Journal: Why Did You Buy a Classic Car?

Why Did You Buy a Classic Car?

Avatar By Yoav Gilad
November 22, 2014
60 comments

Most classic car fans begin that way out of necessity; new cars aren’t cheap and so they go out and buy something ten to twenty years old because it’s affordable. But in today’s crazy classic car market when most clean, cared-for, turn-of-the-millenium sports cars are already commanding a premium, this may not be an option. And so the ever-present questions for fans of classic cars come to mind: how much does it cost and how much is it worth? Legitimate questions indeed as most people spend as much as they can afford (or perhaps justify to themselves or spouses). So how much are you willing to spend on that perfect early ’70s Datsun 240Z? You know you can get a pristine Nissan 370Z, only a year or two old, for about the same price right? Or how about a Porsche 911? A brand-spanking-new one will cost about the same as some late ’60s/early ’70s vintages.

Not only are the prices similar but a new one will be more economical (in terms of fuel), more reliable, faster, safer, and a better handler, too. Obviously, scarcity plays a factor in the economics of classic cars. But some people think running out to purchase a new Ferrari is too garish, yet wouldn’t give a second thought to plunking down equal money for a car someone else’s grandfather bought new, which will be unreliable at best and relegated to short drives in the country every third weekend.

Yes, the stories and the life that the car has lived must count for something, but if you’re not the original owner, should you still get the benefit of the car’s patina? I suspect that most people, like me, buy cars to enjoy them and don’t really care about a particular car’s history (unless it’s a truly special history), but that begs the question–why buy a classic when new cars are pound-for-pound better in every quantifiable way? I’ll share my answer later this week.

So, what are you paying for with a classic and how do you justify paying an equal sum (equal to, or in excess of, a comparable modern day car) for a car that delivers less? It can’t just be scarcity, can it?

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Teddy Ruxpin
Teddy Ruxpin

I live in Thailand, where cars over 2000cc get slapped with a luxury tax, and virtualy all performance cars are imports. This means there’s a 300\% increase in price, for whatever sporty car you have in mind.

240Z is way above my budget for that reason, which would be my first choice. Celica’s are still “undiscovered” by the people who are getting in to classics, and virtually any mechanic knows Toyota engineering in this country. So a Celica 1st gen, along with a beams engine and some other modifications did it for me. Performance and classic looks.

Bret William Caldwell
Bret William Caldwell

long story short i thought good question can’t think of a good answer read a comment or so first of all purchased for $550~ easy to work on unlike newer cars actually their’s good character in preserving & maintaining idk for what the dmv now consideres a classic car isn’t outdone beh most brand new cars this baby benz i could go on & on

Kalle Purrio
Kalle Purrio

In my opinion a classic has more character than a new car. Or lets say a new car with character is hard to find and/or hardly affordable. And when it comes to costs, the new one will loose a lot during the next few years. the classic will keep its worth if you tread it good!;) I would not say that a classic( a driver, not a trailerqueen) is an investment, but it is a great hobby.

paul yanacopoulos
paul yanacopoulos

fed up of throwing good money away on new cars, memories of my first 2 cars. a 2cv and a mgb kept returning, build quality and materials used are not what they used to be, driver aides divorced me from the experiece and joy of the road so i turned the clock back 2 years ago… bought a 1958 porsche speedster and then last year a 1973 porsche 911S, spent a fortune, but know that these are cars i can leave my children my daily driver is a modern classic, a g-wagen, the porsches are kept for weekends and country… Read more »

Zdriverx
Zdriverx

I bought my 77 280z because when I was a young boy maybe 10 years old, my father (mechanic) was working on a customers Z. He took me for a ride around the block in the car. I still remember that ride and I have been wanting one ever since. It took me about 17 years to finally have one of my own, and now I will never forget when I took my dad for a ride in my Z.

