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I have digressed from my original inquiry( see 58-66 Thunderbirds ?) so I am starting a discussion about your average (income) middle aged man who pines for the style, substance and quality of an older automobile. I know I am not alone in this feeling of wanting a piece of the past and I am not so naive to think that everything old is good. That is why I would respectfully ask for comments from vintage car owners as well as people like myself. Both the 50's and 60's interest me equally. Review my Thunderbird discussion and please weigh in. I am not well versed in this method of communication so please forgive my clumsiness.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    Help us out a bit.

    Please answer as best you can:

    1.What's your budget?

    2. Do you want to go FAST?

    3. How BIG can you stand them? As big as they come, or are there limits as to size?

    4. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

    5. Are you content to drive a car everybody knows, or must you have a car that is very unique?

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  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    ...I'd say go for something nice-looking from the mid-60s. Domestic automotive technology was reasonably well settled in by then, and a competent mechanic should be able to figure out most of what's under the hood. The cars themselves were generally powerful enough to be usable on modern roads, and the stuff they didn't have (split brakes with front discs, better carbs, etc.) can be retrofitted fairly easily.
  • piCARsopiCARso Posts: 16
    Budget: Keeping it real, under 10 would be nice. I see a lot of nicely kept cars of every make, model and size on ebay selling for -10. If that seems too restrictive what will 15 to 20 bring.

    Wife:An ingredient in this equation not to be overlooked or underestimated. It will be our classic car not just mine, therefore I think we need to take the flat black chopped Merc off the table although the outlaw in me would love to own one.

    Speed: Not really important, happy with 55 on the turnpike and something that drives smoother then a foot stool.

    Size: Doesn't matter, thank God. I am more interested in style and imaginative design. I don't mind those big rolling living rooms. Probably not the late 50's big finned Cadillacs though.

    Introvert/extrovert: Yes. I am quiet and conservative by nature but there is definitely a showman just below the surface.

    Unique: Not necessarily. Most cars from this period, even the most modest would turn heads today. When car design moved from the boat to the box, cars lost their individuality. Paint them all silver and do you have a Mercedes or a Ford?

    Bottom Line: My wife will approve a sensible, informed choice.( maybe even an illogical choice if I beg)

    My knowledgeable host has suggested post 55' when power steering and brakes, and other amenities make driving pleasurable.

    I like period color : pink, powder blue, pastel yellow and green bodies with white tops and the opposite.

    I like well appointed chrome, 56' Crown Vic, Mercuries of this time period, articulated headlights and wrap around back windows, 59' Olds 88 Holiday,59'&60' Impalas, Edsel. 1959 seems like a great year for styling to my eye. The same models in 60' don't look as good to me. I don't mention Belairs since they are so expensive. I guess my heart "is" in the 50's but I do not want to ignore the 60's. Early Mustangs are iconic but their often cheap prices make me suspicious. I can appreciate the muscle car but I don't see it in my future unless I hit the lottery.

    Convertibles: sure, I don't want to eliminate them. Summer is short in Maine and who wouldn't want to drive around with the top down. Tell me about well functioning models in the 60's and even 70's, those neglected diamonds in the rough.

    Variables:I Understand Many ! I don't need numbers matching. I would like a worthy and reliable driver that won't bankrupt me but satisfy my desire for a piece of automotive sculpture and help to inform others like myself what are the strengths and weaknesses of the cars in this period. With rebuilt engines and transmissions I know all is speculative but give me your best general ideas. I appreciate and welcome all opinions. Thank you for your consideration.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,786
    i did a Hemmings dealer search in Maine.
    in freeport
    gotta go, i am going to browse though the inventory. :)
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  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,778
    Since your heart is in the '50s because of the style, you may want to keep your eye out for a resto-rod. These are cars that have been cosmetically restored but have had more modern drivetrains, steering, brakes, and/or amenities such as sound systems installed. A well-done example won't be cheap, but it will less than an example restored to original standards would be, and if the lack of originality doesn't bother you it should be a better drive.

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

  • texasestexases Posts: 7,736
    I was about to recommend this model Tempest, too. Good way to get the style of a GTO without the huge $$$$. But it sounds like '50s is more his preference, so a 57 or so Pontiac, Buick, or Olds in good shape should be easy to find, $10k for a 4 door, $20k for a 2 door should get a good one, I'd think. It'd be hard to find a good convertible at under $20k, wouldn't it?
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,736
    One thing you haven't described - how much work do you want to do on it?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    A '57 Chevy 4-door might work, although I think 60s cars drive a lot better.

