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Where to Start? / Easiest to own?


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Guest GetOffMyLawn

Hi all,

  I've been giving more and more thought lately to the notion of getting an older car. (i'm not sure when the words antique and/or classic apply, so I'll just use older).  My big problem right now is i'm not sure where to start.  I'm 28 years old, so I don't have a wealth of knowledge of the different types of cars available throughout history.  I owned a 92 Plymouth Voyager once, that's the oldest thing i've owned; and yes, I got it from my mom. 

 

   Fortunately, I have a pretty good idea of what i'm looking for in a car, and I'm hoping the community here could help guide me towards a vehicle.  In order of importance, my requirements are as follows...

 

1) Ease of ownership and support/parts available.  In my past, a quick google search can typically yield a set of instructions on how to fix whatever my problem is.  I'm not expecting the same with an antique car, but it would be  nice to have a repository of others' troubleshooting experiences available.  I'd also like to get something that has a decent availability/price of replacement parts available online.  I'd prefer not to have to wait weeks for someone to whittle me a new master cylinder or what-have-you.

 

2) Reliability.  While likely a ridiculous thought for an older car, I'd like to take this car to work once a week (~60 miles round trip, very little highway), or to take my wife to visit nearby family (about 60 miles one way, mostly highway) - and my wife prefers not to hear "Hey babe, hold the flashlight?"  I'm speaking from experience here.   

 

3) I don't need performance or muscle.  Not really one for muscle-type coupes or really any performance.  As long as it could get out of it's own way, i'm happy.  I drive like an old man.

 

4)  Prefer sedans over coupes. So i'd prefer to avoid coupes altogether if possible.  I'm also open to any other sort of body styles as well, except vans.

 

5) I plan to drive it. Meaning i don't need a 100%, period correct full restoration,  I'll certainly take care of it, but I want something that I don't have to feel bad for driving.  Or if a part goes bad, I'd like to be able to replace it without jumping through too many hoops.

 

6) Budget.  I'm prepared to spend about $12,000 for the car, and another $2,000-$3,000 to get it as reliable as possible if need-be.  Worth note, i'm not discounting anything that's less expensive either.

 

7) Era.  I'm thinking older than 1980, but not too picky here.

 

Here's a quick list of the looks that I like, not sure if that helps at all.  I got this from google-image searching is all.

1955 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe

1957 Cadillac Series 62

1957 Ford (fairlane?)

1966 Lincold Continental

1966 Cadillac Deville

 

.I don't need anything right now, but i'd like to buy an older car in the next 12-18 months.  I'm fairly mechanically inclined, and I've always done all of my own repairs (except for carburetor service) on any cars, trucks, motorcycles, and lawn equipment i've owned.  If it helps at all, I live about an hour south of Charlotte, NC.

 

Thank you all in advance for the help.  I'm sure you could understand I got pretty overwhelmed pretty quickly starting my research.  Thanks again!

-GetOffMyLawn

 

EDIT: Added location - Charlotte, NC

Edited by GetOffMyLawn
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I noticed a couple of Cadillacs popped up in your search.

 

If you're even REMOTELY considering a Cadillac, the 66 will come into your budget way moreso than a 57.  Both of which, parts are so-so to find.

 

But, 77-78-79 Cadillacs should be seriously considered.  They are becoming more popular and prices seem to be slowly inching upwards on them.  $12000 for a sedan will get you a very fine example of a sedan with low mileage.  Parts are still easy to come by, they're fairly easy to work on, and one of the most reliable, comfortable Cadillacs that keep up with modern traffic very well, gobs of power, can fit in most garages, and are quite elegant cars.

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How old do you want? I am a fan of prewar cars mainly. I hate to say it but just about any car after about 1965 I consider a used car. I say buy a model A Ford. Lots of parts reproduced and lots of good ones out there for sale. They are extremely reliable and easy to work on. the drawback is that they are almost 90 years old and may be hard to drive in your part of the country. Good luck and keep us posted.

