. I want to fix the car up because of what she means to me. I'll be the only person on the planet that she's not just another old 70's land barge, but I'm gonna fix her up. My motto for life also applies to this car: "The most important things are done for love, not money." Never gonna see a dime of what I put into Adalida (yes, I named her!), but I'll get my moneys worth out of the enjoyment I get from both fixing, and driving that car. I plan on making her reliable enough to be my daily driver. I doubt I'll ever afford to fix her up to show car quality, but I have a list that starts with what she needs to be safely drivable, then gets her looking good outside, and then fixes up the interior. Of course, other things will break along the way. Some things will be changed and modernized along the way, and originality won't be a big deal (Some people went ballistic when I put a newer style plunger for the door locks on the car cause the old ones weren't available! It's a 1978 4-door Mercury for crying out loud! Not a 1969 Jag E-Type!), and she'll end up with a new engine and transmission as the first things to replace, but I plan to always keep her around.
    And when it comes to paint, I'm not going to Maaco route. I'm pulling off everything I don't want painted, investing in an air compressor and spray gun, and, after a practice run on a junkyard relic, I'm painting her myself! I plan on doing 90% of the work myself on this car. Of course, I have a 95 T-bird for those times when she won't start, or I need a more fuel effiecent car for highway trips, but my goal is to make my Mercury the daily drivier like she was in high school and my first year of college.
  • rea98d-
    Sounds like you have an interesting project on your hands. I'd love to see a photo of the Marquis after it's been painted and refurbished. I'm not an expert on big Fords...is the '78 the old (long, wheel skirted) style or the newer (boxy) style? Both are pretty cool looking full size sedans, I'm just curious which it is.

    By the way, since it seems that we're discussing mainly big American cars, I'd like to point out that I have some interest in little old foreign cars too. In fact, my younger brother recently bought a 1977 Toyota Celica ST. It's the rare Hardtop version (as opposed to the more common Liftback). He's having a tough time finding parts for the thing, but I'm confident he'll eventually get it running and looking near new. Right now he's working on repairing rust and taking care of some old accident damage (from a previous owner)on the left front that was never properly repaired. Eventually he'll get it painted in the original reddish-brown color once the body work's done...it should look pretty cool. Keep up the good work, all you protectors of underappreciated cars.
    -Andrew L
  • The pics I keep trying to post of the Parisienne are not linking properly. If anyone wants to see them, go to my website:


    http://www.geocities.com/DriveAParisienne


    Those pics were taken a little over a year ago, just after I got the car repainted. Fortunately, there have been no significant changes in its appearance since then, aside from a few bumper stickers in the back window (taped up from inside, so I can change them from time to time without making a mess of the paint/chrome) and a bent LR wheel lip molding thanks to a stupid mail truck driver who hit the car while parked...I'm currently looking for a replacement part to fix that problem.

    -Andrew L

  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    What would you guys have thought of my wife's '87 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, loaded, red over black leather, 52k original miles? Or would it have been too new?

    "Underappreciated" is probably not a strong enough word to describe the cars you guys like, but more power to you. I would never have thought that anyone could bond with a car built after 1970 but obviously I was wrong. The funny thing is that when I saw the pics of the Parisienne I understood the attraction.

    Well, I used to bring home my share of orphans and cast-offs. Now I know how my father felt when he saw the Studebaker in his driveway ;-).
  • speedshift-
    I'm not a huge fan of the newer Thunderbirds myself, but that is not my central point. I don't think everyone should love station wagons either...I simply think that we should all understand that, if a person does see something special in a car, that's reason enough to fix it up and maintain it, no matter whether other people perceive it as undesireable. While an '87 Thunderbird is not at the top of my list of cars to own, I certainly would not discourage someone from reconditioning one if they were inspired to do it.
    -Andrew L
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...I think the '87-88 T-bird is my favorite of the Fox-bodied models. Just something about the proportions of them were right those two years. I thought the Cougar was kinda overstyled those two years though. The '83-86 T-birds were just too "bathtub" looking for my tastes, although in retrospect, I appreciate the style more now than I did when it was new.

    My first car was a 1980 Malibu coupe with a 229 V-6. My mother bought it brand new in February 1980, and when I was old enough to drive, she used that as an excuse to get an '86 Monte Carlo at the end of the model year, and give me the Malibu when I got my license. It really wasn't anything spectacular, but it was almost a muscle car compared to what my friends were driving at the time! I guess that shows how sad the automotive scene was in the late 80's ;-) That Malibu could really blow off the 4-cyl Fairmonts and Mustangs, Cavaliers, rusted out Accords, Pintos, Sunbirds, etc of the time. I drove it for about 3 years, until I saw a 1969 Dart GT at a Nissan/Saab/Oldsmobile that was just screaming out my name. I would've liked to keep the Malibu, but back then I couldn't afford insurance on two cars. Also, by that time, the Malibu had about 100,000 miles on it, and had been banged up a bit. The final kicker came when it wouldn't pass the emissions test. I sold it in late 1990 for $500.00, and saw it on the road about a year later. Talked to the people driving it, and they said they loved it. It had about 115K on it by then, and that was the last time I ever saw it. That's one car I miss, too. I guess it's common though, to be attached to your first car.

