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Classic Car Road Trip

travelingmarctravelingmarc Posts: 8
edited April 2018 in General
Hi,
I'm a German planning to make a long-term trip through the USA in 2020. I would like to do that in a classic car since I want to do it in style. However, I would like to make sure to choose the right car for this adventure. For this reason, I would appreciate some expert advice in order to discuss what has to be considered.
To give you an idea: I want to spend 6-9 months crisscrossing the country, which means I'm looking for a reliable car not giving me too much trouble for maybe 25.000 miles. As to make and model - I'm very open there though I would prefer a classic with an 8 cylinder engine. I'm willing to spend up to 20.000$, however I would prefer a more economic solution.
By the end of the trip, I will have to sell the car again, so that is another aspect I would like to hear your thoughts about.
Kind regards
Marc

Comments

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 148,108
    What is your definition of "classic"?

    Are you looking for a '60s vehicle? If so, that will be one miserable trip. '60s vehicles are cool to see at car shows, or tooling around on a Sunday afternoon, but they aren't so great for cross country trips.

    Maybe, buy a 2010 Mustang GT, then sell it when you finish?

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    How about a 1970s-era American V8 station wagon (estate wagon)? They would be considerably cheaper than a convertible, although I think you could find a convertible from the early 1970s for under $20,000 USD. And you could sleep in it occasionally or store a lot of camping gear.

    A 1960s American car has some limitations unless it has been upgraded with radial tires, perhaps disc brakes and air-conditioning (a convertible won't need AC, of course).

    A 4-door 60s or 70s American sedan can usually be purchased relatively cheaply, and they are reliable enough to go cross-country. But it would be nice to have good tires and good brakes on these monsters.

    Most Americans do not regard 1980s cars as "classics", as some of them still look fairly modern.

    I would stick to General Motors products in the 60s and 70s time-frame. A 6 cylinder car is not out of the question but it will struggle in the mountains.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 148,108
    What would be the point, if you are going to drive a '74 Chevy Malibu? ;)

    I vote for something sporty and modern.. I'd worry more having an address to register it to, and a driver's license.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    But he wants a "classic". So maybe he'll tell us exactly what he means. I didn't think he meant 2010. Where's your sense of adventure! :p
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 148,108

    But he wants a "classic". So maybe he'll tell us exactly what he means. I didn't think he meant 2010. Where's your sense of adventure! :p

    I left it in my other pants.. :(

    A classic? He can buy my 2006 330Ci ZHP for $9K, and I'll buy it back from him for $5K when he is done with it. Modern amenities, if you don't count bluetooth or a USB port. ;)

    25K miles in a '60s or '70s vehicle? Most of those cars were traded before they hit 50K miles, when new. The chances of him making it on one vehicle are pretty slim.

    2010 Mustangs are pretty retro, anyway... I think it's the perfect choice! Easy to sell to Carmax, when you are finished with it, too.

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  • Wow- thank you for your answers and suggestions. My idea of a classic car was some muscle car of the 60s or 70s... maybe a Chevy Corvair, an El Camino, a Toronado, a Thunderbird, a Corvette or a Mustang. I have made two other trips through the States earlier, one in an AMC Eagle station wagon and one in a Ford Van (something like Econoline, a model of the early 80s). The cars turned out to be reliable, but with each of them I had quite some problems selling them in the end which was both annoying and expensive.
    If there actually are too many arguments speaking against cars of that age (mostly safety and reliability, I guess) a younger car might be worth thinking about.
    @ kydfx: well, I do have an international driver's license, that should work... about the address for registration... yes, that's something I will have to think about.
    If you can think of more recommendations, warnings, general advice - I'm grateful for all of it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    If you want a 60s or 70s car with good resale value, then it would have to be either a convertible, a 2-door "hardtop" (pillarless hardtop), or perhaps a pickup truck. I can see why you would have trouble re-selling an AMC Eagle or a Ford Van.

