1. You can fix it yourself, few pre-1980s cars had much in the way of electronics, sensors or ECUs so chances are if your 1968 Chevy or 1955 Ford suddenly won’t run it means something’s either come loose or worn out. They usually give you some warning too.
The modern vehicles of our digital age either run or they don’t, but old cars can generally be persuaded to get you home using little more than creative thinking, a piece of wire and some duct tape.
2. You can probably pay for it in one go without finance. Forget those easy monthly credit payments. Sure if you want to take out a loan for that six-figure muscle car go right ahead, there’s plenty of valuable classics out there. But $2000-$10,000 still offers an awful lot of choice of cool old cars (especially if you don’t mind four-doors) and trucks that are 100% yours once you hand over that cash.
3. That old car’s value will almost certainly go up rather than depreciate like a new car. Unless you’ve bought a real lemon, and there’s very few old cars today that don’t have an enthusiastic fan somewhere, got horribly overcharged or do some ill-advised modifications – leave the 22-inch spinners in the garage - you should expect to get back what you paid or more when it’s time to sell.
4. You can find it again fast. Most modern cars are white, silver or black and, let’s face it, all the same shape. Meaning you can spot the tailfins of your pink over yellow DeSoto Fireflite almost immediately among the 600 Priuses in the parking lot.
5. It’s cool to be non-conformist and drive something that’s older than you are. People – the sort of young sexy datable people they put in soft drinks commercials - will look at your car and think ‘there’s someone with some taste who’s courageous enough to be different in an otherwise bland world.’ Then they will ask for your phone number.
If they don’t then you either need to change your car or the crowd you hang out with.
6. Its environmental impact is tiny. Supposedly on average people buy a new car every five years. If you have a 50 year old car then that’s perhaps ten Toyotas that didn’t have to be built, unless of course you drive a ‘66 Corolla.
Most of the environmental damage is done during the construction and especially the destruction of cars – so every day your old car is still on the road, or even just parked, you are single-handedly saving the planet.
7. The money you spend on parts helps our economy. Need a part for your Buick or Oldsmobile? You can find it at an American-owned business and the money you spend is helping the country. We’ll admit some of those parts are probably made overseas but you’re still buying it in America.
Alternatively the thrill of finding that piece of trim you’ve been needing for 18 months at a swapmeet or junkyard for just $5 makes it all worthwhile. Have you had to buy a headlight for a modern car from a dealership recently? Did you get change from $200?
8. You can drive an old car every day. It actually improves them to be used regularly – it’s what they were designed to do. If you’re worried you can’t commute without two cup holders, a CD player, air conditioning and electric windows then they can all be retro-fitted to most old cars.
If you’re going to sit in traffic then do it in something with personality.
9. It calms you. A modern car will stop on a dime and protect you if you drive into a wall at 50mph. Many older cars won’t, so you find yourself paying more attention to your surroundings and potential hazards. Meaning you will become a safer driver.
If you don’t grasp that concept right away you’ll find old cars were made of thick metal which can be repaired with a hammer – unlike new cars which are made of plastic and have to be thrown in the trash if they hit anything harder than a marshmallow.
10. You will meet new people – everywhere. Not just the friends you’ll make at cars shows and by joining car clubs either, people will talk to you at gas stations, in supermarket car parks and at stop lights. They’ll say their dad had one just like yours then usually ask dumb questions about your gas mileage but hey, at least people are off their cell phones and communicating again.
Get used to people waving at you as you drive by too. Few things beat the thrill of seeing another old car just like yours coming the other way.
So what are you waiting for? Your dream car is out there somewhere.