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OLD CARS -The truth .Owners tales.How they really were.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,422
    Pretty basic car,not too much to worry about. As for rust, THAT'S something to worry about if it's in the wrong places. The wrong places are:

    suspension anchoring points on frame or chassis

    Where a door frame meets the floor (that's REALLY bad)

    Bottoms of rear fenders as they wrap under the trunk (difficult to fix)

    Bottoms of door edges (difficult to fix)

    You might bring a magnet along to see if it sticks to the body everywhere or not. Where it does not stick, you have "bondo", which is hiding something.

    Mechanically, the timing chain tends to go slack making the engine run rather weakly on acceleration for a V8; you might also hear chain clatter near the fuel pump area.

    Oh, squeaky ball joints when you jump up and down on the front of the car.

    MODERATOR

  • kreuzerkreuzer Posts: 117
    I'll have to be sure to bring a magnet with me when I check 'er out. Rust is something I don't like, but if it's not too bad then I guess I could always have it undercoated to prevent anymore. The thing about these old cars is that you can do a lot of the work yourself and I would think just about any good mechanic can work on them. I would also be inclined to think that the cost for most parts would be cheaper compared to the modern cars.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    Having had a rust-bucket '65 Mustang, don't underestimate the rust issues, just check everything, suspension/spring mounts areas especially. Bad floors could also point to rust under the cowel air intake.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    here's one nasty little blast from the past that I had almost forgotten about. I went out to see if my '79 New Yorker would start up today. It's usually fine when the weather is cooler, but used to have the habit of starting up just fine in the morning, getting me to work without incident, but then flat-out refusing to start in the evening.

    I took it to a mechanic who's not afraid to tear into older cars, and he ended up having the carb rebuilt. It's been much better, but there have been one or two times where it seemed real easy to flood.

    Well, I figured today, with temps well into the upper 90's, it would be a good time to see how it acted in hot weather. I immediately burned the hell out of my fingers with the igntion switch. Remember the "good old days" when those things were chrome and the key was just a small thing? Nowadays, you just stick your key in and it's big enough that you just use it to turn the car on. Not so back then. All I can say is OUCH!!

    But, on a brighter note, the car did start, even in 95 degree weather with the sun beating down on it. So maybe its troubles really are over, and I can start trusting it more. :P
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    Yeah but can you really trust any vehicle built in 1979?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    Yeah but can you really trust any vehicle built in 1979?

    I think I would, if I had enough experience with a particular car to know what its weak points are. For instance, my other '79 NYer, the 2-tone beige 5th Ave, has always been reliable. The only thing it will do, which I've noticed is common with many older cars, is that if I'm running errands in it, it seems to get a "hot spot" on the starter. So if I turn it off and then try to re-start it soon after, it'll stumble just a bit, but then fire right up. I guess, if the battery was getting old, that would be hard on it and would be likely to leave me stranded.

    My "new" '79 though, the one with the recently rebuilt carb, has left me stranded enough that it might be awhile before I trust it unconditionally!
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,121
    Heck, I had a 1979 Buick Park Avenue with the 403 V-8. It was an extremely reliable car. I think I'd trust it more than many new cars.
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,330
    OK, I think this would be an interesting aspect to get some opinions on. Assuming your classic car didn't have any actual issues, how much would you trust it? Would you take it on a 1000 mile trip without being nervous? Would you be comfortable having it as your only car? You get the idea. Any thoughts?

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,121
    I pretty much do have an old car that I rely on every day - a 1988 Buick Park Avenue with the 3.8 V-6. It is extremely reliable and fuel efficient to boot! I have driven it from Philadelphia to Canada and back without a hitch 2 years ago. With today's psychopathic pump prices, it is my daily driver by default while my new Cadillac DTS Performance is only driven occasionally.

    Heck, the thought of having it as my only car has crossed my mind with this tanking economy. I see things getting much worse before they get better. Even if I am doing well, it might be in bad taste for me to be driving around in a new Cadillac while others are suffering.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,121
    I pretty much do have an old car that I rely on every day - a 1988 Buick Park Avenue with the 3.8 V-6. It is extremely reliable and fuel efficient to boot! I have driven it from Philadelphia to Canada and back without a hitch 2 years ago. With today's psychopathic pump prices, it is my daily driver by default while my new Cadillac DTS Performance is only driven occasionally.

