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Should I get a 60's-70's car as daily driver?


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A little about me...

I'm in my 20s and planning on moving to L.A. I don't know too much about cars, but I believe in taking care of whatever you drive, so I've already begun cleaning up my aging 90's econo-car and making it look and run nice again, despite how many winters it's seen. I have a genuine interest in cars and I'm ready to learn, not just maintenance but also being a good driver.

I've been thinking about getting a late 60's-early 70's muscle car as a daily driver. :rolleyes: I look at the cars I could replace my aging Geo Prizm with, something modern and cheap, or even modern and expensive, but I keep going back to this idea of a classic car. I want something with style, and frankly all the newer cars I see just don't do it for me. I'd rather save the money than spend it on an invisible car. When I love something, I can often put up with impracticality, but to a degree of course.

I don't mind spending a bit extra on gas, I don't mind having to be more in-tune to the needs of the car, I don't mind it being a bit hot inside or the ride being a bit rough. That said, I don't want to spend crazy money on keeping it filled, I don't want it breaking down on me, and I don't want something out-and-out tiresome to drive. I'm looking at something not too expensive to purchase. I don't need monstrous power. I can raise the money if I want the car enough, I can shop around for a deal, but I don't want to pay 25 grand for something that's going to cost me even more just to keep it on the road. Under 20 grand total would be great. I just want something with some presence. :cool:

I've always had a love for 2nd and 3rd generation Barracudas but so do lots of other people and again I want reasonable prices. The main concern I have is SAFETY. We're talking L.A. traffic on freeways DAILY, and that's not a small risk in a 40 year old car. I am also considering the safety of any passengers I might have. I could have TWO cars but that almost defeats the point. It's restrictive and a waste of money. If I drive the 70's car I want to be known for it. I'm alright with installing seat belts, disc brakes and the like, but is it too risky in general? I want to live life and not just preserve it, (hence why I don't mind spending a bit on an awesome car) but if it's too unsafe I won't do it. The most careful driving in the world can't save me from a serious collision. :confused:

So there it is. I have a Geo Prizm with almost 200,000 miles on it, I don't have the cash but I'm sure can raise it if I want it enough, I don't mind a little impracticality but I want to be reasonable, and I have some major concerns about safety. I wouldn't have considered this were I not moving to L.A. I wouldn't run a nice car through the snow to work, and I can take cabs if I have to over there. ;)

Advice, recommendations, comments?

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Advice, recommendations, comments?

In Los Angeles currently gas is selling for about $4.00/gal. The difference between a 30 mpg Prizm and a 12 mpg 383 Barracuda driving 15,000 miles/yr. (a low figure for that area) would be exactly $3000.00 extra in gas every year (500 gallons vs. 1250 gallons). Even if an extra $250.00/mo. on gas is your definition of "a bit", then there's more to think about. The environmental cost as a result of all that extra gas is just as substantial (7.4 tons of additional CO2 annually, just for starters), And while that may be meaningless to some..., in L.A. it's going to be looked down upon in most social circles.

As to the safety difference, this infamous video says it all:

. An early 1970s muscle car, while having seatbelts and possibly side impact beams in the doors (if late enough, they were required after 1/1/1973) , would react exactly the same way in a collision with a modern car. It's a risk, there's nothing else to said for it. (Except for what the actuaries say at your insurance company, who by the way will value your "muscle car" as a 40 year old used car should it come to that unless you use it only for car shows/parades/tours/etc. and have a special policy for it).

Every one of us is one this site because we love these cars, however their limitations have to admitted.

Edited by Dave@Moon (see edit history)
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In L.A. you need to consider that your car WILL be in an accident and you need to have a stash of spare parts to fix it with. Body shops don't like to work on the old cars because the parts aren't readily available through the dealer or the local aftermarket companies. That means the car will be taking up space they can use to get something else in and out of the shop quickly. If you live in an apartment or condo you will NOT be allowed to work on any car on the premises, cities won't let you work on one in the street. Most shops don't know how to work on anything with a carburetor.

