Journal: Why Did You Buy Your Classic Car?

Why Did You Buy Your Classic Car?

By Andrew Golseth
June 24, 2016
23 Comments

I’ve only purchased one vehicle that I hadn’t lusted over for an extended period of time. Every other vehicle I own(ed) was in my sights for years, some decades. My “must own before I die” automobile list was almost entirely written before I could legally drive. I’ve wanted a Datsun 620 pickup since I was a boy. I’ve dreamt of a stepnose Alfa since my 7th to 8th grade summer break. And, although not quite a classic—call it a modern classic—I’ve pined for an E36 M3 since my freshman year.

But why these specific oddballs? Well, the Datsun 620 “bulletside” is just cool. Sure, it’s not particularly good at being a truck, it’s certainly not great at being a sporty car despite my attempts to flog it otherwise, and it’s not very desirable to most enthusiasts—I just like it. When 13-year-old me saw a Bertone 105 Alfa for the first time, I thought it was a vintage Ferrari—so astonishingly beautiful, its captivation never left me. When I got to high school, some lucky senior got his father’s hand-me-down black 3 series coupe. He slapped an M3 front bumper and wheels on it, lowered it a tad, and despite the nicer cars in the parking lot, to me, he had the coolest car at school.

My, admittedly weird, preference for cars boils down to one thing: aesthetics. I’m obsessed with proportions and design. Clean understated lines catch my eye while messy, busy, cars with scoops and wings and things couldn’t disinterest me more. There are hundreds of automobiles I’d love to own, but my auto bucket list consists of obtainable vehicles I initially took a liking to for their design—almost always my reason for purchase. Thankfully, they all happen to be fun to drive in their own ways—I suppose there’s a correlation between good design and performance (excluding the pickup)?

I find it hard to relate to enthusiasts who never seem to know what they want. I’ve got this friend who texts me weekly if not daily, forwarding me countless Autotrader and Craigslist links to whatever car he’s most certainly buying this week. Dead set on his latest obsession, he researches his newfound love that’s sure to fill the void. To no avail, a few days later he’s convinced himself not to buy X classic because A-Z reasons, and it’s back to sending me for sale ads. I’ve desired the same cars for so long, it bemuses me when enthusiasts are essentially clueless as to what they really want.

Some choose a car for its performance. Sometimes it’s just a bargain that couldn’t be passed up. Other times, cars seem to find their owners in obscure ways. Many select a classic because they couldn’t afford it when new and they’re finally able to fulfill a childhood dream.

Anyway, I want to know why __________ is parked in your garage… What made you buy your classic? With so many spectacular automobiles produced, how do you choose?

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Jackson000
Jackson000
7 months ago

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Jose Delgadillo
Jose Delgadillo
6 years ago

I am always looking for something that I think is special. I rode Harleys for a very long time. I had Fifties Cadillacs and Sixties Buick Rivieras. Had several Datsun Z cars and a ’70 Mustang a couple of years back. Now I’ve got a few old Jaguars. An XJS convertible, a ’97 XJ6, and a ’51 Mark VII. I find that the Jaguars are beautiful and have a lot of mystique. It’s full time job trying to keep up with my fleet of projects. I know I shouldn’t keep looking for something new, but I constantly do.

Tony Wood
Tony Wood
7 years ago

Always wanted one. From when I was 21 years old. Finally was able to find one at 35 years old. That was in ’89. Still own it. She’s had a ground up, baremetal rebuild at extreme cost (never again) and a few customising features just for me – four wheel discs and R&P steering among a few other touches. But the car hasn’t been cut up at all, and could be returned to factory if you wanted. And she’s not for sale. What is she? An Autralian bodied 1964 Ford Falcon hardtop, with the 289 and auto.

