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Daily Driver...help me convince my wife


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I'm already the proud owner of a 47' Special 4 dr sedan. It has classic car insurance, so it's only driven for fun. My daily driver is a 03' VW Passat. It's used to commute 12 miles a day. Not driven much on weekends. I have the opportunity to buy a 56 Super 4 dr sedan that's in good shape, but little known history.

I would like to sell the VW and make the 56 my daily. Anyone out there "done that"...and regretted it? Or are you glad you did? Have you Taken precautionary measures like undercoating, dual reservoir Master Cylinder? I live in N.Y. On Long Island so winters can be rough. I'm trying to convince my wife who Insists something's got to go...only one classic at a time.

Thanks, Frank

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Well, I think it is suicide for anyone in NYC to count on a 56 for a daily driver. First off the 56 is a great car but how will you compete with the jack rabbit starts from all the yahoos in their foreign cars? You'd have to start off in low at every light. Not very practical. Second, how will you feel after the millionth teenaged idiot cuts you off because you left a car length between you and the car in front so you can be sure to stop in time? Regardless if you convert to a dual master cylinder, you have two and a half tons of car to stop where they only have 1/2 the weight.

I would instead get a price from the classic insurance co and then show the wife that the cost for two classics is not that great on an annual basis. Plus old Buicks work better when they have company. I'd better stop here...

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BTW, the last time I was on the Island, and headed home to Albany at 3 PM, I had just crossed from the Southern State Parkway and was trying to merge onto the LIE with my 95 Riv. There was a three car length opening in front of a tanker truck and I slipped in matching the speed of the rest of the folks, which wasn't that great because of traffic.

So the Truck driver gets pissed off and immediately closes the gap and all I can see is the top of his bumper and grill. I had no where to go so the trucker cuts off a car in the next lane and pops over, to pass. First he cuts over to intentionally side swipe me, so I slowed and began to open the gap between me and the guy in front of me. Then he cuts in front of me with narry a few inches between me and the tank's rear bumper. Of course I let him go. No reason is justifiable for fooling with a wacko just to make a point.

I can just imagine how this would have turned out with my 56.

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As a fellow Long Islander, and taking into consideration John D 's points. Let me ask you this. Are you traveling in the rush hour traffic ? That could overheat the drum brakes. Unless maybe you are traveling in the opposite direction of the heavy traffic such as going East in the morning instead of West in bumper to bumper traffic. Or maybe you are going North to South and can take a less traveled route. I drive into Manhattan everyday although my work hours are a little bit earlier than the big rush. But I would not want to drive a 50's era car back and forth. I did however drive a 1966 Ford Fairlane 4 dr. sedan with non powered 4 wheel drum brakes with no problems at all. Granted the Fairlane was not very heavy. Now if I worked close to home or traveled in the opposite direction of the heavy rush hour traffic, then I wouldn't mind having an older car as my daily driver. Also be aware that the antique insurance policies forbid you from using your old car as a daily driver. They usually ask you to list your other, modern car or cars, as proof that you have something else to drive.

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My commute is short, 6 mile ea. way. Starting in Levittown, taking me through secondary roads around the Bethpage golf course into Melville. It's actually a scenic drive, well some of it.

I'm sure at some point, I would travel outside of that zone.

I drive my 47' everywhere, whether there is traffic or not...even on the Southern State if going to a Cruise Night.

Not sure about insurance, if a policy exists for what I want to do. Anyone?

I appreciate the responses so far!

-Frank

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So long as you have a back-up car to drive while the '56 is down for repairs and parts-searching.

I drove a '54 through high school and college and it was reliable. Beware the brakes, and have fun!

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I've seriously looked at all the pros and cons of doing similar only with a late 60s or early 70s era car as the replacement. Like you, my commute to work is only a short 11mi through rural areas which is why I even considered it to begin with. And like you I don't want to add another car to the fleet (insurance, registration, maint, storage, etc) so the modern car would need to go.