    Heck, the thought of having it as my only car has crossed my mind with this tanking economy. I see things getting much worse before they get better. Even if I am doing well, it might be in bad taste for me to be driving around in a new Cadillac while others are suffering.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,168
    Yeah, good topic, bhill2.

    Let's not kid ourselves; there's more risk of a break down in driving a classic car, or just an old, miled up car, a long distance, compared with a late model one. And, of course, break downs can be annoying and aggravating, at the very least, and expensive if it means you miss an important function or appointment, or have to stay over in a motel. Speaking for my '87 BMW 325 with 119,000 miles, and my '88 Nissan 300 ZX with 176,000 miles, both of which are extra cars, I'd be willing to take some added risk if my newer car weren't available. I think the chances are good that I wouldn't have a problem going 1,000 miles in either car, but I know I'd be assuming some risk.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,515
    My fintail has small issues, but it relatively sound. I believe it could make a 1000 mile trip, but I would be concerned the whole time, and I wouldn't want it to be a 90mph trip. But if I was able to go 60-70 the whole way...I am optimistic the car would survive. There'd be stops to check under the hood and add some oil, but I think the car could make it.

    The old thing was my only car for several years, and I took it on a few trips then with little incident.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    I was a bit nervous when I first bought my '76 LeMans. It was out in the outskirts of Cincinnati, about 500 miles away. Honestly, I didn't give it any thought at first...until I signed the paperwork and it was officially mine, and the seller and I parted ways; and it suddenly hit me that here I was, 500 miles away from home, with a car that came out the same time as "Logan's Run", and whose prior history I really had no knowledge of.

    Fortunately, it made the trip home with no issues at all.

    I think if I had some old car I had been using as a daily driver for years, where I really knew the ins and outs and all its quirks, I might be willing to trust it to more heavy-duty driving. For instance, with my '79 5th Ave, I've had it for 6 1/2 years now, driven it the 100+ miles to Carlisle multiple times, and pretty much know its quirks.

    This other New Yorker I bought, though, sat around for several years after the original owner died. His son, who inherited the car, rarely drove it. In the year before I bought it, it only went about 10 miles...to the gas station for its annual inspection and back home! Oh, and then, back to the station the following year, which is where it was when Grbeck saw it, and told me about it.

    When I went up to buy it and pick it up, I brought jumper cables, antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, and an extra battery! I couldn't find any starting fluid, but did bring a can of carb cleaner. It said "highly flammable" on it, so I figured it would do the trick. :shades: Luckily I didn't need any of those things...well other than the carb cleaner, when it did get a little cranky up there.

    Once I get the belts and hoses changed, tranny serviced, coolant flushed, etc, and as long as I know its hot-start issues are behind me, I think I'd trust the car. Now I would't try something like running it from here to Texas in a day, like I did a couple times with my Intrepid. And if I did take a trip, I'd make sure to bring along extra coolant, oil, etc.

    Heck, I relied on my '68 Dart as my primary transportation from April 3, 1992 (I remember the date because it was the day after my 22nd birthday) until late April, 2007. It had 252,000 miles on it when I bought it, and probably around 335-336K by that time, which was when I got my '79 Newport on the road. I had taken that car out to Oklahoma and back on one trip, Ohio and back on another, been up to PA multiple times, and spent about a year delivering pizzas with it.

    It would probably still be running, if I hadn't let it sit around so long. Sometime in late 2001, it refused to start. It was probably something minor like the fuel pump. Only thing is, I didn't have the time or money to mess with it at the time. So I let it sit. And sit. It sat in my grandmother's yard for awhile, and then when I got the place across the street, I dragged it over there with my truck. And then moved it around in the yard a few times. At one point it would start up if you poured gas down the carb, and then die once that burned off. Then it wouldn't do that anymore. And then it lost its brake pressure. And rust, like cancer, never sleeps, and just got worse over the years.

    I'm convinced that, if I had fixed whatever was wrong with that Dart at the time, it would still be running today. Heck, the engine does still turn over. But after having the thing since 1992, and having had another in 1989, I'm sorta Darted out.

    I sat in it the other day though, just to reminisce. And I swear, for my body at least, that thing is more comfy and roomier in the driver's seat than most modern cars!

