Turismo

Ideas for classics that accommodate young drivers

99 posts in this topic

Hey all,

First of all, I'd like to introduce myself to this forum. As a youngster that has a major interest in automotive repair and vintage vehicles, it seems like receiving guidance in the modern world is rather difficult. I'm 16, eligible to drive in my state, and have thought about starting out with a simple classic to have a little kickstart to the hobby. Of course, as I get older I would like to deal with more vehicles and more interesting and complex ones, but things have to start from humble beginnings :D

Anyways, can anyone suggest any models, specifically from the late 1950's-mid 80's that handle well, are easy to work on, are fuel efficient, and easy enough for a youngin like me to handle? Thanks, in advance.

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Air-cooled VW.

 

Cheers,

Grog

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Just now, capngrog said:

Air-cooled VW.

 

Cheers,

Grog

 Thanks for the suggestion. I've heard that old Volkswagen beetles are very reliable. Which era would you say was Volkswagen's strongest time?

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You are lucky to be on the West coast so rust isn't a big problem, buy the best running rust free vehicle you can find. Be sure you like the looks of it, nothing worse than pouring time and money into something ugly. Bob

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16 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

You are lucky to be on the West coast so rust isn't a big problem, buy the best running rust free vehicle you can find. Be sure you like the looks of it, nothing worse than pouring time and money into something ugly. Bob

Actually, where I live in particular it might be. Oregon gets a lot of rain. I've thought about the presence of rust and know how to check for it.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Turismo said:

 Thanks for the suggestion. I've heard that old Volkswagen beetles are very reliable. Which era would you say was Volkswagen's strongest time?

1937-1945 :lol:

Edited by GregLaR (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

30 minutes ago, GregLaR said:

1937-1945 :lol:

Bleh, no cassette player, pathetic neanderthals they were :angry:   (yes, I'm well aware audio cassettes were not invented until the early 60's, hehehe)

 

3 minutes ago, mike6024 said:

Yes I enjoyed owning a '74 Beetle. It would do 85 on the freeway, stable too at that speed even though a light vehicle, and good for around town too. They get good gas mileage and are practical for everyday use, like commuting to work. Just not long distance commuting.

Luckily I live in an area where long distance driving really isn't really that much of a necessity. How was the car's craftsmanship? Was the build quality alright? From what I've read and seen, the automobile industry kinda lost its touch, so to speak, in the 70's. 

Edited by Turismo (see edit history)

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If you wanted to stay American a 1960 Falcon or Valiant.  Very easy to work on, reliable maybe not as economical as the VW but probably warmer if you live in the snow belt.

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Our weather west of the mountains isn't the problem you might think. The rust that people in many other parts of the country talk about is structural in nature and the result of salted roads. UV damage, the constant humidity and temperature swings which cause a car to sweat are not generally a problem. In many other parts of the country these conditions can just eat up a paint job or an interior. So be thankful that you live where you do. Unless of course you live at the ocean. In that case you might have to start your search forty or fifty miles inland. Any community in our world has any number of 40+ year old, basically rust free, cars and trucks in regular service. There is really no need to look any farther then Craigslist or your local nickel want ads to find something that suites you. You might also look into the car corral at an old car swap meet. The spring meet in Portland is a good one, unfortunately it was two months ago. I know that most young people don't have the snobbish aversion to four door cars. So if you find a four door suitable, they are usually only a fraction of the price of a two door car. It would be nice to find a garage kept old person's car, that has been well maintained, but it's not critical. Try to find a drivable car that you can enjoy, and try to avoid the temptation to start to tear it apart, so it can't be driven. If it needs cosmetic work do it a section at a time. That way you won't become overwhelmed by the process.

 

 

I wish someone had shared some of this simple outline with me when I started. It would have made life a lot simpler. If you find a car that your not sure of, it's probably not going to be the one for you. But if you find a car that you are not too sure of you can check back for help, or you can find someone in a local club who has some special knowledge of what you are looking at. Good luck, interested in seeing what you find.-Bill

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Posted (edited)

8 hours ago, Turismo said:

...Anyways, can anyone suggest any models, specifically from the late 1950's-mid 80's that handle well, are easy to work on, are fuel efficient, and easy enough for a youngin like me to handle? Thanks, in advance.

 

Turismo, do you want an economy car because

you are planning to drive it every day?  Most

American cars from the 1950's to the 1970's

aren't as economical as later cars, but the smallest

ones are quite fuel-efficient.