The biggest cons for me were the following:

  • These old RWD cars suck in the winter compared to a modern FWD and yes even if you put weight in the trunk and have good winter tires they still don't compare. I live near the foot hills of the Laurel mountains with plenty of ups and downs. If the terrain was flat this wouldn't be as much of an issue but for me in SW PA it is huge.
  • Besides the commute to work there are vacations, day trips and other demanding needs of a daily driver in 2012 lifestyles that are too numerous to list here. Some of these just aren't as comfortable and safe vs a modern car.
  • Speaking of safety that was also a concern, even though I'd be surrounded by alot of metal, that can be a false sense of security. The comparison to a car that was engineered spending boo-coo money in crash testing and restraint sytems such as air bags, there is no comparison.
  • Preventive Maintenance. Time makes us forget the level of maintenance that was needed to keep these old cars reliable. Yes they were pretty reliable in their day.......that is with nothing better to compare to. Modern cars today need little but oil changes and brakes for 100k leaving our time free for other things not to mention fuel injection is a godsend for those living in cold climates. Again no comparison.

So the bottom line as much as I'd love to replace my modern car with say a 72 Riviera, common sense tells me the novelty would wear off in a short period of time probably around December. :confused:

If you have the time to dedicate towards maintenance and the enjoyment you would receive by driving an old car daily outweighs all these cons then its worth it.

For now I look at it too much from a practical point of view and in doing that there is only one outcome. If you are willing to throw that out the window then go for it.

My current conclusion doesn't stop me from trying to come up with a rational method to justify it.

Sorry I just realized I was supposed to help you convince your wife. Urgh!

Edited by JZRIV
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I have problems with other drivers not respecting safe distances when I go for Sunday drives in my Riv, I can't imagine trying to drive it dailey when I would be surrounded by folks really in a hurry to get where they are going.

My car goes and stops well, and keeps up with traffic just fine, but I still feel better with a little bit of "personal space" when on the road. It amazes me how much other drivers just don't respect safe driving distances, especially when they encounter a collectible car.

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With all these naysayers, I wonder how we drove these cars "back in the day".:D:D Get regular insurance and drive it. Should not be any higher than the '03.

Ben

Ben, I think driving a 1950's car in the 1950's is a lot different than driving a 50's car in the 2000's. Trying to be practical about it brings up two more things:

#1, a six mile commute will be just about enough time to get heat out of the heater, and probably not enough time to get the engine thoroughly warmed. You will definitely spend more time idling the engine just to warm it up and the gas costs will be extraordinary compared to a modern car.

#2, Back in the 50's, when everyones cars wallowed and swayed in the sharp turns, people would slow down for some of the bad road conditions. Today, the worse the road, it seems the more people pour on the speed. Is it just me? No, I don't think so. But honestly, if you have not driven in NYC you may not be aware of how folks behave there. I often wrestle with sending our Governor a letter asking him to scrap all the speed limit signs to help balance the State Budget, because no one pays a moments worth of attention to them. Might as well scrap stoip lines on the pavement too. People seem to think they are there to provide a lead off the line when they stop on the wrong side of them. No parking signs, phish!!! Traffic lights? Always green no matter what side they approach from. The list goes on and on.

But I did notice Franks Commute is all back roads and only 6 miles. Perhaps under those conditions I'd be tempted to try it out for a while in the 47, and then see if it's something I'd consider full time.

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FRANK, to make this decision successfully, you really need to look inside yourself. Are you a practical sort who always squeezes the toothpaste tube from the bottom, habitually has his bank book balanced, and only buys clothes on sale? Then putting up with the challenges of a fifty-six year-old daily driver will make you crazy. Forget it.

However, if you can take a little chaos, have ever truly forgotten about an unpaid parking ticket, are stirred to tears by great music, and truly adore old cars, then dump the squarish transportation appliance. Get that '56 Buick good and roadworthy because that's going to be your new love.

