Journal: Now Is the Best Time to Own a Vintage Car

Now Is the Best Time to Own a Vintage Car

By Adam Kaslikowski
November 1, 2013
18 comments

It is all too easy to cast a long glance to a bygone era, yearning to have been in the presence of Citroën 2CVs clogging European roads. A time where a Porsche 356 wasn’t a ludicrously expensive item, or even when a new DeLorean could be had for the price of well-equipped Camry today. The past certainly seems like the perfect time to own a vehicle. While that may (or may not) be true, it is clear to me that today, yes today, is the best time to own the very same cars we wish surrounded us daily.

True, cars and motorcycles were more interesting back then, it’s also correct to say that vehicles from “then” are more accessible today to work on in your own garage. Not to mention they are more tuneable and customizable than ever before. But the past is not all roses and sunshine, attempting to restore and run a 30-year old vehicle from any period other than the last decade or two is a completely different enterprise.

Only now are enthusiasts able to keep a greater number, and a eclectic stable of vintage metal on the road. We are in a golden age of old cars and motorcycles hidden amongst our midst. No longer are we forced to be interested in domestic or utility vehicles. Gone are the days of relying on garage sales and yearly meet-ups for parts and advice—we’ve got eBay and Craigslist!

In a big way we should thank this “internet” thing. We can now jump on Google and find a rare euro side-marker light faster than we can flick a turn signal. We can now easily find other like-minded vintage car soulmates who are just as excited about rare Alfas or Indians to form virtual ad-hoc communities—we are no longer bound by geography.

Parts and advice are a forum away, not to mention your new project car. Yes, old school hot-rodders and experts are still notoriously internet illiterate, but that stereotype is quickly fading. They have now resorted to recruiting their grandchildren to create video tutorials and enshrine their knowledge for any and all to utilize.

The rise of restomods have reignited the next generation to appreciate these iconic rolling sculptures. By dumping new technology into these old shells we ensure that they remain on the roads longer and enjoyed by everybody even more. While some balk at the idea of changing the essential characters of their vintage steeds, throwing the latest tech into them keeps them on the road—which should always be the main objective.

Enjoy today, because new cars are turning more and more into boring appliances and irreparable rolling computers. Before you know it, you’ll find a garge full of non-operating modern machines not worth fixing– not that many are interested in even trying. Interesting, soulful cars and motorcycles are turning into an enthusiast’s delight right before our very eyes. The split has already begun between the boring and reliable washing machines and interesting, high-dollar exotica, and it will only get worse. But for now, owning and running a vintage vehicle has never been better. So enjoy the road, tastefully.

(Above are photos by Petrolicious from past articles featuring young people with their vintage machines: Newly Minted Porsche, An American in Paris Creates Custom-Bike Heaven, Aaron’s Duetto, and An Unlikely Pair.)

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Craig Zeni
Craig Zeni
8 years ago

‘struth. Completely. I’ve had my Midget for over 20 years and parts are significantly easier to come by now. Some of it’s poorly made Chinese crap, but the forums and Feebay have really connected the MG community together. It’s quite impressive…

Adam Kaslikowski
Adam Kaslikowski
8 years ago

I don’t think the effect of the internet on vintage culture can be overstated. While I agree that in-person meets and swaps are still critical and irreplaceable, the swaps wouldn’t be the size they are, the parts wouldn’t be available, and the relationships formed there wouldn’t be as close. People show up because they heard about the meet on the forums. The firms that sell the little doodads and plastic pieces couldn’t exist if all their customers were local. The web has connected all of us and made our hobby more doable. Just look at the explosion of this culture before and after the web. And look where we (all strangers) are having this conversation now…
Thank you all for your kind words on the piece. I write because I’m one of you, and I’m better with a keyboard than I am with a wrench!

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
8 years ago

It’s all good, just a sign of the times. My feeling stems from the fact that most people used to call my stuff “junk”. Now I find myself bidding against these same people to purchase more “junk”. Just call me bitter. 😉
It is nice to see others who are passionate about similar hobbies, and really nice to see beautiful photographs. This is the only place I navigate on the internet, however, so what do I know? Oxymoron? Or just moron? Hey, I’m just the weldor.

Thanks for the write up.

Stan R
Stan R
8 years ago

once i got my career path in motion, i woke up one day and said “i’m a grown up with a satisfactory paycheck – think i’ll buy the car i lusted for in my youth.” so i went on the internet and researched for months before i pulled the trigger on a 4-wheeled specimen that fit my criteria and (very) limited budget. 4 years later and that specimen is in my driveway always eager for another spirited drive (thanks to several repairs and improvements made over 4 years). my friends (most of which are not car guys) say i turned into a car guy over night, but the truth is my inner car guy was dormant waiting for the opportune time to come out and play. The internet has definitely inspired and fueled my interest in cars by offering me my daily diet of car stuff to read, watch and participate in. seems like i go to a car event atleast every week thanks to the abundance of car culture here in Los Angeles (in fact, i’m going to one this Saturday – the Japanese car cruise in at the Petersen Museum).

[quote]I’m better with a keyboard than I am with a wrench![/quote]

i’m in the same boat. i have a big passion for cars… but with my wrenching ability? it’s baby steps over here. (don’t ask me about my last wrenching fiasco)

cheers.