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Our family is quite familiar with the L.A. Driving scene. My wife's side of the family has lived there since 1910. Our daughter is living their right now (wife & I moved to Austin several years ago).

Trust me, you don't want to drive a 60-70s car in L.A. You will want something smaller and more nimble to handle to heavy traffic & narrower side streets. Also, the smaller the car, the better chance of finding a parking spot.

Most importantly, ther are lots of people who know collector cars; I'd be worried about becoming a victim of midnight auto supply. A collectible car on the street has lots of parts that can be sold at the Pomona Swap Meet.

The trick to driving in LA is not to stand out, unless you have a garage and protected parking.

You might want to keep your Prizm for a while until you get the hang of LA driving. I would be a fearsome street warrior against the BMWs and Mercedes that try to cut you off. My daughter drove a 1996 Olds there until she got the hang of things.

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So if you want to live life and not just preserve it, I think your idea has merit, RedVac. 60s/70s cars WERE daily drivers in relatively modern road conditions until not too long ago, and there are options. I know it is not Mopar but the first car that comes to mind to me would be a Gen 1 Mustang coupe or convertible (hey, it is CA, right?), 6 cylinder AT or manual. Point of entry for a decent one can be less than 10 grand. The car is small enough to be nimble, easy to maintain and repair, and parts are readily available in the event of a fender bender. Relatively decent fuel economy and bearing in mind all old cars need more care and feeding than a modern brand X, these tend to be very reliable cars. Also, Mustangs are extremely popular so resale would not be too tough, yet not valuable enough so that driving it would not make you feel bad about wearing out a priceless collectible. My guess is you would not be alone in this strategy either. Not so much here in snowy New England...

If I lived in a climate that allowed it, and was in a situation where budget dictated my collector car would need to be driven or I could not afford it, I would give some serious thought to your idea. If you can, buy your car their to take advantage of the usual rust free condition most (but not all) CA cars seem to be found in.

As time and money permit, if your interest grows, you can "retire" the car when you are ready.

As a compromise a more modern choice may be a roadster like a Miata, but certainly not a collectible.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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Adding another thought as the "edit" feature does not seem to be cooperating right now..

Anyway, in terms of safety, Dave rightly points out that it may not be as safe as a modern car, personal decision but I hardly think you take your life in your hands - less safe than a new Taures, sure, safer than a Harley, yup. Driving habits and experience in my mind, are more critical in that area. Also a popular, simple choice like a Mustang can help "teach you" about cars as you note you are interested in learning, and if so inclined you could easily update brakes with bold on parts, and again, the car is not so valuable you would lose sleep over doing that.

Whatever you decide hopefully you get invovled in the hobby - you will likely get hooked for life... :)

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Guest GrabberOrangeBullit

Classic cars as true daily drivers (hand raised over here) are the same as every other car in that they need be maintained, but watched more closely as you have no onboard diagnostic computer to warn you when something is afoot....however, that is what many aftermarket gauges are for. You will also need to train your ear and your nose for tell tale sounds and smells to warn you of impending issues/repairs. With a daily drive, you WILL become that intimately involved and conversant in your car.

Also, if you don't wish to break the bank you WILL need to belong to dedicated posting boards for your make/model to ask for help when making your own repairs, and will need to invest in the tech repair manual(s) and if not already handy, you may wish to take some classes at the local Pennco Tech or Lincoln tech to learn how to get in there and get dirty. That said, stock piles of key parts, a place to work on it on weekends, proper tools, and if the space allows, a small stash of body parts in the event mom-milk wagon or Tony/Tina Texter hits you, are key to quicker auto body turn-around should you be tagged.

If you are OK with no air bags, 70's (and most late 60's) Mopars come with seat belts, but as you mention, you can add them. To be honest, for me (as someone whose family member has been t-boned in an intersection at 60 mph) I feel safer in all the metal given my state's insane traffic/drivers.

