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Dipping a Toe in the Water - sixties sedans


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Greetings to all.  I am an appeciator of old things. Up to this point, my main point of emphasis has been old stereos. Cars have never been a concern nor interest of mine. I find nothing at all intriguing about modern automobiles and I am not mechanically knowledgeable.  However, of late I have found myself falling in love with early-sixties sedans.


I woukd love to purchase a Fairlane, Catalina or Biscayne from this era, but I am weary.  This is way more to contemplate than a $500 turntable.


Since I am not mechanically inclined, I obviously don't want a project...but there are all kinds of options on Craigslist from $8000 to $30,000. I want to drive this car regularly.


So my question is: what is the least amount I can expect to spend for a restored early-sixties sedan that will not require a ton of updating?  What is the best source?  Dealer? Ads?


I know that newby posts are annoying, and I appreciate you indulging me.

Edited by wondergrape (see edit history)
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Welcome to the forum!

To answer your last comment first, Newbies  with a genuine interest in old cars are anything but annoying. And there are no bad questions. We all had to start somewhere. I admit I was a bit intimidated when I first ventured onto this forum amid the cognoscenti of the old car world. But the wealth of knowledge and the generosity of many who contribute to this forum is first class and I think unsurpassed anywhere else.

Now to your main question, I really can't give you any guidance. BUT I know you will hear shortly from folks who can help.

Best of luck with your new love. (I like old Vinyl too:))

Edited by 36 D2 Coupe
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Welcome to the crazy world of old cars. Hopefully you find what you are looking for. Remember these old beast need attention to keep running so I hope you will learn how to do the normal maintenance. Questions on this forum is a great way to learn and even if the occasional answer is a smart ass one

99.9 % will be helpful and respectful that you want to learn. 

I cant answer your value questions but someone in the know will come along. The most important thing to remember is this is supposed to be fun. If you get frustrated walk away for a short time then try again. Have fun. 

Post pictures when you find the car you want. 

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The best way for us to help would be to have you post a few of the options with the prices.  Photos are a big help and the descriptions as well.  You can edit out any contact info if you are concerned someone (maybe not even a member) may jump on a car you are interested in.  Each one has it's pluses and minuses.  

By driving the car regularly do you mean driving it every day year round?   Is it going to be a second car to drive on nice days?  Do you have a long commute?  All important things to take into consideration.  Do you have a place to store it if it isn't going to be your only source of transportation?  They really deteriorate fast if just left forlorn outside,  Especially in some climates. 

From what I have seen  in my own Northeast craigslist searches,  even here you should easily be able to get a very nice Sedan for 10G or less.  

Let us know your general location as well.   Maybe one of the members here has a good lead to pass on to you.  

Good luck in whatever you decide.

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I'll jump in and say that Chevrolet cars from that era are a great starting point.  The parts are plentiful and the number available is great.  If you avoid 2 door hardtop models the prices can be reasonable too.



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I certainly have no issues with using a 60s vintage car as a daily driver (I'm doing that myself) but understand the issues so you do this with your eyes open.


If you are not doing the work yourself, you will have to find a VERY reputable mechanic who understands these cars.  Depending on your location, these can be few and far between.  While these cars are not complex, most "mechanics" today are only "parts changers". They plug in the scan tool and replace the part that the software says to replace. Sometimes this fixes the problem, sometimes it doesn't.  None of them could diagnose their way out of a paper bag, and most have no clue about how the systems on cars actually work or how failures manifest themselves.  Based on the questions I read on other forums, virtually no "mechanics" today know how to rebuild or tune a carb, how to replace points, or what a mechanical fuel pump is.


Since 1960s cars are half a century old, don't expect to run into your local parts store and get a replacement part when something breaks. At best, they will need to order it, which means the car will be down for a few days.  At worst, replacement parts are not available and you need to either scour the internet to find a good used one or adapt something else. An example of this are the brake drums for the 1965-1970 Olds full size cars. They don't exist.  What this ultimately means is that even if the older car is your daily driver, you need to have a backup vehicle for those times that it's down for maintenance.


