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kobayashimaru

Classics as daily drivers

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A friend of mine has a beautiful 1966 Chrysler New Yorker 2 Door with the 440 with every imaginable option including green leather seats. He uses this car as his daily driver. He says that, aside from fuel economy, he loves it. He claims all it has needed basic wear parts and hasn't had a problem with it.

 

I'm starting to think of going down the same road, with something from the 1970's to the early 80s. So I ask; As far as safety, I would stick to cars with a centrally located fuel tank, front shoulder belts, a dual circuit brake system and a collapsible steering column. If, and I mean IF I could find a full size GM car with the Air Cushion Restraint System, that would be very nice

 

So, what are the good and the bad of a classic car as a daily driver?

 

Thanks In Advance!

 

Joe

 

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The only downside is that you probably can't get collision insurance for the car; at least not at any reasonable price. Crash repair parts aren't readily available, so insurance companies won't issue coverage. Classic car insurance companies have restrictions on daily driver use and regular insurance companies don't want to bother with them.

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 No collision insurance is not a problem. There are many cars like described in the first post that can be purchased

for less than $10 or $20,000, often as low as $5,000. The savings from buying a new car will more than offset any repairs needed.

 

 Put on new tires, brakes and exhaust sys. and drive it! Even a carb, alternator and starter and batt. will not break the bank.

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I drove a 1973 boat-tail Buick Riviera for two years as a

daily driver, and enjoyed it.  That was in the late 1980's,

when cars were downsized, and the Riviera turned heads.

But I had it thoroughly rust-proofed first

and took public transportation to work, so it didn't get

the daily commuting wear-and-tear that it might have.

It was driven in winter, but not as much as a daily driver would

have been, and for just two years.  After 2 years' enjoyment,

I dedicated it to collector status, then had it repainted and

rechromed.

 

One major thing to be aware of:

Cars from the 1960's and into the 1970's will rust badly

if driven in winter and not rust-proofed.  Cars from the late 1970's and

1980's should be less rust-prone. (What do other hobbyists think?)

 

I would strongly advise NOT driving it in the wintertime.

No one wants to take a nice car and see it deteriorate:

Not only would your car be declining in value instead of rising,

but you would be gradually destroying an old car that you like.

But I say GO AHEAD and enjoy it during the other three seasons!

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Hi Joe,

 

Welcome to the forum!

 

My advice it give it a try!

 

Buy an inexpensive, good running, "no work needed," example of a car you would like to drive. Not your dream car. None of us can afford our dream car.

 

Shop carefully. Drive alot of cars before you purchase one.  20? 30? I don't know.  Make it part of the fun!

 

There are many, many, many of these cars out there than there are buyers.

 

If you buy carefully, you can always sell it for what you have in it. 

 

Good luck.

 

Keep us posted

 

Dwight

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Joe,

Ironic you see a 66 Chrysler model on the road as I see a 65(?) green Newport on the road around here too that's being driven regularly. It has faded paint but no rust out and the interior has seat covers on it and does catch your eye in a parking lot. Seems it's a fellow in his mid 40's and just likes the car the way it is.

Like others have said, get yours rust proofed (oil spraying helps), keep up on the brakes, tires and exhaust like any used newer car and enjoy the ride. 

Heck, I'm driving a 1999 Minivan and when my neighbour starts complaining about his 2011 Dodge Truck having to go back to the shop and the cost I just smile and say, "That's too bad, need a lift?"

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My wife drives her 1966 Ford Mustang convertible daily April through October, rain or shine...

 

I think you might be restricting yourself a little bit by specifying a central fuel tank, shoulder belts (not really common until the mid-70s) and airbags (while they were experimenting with them in the '70s and early '80s, it's an exceedingly rare option that will likely be either out of service, removed, or impossible to repair). If you open your search criteria a bit you'll find you have a MUCH wider selection of really nice cars from which to choose. Most old cars will not be as safe as a modern car, but they're not death traps, either. Safety is important, but how you drive is just as important, perhaps more-so.

 

Don't be afraid of reliability issues; these cars were driven daily when they were new, there's no reason they can't still be used regularly if you maintain them properly--just remember tune ups and that full-service gas stations were there for a reason. Heck, my father drove a 1941 Buick Super business coupe to work year-round (winter and everything) for years when I was a kid in the 1980s and did little more than gas and oil.

 

Live long and prosper!