In 1984, my wife and I had sold my premarital daily driver, expecting to buy a newer one for her and I would get her hand-me-down Mazda. We just couldn't bring ourselves to get back on the car payment treadmill, though. And secretly, I couldn't bear to become a four-door 323 kinda guy.

So wifey says, oh, go to that danged auction and see what follows you home. Next day, a '65 Cadillac Coupe de Ville was my new best friend. Lovely, lovely car with all the toys, most of which still worked. White leather bucket seats and console. Sure, the front seats were shredded but I found plush leopard-skin seat covers that fit the car's Las Vegas image perfectly. There was plenty of rust underneath, so I never got all precious about winter driving. By the third or fourth season, I'd had to wire on the fender skirts because there was nothing left of the brackets.

I have now conveniently forgotten most of what it needed for safe and dependable motoring. Early on, I did pay a bunch of money to an old drag racer, who rebuild the carb and tuned the engine so that, ever thereafter, it started and ran as sweet as any Cadillac could. I also remember that the auto A/C seemed to get less and less functional every time I worked on it. The system eventually ended up with two modes - "off" and "full heat with defrost". Heck, what else do you need in a winter beater?

I drove that Cadillac for eight years, loving every mile of it. For much of that, three child safety seats were lined up across the back seat, with elbow room for everyone. I came to realize that having a big two-door car is actually great for a young family. I'm certain that if they'd been strapped into the Mazda, the oldest would have surreptitiously undone his brother's safety harness, then flung the back door open as we rounded a corner, tossing his nemesis into a ditch, never to irk again.

Cruella, as wifey called the car, didn't even annoy me on fill-er-up days because I didn't - still don't - really drive all that much. I had just a couple of miles to get to work every day, plus drop-offs at piano lessons and countless soccer games.

Back then, we were renovating to our old bungalow and the Coupe de Ville (I still love to say that name out loud) was great for hauling supplies from the hardware store. I used an old style clamp-on roof rack for loading sheet goods. Because all three kids always wanted to ride along, the guys down at Windsor Plywood took to calling me the Caddy Daddy. I was touched - never had a nickname before.

Our affair came to a sad end one morning, when someone ran a red light and clobbered us in the front right corner. There were chunks of shiny chrome pot metal scattered fifty yards away. I kept the car in storage for a while, planning to find a less rusty donor CdV and build a new winter car. Reality set in eventually and I let her go to another guy with big dreams.

Great times, great car.

Not actually my car but right model, right colour, right here in town. (Photo by Dan Wells, The Edmonton Journal)

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Frank;You must do more than just go to work every day?Weekend drives,family functions,sporting events,etc.etc.Question #2 does your wife drive,would possibly drive this car also?I also agree people today drive more agressively,and do not pay attention,the 56 will not respond like the vw,the 56 is a whole different animal from a different period of time{that i wish i could go back to}I drive a 55 Buick,for fun,shows,sundays,out of town shows,get-togethers,family functions,ice cream runs, etc.etc.My daily driver is an 03 ford explorer,momma drives an 07 ford escape,[we both still work]I live only 4 miles from the shop,and she drives 8 miles to the office,but we do more than just work.My other driver is a 99 honda valkyrie.I drive it to work/fun.However.ive had many many many many "CLOSE CALLS" from the idiots i must share the road with,[people texting,eating,smart phone internet,nose picking etc.etc.etc.}most of which happens with in my journey of 4 miles to work!! On another note, salt is a four letter nasty word,i'm sure they use it where you live,all the "undercoating"you can do will still not stop all of it,you will see rust in wierd places,in 5 years you be pulling out the putty[bondo]."I WOULD NOT DO IT" I Iove my wife,my 55,my bike,and yes my fords,{my insurance doesn't allow me to take the 55 to work}.What i'm saying is step back and look at the "WHOLE PICTURE"yes the "extras"cost $$$$,personaly I don't gamble,smoke,I put that $ towards our fun!!!!! Just some food for thought, thanks for seeing another opinion,maybe your life is different than mine.

