Big Beat

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  1. I'm a preservationist/contrarian kind of guy. I don't restore cars, I tend to find a good one and just preserve and maintain it as best as I can. I like underdog cars - unpopular models and body styles, orphan brands, etc. I usually gravitate to stuff that has either never been mainstream, or had once been all too mainstream but has since fallen off most folks' radar. My interests are primarily "mid-century modern": 1940s to 1970s. My dream garage would include both an AMC Pacer and a pre-war Packard. For the past twelve years, I've been in a long-term relationship with a '79 Monte Carlo. If I could ever afford more than one hobby car, my second one would be something from the 1940s or early 1950s.
  2. Doesn't the world have enough of those cut-up hot rods that all have the same look as a million other customized "Deuce Coupes"? If the condition is beyond saving, then OK, sure, but I think this car looks too nice to hot-rod. I understand that this car may not be valuable enough to be worthy of a proper restoration to most people. But if this was my project, and restoration wasn't in the cards, I'd at least keep the body totally stock and make only mechanical upgrades, and make sure that these upgrades are not obviously visible. I would preserve at least the overall appearance of a real 1920s car, if I couldn't preserve its character. Of course, it's a moot point, as I'm not in the market for this kind of project. I hope someone buys it and saves it.
  3. I restore vintage musical instruments, and it's the same story. Every time I list an old guitar or a drum set for sale, I get bombarded by scammers, dreamers, ghosters (folks who just don't show up and don't bother to let you know - there's actually a word for this, as I have learned) and tire kickers... er... string pullers. Only a very small percentage are serious buyers who actually follow through. It can indeed get very frustrating. But the one thing I have learned is that one just cannot get too emotional about it. It is strictly business - buying, selling, adapting to the market and hopefully, making a profit. If something repeatedly fails to sell, it gets parted out. If it's not worth parting out, it gets donated. If it's not good enough to donate, it is given away for free to be used for art projects. If nobody picks it up for free, it gets discarded. Simple. I can think of better things to do than flying off the handle and filming myself stomping on some old clarinet while screaming obscenities at the universe at large, just to prove some incoherent point to someone who failed to buy something.
  4. A few years ago my daily driver was a '91 Corolla that had 285K on it when I sold it, still running great, no issues other than some minor cosmetics and my desire to upgrade. One potential buyer called to verify the mileage, she was hoping it was 85K and a mis-print. Another asked "What problems does the car have?" None, I replied. "What's the mileage?" 285K. "Well, maybe that's the problem", he said and hung up. The third caller showed up and bought it. I wouldn't be surprised if it's still running somewhere. So my guess is 285K is high mileage in a used car these days. Back in the 1980s, I would walk away from anything over 60K. My '79 Chevy reflects this - it STILL only has 35K on it. Now THAT I consider low mileage.
  5. Out of that lot, the Olds looks like a real winner, with the Buick a close second. OP, why do you want to RESTORE a car when there are plenty of very good running, driving cars that will cost you less? If you never owned an old car before, restoration should be the last thing on your mind. Buy a running car and enjoy it first. Learn to live with an old car and to handle its needs. Fix up whatever needs fixing, gain some experience. If you still want to try restoring one after that, you'll be in a much better place.
  6. I have seen several Russian cars in Brooklyn - a Chaika limousine, a GAZ-21 Volga, a Zaporozhets, a couple of Zhiguli (Lada) sedans and a Niva. The Zaporozhets was used as interior decoration in one Russian restaurant on Coney Island Avenue, since closed. I don't know what happened to the car. The Volga was a regular at local car shows, unfortunately, it was destroyed during the 2012 hurricane. There was also one Dnepr motorcycle, a copy of a 1940s BMW. All the cars were owned by Russian expats. Brooklyn is full of Russian mechanics who remember working on these cars back in Russia and parts are available online, so it's feasible, at least within driving distance from Brooklyn. Lada and Niva cars are also familiar in Canada. Elsewhere, I'm sure it's more of a hassle. Of course, there is quite a following in Russia, with its own forums, clubs, museums and car shows. I have some interest in these cars, but I doubt I'll ever want to own one. For the price of importing one, there are more interesting choices right here in the USA. But if I was living in Russia, I'd probably buy a 1950s Pobeda.