Proper insurance is also necessary, and you will not be able to do the QQ/antique tag thing, as there will be too many restrictions for those driving back and forth on the 9-5. Accordingly, proper eval and replacement insurance will need to be in place to ensure that in the event you are hit or worse, totalled out, you actually get what the car is worth, and in some cases, what you put into it in the way of modifications.

Agree with earlier responder, you wont be able to do this as a renter of an apartment or condo. You WILL have many a night or weekend under the hood and will have to leave things apart overnight and then pick up the next day where you left off. Even if only doing routine checks and minor maintenance, most apartment/condos dont allow you to do oil changes, etc. in the parking lot.

You should also check out your local scene and research shops which have expertise in your chosen ride...as there WILL be times that you simply cannot do the work yourself (be it for lack of tools/lift, time or knowledge).

Finally, the ride need not be bad...investing in replacing, upgrading to modern suspension system options and putting on new, properly inflated tires work wonders and your ride can be as smooth as you need it to be.

In all events, it is a commitment, but a worthwhile one IMO.

My two cents.

Edited by GrabberOrangeBullit (see edit history)
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I love old cars, or I wouldn't be here. Being now 54 years of age, and having learned to drive in the days of carbureted engines and 60s car build standards I have to say that for everyday driving I love my modern "throw-away" grocery-getter. Electronic fuel injection is the greatest advance to come to daily driving since closed bodies and heat, disc brakes are THE thing and I love the fact that you can buy a car now, do oil changes on the regular, recommended intervals, get tires and alignments and that's it, pretty much. For over 200,000 miles. I had 60s and 70s cars where everything was shot by 100,000 miles. Front end was all played out, U-joints were gone, electrical issues (corrosion @ connectors) , distributor had shot bearings, floors rusted out.

I love cars of that era, there is a lot that is special about them, but I'll take my Dodge Minivan over them in a heartbeat for commuting anyday.

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Someone brought up a Miata. I would rather drive a Reatta. Has a strong cult following, excellent fuel mileage, timeless design, many parts still available, highly reliable drive chain, modern electronics, not too small yet nimble, and many safety features. Big draw back is that it is a two seater.

And the best thing? They can be bought cheap, cheap, cheap as they have not caught the nation's fancy as a collector car.

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This is an interesting thread. While I agree a project car makes little sense for an apartment dweller I don't buy that for a driver purchased in good shape. No doubt a garage can be sourced capable of working on a '65 Mustang or similar, we are not talking about keeping a Duesenberg on the road here. OP does not seem too focused on powertrain but agree if it is a true "musclecar" and nothing else will do it could be impractical for many reasons, but alternatives like a slant 6 or small 8 would not necesarilly require monthly attention to keep on the road, they did not when they were new. That said I agree this approach would require some additional time effort and money spent on a collectible car vs. a modern car, but that does not mean it would be overwhelming. Lots of things on his side, youth, interest and a conducive climate for starters. And it is being done now by many, including some who have posted here before - would be great to get experienced feedback on the pros and cons...

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT
miss-spelled the "big D" Oh my... (see edit history)
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I drove my 1966 Mustang 6 cyl for 2 years, then I traded up to a 1978 Lincoln Mark V (I lived around the corner from work and school, so the gas was not an issue), then came the 1989 Buick Lesabre 2 door which was more modern and luxurious, it then was totaled by a crazy driver and I bought my 1991 Buick. I will tell you that anything from the 1950's and before are not good as daily drivers in L.A. The 1960's and early 1970's cars are borderline without modification. Once you get to the late 1970's the cars are much more modern. My friend had a 78 Caddy which he drove daily in L.A. and he traded it for a much more economical 6 cylinder 1976 Chevy Nova 4 door. My biggest caution to you is from where you buy the car. A lot of people like to mickey mouse their cars, especially young or old guys. I have spent years with my friends trying to reverse the 'repairs' done to their cars. Also old cars out here are much more expensive than the rest of the country. There are places here which are reasonable on fixing them though, and I could give you a few places if you want. .. .