 

John

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Guest GetOffMyLawn
1 hour ago, danleblanc said:

But, 77-78-79 Cadillacs should be seriously considered.

Thanks! I really like that idea.  After reading it I checked some out on car trader and the prices definitely seem doable.  This might be a more general question, but is there any rule of thumb on how many miles are too many?  Is there a cap I should be looking at?  Or does having the engine/transmission rebuilt completely nullify how many miles are on the car?

 

51 minutes ago, Binger said:

 I say buy a model A Ford [...] the drawback is that they are almost 90 years old and may be hard to drive in your part of the country. Good luck and keep us posted.

Thanks for the recommendation.  I just took a look, and I think you're right - they'd be had to drive in my part of the country.  I'll likely need to do a little bit of highway driving, these don't seem too well suited there.  But thanks so much for the recommendation, they sure are great looking cars.

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If you don't mind big, a 1978 Lincoln Town Car with a factory moon roof and the 460 cubic inch V8 would be spectacular.  They have an incredible presence and  turn heads in modern day traffic like you can't believe.  Unlike the mechanical brakes on a Model A, you get reasonably modern components in a vehicle that easily cruises at 70-75 mph as long as you don't mind feeding it.  You can make a great double-date night and your guests will be coddled in the back seat. 

 

Now, on your 60 mile round trip to work you might consume 5 gallons of gas ($15) instead of 3 gallons of gas ($9).  That's what 12 mpg looks like instead of 20.  For a daily driver, these would take you to the poor house, but as an occasional car every drive will be an Occasion!

 

$7500 should find you a low mileage, very original car.  Take your time and enjoy the search.

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2 hours ago, GetOffMyLawn said:

Hi all,

  I've been giving more and more thought lately to the notion of getting an older car. (i'm not sure when the words antique and/or classic apply, so I'll just use older).  My big problem right now is i'm not sure where to start.  I'm 28 years old, so I don't have a wealth of knowledge of the different types of cars available throughout history.  I owned a 92 Plymouth Voyager once, that's the oldest thing i've owned; and yes, I got it from my mom. 

 

   Fortunately, I have a pretty good idea of what i'm looking for in a car, and I'm hoping the community here could help guide me towards a vehicle.  In order of importance, my requirements are as follows...

 

1) Ease of ownership and support/parts available.  In my past, a quick google search can typically yield a set of instructions on how to fix whatever my problem is.  I'm not expecting the same with an antique car, but it would be  nice to have a repository of others' troubleshooting experiences available.  I'd also like to get something that has a decent availability/price of replacement parts available online.  I'd prefer not to have to wait weeks for someone to whittle me a new master cylinder or what-have-you.

 

2) Reliability.  While likely a ridiculous thought for an older car, I'd like to take this car to work once a week (~60 miles round trip, very little highway), or to take my wife to visit nearby family (about 60 miles one way, mostly highway) - and my wife prefers not to hear "Hey babe, hold the flashlight?"  I'm speaking from experience here.   

 

3) I don't need performance or muscle.  Not really one for muscle-type coupes or really any performance.  As long as it could get out of it's own way, i'm happy.  I drive like an old man.

 

4)  Prefer sedans over coupes. So i'd prefer to avoid coupes altogether if possible.  I'm also open to any other sort of body styles as well, except vans.

 

5) I plan to drive it. Meaning i don't need a 100%, period correct full restoration,  I'll certainly take care of it, but I want something that I don't have to feel bad for driving.  Or if a part goes bad, I'd like to be able to replace it without jumping through too many hoops.

 

6) Budget.  I'm prepared to spend about $12,000 for the car, and another $2,000-$3,000 to get it as reliable as possible if need-be.  Worth note, i'm not discounting anything that's less expensive either.

 

7) Era.  I'm thinking older than 1980, but not too picky here.

 

Here's a quick list of the looks that I like, not sure if that helps at all.  I got this from google-image searching is all.