 

Ford Mustangs from the 1960's might fit your need,

as they were produced in very large numbers and

are easily found today.  Parts are easily obtained.

Prices are reasonable too if you avoid the high-performance models.

Chevrolet had its small "Chevy II," in the mid-1960's, and it

became the Chevrolet Nova, and those are good possibilities. 

And with any antique car, check price guides, because

asking prices (especially from dealers) may be 50% to 100%

above what you should pay!  I much prefer buying from a

private party, especially an honest and helpful fellow

hobbyist.

 

If you are driving a car only occasionally for fun,

economy isn't as important, and you'll have more

cars to choose from.  Cars from the 1980's are more

economical, but they are more complex for a 

do-it-yourselfer.

 

Welcome to the hobby--you'll have a lifetime of enjoyment!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)

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VW is a good choice, as is Falcon, Chevy Nova, MGB, although those are all getting long in the tooth and nice ones could be expensive. Prowl craigslist and your local Penny Saver, if they have such a thing anymore. Ask people in your circle, like the barber shop, bowling alley, church or wherever you hang out. Tell them you're looking for an old car in fairly nice condition. Some one may have a spinster aunt with a gem in her garage.

 

If I can advise further, steer clear of anything that has been modified. The factory engineers knew what they were doing, and amateur changes usually result disappointment. By the same token, resist the temptation to change something yourself, for the sake of "improvement". The car lasted this long in its original state, get used to it, enjoy motoring as it was or buy something different. There are millions of cars out there.

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9 hours ago, Turismo said:

 Thanks for the suggestion. I've heard that old Volkswagen beetles are very reliable. Which era would you say was Volkswagen's strongest time?

The old air-cooled Beetles were very reliable, easy to work on and fun to drive.  Although I'm no expert, the best "Bugs" were those produced between 1962 and 1974 (just my opinion).  The newer the model, the easier it is to get parts; however, parts for most any of the air-cooled VW "Bugs" are readily available and relatively inexpensive.  In 1969, VW replaced the old 'swing-axle' rear suspension with a true IRS (Independent Rear Suspension), making the car handle a bit better.  Personally, I would not choose an air-cooled "Super Beetle", but that's just a personal bias, based on limited logic:D.  The downside of the air-cooled VW Bugs is that the heaters are inadequate, and the factory's attempt at airconditioning was a wasted effort ... in my opinion.

 

I'm with Tinindian and mike 6024 in that I also like the early Ford Falcons/Mercury Comets.  Of course, as John S says, an early Ford Mustang would be great, but they are becoming hard to find and accordingly expensive.  I'm a huge fan of the early Chevy IIs and Novas; however, it is almost impossible to find an "unmolested" (unmodified) example at a reasonable price.

 

I think the best advice I could give would echo BillP's advice above.  Look around, find something YOU like, then seek advice from as many sources as you can.

 

Please keep us up to date on your quest.

 

Cheers,

Grog

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For now stay with a car that takes American Standard tools.  Ford or Chevy to start.

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Or an early 60's Plymouth Valiant with slant six (indestructible) and typewriter gear selector. 63s got boxy but the earlier ones  had interesting styling including a fake spare & quad headlamps.

5facf82f3dd445f7a6642a7ae7ce838f.jpg

 

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11 hours ago, Turismo said:

Anyways, can anyone suggest any models, specifically from the late 1950's-mid 80's that handle well, are easy to work on, are fuel efficient, and easy enough for a youngin like me to handle? Thanks, in advance.

 

I think Capngrog suggesting the VW Beetle is excellent advice (assuming you decide you like VWs, that is).  Your main practical concerns on any old car purchase is rust, parts availability and serviceability, I.E that it is not so obscure that no one can work on it or that it will not function for your driving. 

 

I would expand on Capngrog's VW notes and also point out that from 1967 and later you got a 12 Volt electrical system (rather than the earlier 6V) and a dual master cylinder braking system (rather than the earlier single master cylinder).  These are both upgrades that will make the car safer and better and his mention of the 1969 rear axle improvement is also good to know.  Note that collectors have already been interested in earlier models so I would suggest target 1969-74 models if possible for better mechanicals and likely better prices.  This is a good general rule on all cars of this era, another rule of thumb is a car with a solid body and paint is always the one to get, fixing mechanicals is far easier and cheaper than paint and bodywork. 