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I can't wait to find a decent affordable 60's car to drive and ditch my "tech" laden 2006 Chevy HHR.It's been a good car but all you do is aim it.I fear the day when electronic crap goes haywire.I live in a very small town so high speed traffic is not an issue.My "ideal" car would be a Chevy wagon from the 60's,small V-8,auto and I can add AC if I want.Ed Dade City,Fl

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Guest GrabberOrangeBullit
This is an interesting thread. While I agree a project car makes little sense for an apartment dweller I don't buy that for a driver purchased in good shape. ...

In formulating my response, I spoke as a life long Mopar owner and driver (versus a hobby or professional restorer) who logs in daily miles on these cars in direct response to the young man's interest in Baracudas. That said, I can definitely say that you WILL spend a good chunk of time on them if expecting to drive them daily...that is, if he has but 20K or less to work with as an initial purchase sum (next to nothing to buy a decent, un-hot-rodded, Barracuda) /for someone not buying a trailer queen that has already had everything replaced on it.

Its a process, of both time and money and stamina to hunt certain items down (esp C-Bodies....not so much in A's etc.,with the advent of aftermarket supply and demand), to go through the car, and replace as you go/can afford it. This is a difficult task when a car is expected to perform/be driven M-F, at a minimum, and reliably.

GOB

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In Los Angeles currently gas is selling for about $4.00/gal. The difference between a 30 mpg Prizm and a 12 mpg 383 Barracuda driving 15,000 miles/yr. (a low figure for that area) would be exactly $3000.00 extra in gas every year (500 gallons vs. 1250 gallons). Even if an extra $250.00/mo. on gas is your definition of "a bit", then there's more to think about. The environmental cost as a result of all that extra gas is just as substantial (7.4 tons of additional CO2 annually, just for starters), And while that may be meaningless to some..., in L.A. it's going to be looked down upon in most social circles.

As to the safety difference, this infamous video says it all:

. An early 1970s muscle car, while having seatbelts and possibly side impact beams in the doors (if late enough, they were required after 1/1/1973) , would react exactly the same way in a collision with a modern car. It's a risk, there's nothing else to said for it. (Except for what the actuaries say at your insurance company, who by the way will value your "muscle car" as a 40 year old used car should it come to that unless you use it only for car shows/parades/tours/etc. and have a special policy for it).

Every one of us is one this site because we love these cars, however their limitations have to admitted.

I gotta agree with Dave on most points here, and I think you would be much better off buying a new smaller car that will protect you better and give much better economy in all areas of car ownership. It's amazing what you can buy NEW for under 20K. While I love my old cars, my new one is fast, comfortable, gets 40HWY mileage, goes around corners, directional control at 130mph is fantastic and is quiet.

There is a difference in cars of the lat 50's ( like the Chevy in the test ) and cars of the late 60's though. My 69 Pontiac has crush zones in the front end fenders and inner fenders, a collapsible steering column, padded instruments, and steering wheel, and mandatory seat belts front and rear and mandatory shoulder belts for the front seats and disc brakes in the front. I bought this car new in the L.A. area and resided there until 2006. I would not like to drive it there now. Every time I go back to see friends or family I have to put on my driving in L.A. thinking cap/ attitude adjustment hat on. A picture of the Pontiac; http://www.pismoderelicts.com/photogallery/new%20format%20937/images/p1020752.jpg

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Chevrolet Corvette: they made a million of them and they're a dime a dozen, relatively speaking, when they get to a certain age. If you're single and under 30, your payments will be less than your insurance.

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I drive my 1967 Dodge A100 pickup daily without any problems. It was built for the freeway and city streets.....why not use it for that? Muscle cars were built for the same thing, so why not drive one daily? Sure, it will take more fuel. Sure you will have to be careful. Just like any other car. You folks seem to be trying to talk this guy out of getting what he wants. I have to admit that apartment dwelling is not conducive to old car owning or collecting, but we can't all have the luxury of owning a three-car garage.