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

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I drive my 1980 Plymouth Volare whenever I need to go some where through out the spring, Summer and Fall. Slant 6, automatic, gets good mileage and very reliable. I have insurance through my regular insurance company. They do not care how much I drive it, only that I have another car as my primary. Not very expensive either, about 45 dollars a month with full coverage. The only thing I had to do is have it appraised and that is what the max value for insurance is. If any damages are more that $7000 that is all I will get.  And that appraisal is from 2007, they have never asked for a newer one. I am very happy with it and love to drive it.

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 No collision insurance is not a problem. There are many cars like described in the first post that can be purchased

for less than $10 or $20,000, often as low as $5,000. The savings from buying a new car will more than offset any repairs needed.

 

 Put on new tires, brakes and exhaust sys. and drive it! Even a carb, alternator and starter and batt. will not break the bank.

 

Agreed.

 

My 1979 Caprice Classic has been my winter daily driver since 2009; my 1989 Caprice Classic has been my summer driver (except for this year) since 2012.  Before that, I drove an '87 mc LS daily.

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve
"I know I told you that I could survive" __ Deborah Allen __ 'Baby I Lied'

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Shoulder belts became mandatory fed regulation in Jan 1968 but were usually a separate belt stored on the headliner and seldom ever used. 3point belts were mostly 73 and newer. Head restraints became mandatory fed regulation in Jan 1969. Either were optional before those dates and a lot of the Chrysler products had headrests on just the passenger side  as each side was a separate option. You could always add a late models seats that have the 3 point belt as part of the seat but that might spoil the fun of a vintage interior.

 

Collapsing steering column would be late 60's and newer. Dual reservoir master cylinder for brakes would be 67 and newer in the Chrysler products but can be added to the earlier ones. The rear mounted fuel tank is safe enough to not think about except in certain cars that use the top of the tank as the trunk floor (early Mustangs come to mind) but if a sealing divider is added to separate the passenger compartment from the trunk compartment then you won't have spilled gas flying forward and soaking passengers after an accident. There are a lot of items under a car that can pierce a fuel tank no matter what position it is in. Get used to spending a couple hundred dollars every 6 months for normal maintenance items if you daily drive an old car with points in the distributor, all ignition components need regular replacement unlike a modern computer controlled car that can be ignored for 100,000 miles on the same spark plugs. There are kits to add disc brakes to the front of just about any old car that had drum brakes in front, rear disc is a waste of money on a daily driver as the fronts do most of the stopping in regular driving.

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I drove a '61 Ford falcon for years until the engine wore out. I never had much problem with it, but I kept tools in my trunk... I was prepared. My little falcon and me went everywhere in rain, snow, sun, and wind.

 

What I wasn't prepared for were other drivers. What a bunch of nasty road hogs who always pulled out in front of my or cut me off because I was driving an old car. Lots of tailgating too. I experienced things that people would never have done to me had I been driving a new car. I guess they think they can just drive all over you or something, you're just a thing to get in front of or around.

 

Other than that I loved it. The Falcon currently sits in the barn waiting for a new power plant and I can't wait to get her back on the road.

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LOTS of feasibility of using an older car for a daily driver is just where the daily driving might be.  Traffic density and speed can be defining factors, for example.

 

Insurance?  Just look at the price guides and be reasonable, but also just a tad higher so you won't have to revalue it every year (due to appreciation in value).  That price is what your premiums will be based upon, whether it's just "liability" or "full coverage", just like the insurance people do for newer vehicles, just that the price of older vehicles can be so variable and something they aren't that well-versed in, they let YOU choose the reasonable replacement value.  But, just like insurance for newer vehicles, you'll have to prove the value should a total loss situation occur . . . unless the insurance vendor has "agreed value coverage" as a few antique insurance companies do.  You pay insurance on $XXXXX and in the case of a total loss, that's what they pay off of.

 

There are lots of older vehicles that can be great daily-use vehicles, even as an alternative to a later-model SUV.  It's always best to find a vehicle that can have a good selection of used "crash parts" available, either as new/knock-off/repro parts or from local/regional salvage yards.  If the OEM can't supply it, then the insurance adjuster has to try to find something suitable.  BUT with the lower general value, it might be easier to total loss the vehicle . . . which the insurance company might desire to do and then get on with things.  In that case, you could buy-back the salvage and orchestrate the vehicle repair yourself . . . just depends upon how extensive the damage might be.