    A Ford Falcon Futura might be nice.

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  • texasestexases Posts: 7,736
    Yes, a '57 4door would work. I'm not too crazy about cars related to early Mustangs, though, given the major body rot my '65 experienced.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    True but if you have a car with body on frame construction and unbolt-able fenders, and where the aftermarket supplies replacement panels, it's not such a big deal to repair certain rust issues. In the UK they cut out rocker panels like we change oil.

    Actually a very handsome 4-door car you can buy for ridiculously few dollars is a 65-69 Corvair, if you want to get into the hobby real cheap.

    50s cars are so CLUNKY though.

    I do have a few 50s favorites a black on black '58 Plymouth 2D. BAT CAR! (Also a notorious rust bucket, sad to say).

    I always thought a Valiant station wagon would be pretty cool to own. Rare bird though.

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  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    I would love to have one of those later Corvairs!

    The Valiant wagon is pretty cool, too. We inherited one of those back in the mid-60s. Gee, I was in my first accident (as a passenger) in that car...

    Convertibles are great. I love convertibles. The thing to remember there is that when the top goes down the price goes up - considerably so.

    That lot in Maine had some fun stuff. Not cheaply priced for what it was but cool.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • piCARsopiCARso Posts: 16
    Thank you for your reponses. I have been busy with my homework. There are some handsome convertible Ford Falcon Futuras and Corvairs on ebay right now. They are small, sporty and seemingly reasonable. They are a good suggestion for a tight budget and not over the top. Their modesty makes them a jewel in the rough. The 57' Belair 4 door, picked again for affordability, was a liitle stodgy for me. The 58' Plymouth 2 doors were over the top gorgeous with prices to match. Fun to dream though. The 67' pontiac was another great suggestion. What do you think about 59'-61' Impalas, 2 and 4 doors; Edsels, Cougars, 59' Old's 88 and some of those big convertibles from the 70's that seem cheap and unpopular, even without their roofs. Is it gas consumption or aren't they vintage enough? There are a few vintage car places in So. Maine but prices are not realistic. They are buying them cheap from away and doubling the price. Any more dimonds in the rough out there?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    The Cougar is kind of a bargain Mustang, that's true.

    I don't think you'll be able to touch a '61 Impala Coupe. Those are very very popular.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    some of those big convertibles from the 70's that seem cheap and unpopular, even without their roofs. Is it gas consumption or aren't they vintage enough?

    I don't think it's gas consumption or not being old's just that for the most part, they weren't very good cars. And that's coming from someone who loves big 70's boats! :blush: GM's big cars were still pretty good in 1970, but the 1971 models were pretty poorly put together in comparison. They were still pretty good performers, with the right engine. Even the 1972 models weren't bad performers, but unfortunately, 1973 would see to that.

    Still, I think they can be pretty cool cars. I wouldn't mind having a 1975 LeSabre convertible, baby blue, preferably with the 455 V-8. I think the '71-73 LeSabre/Centurion and '71-72 Impala 'verts were pretty sharp looking, too. Most LeSabres and Impala probably just had 350's, but a 455 was standard in the Centurion, making it a performance bargain.

    I think Ford quit making big convertibles after 1972, and Chrysler gave it up after 1971, and none of them sold in near the quantity that GM did.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,425
    '67 GTO is highly recommended as are the following: 65/66 Mustang V8 Coupe, 65 Falcon Futura Coupe, 67 Cougar Coupe as these can include Power steering, Automatic tranny, & even Air Conditioning.

    The Studebaker Hawk would really be uncommon and an eye catcher.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    Yes the last 62-64 Gran Turismo Hawks are nice looking, kinda T-Bird like, with sturdy engines, attractive body on a very dated chassis and suspension. Hard to find parts, though, for Studebakers. Not much of an aftermarket, so buy one totally done and totally complete except maybe for simple mechanical stuff.

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  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    As long as you don't get a 58 Packard Hawk - one of the great uglymobiles. it probably gets points for being rare though there's good reason for the rareness...

    Like Andre I have a soft spot for 70s boat convertibles. Looked at a 74 Impala convertible long enough ago that it was on a regular used car lot. I couldn't quite pull the trigger. Some of that might have been that it was a 74. That was the worst year ever for cars.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,554
    Putting the Packard name on that 1958 Hawk was a miserable thing to do.