Art Harvey
Art Harvey
7 years ago

What a question… Styling, performance and passion! Subjective all of course – The ’67 Plymouth Satellite convertible in 2002 because it’s my personal favorite Mopar design*, flat and scalloped the way Elwood Engels intended and I found one of 96 with the smooth willing thrust of a factory 383 big block (*so sue me that it’s not a ’68 Charger RT). Then the ’65 Satellite hardtop came along in 2006 as a project car offered by a guy who knew I loved Satellites (the cheaper but still V8 powered sibling of the GTX). The hardtop has the reverse C-pillar I craved to satisfy my classic Mopar design fetish. It was restored by 2012, and time to step up to an Exotic. This means Italian! And I’m attracted to the offbeat, so it was Gandini’s 4 seat, V12 jet-age Espada I set out to buy. But the seller offered me to try a Maserati Bora he happened to have in. Giugiaro styling, check! Gorgeously sonorous V8, check! Better built, far simpler and cheaper than the Espada, CHECK! So, no Espada for me, I bought the Bora and never looked back. Then came 2013, a suggestion by my wife to get another classic, and the siren call of an Alfa Busso V6 engine.. again: Giugiaro styling, check! Operatic engine sounds befitting an aria, check! 5-spd manual transaxle, check! Enough passion to make you rob a bank, CHECK! Thus sits a peppy red GTV6 Balocco SE in our garage awaiting next summer’s track days. Finally by 2015 we needed to get right with the British… And increase the number of cylinders to 12… And have enough space for our young kids and some luggage. Styling was paramount, and comfort for the family, but keep it a manual for sporting, please – so a V12 E-Type 2+2 you think? Close, but no. The FHC prices had gotten away from us and the 2+2 is a stylistic stepchild… In the end, this choice has ended up turning more heads than any of the previous: Christmas Eve 2015 finds a heritage Chiltern Green Aston Martin DB9 in our garage with 38k pampered miles, V12 and manual 6-speed transaxle. And that’s it for now. Here it’s all about a diversity of selection based on the common theme; styling, performance, passion. ( PS – Methinks a German is up next, as we have no greenhouse cabin designs or inline engines).

moosesport
moosesport
7 years ago

They moved me. All of them. ’67 200D. ’69 Beetle. ’69 911T. ’71 911S. ’72 2002tii. ’83 300D turbodiesel. ’84 GTi. ’86 4000CS quattro. ’87 944S. ’89 200 turbo quattro. To name but a few. All of them captured a part of me.

Zach Moulds
Zach Moulds
7 years ago

Is it cliche to say Top Gear showed me what I had to have? There is a scene during the classic British roadster episode where they show the abandoned old factories that were previously booming car makers. I’m not British but it pulled at my heart strings to think that style of car building has gone away. In America, we see cars shaped to save fuel, not to invoke feelings of lust and that’s where my heart lies. I want cars that are built to be beautiful and fun.

So, after months of searching, I happened upon an older man who repairs watches for a living (my lovely fiance dropped mine into the toilet and broke the face) and he had car magazines thrown out all over his shop. We got to talking and he let slip that he had once tried to restore an old British sports car but ran out of time and energy with his age. I immediately told him I’d buy whatever he had with the cash I had in my pocket ( just over $1000) and I’d pick it up myself. He grinned cheesily and said deal. Hindsight I should’ve never tried that stunt but in this case I hit the jackpot, a 1974 Jensen Healey Roadster. I fell in love instantly and after further inspection was happy to see that it was in spectacular shape for having sat in a barn under old bicycles for the better part of 15 years. I showed up with a U-Haul truck and trailer and the biggest smile in the dreary Pacific Northwest to simply pick up the car and take it straight back home. 7 hours, 6 beers, and a lifetimes worth of story telling from the old chap later and I finally head back. I didn’t care that I’d racked up a U-Haul bill that was half what I paid for the car, I got to hear how he met his wife in an old Alfa and how she decided they’d build this car together because it was pretty and he showed me something that will stick with me forever. He had stuffed a picture of himself next to his Alfa with his wife into his helmet from Vietnam. Being a jarhead myself, I needed no further convincing that this car was meant to go with me and stay with me as long as my hands can hold a wrench to that little Lotus motor. I found my car, my stress reliever, my bachelor party with my mates, my template to teach my future kids about work and history and the way things should have always been. I can’t wait for the adventures to come.