  7. My '79 Monte is a "survivor". I bought it from the estate of its original owner 13 years ago. The car has never had anything changed on it other than maintenance items (tires, hoses, battery, etc.). The first time I took it to a car show, I was actually worried that it was too new to be admitted. I was shocked how many cars on the field were even newer. Now it's even more shocking to me that she is actually 40 years old this year.
  8. Nice car, and it looks good enough to preserve, rather than restore. Do mechanical work and get it running, clean it up a bit, fix whatever needs fixing. But do not take it apart until you have driven it a little first. You may be happy enough with it by then to keep it a preserved original - which would make it MUCH more interesting for many. And if you do decide on a full restoration at that time, you'll be in a much better place for that, too.
  9. I find such hoards very sad. Those cars just sit there and deteriorate. He never drives them, he no longer even has the strength to organize them and keep all the junk and debris and mice away from them. Yes, it's a nice collection and it's a good thing that somebody has saved these cars for posterity, but they are certainly not actively enjoyed in the present. Just memories, mostly, at this point probably better served by a good photo album instead. I always thought that keeping two or three well-maintained cars was much better than a neglected hoard like this. Heck, I only have one vintage car, and life gets so busy sometimes that I can't find the time to take it out for a drive as often as I'd like.
  10. The only way to get there with no money is to do all the work yourself and trade up. Buy something, fix it up, flip it, invest in the next project. You'll need plenty of skill, lots of free time and a well-equipped garage. And a really good supply of patience. Do you? When I was a teenager, I wanted a Gibson guitar. Not being able to afford one, I learned guitar repair, fixed and resold several cheap guitars before I got to the used Gibson ballpark. It took me about six years to go from junky Harmonies and Hondos that I learned guitar repair on, to a damaged '74 Les Paul Custom, which by then I could restore professionally. Of course, with cars, that road is even more difficult, slow and expensive. It can be done, but you'll always be wishing you had just a bit more starting capital saved up, up front, to save yourself the aggravation. Life is too short for that. I've learned that lesson with guitars as a teen, which is why when I set out to buy my first vintage car, I made sure it was the absolute best example of that model that I could find.
  11. I was last there in 2008. My brother had just bought a new Honda CR-V that we were driving. He decided to take it out on the sand, and was embarrassed when his brand new car got stuck and needed help getting pulled out. His next CR-V a few years later was an AWD model.
  12. I really dislike numerous displays set up around the car, as they make it hard to take a good photo. I don't like open hoods for the same reason, unless that engine really is something special - like an original 6 cylinder in a Camaro, or a nicely detailed straight eight Packard, etc. I also find that a lot of clutter around the car leads to things getting stepped on, knocked over, etc. I always display my own car closed and locked, with nothing around it. I do display a few small things that fit on the dashboard - a small framed history of the car, a dealer' scale model in the same color as my car, plus the original manual and sales brochure. When I'm around the car, I can always open and show anything that somebody wants to see, and when I'm away looking at other cars, I'm not worried about leaving it unattended.
  13. That is really cool. Recently I needed to replace the battery on my '79 Chevy. Jammed between the fender and the battery tray, I found the original cap for the washer fluid tank, which was missing when I bought the car 12 years ago. At the time, I just put on a junkyard replacement, but it always bothered me that the style didn't quite match the other caps. And all along the original cap was with the car and is now proudly in its place again.
  14. The movie was based on the 1943 book "Excuse My Dust", by Bellamy Partridge. I have this book and it's one of my favorites. From what I understand, it's quite different from the film, which I haven't seen yet, but it's well worth picking up if you come across a copy. Partridge also wrote "Fill 'Er Up" and a few other books about the early cars.