    About ten years ago, I had the chance to buy one of my favorite cars. A 1952 Chevy. It was a four door Deluxe and it looked and ran well.

    But I got to thinking. Suppose the lower end loosens up as they always do given enough time. Who is still alive who would be willing and able to work on those babbitt bearings and rods?

    Who would be able to reseal that closed driveline when the internal seals fail?

    And when the kingpins need to be replaced, who could do them?

    Modern shops hate to work on cars that are fifteen years old much less one that is 50 plus years old. I lack the skill and equipment to do anything extensive.

    And suppose someone runs a red light and takes out a rear door and quarter panel?

    On that Chevy, used parts could probably be found but what it it was a Studebaker or a Packard or even a Chrysler?

    This is why I haven't bought anything.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,786
    shifty can tell you all about the difference between asking price and selling price.
    if you see something you like, it doesn't hurt to ask.
    if your offer is not accepted, keep looking.
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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    My experience has been that the asking price is always flexible, and oddly enough, even more flexible if the seller likes your approach to his vehicle.

    Here's my silly Rules of Thumb on this subject

    1. The asking price is the act of the seller exercising his First Amendment Rights under the Constitution. This price does not have to have anything to do with reality, unless of course the seller actually wants to sell the car.

    2. Never bargain with a seller on the phone before you see the car. This PO's most sellers.

    3. Never challenge the asking price directly, as if it were "wrong".

    4. Don't talk price at all until you have driven and inspected the car.

    5. Make an offer. If he counters, work from there. If he refuses to counter, write your offer down on a business card and wish him a good day and WALK.

    Remember, the old cliche still holds true:

    "You cannot negotiate successfully if you cannot leave the table."

    6. Bringing price guides with you is helpful, if they favor your cause of course.

    7. DON'T say "I saw another one in the paper for $2,000 less, because you've just played straight man to his retort---well then, smart [non-permissible content removed], go buy that one!"

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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,786
    8. don't forget to send shifty a thank you note for this priceless advice!
    i am not kidding. :)
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  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    ...bring at least one other knowledgeable person with you. They'll spot things wrong with the car you might miss. I've spent a lot of time looking at cars at Carlisle and the guys with me spotted things wrong I'd have first missed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    Good suggestion...even BETTER, it would be beneficial if that person doesn't like, or is benignly indifferent to, the kind of car you are looking at. You'd be amazed how "being in love" with a certain type of car will blind you so badly you'll stagger around for months wondering how you could have been so stupid.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    Good suggestion...even BETTER, it would be beneficial if that person doesn't like, or is benignly indifferent to, the kind of car you are looking at.

    Sounds like a plan. Shifty, the next time I fall in love with another old 70's mastodon, I'm bringing you with me, because I know how you feel about them! :shades:
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Thought you might want to take a look at this article. It is about a lady who has owned a '69 Dart since it was brand-new. Auto%20Ego&st=cse

    By the way, how is your '68? Have you finally let it go yet?
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,786
    keep hanging onto the Intrepid and maybe in 40 years or so you could make the NY Times!
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  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,786
    nice post! i only have to hang onto my mustang for another 23 years to match her.
    of course, she is not giving up her car, so it's like trying to catch up in age to your older sibling. :surprise:
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  • piCARsopiCARso Posts: 16
    You guys are having way too much fun. Hope you haven't forgotten me. Great advice about stradegies for buying a car. I will remember them. I know when we were looking to buy a boat, every one we saw we wanted and we rationalized away any imperfection. You know what the letters B.O.A.T. stand for: " Bring out another thousand" And of course the well know homily: "The two happiest times in a mans' life is the day he buys his first boat and the day he sells it". I hope this does not apply to vintage cars. Thanks to all your great council. My horizons have been broadened. Initially, all I thought about was the outside of the car but Mr. Shiftright got me thinking about handling and performance. With my modest budget that 65-69 Corvair looks interesting. I know there is a group of rabid admirers out there and in the past I have overlooked them because they are small and modest compared to many of the showy late 50's cars. Looking at them with a fresh eye I admire their compact simplicity. Well kept convertibles with I imagine thrifty 6 cylinder engines sell for below 10 consistently. What can you tell me about these cars? Are they fun to drive, good engines, brakes, suspensions, etc.? Anything I should know ? The field is narrowing.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,786
    mr shifty provide great insight and he is willing to share it.
    lucky for you and many others.
    go to google and type corvair.
    if you see somthing you like, post back about it.
    i am sure you will get some opinions. :)
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This discussion has been closed.