Fredrik
Fredrik

Why?
Because I bought an Alfa Romeo. Then I bought another. Then I bought yet another.
Because every old classic envokes the feelings which Top Gear try to avoid but fail to avoid when talking about Alfas: soul, passion and charm.
It’s about the beauty, form, hope and dreams that were somehow assembled into the very metal of old cars before the reign of plastic took over.
Will modern cars be looked at as classic in the future? I suspect some but few. 😉

Justin VanOeveren
Justin VanOeveren

The connection you have with the car is like nothing else. When you find that open road or the perfect turn there is nothing like it, dropping a gear and pushing down the gas just to hear the engine roar.

Matt Duquette
Matt Duquette

For me it was the joy of driving something thats so different from a modern car, and having to work at something to get the results. Getting stopped at the gas station for someone to tell me a story about a TR6 they had or a friend had never gets old either. The Noise it makes. being able to drive with the radio off and actually have an engine worth listening too. my every day car doesn’t thrill me in the same way. taking it out of the garage the process involved, it all adds up to something special and… Read more »

Rob in Tennessee
Rob in Tennessee

If you could have a conversation on a lazy afternoon, who would you choose to engage? Would it be the weathered old man who lived through the depression and maybe fought in a war or two or three? Perhaps it would be the teenager who has the world at his fingertips and knows he is smarter than you. I know who I would choose.

Manuel
Manuel

The smell of a classic car interior

There’s nothing that can be compared to this
Everything else can be reproduced.

Mike F.
Mike F.

“I suspect that most people, like me, buy cars to [i]enjoy[/i] them… why buy a classic when new cars are pound-for-pound better in every [i]quantifiable[/i] way?”

^this. Because enjoyment is not quantifiable.

Itza Ckret
Itza Ckret

The art of motion and the pursuit of quantify ability. We measure distances, depths, heights and widths, we measure time! Everything is given its own unit. If not applicable for certain conditions we change and modify the rules and laws to suit. Faster, deeper, higher and more exact, yet our minds are not solely captured by these parameters. I have a digital watch that exchanges ones an zeros with its celestial partner telling me the exact time at any given place. It measures all sorts of things. It is after all just a thing. I could follow the smoothly moving… Read more »

Simon Potter
Simon Potter

1) connection with the road
2)driving should be an event not a chore
3)oh the smell and sound
4)parking it where you can see it
5)my car is an extension of me, i connect with it, i express with it

Chris Leighton
Chris Leighton

Why you ask, well, because my elbow meets the top of the door sill so much more comfortably in my ’71 sedan than in my 2012 sedan, horizontal, maybe slight declination, so I like the ’71 and the good-wife likes the aircon. of the Tojo wind-tunnel product. ’71 is a manual 3spd, Tojo 6spd manual – nutz isn’t it.

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt

The joy of driving
The odour of leather, oil, polish, petrol
The sound
The rarity
The style
The comments
The friends made
The spannering
The wind through the hairpiece
The acceleration
The feeling of high speed at legal speed
The smile on the wife’s face
The cups of tea in the garage
The smug feeling when the TVR is parked up at work amongst the bland modern Euroboxes
Oh, i could go on and on…

LeongSoon
LeongSoon

I’m a pretty simple person, mostly I just choose cars that I like for whatever reason, and I just happen to like classic or old cars more than new ones 😉

Patrick
Patrick

Why? Value, enjoyment, the hunt, finding and owning something special is more work and therefore more rewarding. In the mid-90’s I borrowed from my 401K to purchase a 1973.5 911T following three years of searching, assessing that it made more sense than buying a new Honda sedan for the same money. It’s turned out to be a better investment than any of the mutual funds I purchased. I recently drove a new 991 at the Porsche driving school in Birmingham, AL at Barber Motorsports and came away feeling I had to own one. With the value of the 911T getting… Read more »

CHRIS DAGNOLO
CHRIS DAGNOLO

I call it ‘entertainment value’. I’d always wanted a 911 and finally had the chance to get rid of my wonderful (mostly modern Miata) in favor of an older / tougher to drive fast, 911. People ask me if I miss the Miata and I say yes, of course but, as far as pure entertainment value goes, there’s not much of a comparison & in that sense, I don’t think you can beat an old air cooled 911.
Chris