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I love my old cars more than almost anything...about 10 years ago I thought of doing the same thing you're thinking of, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't think I could handle knowing that I was the reason another old car was rusting into the ground. Road salt kills, man. On the other hand, if I lived in year round sun, no problem...

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Frank, Here is what I do and been doing for years. Now bear in mind I live in Nebraska where the traffic is nothing compared to New York, but the same idiot drivers are around here too. I have a 40 mile commute each day with a top speed of 70-75 mph. I let the agressive drivers go on buy me and keep on moving down the road. Some even get upset when they get passed by an old car. The worst one is the guy who has to drive beside you for miles and check out your ride. He blocks traffic and can box you out of the lane you really want. I have one vintage Buick and one newer Buick. I insure both of them at the same time. The insurance is cheap because they know I can't drive them both at the same time. Then I can choose which one I want to drive each day. In the winter I take the vintage Buick off of the policy and on goes the 4x4. I do not insure the vintage Buick as a classic so I can drive it anywhere. When you break up the miles this way neither car gets a lot of miles on it and I have another car to drive if I am chasing parts or repairing one of them. The vintage Buick is changed often and has been years from the 30's to the 80's. I own and build them to drive them and enjoy them.

Randy

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Summer is here. Don't sell the VW and switch the insurance so you can start driving the Buick. See how you like it. You are the only one who can tell.

The one thing I have learned after only 50 years in the hobby, the path to disappointment is littered with logical ideas. Impulse, extravagance, illogical actions have always made my hobby experiences best. Jump in that car and drive it. You'll either like it or you won't.

Bernie

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When in doubt just go for it. If it does not work out you can always reverse course and sell it. I commuted to high school and then college back in the late 60's in my 31 chevy and I'm still driving it today at least 20miles per week.

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Even though your commute is only a few miles each day, what about long highway trips for vacations or other things like that? What does your wife drive? Is this a car she would feel comfortable handling if you were not around or incapacitated and she needed to get somewhere? Will you be OK living without A/C in the heat of the summer and some of the other creature comforts to which we've become accustomed?

Yes, these cars were designed to be driven regularly when they were new, but our traffic conditions today are quite different, as well as our expectations for our cars. In the dead of winter, that sucker might get cranky and difficult to start--we're spoiled by the wonders of fuel injection that fires instantly no matter the temperature. 60-year-old carburetors and ignition systems don't do that, no matter how well tuned.

And as a daily driver, realize that it's going to get worn out and beat up. It will start to rust next winter and it will rust faster than any modern car. You'll get a few years out of it, and it will be done, just like in the good old bad old days. Will you be able to live with watching what is probably a nice old car rust and get scruffy?

Just off the top of my head, I wonder: Will you be OK feeding it a steady diet of $4.00+ fuel at, say, 16-18 MPG? Do you feel confident that if something like the transmission fails you'll be able to find someone to fix it in a few days like with a modern car? Will you be OK leaving it parked somewhere without worrying about it like with a new car? It's a lot bigger than anything else today short of a full-sized pickup, so parking may occasionally be a challenge, especially if the Buick doesn't have power steering (although it probably does). Tires will wear out quicker, too, so you can forget 50,000+ miles from an $800-1000 set of rubber like with a modern car. And what will it cost to insure through your regular insurance, because as a daily driver, your collector insurance won't touch it (and it may even invalidate your collector insurance on your other cars because you don't have a modern daily driver).

Yes, it would be awesome, and yes, the cars were designed to be driven. But why do it when you already have an alternative (the VW) and can simply take a nice old car and enjoy it for what it is today--a relic and a drivable piece of art? I'll also wager that given all this, there's probably zero financial advantage to the Buick as a replacement, and if you really love the Buick, it might even be cheaper in the long run to keep the VW around...