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GOB - understood, admittedly Mopars of the 60s and 70s are not my sweet spot and it sounds like your advice is well taken on one of those. I guess my point is if he truly wants to drive an older car daily bad enough, he can find one that fits the bill. There are trade offs, of course, and he needs to decide how critical gas and go is. I based my comments on the thought that if he can live with a car representative of the era that is reasonably sporty he could do this. As he says he wants to learn, so he has something to consider there

A Corvette or Reatta could fill the bill depending on his interest level. Since getting the SL I am finding a big level of interest in MB owners of vehicles 1960 - 1990 where the emphasis is on driving these, and in some cases daily. Properly sorted these are great cars and ahead of many in terms of comfort and safety. Many are being refurbished (fully sorted mechanically, with cosmetics tended to as needed but rarely dissasembled and restored) by owners who want an interesting car to drive regularly. That said, I would not recomend here as our new friend indicates his interest is in musclecars. Also, a needy MB can be very expensive so someone new to the hobby may find that to be a budget buster.

Now here is a challenge - on one hand a lot of us express concerns about young people's level of interest in the hobby. Let's face it - most young people do not have tons of disposable income. What's wrong with encouraging them to get into the hobby via a collectable or quasi-collectable Daily Driver? As I reflect on this it hit me - MBCA is picking up lots of new younger members, is that the case with all clubs? Does the driving factor have anything to do with this? Just a couple thoughts...

Will be interesting to see what OP decides.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT
added thought (see edit history)
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I drive my 1967 Dodge A100 pickup daily without any problems. It was built for the freeway and city streets.....why not use it for that? Muscle cars were built for the same thing, so why not drive one daily? Sure, it will take more fuel. Sure you will have to be careful. Just like any other car. You folks seem to be trying to talk this guy out of getting what he wants. I have to admit that apartment dwelling is not conducive to old car owning or collecting, but we can't all have the luxury of owning a three-car garage.

When was the last time you drove in L.A.?

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Wow, thanks for the heap of replies! Lots of good info in there.

The evolution of my thoughts on this idea:

Although I did consider the issue of theft I forgot about apartment regulations and work areas. In order of magnitude these are the (now deal-breaking) issues for me:

1. Apartment Vehicle Regulations & Suitable Work Area (biggest problem)

2. Driver and Passenger Collision Safety

3. Gas Prices

4. Vehicle Cost

5. Vehicle Insurance

6. Chances of Theft

7. Vehicle Size (Parking & Maneuvering)

8. Vehicle Maintenance Work + Costs (smallest problem)

Although the above is enough to make me reconsider the idea of having a classic car as a daily driver, I am going to end up owning one someday. I want to avoid having two cars until I decide to put down roots somewhere, one of the greatest perks of being young is MOBILITY and FLEXIBILITY which doesn't happen if I have TWO cars to shuttle around and worry about maintaining/fueling/getting stolen. If I have an anonymous economy car I can drive straight onto a ferry with all my possessions and set sail for Europe if I so desire (unlikely). :P I value the freedom of having few possessions. I don't like being tied down by anything, I don't own anything worth keeping that can't be put into my car.

One thing I'm sure of is that I'll have money in the future (say 10 years from now) to set up a personal garage and get a classic car. I'm a bit bummed because I wanted something I could "grow up with" and work on throughout these years, you know, develop a bond with a car, but I think it's wiser to put that aside for now. Along with packing light I also value anonymity and a Geo Prizm provides that in spades. I don't see any point in going halfway, I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person. Better to focus on career and get the money faster so I can drive that MoPar sooner, less distractions that way, more freedom on the other side. ;)

Perhaps I'll fix up the Prizm, for the heck of it. :confused:

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Get a daily driver that gets at least 35 mpg city. Anything else is a burden on our society.

Easy there. Just because I'm not getting the muscle car doesn't mean I'm riding a bike to work. The Geo is fine.

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Easy there. Just because I'm not getting the muscle car doesn't mean I'm riding a bike to work. The Geo is fine.

Geo should get 35mpg I would think.