Most insurance companies won't write collision policies for cars this old.  They don't have actuarial data on repair costs any more and so can't price that coverage.  It's easier to just say no. And whether you have coverage or not, unless the car you select is extremely popular, replacement body panels are not available for crash repair. In my case, I've accumulated parts cars to harvest spares.  Living on a farm makes storing them easier.


Today's ethanol-laced gasoline wreaks havoc on old car fuel systems. Expect to have to replace rubber parts with modern materials if that hasn't been done already. The ethanol also causes problems with cold start (especially if the car has not been driven in several days). The fact that ethanol leans the fuel mixture also means that the carb may need to be re-jetted for best performance.


Again, these points are not intended to discourage you, only to help you make an informed decision.

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Welcome to the forum.  On this forum, the only stupid question is the one that you do not ask.    I would agree that Chevy's of the 60's are probably a good starting point because of the volume of cars made and parts availability.  Many of the basic brakes, engines, transmissions, suspension parts were used well into the 80's and sometimes later by GM on some models.  Parts are surprisingly available.


If you think you have found a model that you like and are considering do some homework and searches for any issues.  AND issues for cars of that era can be region specific.  Example is in the salt belt they have a tendency to rust out.  In the desert southwest the instrument dashes and interior seats, etc. will fade, crack and go bad.  Basically plastic and cloth parts.  On a coastal area the whole thing can rust depending on the care taken by the previous owners and how close the car lived to the ocean.   Just go into this with your eyes wide open.


Do as some of previous posts suggest is to post pictures and prices so we can give you fair evaluation based on the collective experience of a lot of experienced persons.


When you buy the car go online and buy a FACTORY SERVICE MANUAL, not a Haynes or something else.  This will be the most important book for you to understand your car and deal with issues.


Hope this helps and ask all of the questions you want.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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Welcome, Mr. Wondergrape!

Any good dedicated hobbyist is happy to help a newcomer.


I don't claim to be a mechanic, and I'm well involved in the hobby;

so don't feel that mechanical prowess is a requirement to owning

an old car.  If our furnaces break, or our television stops working,

we're likely to take it to an expert.  Everyone has different knowledge.


Consider buying a good price guide.  One well-respected guide is the

price guide put out by Old Cars Weekly.  Here is their annual book:



Four-door sedans are the most economical body styles to buy, 

because many collectors favor convertibles first, then 2-door hardtops.

So almost any 4-door sedan from the 1960's is likely to be a nice

survivor--a older person's car now in collectors' hands--than one that

had tens of thousands of dollars spent restoring it.  As long as you

buy from a private owner, you should be able to find very good sedans

in the $5000 to $10,000 range.


Problems with parts, or problems with ethanol-laced gasoline,

won't stop you.  A fairly common model should have no problem

with parts availability.  Putting an ethanol treatment in the gas

with each tankful should obviate the damage from ethanol.


You definitely don't want to drive an old car in the winter,

because cars from the 1970's and earlier will rust badly:

Your pride and joy, and your monetary investment, will be

badly damaged, even ruined.  So consider keeping your old car

as an occasional driver, one you can enjoy and preserve for decades.

If your car is kept for hobby purposes, with occasional fun jaunts

for other purposes, you can get antique-car insurance from good

companies such as Hagerty, J. C. Taylor, Grundy, etc., and you

may find the cost is only $75 a year!


You'll find this hobby to be a lot of fun!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Welcome! Always great to have another enthusiast!


While posting descriptions and pictures here will certainly get you some good feedback, I would suggest an alternative.


Joe P mentioned the lack of competent mechanics today for sixties cars. How do you find one? Many areas have weekly/monthly/semi-annual whatever cruise-ins, often at the local arf-and-barf (a.k.a. fast food "restaurant"), but also a local park, car dealer, etc.


