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Safest antique car over 45 years old?


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I'm looking for my next antique American made automobile and while I am still very particular to finding a 1st generation Riviera, I am also keeping open to something else that would be considered a very safe car. Rivieras it appears, are not really that safe due to a number of design characteristics of that period. A Tucker would be nice but then I haven't won the lottery yet.

I'd like to get a family friendly car that is a 4 door but a 2 door might be OK. My cut off point is that it cannot be newer than 45 years old. They just don't seem to be my definition of an antique. That's just a personal preference. It's probably I grew up around those cars when they were still new. I've have read that '63 Imperials are just about indestructable at demo derbies but that is nowhere close to my intention but public roads these days are almost that.

What are your suggestions?

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Guest my3buicks

You will find 1967 and newer to have quite a few safety features that many earlier didn't - 67 was a big year for federal mandates on automotive safety across the board.

But this is an age old debate, but regardless of what you choose as a collector vehicle of that vintage, they will not be as safe as they would be in a newer vehicle, that's a fact.

How about a 67 Riv?

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Keith makes a good point for you. Starting in 1967 all GM cars had seatbelts front and rear, collapsible steering columns and dual master cylinders. Actually, 1968-69 would be better since they also had shoulder belts and side marker lamps. By 1971 I think they were also phasing in side guard door beams.

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Well, how about both a first as your BEST choice and second generation Riviera (for safety and a big car, a '68 Riviera). I guess I sort of fell into that range myself, so maybe I am smarter then I thought.

John

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I've kind of narrowed my search for long distance traveling car to between a 1969 and 1973. By 69 I think most cars not only had seat and shoulder belts, but also had some form of front seat headrests. A quick look through a book about 60s cars show a 67 Imperial and several AMC Ambassadors with headrests. Those would meet you 45 year cutoff.

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I've have read that '63 Imperials are just about indestructable at demo derbies but that is nowhere close to my intention but public roads these days are almost that.

What are your suggestions?

Are you sure it was the Chevrolet and not Chrysler Imperial? I know Imperials were often banned from demo shows because they were indestructible. Your comment about a '63 Chevrolet segways into the safety issue on other threads here and the 1959 crash test (Chevy had the same basic frame from 1958-1964).

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Those are some good suggestions with good points regarding dual master cylinders and collapsible steering columns but those things aren't that important to me. I've driven many cars for many years without those features and never had an incident. Seat belts OTH are important though I also drove for many years without using them. In every collision I've been in though, I was using seat belts. Maybe I wouldn't get into a wreck if I didn't wear them?;) Nevermind...

Eric, I looked back on my comments and I didn't find anything about a '63 Chevy. Sure it was me? I know my memory can be bad sometimes which is why I checked.

I'm not too fond of the cars of the later 60s. That's when automakers started using more plastics in their cars. I have to admit, most of the 1st gen Riviera's dash and center console is made of plastic but it looks well made an the fit wand finish was excellent. Cars also started looking too much alike and began losing all that artistically sculpted bodywork they had in years past. It's a matter of taste.

While the 2nd gen Rivieras continued to carry on the tradition of personal luxury, too me they seem a bit overweight looking compared to the 1st gen cars. Sorry if I'm insulting the 2nd gen owners with this, it's just something I never warmed up to but they are still worthy of carrying the Riviera nameplate unlike what came after the 3rd generation.

I like the idea of the 50's and 60's Imperials, especially after reading Eric's (X-frame) last post on his thread on the '59 Chevy wreck.

Keep the suggestions coming.

Thanks all.

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"Those are some good suggestions with good points regarding dual master cylinders and collapsible steering columns but those things aren't that important to me."

In 1994, I was forced to use my 1954 Chrysler Station Wagon as a daily driver for nearly a year. I had every piece of the braking system replaced/gone through, with the exception of the booster, which just didn't work - but the brakes stopped well enough anyway. One day during an emergency stop, I blew out the single chamber master cylinder at 50 mph. I barely managed to stop in time - thank goodness for a great emergency brake. If you ever have a really close call like that, it might make safety items such as later braking systems seem more important to you. It sure opened my eyes.

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Eric, I looked back on my comments and I didn't find anything about a '63 Chevy. Sure it was me? I know my memory can be bad sometimes which is why I checked.

I thought he was suggesting that you get a Segway:D
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I have no intention of using the car I ultimately choose as a daily driver. I just plan on using it for pleasure and the occasional family outing.

A Segway isn't exactly a family friendly vehicle.:P

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Those are some good suggestions with good points regarding dual master cylinders and collapsible steering columns but those things aren't that important to me.

The dual master cylinder may be the most important safety featured listed in this thread. Ultimately, the car is as safe you drive it but no brakes can be a bad scene.

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Have you considered a mid-sixties Lincoln Continental? The sedans are relatively inexpensive but solidly built. It should be easy to retrofit a dual master cylinder to an earlier car, and they came with deep-dish steering wheels from the factory.