1955 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe

1957 Cadillac Series 62

1957 Ford (fairlane?)

1966 Lincold Continental

1966 Cadillac Deville

 

.I don't need anything right now, but i'd like to buy an older car in the next 12-18 months.  I'm fairly mechanically inclined, and I've always done all of my own repairs (except for carburetor service) on any cars, trucks, motorcycles, and lawn equipment i've owned.

 

Thank you all in advance for the help.  I'm sure you could understand I got pretty overwhelmed pretty quickly starting my research.  Thanks again!

-GetOffMyLawn

I would first get a good idea what a very good driver cost for the cars you want that are on your list. I think you will soon see that your list will not equate with the price you want to pay, and if by some way you could get one that you could buy I'm afraid the 2-3,000 to get it ready would be higher much higher. I urge you to go out and inspect and see what I mean.

  I think the best place to start is what the guys in the above threads have been saying about mid 70's cars being your best bang for the buck. The cars they mentioned are very fine cars and since you are not into muscle they fit the bill. I know they are not on your list, but they are in your budget criteria. 

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Agree for $12k you should be able to find something nice for about 2/3 particularly if you want a sedan rather than a coupe and then have another 1/3 for "making it right".

Once you reach 1970 many things start becoming standard like AC, disk brakes, and power everything. 1973 was the peak for the Great American Land barge and minimal MPG. You had to get into the 80s before lockup-OD transmissions and FI small V8s become popular and MPG started going up again. You might also want something that runs on unleaded regular (75 & later). For a big American car of any vintage you want at least a 5 liter V-8 and not a 4 (or less) liter V6. It wasn't until the 90s that a big car like an Intrigue or LeSabre worked well with a 3800 V6.

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I'm 32, it's good to see others in our generation taking an interest! Your budget is absolutely perfect for unwanted but easily driven cars. One dangerous thing I do so go to craigslist and search cars but ONLY put in the year and max price of like $5-10k. You find lots of off beat stuff folks don't typically search for, therefore you can get it for much less. Ford/Chevy stuff is both easy to find and easy to get parts for. I just got a '54 Ford Customline (think Ford Fusion SE of it's day). Boring as they come from some perspectives, but a hansom style, first year OHV V8, and plenty of parts, even 4 door specific stuff is available. You could buy one that's already very nice for your budget. Even some of the odd ball stuff is easy to get. Just about any non Javelin/AMX from Rambler can be found in very nice condition for pennies on the dollar compared to the big three, and parts are easier to find then they were 15 years ago. They just started re-popping hood ornaments for the Marlin for Pete's sake. Of course, the more intact the better. You can find really nice survivor cars, especially 4 doors, for cheap and well within budget. In short, definitely get into the hobby, and decide what you like, you'll likely be able to get something close for a great value.

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Guest GetOffMyLawn
2 hours ago, gpfarrell said:

If you don't mind big, a 1978 Lincoln Town Car with a factory moon roof and the 460 cubic inch V8 would be spectacular.  They have an incredible presence and  turn heads in modern day traffic like you can't believe.  Unlike the mechanical brakes on a Model A, you get reasonably modern components in a vehicle that easily cruises at 70-75 mph as long as you don't mind feeding it.  You can make a great double-date night and your guests will be coddled in the back seat. 

 

Now, on your 60 mile round trip to work you might consume 5 gallons of gas ($15) instead of 3 gallons of gas ($9).  That's what 12 mpg looks like instead of 20.  For a daily driver, these would take you to the poor house, but as an occasional car every drive will be an Occasion!

 

$7500 should find you a low mileage, very original car.  Take your time and enjoy the search.

Thanks GPFarrel!  That's a great recommendation;  I certainly don't mind feeding it, because as you mentioned it will only be for occasional driving.  What kind of mileage would you consider 'low mileage' for a car like this on the odometer?  Thanks again for the advice!