Bikes are awesome commuters. Ride about 20 miles a day commuting.

Classic Cars are rare and VERY expensive. Used cars, not so much. For example, Ford NEVER made a Classic Car.

What is a classic car?

Classic Car Club of America ? What is Classic Car?

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RedVac, good thinking and planning on your part. You know what level of committment you can make at this point of your life, good news is learning is largely free. You may consider joining AACA where you can learn more about Musclecars or whatever peaks your interest. If you do, definately find your local region and join up. Chances are you will at least get to copilot some cars and see close up if that is what suits you.

I would imagine their are forums simillar to this one that focus on Mopars as well.

Good luck and hope you stay interested -

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If your going Mopar try for a 1930 Dodge with the mighty 208 cu 27 hp, now that's a classic.

OR,

you could always go with a Cuda fastback triple black package with some nice Cragars or a Lime green 70 GTX. I've seen both of those as daily drivers, of course that was 1977 ....

423_15.jpg

This way you get the best of both worlds, you get to go green and be in front

151343694_7db6f64b2f_z.jpg

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I almost forgot the worst part about California. Unlike other states, which give antique car status to vehicles 25 years old or more, CA does not. Anything made after 1973 has to pass smog inspection, which includes emissions. [AACA members, please correct me if this has changed]. What happens is that they constantly tighten up the emission standards on your car. Before we left about 10 years ago, it was getting impossible to smog a carbureted V8. I understand to older, air-cooled Porsches were going crazy trying to meet the standards.

If you get something, make sure it's a pre-1973.

Also, you will absolutely love the Pomona Swap Meet. It's held about 8 times per year and you will be able to find just the car you want.

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Guest GrabberOrangeBullit

30DodgePanel: No one is getting either of those lovely Mopars you pic for 20K...maybe a trip out to AZ might be worthwhile to hunt for something clean and not modded out within the budget mentioned. We got our current gal from an estate (but she is not a muscle car, despite her now nicely warmed 383), and then there is always the big Mopar shows (we do Carlisle, PA), but those folks know what they've got and price accordingly.

Edited by GrabberOrangeBullit (see edit history)
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I agree SteveMack...there are plenty of nice 60's/70's cars that he could go with...such that would pose less of an upfront cost, will be less likely to have been abused, have smaller V-8's or slant sixes for better mileage consideration, and which will easily be transformed with the right tires, rims and paint for some serious bump in cool factor.

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30DodgePanel: No one is getting either of those lovely Mopars you pic for 20K.

Maybe not in this fine finished condition, but they are out there.

Seen a Cuda fastback not long ago here in Arizona that I know can be had for around $5000 my guess is the owner will take $3500 for it as it sits, no motor or tranny but the big glass is there and that's one of the key pieces, plus the front grille and bumpers are there too.

Also, if you a search on Craigslist locally for 318s, 340s or even a nice 383 and I see them too, not all the time but they are out there if a young guy wants to apply himself and take his time with it. Yeah, maybe not daily drivers but with a little effort that's nothing to big that a young man with a dream can't conquer.

Funny thing about that Cuda I seen. I pointed it out to a coworker in his early 20's and he just laughed at me like I was an idiot with horrible taste. He'll realize it in another 20 years....

Edited by 30DodgePanel (see edit history)
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As another young guy(20) and having driven more than a few of the more beaten classics I can say you best bets are not going to be anything big block related or fullsize. By the sounds of you likes you are gonna want something simple and stripped down like a ford falcon, dodge dart,plymouth duster, and other cars of the small and midsize catagory with a 6 or small v8. I can attest that falcons are easily maintained and dirt cheap to run and repair. They are also easily found and you have juckyards you can scrounge goodies(like granada disc brakes). I would not suggest trying to drive in LA with an all drum brake car due to all the lovely things LA freeways have to offer. A survial kit is a must with older cars too. Things like spare points,distributor cap and rotor,fuses, a couple plugs and wires, consumable fluids, tools, a couple feet of fuel hose, ETC. All this stuff will cure the little mishaps that sometimes could lead to otherwise exspensive tow bills. Driving a classic daily is a realizable goal if you are up to the task. Take some classes somewhere and start making gear head friends as a good network of people will often get you the help or parts you need on a regular basis. Lastly buy SMART, always take a gearhead buddy for a second opinion and if your on a test drive make sure you find every possible thing wrong or that doesn't work and factor that in as well. Never think in terms of buying the car but as if you were going to sell it again. Helps to make you realize what the car really needs. NEVER buy cars in the dark! They always look worse the next day. Always observe the owner of the car and or their other cars this may give insight into the care given to the car your looking at. Most importantly be positive that the VIN numbers match whats on the title! If not walk away no matter how good the deal is.