Harold

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The dual master cylinder may be the most important safety featured listed in this thread. Ultimately, the car is as safe you drive it but no brakes can be a bad scene.

Devils advocate here. I appreciate dual master cyls as much as any one else. But I have been driving for 60 years and have had the grand total of one time when a duel cyl would gave been nice. Had a front hose break on a '66 Buick. In 1972.

Ben

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Bleach, how about considering the ultimate family cruise-mobile, a mid-'60's station wagon?

The '64 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country is a 4drht with a luxurious interior and can often be found loaded with options. The '65-'66 Town & Countrys are post models, but are just as fashionable with great interiors. Along with comfort features (a friend has one with everything, including P-vent windows!), you'll likely find they have the safety features you're looking for, too.

Mercury's Colony Park for '65 was billed, "If Lincoln made a station wagon, it would look like this," (or something similar), and looks just as good on the highway as it does dropping off the family at the country club's Sunday brunch. The '66 models added the Dual-Action Tailgate. There's also Ford's Country Squire, with a bit less interior luxury but similar panache from "America's Wagonmaster."

GM's top-line long roof offerings include the '66 Pontiac Bonneville, which can also can be found loaded to the gills with options, and have one of the best dashboards anywhere ('65 shown). Stepping down one notch is Buick's Sportwagon with it's cool-for-the-kiddies Sportsroof and simulated tooled-leather interior {I'm fond of the '67's for their dash layout and woodgrain treatment). Don't overlook the Olds Vista Cruiser either, with its Toronado-inspired front fender blade treatment and nifty frontal styling. Find one with A/C, tilt, PW, P-seat and you'll still feel GM's rock-solid rigidity every time you close a door.

Wagons are riding high these days and can be a good place to park some money, too; fashionable and practical. Just a thought for consideration in your next purchase.

TG

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I really liked all the suggestions, the Lincolns, the Hudsons and especially the wagons. I thought the links to the different cars was great, TG. I really appreciate all the time that was taken to respond to my thread.

I remember all those cars in the links. Some of my close friends and family members had some of them. Back in the 70's, a buddy of mine's land lady, who was in her 80's at the time, had the same exact New Yorker that was in one of the links. While the car wasn't that old then, it was still in mint shape and we used to admire that car every time she pulled it out of the garage and drove off.

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I'll have to echo that 1967 was the watershed year for safety equipment, at least at GM. Dual circuit brakes, first year for optional disk brakes on most models (though pretty rare for the first couple of years), collapsible steering column, etc. 1969 was the first year for federally-mandated shoulder belts and headrests on all cars, though they were optional on prior years.

I'll also point out that while people may "feel" safe in older cars, I equate this to the "butt dyno" where any modification one makes to a car makes it feel faster (though the timing lights at the drag strip may beg to differ). Physics and test data don't lie.

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I have driven my 69 Sport Wagon all over this country, and really can't think of a better road car. I installed a 200-4R overdrive, had the AC converted to R-134A and found an old after market cruise control. The rhird seat facing forward lets everyone see the same thing at the same time, and the car is big enough that I feel very safe.

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Any stepdown Hudson(48-54 except Jets) have a reserve braking system that automatically engages the emergency brakes when the pedal goes less then 2" from the floor. Only 62 Cadillacs and AMC offered a dual master cyclinder before the Govt mandated it for the 1967 models. Also the stepdown has a horseshoe perimeter frame of 2" x 8" running from the left A pillar to the right A pillar. Check it out. The car has a low center of gravity, making it nearly impossible to roll one over.

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I'm leaning toward an Imperial but the Hudsons sound interesting too. I'm also familiar with Cadillacs and I love their fins in the early 60's but didn't the have X-frames? I also didn't know they had dual m/c's before 67.

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Guest pitt64

The 61 to 64 big Pontiac's were way ahead of there time.. No X frame, excellent rear steer front linkage with an excellent Ackerman angle, four link rear suspension.. The stock drum brakes are very big 11" and work well... Pontiac was heavily into NASCAR when they were designed, everything changed for 1965 with the GM racing ban..

Edited by pitt64 (see edit history)
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Those were some of my favorite Pontiacs. I remember having a chance to get a nice Safari wagon for $100. It was a 59 though. The only thing wrong was that was missing the engine and transmission. This was also about 30 years ago and I didn't appreciate the wagons that much then.

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Guest pitt64

I know, how many we've passed on...

I remember my buddy had a 65 Grand Sport Riv with dual quads.. I had a 64 Grand prix with a 421 at the time and noticed how much better the Turbo 400 shifted over the goofy Slim Jim (Roto Hydramatic) my Pontiac had.. I think Buick called that transmission the Dual Turbine or something like that..

That was a nice car! He worked for a local Buick dealer at the time and could of had anything on the lot, he loved that 65, this was in the early seventies...

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While First Gen Rivs are just about my favorite cars, I can't find anything wrong with having a '61-'66 Imperial. I saw a "barn find" '65 at an auction two years ago and had to talk myself out of it (no room at the inn, and it's not on my 'list').

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