Jake Williams
Jake Williams

I bought a classic car for many reasons. Since I was small, I knew I wanted a unique automobile. After some years, I narrowed down to country, body type, and general presentation, and determined that I wanted a small, Italian, convertible previous to the 1980’s. Price and availability narrowed it down to the Fiat 124, Fiat 850, Fiat X1/9, and the Alfa Romeo Spider. After monthes of weighing my options and thinking over the possible routes, I found a way to aquire my Alfa Romeo on the way home from a volunteer trip with few hiccups. I bought I classic… Read more »

Takudzwa Munyaradzi Maramba
Takudzwa Munyaradzi Maramba

I’m 23 and currently drive a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 230E. I didn’t buy a thirty year old Mercedes, I inherited it from my dad who somehow gave up on it in favour of his 1993 300SE. While it is true that”new cars are pound-for-pound better in every quantifiable way”, the reason we own and drive older cars is anything but quantifiable, Yes, I could save more fuel, go faster, brake later, turn harder, get more radio stations, go through fewer tyres and quarts of oil in my sisters’ 2L Golf 5, I wouldn’t be happier with it or myself. I love… Read more »

Jason Kinsman
Jason Kinsman

New Cars Don’t have Character. That is all. I would rather drive my rust bucket 78′ Datsun, where you can see through both bedsides and have no floors, than a new tundra. why? sadly the Datsun is just as reliable, gets better mileage, and can haul just as much as I need, AND it has character. There is not a single Datsun in the world like mine, and never will be. Yes there will be more rusty Datsuns, but none like mine.

Tracy Brandt
Tracy Brandt

Driving my ’75 TR6 is a lot like listening to a Rolling Stones album of the same vintage, everything seems like it might fall apart at any minute, but never really does. Hence the charm of driving the car. Modern cars have too many computers, are stupidly fast, require little effort drive and insulate the driver from the world outside. There is simply no modern sport cars that has the same feel as a classic car, and that’s what is comes down to for me. My Honda is for transportation, my TR is for the pure enjoyment of driving.

Jason Amezquita
Jason Amezquita

“So, what are you paying for with a classic and how do you justify paying an equal sum (equal to, or in excess of, a comparable modern day car) for a car that delivers less? It can’t just be scarcity, can it?” It comes down to survival. You are keeping a piece of history on the road, you are preparing this vehicle to pass along to the next person who will care and continue to maintain this vehicle…or so you hope. Think of it as “relics” or “antiques” piece of things you collect to admire, enjoy and show to others… Read more »

Bjorn
Bjorn

For many reasons. One is more important than other, you see when you put many hours in to a car in form of restoration or just polishing and detailing, you get attached to it in a way you won`t with a new car. The older classic cars are mendable and easier to fix in your own garage without any computer, so they are more intuitive and require just basic tools. The older classic are usually in more direct contact with the surface and is more evolving and during the ride in form of sound, suspension, handling, and comfort. Most of… Read more »

Jerry Churchill
Jerry Churchill

What a great topic . I set aside a certain amount to buy a classic and narrowed the choices down to : BMW 635csi , Porsche 944S2 , BMW M5 and ended up buying a fully restored Fiat 500F , 1966 …. go figure !! Funny thing is that all of the above in Australia are around the same money …. and yes , I could have bought a new Bambino for about the same price . But the adventure of driving her , displaying at various shows plus the power of positive tinkering makes it all so enjoyable and… Read more »

karly
karly

Because new cars are boring oatmeal! It’s how they make you feel driving them, plus the question mark of whether you will complete your journey 😀

Tom924
Tom924

because I hate money.

Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson

A friend said it very well.. My modern car is for driving to a destination. My classics I choose a destination for an excuse to drive.

wenzlern
wenzlern

Recently i’ve bought a 1972 240z and drove it all summer as my fun car (I commute by bike/train, so no daily driver). After putting it away for winter storage I got back into my E46 M3, arguably a very fun car and one of the more “analog” of modern cars. Fast forward two months and the BMW is put up for sale. I miss the rawness of the old car, the fact that you have to work for speed, the feeling of going a gazillion miles per hour at road legal speeds. The M3 is immensely capable, but the… Read more »

David Giammetta
David Giammetta

An older car is much more appealing to me than any new model on the market today as I have found that the former provides a driving experience like no other. The raw feeling, unrefined cabin noise and distinctive smells that an older car emits combined with the history of the car is what makes classic motoring so much fun! When you buy a new car, one of the most important factors to consider is the kilometres that it’s travelled. With retro rides, you shouldn’t care because the body, engine and trim will usually indicate how a car has been… Read more »

Ash
Ash

I have an insatiable need to turn spanners and make things better. New cars don’t need it.

Samir Shirazi
Samir Shirazi

Cause it has soul. or maybe we think this way.
why would someone keep a dog when it costs and it is not so easy? sometimes we feel more comfort to share Love with someone who is preferably not a Human to Hurt

Dan Sciannameo
Dan Sciannameo

My vintage motorcycle mechanic put it best. Will someone be around in 40 years to be able to restore and fix the cars/bikes being built today? The vintage cars/bikes used technology that was around for years. This may not be the case in the future. Yes the new vehicles are superior, but much more complex. I believe we are producing disposable vehicles.

CSN
CSN

Lolwut.

CSN
CSN

Apparently I’m just not allowed to write that sentence, typical modern technology behavior… 😉

600HP

CSN
CSN

Oops, that should read:

I bought a 600HP made in the last 5 years. Classic motorcycles are another story as the breed has improved so much in the last 20 years. Riding a classic is still a special experience but I’m happy to no longer rely on my ’70 Triumph for daily transport, much less track days!

CSN
CSN

If I wanted to own an appliance I’d buy a refrigerator. “Pound for pound” better? Funny you should mention weight! It’s depressing how many people just have no clue about how much weight matters, even in motorcycles. If you want stupid amounts of power on the cheap, (especially in smog-controlled states) going classic is worlds less expensive. I bought a 600HP ppy to no longer commute on my ’70 Triumph every day, and fix it every night.

Chris Dyer
Chris Dyer

[b]Soul[/b]. That’s the simple answer to this question. I’ve owned a number of classic cars, including a 1977 Datsun 280Z, 1974 Datsun 260Z, 1972 Fiat 128, 1968 Volvo 122S and a 1978 Mercedes Benz 280CE. I bought them all for the same reason—they have soul. They feel like a car is supposed to feel. I currently drive a 1997 Porsche Boxster, which I bought because it was the closest thing I could get to a classic car that has somewhat modern power and reliability. The Boxster is devoid of things like glove boxes, cup holders, cruise control, navigation, self-parking, traction… Read more »

jolocho
jolocho

Funny about the soul thing because up until recently anything Japanese was considered cheap, plastic, and “soulless”. I wonder if in 20 years time 1990s cars will be regarded as having one like Corollas and Civics from the 1970s are considered now.

Jeff VandeLaar
Jeff VandeLaar

Modern cars lack character and the driving experience makes you feel numb. To repair something modern is to plainly replace something. Classics make you pay attention when driving and repairing means blood, sweat and satisfaction of a job well done

Moritz
Moritz

I drive an old and a quite new sportscar. And I love them both. The daily is a ’07 Z4 M Coupé, which is a rough and sporty thing. But that’s nothing compared to the 37 year old 911 that I enjoy on warm days. The BMW has twice the horespower and power steering and stuff, but you feel much more involved driving the loud, smelly, annoying to park, oil-leaking rear-engined beast. To live with every day and to blast down the autobahn or sliding throu the alps for 2 days: Z4 M. For the blasts throu the city at… Read more »