GTRace84 Marra
GTRace84 Marra
7 years ago

I have been lusting after a Stepnose or 69 Alfa GTV1750 for the last ten years ever since seeing them on track via HSR when I worked at Sebring Raceway. It took me the last five years of searching for the right price, condition, and other variables with a number slipping through my fingers. Finally a track friend of mine helped me track down his Cava Beige 69 he had sold five years ago and was able to arrange for its purchase and transport from Seattle to Florida. Car was fully worked over by Group 2 before delivery and has delivered pure turn-key pleasure since arrival. Only change i made was the Yellow Fog lenses. The wife was against the purchase until i took her for a spirited drive, now she never wants to sell it.

Jan
Jan
7 years ago

Because my clownshoe is freaking hawt. 🙂

z3coupe3.0
z3coupe3.0
7 years ago
Reply to  Jan

Now, is it a classic? I was going to write I had to have one as soon as I saw one on the road, and I held back thinking a 2002 model is not a classic, not even a “youngtimer”. It does feel like a classic though 😉
Starting a debate maybe?

FH944
FH944
7 years ago

Growing up as a kid, my dad had a 1979 924. Not exactly known as a power house, but as a child, it was a 959 in my book. At 13, my car I still have now kinda fell in my lap. Porsche was and is my car of choice. I was at a friend’s and I saw the unmistakable hips of a 944 under a car cover in his neighbors garage. I talked to dad, the next day we went and bought my first car. 1986 944. I’m now 22 and I’m still just as passionate about my 2 owner, super clean and well maintained, driven 944.

Dennis White
Dennis White
7 years ago

Had a 74 GTV back in the day and got away from fun cars while having a career and family. Got the bug in 08 attending Pebble for the first time and it cost me an Alfa 2600 Spider. Got a bigger bug 2 years later at the Monterey Historics and it cost me a 67 Alfa GT Junior track car. Last year got another bug for a touring car for rallies and it cost me… So it’s cost me a lot (to say nothing of the fettling) but it’s been an awful lot of fun!

Nicholas Millbrook
Nicholas Millbrook
7 years ago

When I was a child in the early 80s my dad was looking at and running cars from the 70s. Subconsciously cars from this period became my favourite choice. After owning several 80s cars (including a
Mk2 Vauxhall Cavalier Convertable for over 9 years) I finally made the decision to sort myself out and go for my favourite car. My dad briefly owned one when
I was young and remember getting dragged around the localish area looking at several others over the years. Well the time came back in 2007 when my car came up for sale just as I was looking for one. It’s not an exotic car and it’s not particularly fast but it’s mine.

apprenticeofcool
apprenticeofcool
7 years ago

First got into classic cars at an early age, in the UK in the mid to late 80’s they were a genuine alternative to a regular car. For the price of a small hatch back you could easily get a two seater convertible and most importantly classic car insurance meant you could afford to drive it as a youngster. My first car, bought in 1987 was a Triumph Spitfire MkIII, 1968. I have managed to hang on to it since then (although I confess it now needs a restoration).

Since then, I have been fortunate enough to own a number of interesting modern cars since then: Porsche 964 (great), XK8 convertible (stodgy), Maserati 3200GT (crazy), and Aston V8 Vantage (brilliant but limited space).

When I came to change the Vantage I just couldn’t see the point of spending a load of cash to get a similar thing that was marginally better. So I’ve kept it and returned to the idea of a classic. I have recently gone for a Porsche 356 B, import from the US which arrives in the UK today!