 

1 hour ago, helfen said:

I would first get a good idea what a very good driver cost for the cars you want that are on your list. I think you will soon see that your list will not equate with the price you want to pay, and if by some way you could get one that you could buy I'm afraid the 2-3,000 to get it ready would be higher much higher. I urge you to go out and inspect and see what I mean.

  I think the best place to start is what the guys in the above threads have been saying about mid 70's cars being your best bang for the buck. The cars they mentioned are very fine cars and since you are not into muscle they fit the bill. I know they are not on your list, but they are in your budget criteria. 

Thanks Helfen!  I should have mentioned the cars I listed were really just based on the aesthetics; i don't expect to be able to find one of those in my price range in great condition.

 

1 hour ago, padgett said:

Agree for $12k you should be able to find something nice for about 2/3 particularly if you want a sedan rather than a coupe and then have another 1/3 for "making it right".

Once you reach 1970 many things start becoming standard like AC, disk brakes, and power everything. [...] You might also want something that runs on unleaded regular (75 & later). For a big American car of any vintage you want at least a 5 liter V-8 and not a 4 (or less) liter V6. It wasn't until the 90s that a big car like an Intrigue or LeSabre worked well with a 3800 V6.

I didn't even think about unleaded! What kind of fuel do owners of pre-1975 cars need to use?  Thanks for the help Padgett!

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Guest GetOffMyLawn
1 hour ago, Frantz said:

I'm 32, it's good to see others in our generation taking an interest! Your budget is absolutely perfect for unwanted but easily driven cars. One dangerous thing I do so go to craigslist and search cars but ONLY put in the year and max price of like $5-10k. You find lots of off beat stuff folks don't typically search for, therefore you can get it for much less. Ford/Chevy stuff is both easy to find and easy to get parts for. I just got a '54 Ford Customline (think Ford Fusion SE of it's day). Boring as they come from some perspectives, but a hansom style, first year OHV V8, and plenty of parts, even 4 door specific stuff is available. You could buy one that's already very nice for your budget. Even some of the odd ball stuff is easy to get. [...]

Thanks Frantz!  Just googled the '54 Customline - it looks great!  Do you mind me asking how many miles it has and about how much you paid for it? (not sure if it's acceptable to ask that :/ )  What guide do people typically use to asses the value of a car like this? NADA, Hagerty, etc?  Thanks agian.

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Is this car going to serve as a weekend "toy" or be serving two purposes everyday transportation and a toy?

I always recommend buying a second generation Corvair as an entry level vehicle. I never owned one but friends have. You can even get a convertible for under 10K that is turn key, parts are plentiful and rather cheap, and a network of club support.

Mid 70's Caddy's are also a good bang for the buck, as pointed out some parts are not that easy to come by, as I recall some of the A/C parts are unique to Cadillac's and can be pricey if you even able to find them.

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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I'm more of a project buyer so I generally buy stuff on the cheap, and doing a full restoration wouldn't be a great investment. Most 4 doors aren't worth restoring from an economic standpoint, but you can buy one that needs little to nothing for the $10-14k range simple because no one is searching out 4 door customlines. I paid $500 for it and odometer reads 74k if memory serves right, though miles weren't a factor to me. Hasn't run for at least 15 years but motor hand cranks, inspection is from 1979. I'm in the process of cleaning the caked oil out of the valve train. I'm just a sucker for a project and it doesn't have to be on the road this summer. On the other hand, the 79 Lebaron in my pic had 18k on the clock and I bought that for $2000. It was traded in at the dealership I work at. I sold it for $3500 to help pay for my wedding, so I got a year of enjoyment and a little profit. Again, no one wakes up and says "I really need to find a 79 Chrysler today!". By not being picking and talking to the right people you find "deals". I won't ever get rich this way, but it's cheap and enjoyable way to be in the hobby. 

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I have a friend with a 78 Coupe de Ville.  Documented mileage last time I saw it in February - 229,000mi.  Engine and transmission have not been opened up and still works great.

 

$10-12K should get you a show worthy 77-79 Cadillac with around 60,000mi or less.  They're really not that expensive.