Ray Houghton
Ray Houghton

What, are you my wife? How many times do I have to answer this question? I love the pure mechanical essence of the car. I like the way steering feels without any power assist, just a mechanical link between my hands and the front wheels. I like shifting gears, I like light weight well balanced cars, because going around turns is more important than acceleration in a straight line to me. I like being able to diagnose and repair my own car, and I like that my car appreciates as it ages rather than depreciates. Usually when I buy a… Read more »

Gregory J. Liebau
Gregory J. Liebau

I’m 26 years old. Since I got my license ten years ago, the daily drivers that I’ve chosen for myself (other than a couple of family hand-me-downs) are as follows: 1973 Mercedes 450sl 1976 Jaguar XJ-S (with 350/350 Chevy conversion) 1972 Chevy C20 1-ton pickup 1996 Jaguar XJS 4.0 1983 Mercedes 240D (current) Note, none of these cars were in anything better than “good” condition when I purchased them – they all cost me somewhere between $1,500-5,500. Growing up around classic automobiles and having a father who’s a mechanic helped a lot, but making the initial choice to grab a… Read more »

jarrod dailey
jarrod dailey

It all started with not wanting to fit in with the norm, i wanted to have my own individual style that would be less replicated by the masses. It grew from personal style into appreciation of simple mechanics and quality materials from a time period that can never be replicated, a time when style was more important then safety. Now i enjoy driving machines that require an operator, vehicles that can exhaust you from extended use but can never be replaced with the unusable (legally) modern horsepower or the dull soulless self driving (practically) experience of modern cars. (Stable: 1963… Read more »

Nicolas
Nicolas

I drive older cars when I want to be fascinated with the thousands of whirring, reciprocating, vibrating, cadence chasing, smell-sound-wind producing bits that are at the control of both hands and both feet. Pushing pedals, pulling levers, hanging on to the wheel as you bob and weave with the metal creature conveying you. (Tractors are too slow, horses need too much room, but given the right circumstances I’m sure I’d be equally taken). New cars isolate that away, making going down the road, at best, a video game. I find the lack of presence is palatable, isolating, and when experienced… Read more »

Hunter
Hunter

A lot of modern cars feel numb to me. With electronic steering, stability control, and more often than not, more weight and heft, it sometimes feels like car design is heading in the wrong direction. Give me something simple, sporty, light, made of quality materials, and stylish, and I would gladly buy a new car. However, no modern car fits this bill. Maybe it’s safety standards, maybe it’s lack of driving purists in the market, but there are few, if any, cars that can come close to the direct connection and simplicity of an air cooled Porsche. The modern car… Read more »

Panos Myti
Panos Myti

Though I really love classics, I can’t see any reason to buy one for daily drive without having other cars. It would be ideal for me, but honestly you can’t rely on them. Reliability goes first for your daily drive car.

Brad Powick
Brad Powick

Your Facebook post of this article has the title “Fact: new cars are better in every quantifiable way.” but I think that this is quite debatable. Modern cars are full of technology and are becoming more and more advanced as the generations go on, but because the car is so reliant on technology, if anything breaks down on it, it becomes incredibly expensive to fix. Also, they seem to be adding more tech to give you a more simple analogue feel to driving which just seems kinda backwards to me, Adding more to make it feel like less. Classic cars,… Read more »

Giannis Kala
Giannis Kala

Because Webers that’s why!

Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson

I drive classics because I tend to enjoy the analog experience. I will upgrade parts to make them more reliable, but only if I feel they will not completely alter the essence of the experience I am looking for. I recently came into an early 90s SL Mercedes. There is so much electronic stuff going on, its unreal. It will never be the fingertip tingling experience that the classics are. It’s also amazingly comfortable to log miles with. But I will almost always choose to drive my older cars. There’s just something to them..

Joe S
Joe S

In 5-7 years the 240z is still cool (if not cooler) and probably appreciated in value. In 5-7 years the 370Z is just a used car worth a fraction of what you payed for it.