    I remember back then, I wanted to put a big V-8 in that car sooo bad. My grandfather, who had worked for years as a mechanic, said I was a fool and kept talking me out of it. Ironically today, the '78-81 Malibu coupe is a pretty common car to use for big-block conversions. I guess back when I was driving it, everybody wanted the '68-72 generation Malibu or a '68-74 Nova to hotrod, as my generation of Malibu was just too new. Then, the '75-79 Nova seemed to become the hotrod of choice. I guess the '73-77 Malibu was just too big and heavy to see much popularity among the hotrod crowd. I guess the Monte Carlo through '88 will be the last of the line, though. I just don't think that it'd be feasible to try cramming a big V-8 into a Celebrity or Lumina. I guess it could be done...anything's possible.
  • "Andre-
    Old RWD Chryslers include some interesting models. I especially like the Mirada and Cordoba, though I've heard from some that they're not reliable. I also like the look of the late-70s midsize Chrysler station wagons (I believe they were Aspens and Volares).
    "

    My first car was an 81 /6 mirada. I bought it off some drunk redneck for $600 when I was 17. It was in pretty good shape but the paint was destroyed. The drunk redneck said the people he got it off of had had it painted and right after word took it through a car wash and the brushes scratched and gouged the paint on the hood, roof, and trunk. It looked like somebody had taken rough cinderblocks and draged them back and forth on the top of the car :). It had 190k miles on it but other than the a/c not working and a reoccuring problem with the wipers it served me well for the year and a half I had it. I ended up rearending a truck and smashing the nose peice on the car. None of the junkyards anywhere near me had one so I ended up selling it for $300 to another redneck :) that ended up jerry rigging the frontend with plywood and filling the interior with trash. I haven't seen it in around 7 years or so. Its probably in a junkyard by now. I miss that car.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    The Mercury's one of the older, long models with the fender skirts over the wheels. '78 was the last year for that body style, and mine is one of the last 78's. The 79's were considerably smaller.

    Nice website for the Parisienne! Love the captions for the pictures. I hope someday I'll get my Mercury's interior looking that nice, but the first thing to fix is the mechanicals, so that she runs good, then I've got to repair the battle damage left from a fight with a bob-wire fence, so it's going to be a long time before she's anything to look at. (Or make pictures of!)

    Speedshift, I'm a big fan of Thunderbirds (I drive one). The '87 sounds cool. My dad has an 86 T-Bird with the 302 engine, and it's a real nice car. I can't say that the 2.3 Turbo engine is my favorite, but at least it's not a 3.8 :-)! Still, it's a great car. Hang onto it.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...VERY NICE!! I like the color, too. That's about the same shade of blue my Malibu was, except that it had a dark blue interior. I think blue's a nice color for an interior, a nice change from the grays and beiges that are so prevalent today. Judging from the way the interior looks, the guy before you must've been gentle on it...even if he did throw housepaint on the rust spots outside!

    rea98d, didn't you have a pic of your Grand Marquis on line at one time? Isn't it kind of a light bluish-green? I could've sworn I've seen it before! A friend of mine in college had an '86 T-bird. It was a loaded model...an Elan, I think, but it only had a 3.8 V-6. Before that, he had a POS 1980 Accord that was falling apart and on its second engine and tranny. When tranny #2 went, his dad got him the Bird. It was a nice car (except for that dog of an engine), but I never let him know that ;-)
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    The Mercury was light green. Might have appeared bluish in the picture. It was online at one time, but I'm not sure if it still is. I know I have it saved somewhere, so I'll try and re-post. It's an old picture though, and the car looks much worse today. I'll also see if I can't dig up a picture of my T-Bird and get it online.

    BTW, did your friend's Bird ever blow out a head gasket?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,848
    ...I think it got totaled in early 1991. I don't know how many miles it had on it by then, but as far as I know, he never had any head gasket problems. I knew a guy with an '89 or '90 T-bird with a 3.8 that blew a head gasket around the 90K mark, though. My grandparents on my Dad's side had two 3.8's...an '85 LTD and an '89 Taurus LX. They never had any head gasket problems either, but then both of those cars got traded fairly soon and with low miles.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Well, we just watched the T-Bird go to the junkyard. Tough decision but the car was in a fender bender and the repair cost was more than it was worth. The insurance company gave us $3900 for it, extremely generous. And to be honest, the 2.3 engine pretty much ruined the car--the 5.0 was much much better.

    I'm hoping someone will see it at the yard, buy it for $500 and put it back on the road like I used to do. It really doesn't need that much, just more than we were prepared to give it. A few years ago we had new tires put on and I overheard two young mechanics--probably about the age of most of the posters here--oohing and aahing over it, so I have hopes that someone young and ambitious will see it as a project car.

    I hate to say it but sometimes you just have to let go. For years we kept my grandparents' '67 Skylark around, putting good money into a $500 car. Finally my parents sold it and the new owner seems to really appreciate the car. Plus my parents have the new car they need at their stage of life, so it worked out.
  • I thought the idea of buying what you like and not worrying about what others like was dead. But you folks have proved that spirit still lives and I salute you. Your passion for your cars is the same passion I have for my '70 Cuda,we are not different,just the vehicles we choose to covet.
    I almost bought a Mirada CMX this past spring,I always loved those cars. I would love a '72 Newport convertible.
    My cousin is in the process of trying to transplant a 5.0 liter into his '88 Thunderbird Turbocoupe. I see the passion in him also.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    didn't Chrysler quit building big convertibles after 70? I don't think they made a Newport convertible after '69 (remember the 68 in the Brady Bunch pilot episode?). Just quibbling, I know.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,597
    I guess I'm too practical.

    I also love some of the oddball cars that would of little value to the masses. Some of these cars can rekindle childhood memories etc.

    To each his own, I know...BUT...putting a ton of money into a rusted Pontiac station wagon, to me, anyway makes no sense at all. Ditto for the 1978 Mercury.

    But...that's me.

    Just think of this...suppose, just suppose, after investing thousands of dollars into a 300.00 car, someone runs a red light and totals it?

    Everything is lost.

    HOWEVER...if these cars really make a person happy and are a source of pleasure...why not?
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