Very excited about the 356 and have spent weeks looking at various Petrolicious videos and articles on the car.

Ray Houghton
Ray Houghton
7 years ago

I’d always loved vintage cars, but raising kids, building a house, and everything else seemed to keep me in practical cars. Then about 16 years ago a new job, recent divorce, I started a long 400 mile commute from my home on the Mendocino coast, to my job in San Francisco.

I was buying low mileage used cars, and wearing them out on my commute. I’d gone through an Toyota van (kid hauler), Acura Integra, and finally a Volkswagen Jetta, when I was browsing craigslist looking for the next one, The plan was to get something reliable that might last a year or two, but I scrolled down the list and I stopped at a 1981 Fiat spider that the owner had recently spent a lot of money on fixing the engine and drive train when a shock tower had separated from the body. I’m a metal fabricator by trade so I gave the man $600 and bought the car, brought it back to the shop and welded the shock tower back in place.

The thing was such a joy to drive I wondered why I didn’t buy something like this sooner. I quickly realized though with my long commute if I wanted this plan to work I needed at least two, so if one was down I could order parts and get the other one fixed. That way with a minimum of two cars I could always have one running ad rather than buy cars, wear them out and sell them a year or two later for pennies on the dollar I could buy cars I actually liked, fix them up, drive them, and eventually sell them for generally more than I paid for them.

The funny thing is once have a few older European cars parked around your house, and people notice you like them people start offering them to you. Over about a ten year period, I’ve had the 81 Fiat spider, 75 BMW 2002, 80 Fiat X1/9, 72 Datsun 240Z, 2 different Triumph Spitfires, and the last one I bought was a 1973 Fiat 124 Spider.

I no longer make the long commute, and unfortunately I’ve sold off most of the fleet. I’ve kept the 73 Fiat Spider. I love the looks, The fie speed transmission feels precise, the twin overhead cam engine with dual webers sounds great, at a little over 100hp and weighing in at just over a ton it’s not fast, but feels fast on the windy roads around here. For a while I owned both the 81 spider and the 73 spider, and though the 81 felt more refined with it’s electronic ignition and fuel injection, power windows, and more sound deadening. The 73 felt like a scrappy little Italian roadster. Just what I always wanted.

It’s a keeper, I’m in the process of rebuilding the engine now. I can’t wait to get it back on the road. I should be getting the engine back this week, ready to be reassembled. I should be back on the road while there’s still some summer left.

Frank Anigbo
7 years ago
Reply to  Ray Houghton

Great cars, the Fiat Spider. My very first classic car was a ’79 spider I bought for a thousand dollars. I really wanted an Alfa spider but couldn’t afford one. Thing is, when I finally did buy an ’80s Alfa spider, I realized it was a step down from the Fiat.

Frank Anigbo
7 years ago

A great many variety of reasons but looks caused the spark in all of the cases. When I was in college and lacking two pence to rub together, the Porsche 928 was the ultimate desire and dream. But the 944 was potentially achievable and I wanted one so badly it made me sick. When I finally got the 944 some 20 years later, I had emotionally moved on and had gone through a great many cars that were more expensive. But I saw a beautiful early 944 and bought it out of nostalgia, it did not disappoint.

My first great car was a 1971 Alfa GTV. I wanted one car to do it all and went off to buy a GTV-6 in really great shape. Parked in a corner looking rather worn and forlorn was the ’71 GTV but, my god! It looked to me like a small Ferrari. I bought that instead and laughed all through the 3 hour drive home. That sound. That lightness. The look of the thing, a gentlemanly sort of understated. I have never stopped loving Alfas since and have owned several and continue to lust after many more.

The Mexico was first and foremost from a need for something large enough for long trips with my growing family. It had to be Italian, not much else will do. Like all the others, coupes generally look better to me than convertibles. And I’d rather have understated styling than a car that can’t go anywhere without being noticed by everyone – except in the case of the 308 GTB, I wanted one so badly I didn’t sleep for years. When the opportunity came to buy a really good one came, I said to hell with the neighbors noticing. It’s a keeper because it is just too beautiful a car to let go.