    If you stayed with a General Motors car in either of those body styles, you couldn't be hurt too badly on resale value.

    No Corvairs--they are too troublesome and nobody likes to repair them.

    You could perhaps find a Corvette from the years which are not popular the late 70s to early 80s "C3" models with the smaller, and somewhat anemic, engines. You do NOT want a C4 Corvette from the 1980s unless it is 1986 or newer.
  • What do you think: Which cars of the 70s are the most reliable ones?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 148,108

    What do you think: Which cars of the 70s are the most reliable ones?

    Geez... the '70s were the worst decade for cars.

    I know I'm sounding like a broken record..

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You might find something like this:

    https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/cars-for-sale/chevrolet/malibu/2084442.html?refer=blog

    You can't go too wrong with a full-size 70s GM car. If I had to choose in the 1970s, I'd pick something up to 1971, skip 1972 through 1976, and then pick it up again in 1977. These latter cars were General Motors "B bodies", like Impala, Bonneville, Olds 98, Cadillac Deville and Buick LeSabre. They get much better gas mileage.

  • omarmanomarman Posts: 2,081
    This pickup is just down the road from me and it looks like a real survivor. Shouldn't be hard to sell when you're done with it either.

    But if you want to sample 70s Detroit luxury and care nothing about mpg then you could make an offer on something like this Mark V. Nice cruiser but I'd expect a tough sell at the end of the trip.

    Click edit profile. Click Signature Settings. Type your vehicles in Signatures box. Click Save.
  • texasestexases Posts: 9,092
    As a former 'classic' Mustang owner ('65), I'd much rather take that trip in a 2010 or newer Mustang GT convertible.
  • A big thank you to all of you. Actually, your comments made me change my mind. I guess I will really give up my plan of making the trip in a 60s or 70s car and try to find something newer - a Mustang or Corvette younger than ten years, for example. I checked some prices and was surprised to find out how affordable especially Mustangs are. I think I will have no difficulties finding something good. One more question in this context: I can start my trip wherever I want. What would be the best places to buy my car then? And where would be the best place to sell it again? I guess there are some differences?
  • omarmanomarman Posts: 2,081
    Late model Mustang already makes the road trip sound better.
    Click edit profile. Click Signature Settings. Type your vehicles in Signatures box. Click Save.
  • berriberri Posts: 10,166
    We rented a Mustang convertible in Hawaii. Can be tough for those who are no longer young and agile to get in and out of at times with the top up, but it was remarkably tight for a convertible. Not a whole lot of luggage room though. We drove in a pretty strong wind and rain storm right on the windward coast and really no leaks or excessive noise.
  • Thank you Berri. That sounds good.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490

    A big thank you to all of you. Actually, your comments made me change my mind. I guess I will really give up my plan of making the trip in a 60s or 70s car and try to find something newer - a Mustang or Corvette younger than ten years, for example. I checked some prices and was surprised to find out how affordable especially Mustangs are. I think I will have no difficulties finding something good. One more question in this context: I can start my trip wherever I want. What would be the best places to buy my car then? And where would be the best place to sell it again? I guess there are some differences?

    Geography and Cars in America: (just my opinion---everyone jump in!)