Stephan P
Stephan P
8 years ago

The internet has allowed me to both buy and sell classics as well as parts. When I sold my Fiat 1500 I had a much larger market due to the internet and I would have never found my Lancia Fulvia for sale in Italy had it not been for the internet. Parts too, I had some old Ducati parts that I wanted to be rid of but just couldn’t throw away so I put them on ebay, I was surprised at the demand. That brings up a downside, bargains are harder to find because everybody has access to price comparisons.

ASB
ASB
8 years ago

Does anyone know what I should call that Porsche’s incredible green paint? Was that color available from new or is this just a really nice custom job? It is incredible! Whenever I browse Petrolicous each day I see some great cars but this has to be one of the nicest older 911s I have ever seen.

Christian Peta
Christian Peta
8 years ago
Reply to  ASB

here is the original article:

http://petrolicious.com/mint-porsche

ASB
ASB
8 years ago
Reply to  Christian Peta

Thanks Christian!

Will Mederski
Will Mederski
8 years ago

i don’t know if the internet is quite the game-changer you claim in this article.
and this comes from both a digital-gen 20-something, and someone who grew up with a garage full of vintage bikes and cars.
i think the real driver, along with your mention of the soulful nature of old machines, is entry price. (ref: economic crisis)
you can pick up a running bike for $1000, spend a weekend or two cleaning it up, or chopping it up, and have yourself something to be proud of.
ebay, craigslist, all that still don’t matter as much as genuine knowhow and passion to build your own.
personally, i think such digital marketplaces have lessened my interest in vintage.
browsing on craigslist just ain’t the same as wandering a swap meet the size of a small town…

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
8 years ago
Reply to  Will Mederski

Yup.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
8 years ago
Reply to  Will Mederski

While I agree with you basic point about entry price I do think the internet has opened up the classic car world considerably especially if you own something rare or unusual. The internet has globalised the market for classic car parts, I have parts on my car that were sourced via ebay from the States which proably would have been a lot more difficult because on the internet.
The internet has also made it a lot easier to communicate with other car people, I’ve made quite a few friends from the car world from internet forums, twitter and even Petrolicious itself. While it doesn’t subsitute with going to events it’s nice to know in advance of going your firends are going to be there.

Todd Cox
Todd Cox
8 years ago
Reply to  Will Mederski

Without having to have lived in the pre-internet world where only mail order parts took 5 weeks to arrive at your door (often the wrong ones) through a single supplier you can’t ever understand how difficult it was to maintain even a moderately popular car; forget trying to own anything truly unique. And if you wanted parts, you’d better have been awfully good at picking them out of the junkyards before they rusted to pieces.

Eddie Relvas
Eddie Relvas
8 years ago
Reply to  Will Mederski

I’m with Matt on this. If all you need can be found locally, of course it’s much nicer to get it that way. But for some of us who live way out of the main action, owning something rare (and getting rarer) can be quite a handful.

I grew into this hobby as a teenager, and found myself trying the internet on my first year of college, which is when it really started being useful (circa ’93 – gosh, was it really 20 years ago?!). I found advice from experienced owners living half-way across the world, parts from places I’d never heard of before, and actually sold quite a few off to other parts of the world aswell.

Like I said, it’s hard to understand the impact if you didn’t live the experience before the internet, and especially if you’re trying to revive or maintain something the likes of which you’re sure there are none close by. That said, I obviously thrive on the personal contact with local aficionados, and do source all I can locally. But if we all still lived shut in our little villages, we’d miss out a lot of action. I’m not on facebook, or any of that nonsense, but the internet is quite a large part of my hobby these days.

Todd Cox
Todd Cox
8 years ago

Truth. And I think they are more appreciated now than ever, because even the ‘ordinary’ classics have gained a degree of respect that they didn’t have before. Air cooled VWs and Fiats are now appreciated for the beauty of their design and the fun they inspired.

Karly Proctor
Karly Proctor
8 years ago

Totally agree with this article! New cars are soulless, boring and designed to be replaced in a few years. My ’60 beetle makes daily commuting enjoyable and its easy to find parts thanks to the internet. I no longer hear the mechanic telling me ‘sorry the computer says everything is okay’ like I did with my 2010 VW polo which I quickly sold after trying to commute in a new car for a year! My old car is cheaper to fix, maintain, insure, register and due to the savings I’ve made, I’m now getting a ’65 karmann ghia back on the road as a daily too!

ASB
ASB
8 years ago

I agree. In today’s world, we do have access to the internet. Said internet means my mk1 golf has a healthy diet of parts. But it has also created lots of want ! Internet access has created insatiable lust for what we cannot have. Without the internet, I would not be on Pistonhads looking at Lancias and Renault Clios with my morning coffee.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle
8 years ago

One of the best articles soo far! I have been wanting to own a vintage car for a long time. I been saving up money which is the easy part for me but choosing which car to get is the hardest part for me lol. because new cars are turning more and more into boring appliances and irreparable rolling computers is the greatest and truest line i heard all day

Tsvetan Tsekov
Tsvetan Tsekov
8 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Rittle

“choosing which car to get is the hardest part for me”

I thought I was the only one having this problem….I feel a little better now…thanks! 😀