Attend one or more of these cruise-ins. Look at some of the sixties cars you see. Talk to the owners. Most car enthusiasts will be glad to show you their vehicle. This may give you insight as to what make and model you may prefer. Also, ask for guidance on local mechanics these folks have used.


No reason why you should not be able to drive a sixties vehicle in good shape year-round. We certainly did so in the sixties!!! If you reside in an area where there is snow (or here in Missouri where the Department of Transportation is helping the Department of Energy dispose of coal residue a.k.a. cinders each winter) you should probably check the undercarriage for undercoating, and if now currently done, consider doing this.


Everyone has their own favorite make, but you should pick your own. From a practical standpoint, there are probably more availability of parts for Fords and Chevies, but don't let this be your only selection criteria. Pick a vehicle YOU like.


Good luck, have fun, and again........WELCOME!



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I would suggest a Mopar from that era. Most are well engineered and run forever with good care. A Dodge Dart, Plymouth Valiant or any mid size is often very reliable. and as a plus since their popularity is not that of a Chevy or Ford they are often cheaper to buy. Parts are as was said about the Chevys available to keep them going. As with the others body, trim and other parts like that might be difficult to obtain but often not impossible. Standard advice applies here. Buy the best you can afford. It pays off in the long run

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1 hour ago, carbking said:

No reason why you should not be able to drive a sixties vehicle in good shape year-round. We certainly did so in the sixties!!! If you reside in an area where there is snow (or here in Missouri where the Department of Transportation is helping the Department of Energy dispose of coal residue a.k.a. cinders each winter) you should probably check the undercarriage for undercoating, and if not currently done, consider doing this.


Jon, you have the big advantage (for a car fan)

of a salt-free environment.  In the north, no amount

of undercoating will preserve a 1960's car.

My father's cars from that era would show rust bubbles

after about 3 years, perforations after about 4 years.

There was NO SUCH THING as a 10-year-old car on the road,

except perhaps for a few rare instances where cars weren't

driven in winter.


Sorry to say, a 1960's car driven in even a few winters

will be devalued, and history that survived intact for 50 years

will be damaged and then gone.


Mr. Wondergrape, where are you located?

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My choice would be a well maintained original car not restored. There are plenty of decent old sixties cars around. Suggest you start with a  lower priced model that is simple, with a small V8 or six cylinder engine and the minimum of power accessories. I like Plymouths and Dodges, in fact all Chrysler products. But there is a lot to be said for Chevrolet and Ford, especially when it comes to getting parts and repairs.


Really though, I would not turn up my nose at a good Pontiac, Olds, Buick  or Mercury at the right price. There are some good buys out there especially in the less popular models like 4 door sedans. If you want a Mustang, GTO or Road Runner expect to pay through the nose.


Watch the ads and see what you can find. I like to peruse the ads, and find a great deal every 3 weeks or so.  There are so many I have to purposely avoid looking at the ads or I would buy another one half a dozen times a year.

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Welcome! I can attest to the willingness of the members here to be helpful and answer questions. (Much more then any other forum I’ve been on - and I’ve been on a lot). 


Three years ago, I found myself responsible for many old cars and had no knowledge of them. These members welcomed me and all my questions with open arms. I have seen them do the same for many others. 


I was was going to make some points but they already covered them. Your money will go further with 4 door sedans, but I’ve also noticed that Corvairs are less expensive then others and parts are readily available. (I personally love them and grew up with them). I have a 57 Fairlane, and love the 60’s models of those as well. They will help you figure out if a particular deal is good. Also, if you pay a fair price, it’s cheaper to buy one in good shape then a bargain that needs a lot of work. It’s usually hard to recover what you put in to a restoration. 


Definately post cars you are interested in with lots of pics of the outside, interior and undercarriage. You will get lots of advice on what to look for. Once you do a few of these you will be surprised what you learn. 


Don't be shy, I’ve stopped asking these guys for help everyday and they need something to keep them busy. ? 