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Guest GetOffMyLawn
28 minutes ago, John348 said:

Is this car going to serve as a weekend "toy" or be serving two purposes everyday transportation and a toy?

I always recommend buying a second generation Corvair as an entry level vehicle. I never owned one but friends have. You can even get a convertible for under 10K that is turn key, parts are plentiful and rather cheap, and a network of club support.

Mid 70's Caddy's are also a good bang for the buck, as pointed out some parts are not that easy to come by, as I recall some of the A/C parts are unique to Cadillac's and can be pricey if you even able to find them.

 

Thanks John348 - It'll be mostly a toy - I plan to get a commuter car for most transportation, but it would be nice to drive the toy to work once a week.  And ideally a toy that doesn't leave me stranded at work on a Friday...i spend enough time there anyway.

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6 minutes ago, GetOffMyLawn said:

 

Thanks John348 - It'll be mostly a toy - I plan to get a commuter car for most transportation, but it would be nice to drive the toy to work once a week.  And ideally a toy that doesn't leave me stranded at work on a Friday...i spend enough time there anyway.

 That's the way to do it, it can become frustrating the other way. Nothing is worse then having to have to fix something just to be able to go to work. It can take the pleasure away from the hobby.

What part of the country do you live? 

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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That is what I was going to suggest, having more than one makes it easy to lay one up and fix things right while driving the other. Might also mention that station wagons of the period are much more versatile than a sedan and with the right equipment can also be a toy hauler when needed. Also there were some that were quite interesting (e.g. Vista-Cruisers) & available with most muscle car equipment.

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I concur in thinking that 1970s full size cars are probably your best value possibility.  I would say you should be able to find a selection of decent 1970s full size sedans for under $10,000.  Consider maybe a 1971-76 GM full size car and I would say:

 

PRO

--universal use of the Turbo 350 or Turbo 400 automatic transmission which is easily serviced

--all have dual master cylinders and front disc brakes so no aftermarket upgrades needed

--big and comfortable for the family, a nostalgic type of car that used to be everywhere and now is rarely seen

--clean examples can still be found and much cheaper than 1950s or 1960s models  

 

CON

--trim parts can be hard to find, especially interior plastic or unique exterior moldings

--some mechanicals unique to Buick/Olds/Pontiac/Cadillac V8s are getting harder to find but it can still be done

 

Just do not buy a rusty car, if it needs any rust repair wait for the next one.  Good luck and keep us posted, Todd C

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OK early 70's full size there is one I always thought was the prettiest yet is not well known or high priced and I believe the '72 was available with a 350/350: the Buick Centurian. Unlike most GM full sized cars of the period, the Centurian  had very little chrome and was a very clean design. '73 was not bad but got the 5mph bumper.

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I've always wanted a 73 Ambassador Coupe, but here we all go back to 2 doors. Our friend likes 4 doors, and often the 70s DID NOT convey the same lines on their 4 door counterparts. 1950s and 60s have much better sedan styling IMO.

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Said it another thread but always though the 1973 Pontiac Grand Am looked better as a four door than a two door. With a Grand Prix interior & dash it was supposed to replace the GTO but the market & dealers insisted so one was cobbled up. I'd rather have a GA 4 door even without the SD-455 (but am really getting attached to this 93 GTP, have always preferred a stick and the more gears the better.

 

Y'know it is hard to find a picture of a 73 4 door so here's one of a 74. 73 had three bars on each side of the grille.

 

74ga4dr.jpg

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3 hours ago, padgett said:

OK early 70's full size there is one I always thought was the prettiest yet is not well known or high priced and I believe the '72 was available with a 350/350: the Buick Centurian. Unlike most GM full sized cars of the period, the Centurian  had very little chrome and was a very clean design. '73 was not bad but got the 5mph bumper.

Yes, and it was the only Buick in that year that had a drop top. Also the Electra looks good too.