 

A downside might be that these older vehicles can be larger than what modern parking spaces might be able to accommodate.  GMs and Fords generally had tighter "turning circles" than Chrysler products did, for example.  So choosing your parking space and where you drive might need to be considered in the size of the vehicle you might decide upon.

 

Some of the older vehicles help up well in the long run, but at this point in time, they'll need new rubber fuel system items (ethanol in the gasoline now).  With a few other equipment upgrades (iridium spark plugs, magnetic suppression spark plug wires, electronic ignition kits for the earlier '70s and back cars, and quality fan belts) they can be just as maintenance-friendly as newer vehicles.  Other vehicle systems can be upgraded too, as brakes and the addition of self-learning fuel injection.  Some of these things can cost little more than normal replacement items as others can be somewhat pricey.

 

If you might choose something like a Mustang or Camaro, you can now built complete cars with what's available now.  If you might desire a Galaxie 500 or an Impala, you'll probably need to join a club for those (or similar) vehicles to find regional replacement parts availabilities.  Plus, there's always the beloved eBay!

!!If all you're looking for is an old "appliance", then you can find Chevy Impalas from the 2000s at very high-value pricing that can be just as much of an "appliance" as a Toyota Camry.  In the $5k range, or thereabouts.

 

If you desire to relive your youth with a particular car "of your youth", like the way the older vehicles rode and drove, and just feel good driving one, then have at it.  Choose wisely, as always, doing your due diligence on vehicle searches AND title record searches.  You'll need to search out a repair shop that likes the older cars, too!!!  AND knows and understands them!!!!  It CAN be a fun and enjoyable adventure that others might wish they could do, but can't.

 

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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 No collision insurance is not a problem. There are many cars like described in the first post that can be purchased

for less than $10 or $20,000, often as low as $5,000. The savings from buying a new car will more than offset any repairs needed.

 

Don't bet on it.  Depending on the car chosen, repair parts may not be readily available.  If it's a Camaro, Mustang, or Chevelle, you can buy anything repro.  On the other hand, even something as seemingly commonplace as a 1980s Olds Custom Cruiser (my prior daily driver) is nearly impossible to find good body parts for.  Typically I have to buy a parts car to go with each of my old daily driver cars.  Not a problem for me, but others may not have the space for that.  I'm not saying don't do it, just be aware of the possible problems.

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It's the "be aware of possible problems" part that many seem to not consider.  They can become so enamored with the thought of driving something distinctive (without the purchase price of a newer "distinctive" vehicle) that they don't really investigate many of the side issues AND their ultimate impact upon the whole situation.

 

One reason I upgraded to a 2000-era Impala was that it was something that "the kids" (not meant as a negative in this case!!) would be looking at something they knew about and understood when it was in their service bay, even for something as minor as an oil change.  THAT makes me feel more comfortable in them not unintentionally harming something on my '77 Camaro.  Also, better fuel economy in the Impala and the insurance company is more comfortable with it, too, as THEY know about the later cars.

 

I suspect that if most metro areas are like the Dallas area, there seem to be a modestly-growing group of repair shops which tend to cater to the older vehicles.  Just have to network and discover them.  Take them to a more mass-market repair shop or even a dealership and the results can be variable, even "bad", depending upon those involved.  There are NO generic mechanics, but mechanics who've been trained and educated on front wheel drive vehicles (which is the era of their birth, generally) and all that can imply.

 

I got a phone call from a lady who had a '73 Riviera she was desiring to get running after it being in her garage for the past 20 years.  She took it to a local repair shop and wanted to pull the engine to replace an allegedly leaking oil pan (not knowing that an oil pan gasket is not a major leak area, unless it's totally deteriorated from just sitting).  She said the mechanic had looked "everywhere" to see if there was another way to replace the gasket, but had found none.  I questioned the validity of their diagnosis, respectfully, and then referred her to another mechanic shop owned by a POCI and BCA member who would know more about her car than the generic repair shop.  It was closer to her and also she was glad for the information that a Buick enthusiast "in the business" who "knew her car" was around.

 

Seeing an older vehicle, when "art" was on four wheels, is something to make many smile about.  Either from the joy of seeing it in action and/or knowing what pitfalls might await the owner in the future.  As neat as it might be, sometimes it's best to leave those "joys of ownership" to somebody better suited and better capable of dealing with the many side issues involved with owning an older vehicle, in daily use or otherwise.