    Now that I think back on it, that Dart died a couple months after I bought the 5th Ave. Maybe it got jealous? :surprise:
  • faroutfarout Posts: 1,609
    I can honestly say cars are made much better today than the cars of the fifties or sixties and up until maybe 1996. My how I remember having shoe brakes on all 4 wheels. The front ends seemed like it always needed something. Paint often had runs right from the factory. Fit on the outside was uneven, and air leaks from the windows were bad. No seat belts until about 1961, no powre steering in the early fifties, Poured babbit barings in the early fifties. Engine were ready for an overhaul by 60,000 miles with a valve job somewhere along the line.
    Thge safety features were almost nonexistant except for safety glass. Heck turn signals did not come standard until 1953.
    The automobiles of today are worlds apart form even the 1990's, so much better!
    THE WORST CAR MADE TODAY IS BETTER THAN MOST ALL THE CARS OF THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES.

    farout
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,521
    I have to agree with you. There's a lot of nostalgia for the "good old days" but we tend to remember the good stuff, not the bad.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    "but we tend to remember the good stuff, not the bad. "

    Like having a piece of manilla folder cardboard and a small screwdriver in the glove box so you could set the points just in case? ;)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,422
    No reason at all you can't drive an old car every day if you really keep after it, and by the late 1970s cars were pretty reliable with their electronic ignitions, radial tires and at least front disc brakes. The only real problem with driving a late 70s domestic car around is that they handle and brake badly compared to modern automobiles, have lousy lighting and instrumentation, and are sometimes nasty to work on--- so you have to make adjustments in your driving--if you've stepped out of a modern automobile I mean. But on a well-maintained vehicle, reliability should not be an issue, assuming of course you don't pick a "known turkey"--that is, a car that was hopeless the day it left the factory.

    MODERATOR

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,852
    I'd say even a late 60's car is tolerable, if you pick the right one. My '68 Dart wasn't a bad driver. The 318 V-8 was enough to get it from 0-60 in under 10 seconds, and it would hit 100 mph with little strain, and that's really more than most people need in a car. While it just had manual drum brakes all around, they were pretty good as long as they were adjusted correctly. They'd give you 1-2 panic stops before fading, but honestly, that's all you need. And after you've done 1-2 hard panic stops like that, hopefully you're not stupid enough to try for a third! Put it this way, that car put up with some heavy use for about a year, in pizza delivery, and the brakes were never a problem!

    As for the ignition system, well you're supposed to change the points, condenser, and plugs every 12,000 miles. I know from experience that they can go further, but that's not always a good idea, I guess. I think I let the points/condenser go about 40K miles once, and the spark plugs around 50K. The plugs will last longer nowadays simply because of cleaner gasoline, but I guess there's nothing you can really do to get longer life out of points.

    Also, putting radial tires on a car like this helps immensely. I ran 205/70/R14's up front. Sometimes I had those on the back too, but sometimes I ran bigger 225/70/R14's.

    As for lights, well you can upgrade to halogen headlights, which will help a lot. I guess you can't really do much about dashboard lights and taillight/side markers, though.

    Some 70's cars actually had better lighting and instrumentation than modern cars! My '79 New Yorkers are almost TOO much. Open the door and you're blinded with 8 interior lights! They also have real gauges for oil pressure, coolant temp, and amps. PLUS an idiot light, for redundancy. They're lit up pretty well at night, although most new cars are going to be better.

    **edit: One thing I forgot to mention, about the '68 Dart. When I bought that thing, I was 22, and it was 1992. Prior to that, I had only had a 1980 Malibu and a 1969 Dart slant six. Oh, and my '57 DeSoto. I had also logged a lot of driving time on my grandparents' '85 LeSabre, '85 Silverado, and to a lesser degree an '86 Fox-based LTD, and an '89 Taurus. So compared to those (other than the Taurus maybe), the '68 Dart wasn't too drastic of a change. I guess though, if you were used to only 2008-era cars, and suddenly tried to start driving a '68 Dart, the change would be pretty drastic.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,121
    I think the kingpins are shot.
    I've gotta take my car in for a tune-up.
    That thing's already got 50,000 miles on it! It's almost shot!
    I've gotta change my sparkplugs.
    I've gotta go in for a valve job.
    My car needs new rings.
    You need shoes on you front brakes.
    You gotta get your brake drums turned.
    I was late because my car vapor locked!
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,121
    I agree. My 1968 Buick Special Deluxe rarely gave me any trouble and I'd be comfortable with driving it today.
This discussion has been closed.