    1. Nobody in the southern states, or in the Southwest U.S., wants a black car.
    2. Any car that has lived near the ocean, or in a very cold winter climate, needs to be checked for rust.
    3. A person on the West coast will rarely buy a car with rust on it.
    4. Convertibles are cheaper to buy in states with cold winters but easier to sell in states with warm winters.
    5. Any car that will be sold in the Southern or Southwestern U.S. must have AC.
    6. Many older Corvettes or Mustangs have been beaten to death. Don't choose price over condition.
    7. I would buy the car in California and sell it in California. If you want to make the "Grand Tour", you can drive across Canada, then down to the U.S. and through New England, then back to California either on the "high road" through Chicago, or the low road through the American South. That's going to be about 12,000 Km.
    8. Gasoline will seem very cheap to you, so engine size doesn't matter.
  • berriberri Posts: 10,166
    edited April 2018
    We enjoyed it and if you are in Arizona, they have a really nice stretch of the original Route 66 between Kingman and Williams outside of Flagstaff. In the midst of kind of nowhere there is an attraction called Grand Canyon Caves or Caverns(or something like that). It was actually kind of interesting and not outrageously priced. There is also some interesting Rt 66 stuff in Oklahoma and New Mexico (and Albuquerque is kind of neat). Route 66 and American metal kind of go together in our automotive history. But wherever you choose to drive here, there are a lot of fun roads and attractions in the US, including a number of nice car museums. I think you'll like your trip (Mustang ragtop or not).

    PS - California Highway One (Pacific Coast Hwy) between Santa Barbara, CA and San Francisco is breathtaking scenery and the Hearst Castle is worth a stop.
  • @ Mr Shiftright @ Berri: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. After checking on prices for convertibles I also got the impression that California would be a good starting point. However, for a European, Florida might be the better option because flights there are way cheaper than to San Francisco or L.A. I also tried to evaluate car dealers there by Google or Yelp customer reviews. I think that the best price is not necessarily the best decision since I will also need help with paperwork and registration... and I definitely want to avoid a repetition of my earlier disasters. So spending a bit more at a company whose interest in me doesn't stop at the cash register seems reasonable to me. About rust: well, as I completely changed my mind and now think about buying a (OK, not black^^) Mustang not older than two years and below 30k miles - I think the risk of that should be minimal. And since I also want to enjoy the Arizona stretch of the '66 and maybe also the 101 (thank you, Berri!), an AC definitely is a MUST.
    On my last trips, I made the experience that sometimes it is hard to avoid taking gravel roads. For example there were some stretches close to Mexican Hat / Monument valley. Do you think this might be a problem with a Mustang? Last time I travelled in a Toyota Highlander and of course that was no problem... but looking at the Mustang's body and tires, I'm a bit worried. I'm not talking about offroad tracks, but still. What do you think?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 148,108
    Planning on gravel roads? Forget the Mustang.

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    Edmunds Moderator

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You might consider a bit older Mustang that could take some gravel damage (paint chips mostly)--say a 2014 convertible with 6 cylinder engine and under 80,000 miles. That might cost $8,000 to $10,000, and on reselling it you shouldn't face too much depreciation when in California. A 6 cylinder Mustang will cost you less money.

    I always advise people: "Don't buy a vehicle for a special purpose you will need only 5% of the time. Buy it for the purpose you will need 95% of the time".

    As for title and registration, be certain the car doesn't have a "salvage" or "rebuilt" title of course. That will kill re-sale value. A dealer will provide title and registration for you but not on the same day--so he may have to send you the papers, as you will probably be "on the road" soon after purchase.

    Buying in Florida sounds like a good plan.

    Keep in mind that convertibles are easy to break into. When I had my convertible Saab, I had a steel lock-box bolted to the floor of the trunk. That would take some time getting into, and I never lost anything even when I had a window broken.



  • omarmanomarman Posts: 2,081
    What we got here is failure to flowchart.
    Click edit profile. Click Signature Settings. Type your vehicles in Signatures box. Click Save.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,403
    And being that we're scattered all across the fruited plain, how many Edmunds members are you going to meet and greet? :)

    I can see the "my ride with travelingmarc" photos already. B)
  • omarman said:

    What we got here is failure to flowchart.

    That would be funny ;-)

    @ Mr Shiftright: Isn't 6 years old (in 2020) and 80.000 a bit too high? I thought that still having guarantee would be worth paying substantially more... However, I very much like your idea with the trunk box. Can they be bought everywhere or is that something extraordinarily rare?

  • Oh. The "That would be funny ;-)" comment was supposed to quote the "my ride with travelingmarc" post.
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