Kenneth Hancock
Kenneth Hancock
7 years ago

I currently own an Alfa Milano Verde. Only because I was unable to restore my 1969 Alfa 1750 GTV and after decades had to let it go. The Milano had no value. The GTV did.
Not crying over spilt milk. Over the years I have owned a 1959 Porsche
356A 1600S coupe, a Datsun 510 sedan with BRE add ons, a 1963 Alfa 1600 101
Sprint, and a 1967 Alfa 1300 GT Jr. Step
nose.
I’ve lusted after an E-type Jaguar
coupe series 1 3.8 litre or 4.2, just
missed out on a Ferrari 250 GTE when
they were cheap, and still desire an
early 911 S Porsche.

The Milano keeps the flame alive.

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss
7 years ago

64 MGB – Red – I was in college and bought it as practice for someday having a Jag. 31 years later I still have it, and no Jag.

91 MR-2 – Yellow – Midlife crisis, boy-racer, wanted a car I could drive to work that had some form of modern safety features. Plus we had two Previas at the time and I wanted to keep the Toyota mid-engine vibe going.

95 M3 – Yellow – Wanted to own a straight six, the Jag dream was out of reach, and I fell into the best driving car I’ve ever had… when its not down for repairs 😉

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers
7 years ago

It was a hand-me-down. It mostly comes down to sentiment and nostalgia.

I miss being able throw an elbow over the bench seat and steer with one finger while the A/C blows ice cold. No smoking, my car did not have the optional lighter. I should put a power port there during the restomod.

Lacerati
Lacerati
7 years ago

Completely inexperienced, I was – for some reason – determined I needed to learn how to wrench on old cars. I’ve always liked two-seaters, and figured something from the 1960s would be both advanced enough to be fun to drive and simple enough for me to learn how to work on.

After seeing an MGA in an auto museum, I was certain that was the answer. Then I thought, “I should get something more ‘practical'”, so I set my sights on an MGB. While researching these cars all over the internet, I came across a post on an MG forum that said something like, “Does anyone remember those Datsun roadsters?” At the time, I had no idea that Datsun ever made a roadster, but once Google showed me that first picture of one, I was absolutely hooked and had to find one.

After 7 months of looking day after day for “the one”, I finally found it and bought it immediately. In retrospect, I probably paid a little more than I should have but, after driving it, working on it, taking it apart & putting it together again, then driving it some more, I have precisely zero regret.

Steven Jepson
Steven Jepson
7 years ago

When I was a master’s student at Louisiana State in Baton Rouge, I drove down a street and saw my first Lancia Zagato. I stopped my car (then a ’70 Pontiac LeMans) and spent at least a half hour staring at it. It was also for sale – but I warned by the local foreign mechanic never to go near one.

Years later, I had the opportunity to buy a rusted out Zagato in Wisconsin, then my current ’81 Special Edition. I love the handling, the 80’s blocky look, and the general usefulness of the targa top/convertible variant of the Beta. A true 2/2, with a trunk that actually holds luggage! But I just love the look…

Nate
Nate
7 years ago

I wanted something analog, simplistic, reliable, cheap and enjoyable to drive. Its hard to find modern cars with those personality traits.

HitTheApex
HitTheApex
7 years ago

I bought my Toyota MR2 because I distinctly remember a poster of a yellow Turbo T-top I had as a child. It looks cool, with a design that has aged well, it has decent performance, and has a wonderfully tight-knit online community. That said, I think unconciously it was the poster of the yellow car that did it for me. I just had to have one, so when the opportunity to acquire a fairly clean car that just needed age-related work (bushings, seals, etc.), I knew I’d regret it if I passed it up and every day I am glad I didn’t, even when I’m not driving it.

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