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3 hours ago, padgett said:

Said it another thread but always though the 1973 Pontiac Grand Am looked better as a four door than a two door. With a Grand Prix interior & dash it was supposed to replace the GTO but the market & dealers insisted so one was cobbled up. I'd rather have a GA 4 door even without the SD-455 (but am really getting attached to this 93 GTP, have always preferred a stick and the more gears the better.

 

Y'know it is hard to find a picture of a 73 4 door so here's one of a 74. 73 had three bars on each side of the grille.

 

74ga4dr.jpg

I prefer this;

FL0114-173133_1.jpg

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Mercury Grand Marquis, '73-'77  would also be a good choice. Driven properly, fuel consumption isn't too bad. Same w/ Full size Cadillac, '77-'78. A variety of engine displacements were available in both the  Mercury and Cadillac.  Stay away from the 4-6-8 engined Cadillac cars.

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I suggest you scan your local used car ads regularly for cars from the 60s 70s and 80s looking for 3 things: price, condition and does it grab you?

 

Maybe I should have put them in the reverse order. First does it grab you? Can you see yourself owning and enjoying the car? Even working on it and spending money on it and feeling it is worth while? It's no use buying a car you don't like no matter how good a bargain and especially don't buy a car because you think you can sell it for a profit. You can't. We've all tried it and we've all lost money.

 

Next condition. Of the kind of cars we are talking about, there are still quite a few to pick from. But, repairs can be difficult and costly for things like upholstery, plastic trim and paint jobs. And old shabby car can be very expensive to put right, it is much better and cheaper to buy a well preserved original car even if it costs a bit more. New paint jobs are very expensive these days.

 

On the subject of condition under 100,000 miles would be considered reasonable but if I could find a car with 50,000 miles or less I would be much more interested. As far as mechanical things go those cars are pretty tough and reliable and practically all parts are still available at your local auto parts store. You may have to wait overnight for some things but they can get them and they are not expensive, in most cases cheaper than for newer cars.

 

Now let's talk price. You have to find something that fits your budget and I recommend you keep a few thousand in reserve for repairs. In most cases you will need to buy things like a battery, new brakes, tires, tuneup, belts, hoses, oil change, etc etc in short order. The good news is, if you pick a good car, there will be a lot of small things that do not cost too much themselves but add up especially if you have to hire someone to do the work but once you have the car squared away, it should only cost a few hundred a year to keep it up. You will have to face spending at least a couple thousand a year on license, insurance, gas and repairs. If that is too daunting better not get involved.

 

Keep watching the ads and you will find a nice old car for not too much money, that has been well taken care of and may even be in the hands of the original owner or their family.

 

Once you find a good car come back and we will tell you how to maintain it so it stays in reliable showroom condition at minimal cost.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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6 minutes ago, padgett said:

I suspect that 3D printing is going to make a lot of those plastic pieces available again. GM plastics of the 70s have mostly turned pink and crumbled away.

A way to save the plastic is to take the part ( like a interior a-b-c pillar ) to a paint store buy some latex primer, buy some high gloss latex paint and have it color matched to your part. Clean the part with degreaser you will find in a auto paint supply and then paint. Paint both the finished and backsides to encapsulate the plastic and let dry and install. If you don't completely primer the part the plastic will continue to deteriorate. It must be entirely encapsulated.  

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1 hour ago, John348 said:

 

i think they are long gone to that junkyard in the sky, as well as the GM diesels 

John, there is nothing wrong with the 472, 500, 425 and 368 Cadillac engine family architecture . the 368 with it's V-8 6 4 valve train can be easily disabled and most out there have already been done to run as a normal V-8.

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7 hours ago, helfen said:

John, there is nothing wrong with the 472, 500, 425 and 368 Cadillac engine family architecture . the 368 with it's V-8 6 4 valve train can be easily disabled and most out there have already been done to run as a normal V-8.

 

You are absolutely correct.  The 368 being the less desirable of the engines listed, but, even with the multiple displacement working properly can still be a great engine.