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RedVac,

If your safety is your primary concern, your daily driver should have lap and shoulder belts, airbags, a collapsable steering column, ABS and four wheel disc brakes. Your other driver should match your desires.

I travel on the busiest highway in North America in both my daily driver and my '70 Cutlass rag. I certainly drive much differently in the Cutlass due to it's stopping distance and the amount of occupant protection. This is not a reflection of the mechanical state of the Cutlass or my driving abilities, but an honest assesment of risk exposure.

By the way, I'm a traffic safety professional. Please excuse my "preaching"......it's somewhat natural.

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I almost forgot the worst part about California. Unlike other states, which give antique car status to vehicles 25 years old or more, CA does not. Anything made after 1973 has to pass smog inspection, which includes emissions. [AACA members, please correct me if this has changed]. What happens is that they constantly tighten up the emission standards on your car. Before we left about 10 years ago, it was getting impossible to smog a carbureted V8. I understand to older, air-cooled Porsches were going crazy trying to meet the standards.

If you get something, make sure it's a pre-1973.

Also, you will absolutely love the Pomona Swap Meet. It's held about 8 times per year and you will be able to find just the car you want.

Yes! California does give Antique and Historical status. You can get a historical plate on any car twenty five years or older. There are restrictions which are the same restrictions you get when you have antique insurance which limit usage, and that usage is not a daily driver. Smog laws for California at this present time are; Vehicles from 1966 to present day must have all emission equipment on the cars and working. Vehicles from 1976 to present must be bi-annually smog checked. Vehicles which do not pass bi-annual emission inspection and test fall into a gross polluter status ( a bad thing ) and are given a waver for the first time but must pass afterwards. Gross polluter also triggers annual smog testing. California has also passed and is implementing it's own "cap and trade" starting this year. If the state cannot get it's carbon offset numbers to it's self imposed numbers by attacking business ( this is why we have business flight ) and utilities there is a good chance of pulling cars back into smog check to the 1966 year. The legislature does not need to do anything because it is already written into California Smog check Law. We expect utility rates to triple this year because of the regulation.

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Guest GrabberOrangeBullit

All my past 318's were relatively low maintenance rides, took heavy driving well and were pretty darn reliable ... but all those seemingly tame Mopars are now really ticking up in price (my 318's included a 73' Challenger, 74' Duster, 74' Charger SE, and a 72' Charger).

This spurred my/my husband's migration to big block 383 and 440 C bodies to include: (70' Chrysler Imperial LeBaron...the ultimate tech mobile with its SIX LIGHTERS so all passengers could recharge their gadgets, 71' Plymouth Sport Fury III coupe in scarey black on black, high back seats, power everything BOSS super sleeper; and now a 70' Chrysler Newport coupe.)

There were other Mopars we owned as well...but in all, a 318/ 727 with sure grip combo would literally take a lickin' and keep on tick in' and would be the best bang for Red's buck/ present a friendlier underhood, hands on, learning environment when ever ultimately deciding to get a first Mopar.

Also agree with earlier poster...a VIN DECODER teaches you a lot and is absolutely invaluable with purchasing classic cars.