 

That said note that Beetles were indeed well built when new but are quite utilitarian by modern standards.  Heaters and defrosters are legendarily inadequate and rust is always a concern--look inside the hood (trunk?) floors and engine compartment for a solid example.  Parts availability is excellent.  NOTE most had manual transmissions so if you really want an automatic you might broaden into looking at American cars of the 1960s and 70s.  1967 and later gets the dual master cylinder and a few safety features, watch the rust, good luck, Todd C     

 

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Posted (edited)

I'm a VW fan and agree that air cooled VWS are cool, a big advantage is that all parts are available the disadvantage is you will need them. They did require a lot of service and repair compared to new cars, but were built in such a way that it was easy and cheap to do. For example they have NO oil filter so they need an oil change every 2000 miles, but only take a quart and a half of oil.

 

My first choice would be a Chrysler A body car. This includes Plymouth Valiant and Barracuda, and Dodge Lancer and  Dart 1960 - 1975. Very simple reliable durable cars with slant six and 318 V8 engines that get good gas  mileage compared to other cars of their times although not as good as the latest cars.

 

With their torsion bar front suspension they were one of the best handling American cars of their time.

 

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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14 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

My first choice would be a Chrysler A body car. This includes Plymouth Valiant and Barracuda, and Dodge Lancer and  Dart 1960 - 1975. Very simple reliable durable cars with slant six and 318 V8 engines that get good gas  mileage compared to other cars of their times although not as good as the latest cars.

 

Also a good choice I almost mentioned, I would again suggest the later 1967-75 models.  A 1970s Ford Maverick would be another possible Domestic for the same reasons, easy and economical.  Also both usually had automatics and were roomier and more comfortable than the VW, and probably better for expressway driving too.    

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The Dodge Dart ideas are the best. Reliable, good driving capabilities, fairly good mileage, easy to maintain, easy to find parts.

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Don't listen to advice. I never do. Old cars are a completely irrational hobby. Cars I have bought using logic and sound decision making were generally disappointments.

 

Look for the car that gets your heart pounding and makes you short of breath when you think someone might buy it first.

 

Try to find this book on Ebay or Addall  https://www.g-w.com/modern-automotive-technology-2014

G_W books are good for any field. The basics remain the same.

Study the old technologies as well.

 

Be really careful in Oregon. I understand the state is populated with aging Hippy's. They will talk you into a flowered VW or short school bus, probably have already.

 

Fully understand the word vicarious.

 

Buy what looks good to you and see how it goes. You never have to marry a car. If it doesn't meet your expectations sell it. You should make a little money and try again.

 

Don't focus on one marque all your life. It is a sure way to miss out on a lot of nice cars.

 

Think safe. Consider a pick up truck. That way there will only be two or three fertile young minds thinking up stuff. Bigger cars carry more and that can be trouble.

 

And think about this hard. Life is too important to take seriously, helps you avoid expectations.

 

Bernie

 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, keiser31 said:

The Dodge Dart ideas are the best. Reliable, good driving capabilities, fairly good mileage, easy to maintain, easy to find parts.

 

Quote

My first choice would be a Chrysler A body car. This includes Plymouth Valiant and Barracuda, and Dodge Lancer and  Dart 1960 - 1975. Very simple reliable durable cars with slant six and 318 V8 engines that get good gas  mileage compared to other cars of their times although not as good as the latest cars.

 

With their torsion bar front suspension they were one of the best handling American cars of their time.

 

 

These are the cars that I always suggest as well.

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)

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AMC had some reliable cars. The rouged 258 six cylinder was used in everything, drive line parts are common.

After the movie "Wayne's World" there is even a group that loves the Pacers. 

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Go Jeep, CJ-5 or CJ-7, you can even get one with an AMC 258 six.

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Posted (edited)

This is my 66 beetle.   The Beetle is a fun car and cheap compared to most cars.   They are very easy to maintain and very dependable.  Parts are also readily available and cheap. We take this to a lot of cruise ins and it always draws a crowd of all ages.

 

Bob

66beetle.jpg

Edited by Bob Hill (see edit history)
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Stay with the carbureted VWs.  The fuel injected ones, like my lady friend's 1969 Type 3 squareback, have 20 linear feet of fuel hose (supply + return) in perhaps 15 different sections and 34 hose clamps.  You may be able to discern how I know this....

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How about this? Very good choice for my opinion.

DSC_0289.JPG

DSC_0293.JPG

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