Just some thoughts from a guy who watched his father buy old car after old car after old car thinking that THIS would be the one that would be a great daily driver instead of a new car. He never really succeeded.

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Good evening Frank.

I have done what you are considering for several months.

Two big differences though. I live in southern California. The next, my vehicle is a 65 Riv, a 9 year newer vehicle.

I did not have any problems for the 4 to 5 months I drove the car daily. My concern was the possibility of theft.

If I find a suitable alarm, I will drive the car daily again.

I am now faced with buying another vehicle since my current daily driver, a 92 MB, is near the end of its' life.

New vehicles are very expensive as well as registration and insurance costs.

Something to consider.

Marty

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Hey, if you trust it, DO IT.........can you imagine this question being asked/considered in 1956? NOOOOOOOO!

We had a 56, and NEVER gave such a thought, we took it everywhere, and that was in Chicago area.

Try it for a few days, if you haven't already.

Dale in Indy

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Marty,

I had a similar decision to make last year. I looked at late model Jaguars, Lincoln Town Cars, Rolls-Royce Silver Spurs, and other semi-exotic stuff. I needed to reliably drive across New York State and back on a moments notice.

This was the most durable choice for me and being 17 years old it gets a bit of attention.

Bernie

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Good info here and great stories too. Many points to consider: maintenance, theft, driving conditions, road salt, 6 degree mornings, crazed drivers ( ever driven the Belt Parkway to Brooklyn on a Sunday at 11 p.m...I did and it was not fun!) I've decided to keep the 03' and if I can secure the 56', drive it but with regular insurance. It will have p.s., p.b., Dynaflow but I doubt my wife will drive it. We just replaced my 15 year old Nissan with a new Honda for her.

Thank you everyone for your responses, I appreciate them.

-Frank

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I know this is reviving a really old thread, but I will use my 55 as a mostly daily driver once she's done. When I first got a 55 Buick in 2002 I was in college at the time. Parents swore it could NOT be a daily driver......... I drove it all around town, city, and long hauls to the beach for 5 years before the radiator blew... I set it aside for a couple months to save up for the radiator, a guy offered me more than I paid for it, so I sold it... Now I have steady income and better repair abilities.... Here we go again.

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Thanks for bringing this back to the top Matt. If I ever get the engine put back together in my lil BlueBird 4 door Special I will recommence to driving it daily. But being retired now, hell I never go anywhere, so non power steering or AC shouldn't be that big of a problem.

good luck and getter done!!!

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Thanks Mr. Earl. They really are comfortable cars. Even the lil 264 never gave me a minutes trouble getting out on the highway and up to 65mph. Admittedly stopping and steering are different, but once you drive it a while you learn how to adjust. I never had A/C growing up and still rarely use it. My only gripe was the way the front doors are built it was hard to rest my arm on the window sill! ;)

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The first car I bought when I got out of the Marines back in '72 was a 2 door Special sedan. Paid $250 for it. Drove it everywhere, especially the beach, Myrtle Beach, Daytona,Tybe Island, and pretty much sewed my wild oats all over northeast Georgia in it. Cleaned a couple of ditches out with it too I recall. Used it one time to haul concrete blocks and mortar in... filled the trunk, back and front floor board with them. That was my cruiser. Turn the 8 track player on and cruise. And for speed, I had my little Triumph GT-6+. Dem were the days....

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My late brother Tom god rest his soul was a cop in CT and always drove his old buick's all year long. He just love them.His thought was why buy a new junk and pay high ins. he would reather drive a BUICK.So let your head do the driving.

have a great BUICK day

BUKE (FRANK)

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My late brother Tom god rest his soul was a cop in CT and always drove his old buick's all year long. He just love them.His thought was why buy a new junk and pay high ins. he would reather drive a BUICK.So let your head do the driving.

have a great BUICK day

BUKE (FRANK)

Thanks for sharing!

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