 

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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I have never done anything other than have interesting cars but then my tastes are constantly changining. In 1984 every car I had came with a V8 even my Sunbitrd & just have one now. For a couple of decades it was cars with a Buick 3800 but GM was making lots of two seaters then. Now OHC is needed and DOHC preferred (along with Air Conditioning). My latest toy is the Crossfire which replaced the Fieros and has a 6-speed manual trans. My next one will probably be a Cad XLR when they depreciate into my range

 

Insurance has never been an issue, have two policies, a major for the DDs and a collector policy for the others. I have collision and comprehensive on all.

 

So no reason not to do what you want and if a GALB fits that description then go for it.

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Insurance has never been an issue, have two policies, a major for the DDs and a collector policy for the others. I have collision and comprehensive on all.

 

Perhaps you can share the name of an insurance company that will issue reasonably priced collision and comprehensive on a 1960s or 1970s daily driver.  I certainly haven't been able to find one.  Collector policies won't cover daily-driven cars.

Edited by joe_padavano (see edit history)

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I'm sure NOT everyone is truthful when telling their Insurance Co how many miles they will be driving. 

 

I cancel most of my insurance in the winter time, you probably do tooooooooo!

 

I have my 41 Limited insured for less than $100.00 per year, well 6+ months.  Actually it is $82.00.

 

Dale in Indy 

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Just buy some liability insurance and if it gets crashed up by your own doing then buy another one.

You are talking about a few thousand at most and insurance company's will do anything to deny your claim any way.

We are most likely not much like a good neighbor in good hands. That's all crap to SELL you something.

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For the MOST part, your insurance is as good as your AGENT.

 

If you have a good relationship with him/her, chances are they will be a supporter of your claim.

 

They have very few totals to deal with, and if YOU aren't at fault, then it's a whole different ball game. 

 

Keeping good records/pictures can and would be of help.  If you do show your car/truck, then pictures of it at a show along side others will help.  Awards too are valued, so pictures of such are a plus, IMO.

 

Dale in Indy

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I drive my 65 JS1 quite a bit. To and from work a couple times a week, around town, running errands and so on. If my commute included a jaunt on I-75, then that would definitely change things. Technology has changed a little bit in the last 50 years, so while these cars were used daily in the past, everyone was on a level playing field, in that no one had great brakes, or quick ratio steering, lol! To me, the type of traffic would play a big role in the idea of an older daily driver.

 

As far as insurance, I just carry liability and uninsured motorist on mine. I have never filed a claim, so I am somewhat ahead of the game over the years. Of course, a historically significant, or a vehicle worth more than 10K, would be a different ball game for me. Under 10K is just the amount I'm personally willing to risk, it would be different for others.

 

Consider your maintenance costs. I work in the restoration business, so parts sources are readily available to me, and I do most of my own work. It would be a much more expensive proposition, otherwise. One thing you should know, when you start driving a car routinely that has been somewhat babied, or not regularly used for a number of years, things start popping out of the wood work. I see it all the time. Brake cylinders, master cylinders, rear seals, u-joints and pinion bearings, control arm bushings and tie rode ends, etc., not to mention more routine things like belts and hoses.

 

Budget wise, I would arrive at a total amount you are willing to spend, maybe allow 65 percent of that for the car purchase, and the other 35 percent to get it safe and functional. I am referring to cars under a 8 or 10K budget, though. In other words, if you spend 40K on a 65 Impala, it should need nothing, and come with a driver, lol!

 

Good luck in your quest!

Jim

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As far as insurance, I just carry liability and uninsured motorist on mine. I have never filed a claim, so I am somewhat ahead of the game over the years. Of course, a historically significant, or a vehicle worth more than 10K, would be a different ball game for me. Under 10K is just the amount I'm personally willing to risk, it would be different for others.

 

This is exactly what I do as well.  The whole point of my posts in this thread has not been to discourage the O.P. but to make sure that someone who sounds like a newbie at this has all the information and can make his or her own informed decision.  Not everyone has the same repair skills or risk tolerance.

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For the MOST part, your insurance is as good as your AGENT.

 

If you have a good relationship with him/her, chances are they will be a supporter of your claim.

 

Indeed.  I am lucky to have a great relationship with my agent & that sometimes makes all the difference.

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve
"That's the price that we all pay" __ New Order __ 'True Faith'

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If you check back. This subject has been discussed many,many times. It comes down to personal choice and insurance problems. And just remember parts are available but not plentiful. If you search the subject matter you will see the same pros and cons come up over and over again ! Wayne

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