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Guest GetOffMyLawn
16 hours ago, John348 said:

 That's the way to do it [...]

What part of the country do you live? 

I live in the rural area just south of Charlotte, NC.

 

16 hours ago, poci1957 said:

I concur in thinking that 1970s full size cars are probably your best value possibility.  I would say you should be able to find a selection of decent 1970s full size sedans for under $10,000.  Consider maybe a 1971-76 GM full size car and I would say:

 

PRO

--universal use of the Turbo 350 or Turbo 400 automatic transmission which is easily serviced

--all have dual master cylinders and front disc brakes so no aftermarket upgrades needed

--big and comfortable for the family, a nostalgic type of car that used to be everywhere and now is rarely seen

--clean examples can still be found and much cheaper than 1950s or 1960s models  

 

CON

--trim parts can be hard to find, especially interior plastic or unique exterior moldings

--some mechanicals unique to Buick/Olds/Pontiac/Cadillac V8s are getting harder to find but it can still be done

 

Just do not buy a rusty car, if it needs any rust repair wait for the next one.  Good luck and keep us posted, Todd C

Thanks Todd! Just to make sure I understand correctly, if there's any rust on the body, wait for the next one - correct?  I've never done any work on eliminating rust, so I have almost  no idea of how much of an undertaking it is.

 

16 hours ago, padgett said:

[...]Might also mention that station wagons of the period are much more versatile than a sedan and with the right equipment can also be a toy hauler when needed. Also there were some that were quite interesting (e.g. Vista-Cruisers) & available with most muscle car equipment.

I didn't even think of station wagons; that would be great, thanks Padgett!

 

9 hours ago, edselsouth1 said:

Mercury Grand Marquis, '73-'77  would also be a good choice. Driven properly, fuel consumption isn't too bad. Same w/ Full size Cadillac, '77-'78. A variety of engine displacements were available in both the  Mercury and Cadillac.  Stay away from the 4-6-8 engined Cadillac cars.

Good to note! Thanks for the heads-up on the 4-6-8 - I had no idea they even tried that sort of variable timing back then.

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Guest GetOffMyLawn
8 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I suggest you scan your local used car ads regularly for cars from the 60s 70s and 80s looking for 3 things: price, condition and does it grab you?

 

Maybe I should have put them in the reverse order. First does it grab you? Can you see yourself owning and enjoying the car? Even working on it and spending money on it and feeling it is worth while? It's no use buying a car you don't like no matter how good a bargain and especially don't buy a car because you think you can sell it for a profit. You can't. We've all tried it and we've all lost money.

 

Next condition. Of the kind of cars we are talking about, there are still quite a few to pick from. But, repairs can be difficult and costly for things like upholstery, plastic trim and paint jobs. And old shabby car can be very expensive to put right, it is much better and cheaper to buy a well preserved original car even if it costs a bit more. New paint jobs are very expensive these days.

 

On the subject of condition under 100,000 miles would be considered reasonable but if I could find a car with 50,000 miles or less I would be much more interested. As far as mechanical things go those cars are pretty tough and reliable and practically all parts are still available at your local auto parts store. You may have to wait overnight for some things but they can get them and they are not expensive, in most cases cheaper than for newer cars.

 

Now let's talk price. You have to find something that fits your budget and I recommend you keep a few thousand in reserve for repairs. In most cases you will need to buy things like a battery, new brakes, tires, tuneup, belts, hoses, oil change, etc etc in short order. The good news is, if you pick a good car, there will be a lot of small things that do not cost too much themselves but add up especially if you have to hire someone to do the work but once you have the car squared away, it should only cost a few hundred a year to keep it up. You will have to face spending at least a couple thousand a year on license, insurance, gas and repairs. If that is too daunting better not get involved.

 

Keep watching the ads and you will find a nice old car for not too much money, that has been well taken care of and may even be in the hands of the original owner or their family.