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I'll admit I haven't been to CA since about 1995, but I have seen the traffic speed patterns on www.traffic.com (when I was considering going to the WPC National Meet in Burbank, several years ago), so I know it can be "stop and speed up, then stop again". But I know how bad/slow things can get as Dallas has some of the most congested freeway areas (even on the non-construction zone areas!) in the nation . . . just as driving through central Austin, TX or Houston. It's "everywhere", just worse in some areas than in others.

Now, having been in some of the "moving traffic" in the DFW area over the years, including morning commutes a few times, it seems that most everybody is in something reasonably "late model". Why? They're generally new enough to still be reliable AND have warranty coverage of some kind. In some cases down here, IF you shop carefully and wait for some particular times of the year, you can score a "cheap lease" (read the yearly mileage number CAREFULLY!!!) for less than a used car payment! Once, for example, there was a "cheap lease" on a BMW 3-series, but with only 9k miles/year. But there are now many leases for about $200/month which include some pretty decent cars with high fuel economy.

I also concur with the "anonymous factor", which is one reason I ended up with a Y2K Chevy Impala two years ago. Purchase price was about $3500.00 and I have had some repairs, but it does everything a "new one" can do (including Home Depot trips with the fold-down rear seat). Plus it's comfortable with a few passengers. And there are about 12 others in the smaller town I'm in, same color. Yet my "survivor" '77 Camaro would stand out in the same situation.

Having an older car is neat to do -- many of us have "several" -- BUT if you're going to drive one as a daily driver, choose something that repair parts (including body parts) are still around in "new OEM" or "repro" (usually Asian) varieties. When I bought the Camaro new, it fit me needs just fine, as one like it might fit yours in the future. I also ordered it with the collapsible spare tire so there's enough trunk space for a moderate suitcase, a gym bag, and a few other things . . . just right for a weekend trip for one, maybe two. Plus the back seat can accomodate something too, if needed (other than passengers for any length of time). With the 305 V-8 and "highway gears", it made for a good "trip" car that would get about 20mpg with the a/c blowing cold. But, with over 700K miles on it, it needs some things for the third time, now, like heater core. BUT almost everything I need is still available, somewhere.

BUT if you're going to be building "your life", you need something that's going to be reasonably new (for reliability and "what it looks like" reasons) that gets good highway fuel economy AND is pleasant enough to "live in" during rush hours (think great a/c and good sound systems!). I would target the $15K range, for general principles. At least down here, that would get you a 2 yr old Chevy Impala LT (which would fit MANY of the mentioned criteria). Or a similar Buick LaCrosse (NOT the new version, but the one built on the earlier Impala-type platform), or if you can find a "low mileage" one, either an Olds Intrigue or Pontiac Grand Prix . . . or a Chrysler 300M. But then again, if you can finance a newer car for the same monthly money as a used car, by going an extra year on the finance plan or paying more down, "newer can be better" . . . just as the shorter-term lease deals out there now.

Key point is to get something that's "easy to own and maintain" and put more into savings (for RETIREMENT) and future "things". By looking at the 2 yr old range of vehicles, they'll not loose quite as much in depreciated value in a few years, so the financials can work out better that way. Plus new enough to have many of the most recent safety features (even the beloved "navigation" stuff, with Bluetooth-enabled systems, too) to keep you "in the century", of sorts. For now, though, keep the trusty GEO going until you can find something that'll work for you, PLUS be an upgrade in status and "not having to work on it" issues, in addition to being able to stand the ravages of apartment life and city traffic.

Then, when you can find that rental/starter home place with a garage, then find "an older car" that you can put in it and work on as desired. Just getting it running and cleaned up can be an education in itself. Network with others with similar cars to gain further insights into that particular vehicle. If you like GM cars, then the Camaros are always popular (especially the 1967 style, the 1970-81 style, etc.), just as Mustangs generally are. Not to forget Barracudas, either (although with less of them built, prices can be higher somewhat . . . but keep an eye out on eBay and such as they DO surface every now and then). Being in CA, though, you'll need to be aware of the various CA smog-related vehicular regulations for older vehicles!

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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