 

Once you find a good car come back and we will tell you how to maintain it so it stays in reliable showroom condition at minimal cost.

Thanks Rusty! This was really great advice - pretty much exactly what I needed to hear.  

 

Generally speaking, when folks talk about local car ads, my mind goes straight to craigslist.  But i'd imagine the folks that are selling these cars probably are thinking 'newspaper' moreso.  Is there a 'best' place to regularly check for ads for this kind of car?  Thanks again!

 

EDIT: content.

Edited by GetOffMyLawn (see edit history)
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What part of the country are you located in?  That will make a big difference as to what may be available.  One of us might even know of a car for you.  What you are looking for would be easier bought local than tagging 2500 onto it for shipping being you seem open to various suggestions.  I know of a few random cars in my area that are very very nice and fall into your price range.

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Guest GetOffMyLawn
4 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

What part of the country are you located in?  That will make a big difference as to what may be available.  One of us might even know of a car for you.  What you are looking for would be easier bought local than tagging 2500 onto it for shipping being you seem open to various suggestions.  I know of a few random cars in my area that are very very nice and fall into your price range.

Thanks! I live in the rural area south of Charlotte, NC.  How do you hear about the random cars in your area? Craigslist?

 

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Just to clarify my mention of avoiding rust, note that there are two basic types of rust affecting a given car, surface rust and rust perforation (luckily the amount of rust in your area is much less than mine in Illinois). 

 

Rust perforation with actual rusted holes in the body and floors is generally too much trouble to fix on a car that you are not completely disassembling and restoring, which I think is to be avoided in your case.  Look at lower front and rear fenders, lower doors, trunk floor and if that all looks good crawl underneath and inspect the floors with a flashlight.  If it is all solid that car may be the one.    

 

Rust in the form of a few paint chips on door edges or the like should be OK as it would not really detract from your enjoyment of the car or require an expensive repaint, just a little touch up. 

 

Surface rust in the form of thin paint on a panel requiring a repaint could go either way depending, I think your goal should be a car requiring no or minimal repainting.  If the whole car requires a repaint that is when I meant I would wait for the next one.  As others have said it is worth spending a little more on a better quality car--rust is the most expensive enemy.

 

Regarding local ads, Craigslist is popular but regular newspaper classifieds are still good, look for listings in estate auctions, and your area probably has a little "Auto Trader" classified magazine free at many diners, grocery stores, etc.  Enjoy the hunt, Todd C     

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Also re rust - low down (fenders, wheel wells, floors) is common in the "rust belt" but where you are sea air rust may be an issue. That is usually high (hood, trunk lid, window moldings, under vinyl tops) even inside. You need to check for both. Also check inside the trunk and under the hood. If you see a rough surface on the alternator that is a sign to look deeper. Also a "bondo detector" (strong magnet wrapped in cellophane tape) is handy for detecting poor repairs hidden by paint.

 

Best of all, when you look at a car (and the local Craigslist is a good source), take a knowledgeable friend to help show you what to look for.

 

Life is too short to deal with rust.

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Getoffmylawn, I'd try to stay below 50,000 miles, and certainly 75,000.

 

Here's a lot of yellow for a little green:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lincoln-Continental-Base-Hardtop-4-Door-/201577186342?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2eeeefc426:g:KvcAAOSwud1W~qb4&item=201577186342

 

With a low mile car, wear & tear should be minimal.  It will still have lots of 40 year old parts that need freshened up if you want to be sure of leaving the office on Friday afternoons, but at least you'll be putting parts on a fairly pristine car as opposed to a 100,000 mile car.

 

I second the motion on the big Mercury Marquis.  I have one and it's an amazingly capable cruiser... but Lincolns only cost a little more and are likely much easier to sell down the road and more likely to appreciate a little in the meantime.

 

But, buy what grabs you!  That's great advice!  Keep some money aside for repairs/improvements... a modern stereo with Bluetooth (gasp!) is a great step forward if you're using the car... and enjoy whatever you find.

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