What part of the country are you in? I have obtained help with members in my area and even seen them help people locate a local car of their choosing by doing searches for them. They may know mechanics also. 


Lots of factors go into prices. You can get a general idea by checking online price guides, but they are not perfect and it takes a while to get a feel for what condition category a car falls into. Posting some listings here will result in advice to help you learn why one car is more than another. It is easier to learn and explain that way. You might, for example, make a post with a link to two similar cars and ask why the price is higher for one. Sometimes a seller asks for too much, but often it’s also the amount of rust, engine type and condition, options, paint and interior condition, etc. 


Look forward to your posts as I will learn a lot too!

Edited by victorialynn2 (see edit history)
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Welcome! I learned how to fix cars by buying one. And that was 16 years ago. Today we have youtube! I'd spend some time watching videos on fixing old cars. Frankly they are pretty straight forward. The difference is the size of tools and weight/space of parts. I have a little radio shack in my attic for tube radios myself! So on that hand, I would say don't be scared! I think it was hagarty that sponsored a year long daily drive with a Model A, and that's on youtube (more of a motivational video than how to... but it can be done!)

On the other hand, while any car was designed to be daily driven, and certainly the conditions of the 1960s where not all that different than today, just more traffic. I'd consider an inline 6 motor for several reasons. Fuel efficiency, easier to work on, and generally all of them were known to be crazy reliable. Mechanical parts are generally easy to get for all the players, including Rambler and Studebaker. Everything is a a day away if you can spend money on the express shipping. So long as you don't live in a salty area, I don't think you'd need a second "back up vehicle". It would likely be cheaper to to get a rental car on the few days you might be undrivable. Really these old machines generally give you a good heads up prior to most failures and can continue to run with greater attention (more water, more oil, some sealing tape, etc). Sorta like a tube that still works but is starting to get a leak. Buy some old books from the '60s on car handman stuff. "Fix your Ford" is one I really like, and while it's Ford specific, actually gives a great overview of mechanics that will carry over to any brand. Books from the period are written around the notion that EVERYONE had to keep their car running, rather than restoration. I think you'd get quite a bit from reading some of these books".  These books can be found cheap at antique shops and online.

As said above, salt will destroy the car in short order. That would be where it makes sense to buy a cheap running car as a salty weather car. Until it rains after a heavy salting it will get up under the car! If you wash the car often you could get some more life out of the body, but this will still greatly shorten the life of the car.

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I'll be the first to have a stab at it.  The words body redone in a car coming from a snowy climate where salt may be used would immediately make me suspicious of rust repair.   

The photos were a bit fuzzy,  but that looks like an average deal.  There seem to be alot of similar cars in the same price range available.   I think you will find alot of similar cars priced in that range.  

I like the idea of finding an all original untouched car as you don't want to have all that body work of a "restored car"  pop out in a year or two.  It seems many cars especially refurbished lower price cars that have been repainted have issues with that paint a few years after being done.  I even know of alot of nice cars that do.  I like the original paint or old repaints as they seem to be stabilized and won't yield surprises down the road. 

There was a really nice 64 Buick 4 door hardtop for sale not too long ago in my area of the country for 5500  I believe that really looked nice and was all original.  

The only drawback (which I will gladly take over rust repair and repaints) to survivor cars is many are cars that have been stored for some time and need some mechanical going through to make them reliable that can add up to more than one thinks.  It's always best especially in your situation, if you go the survivor route,  is to find one a car guy bought and got up and running going through all the fuel, brake and rubber parts so it's now going to be a pretty fresh driver. 

Some of the original upholstery fabrics  seem to deteriorate fast when put into daily service, especially the more fragile cloth fabrics .  

Your area of the country will be a big help in trying to find cars we think may fit your criteria.  I search alot of sites daily and see alot of stuff for sale.  I will gladly post anything over here that matches that early 60's sedan criteria you are aiming for. 

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That looks like a potentially good candidate, Mr. Wonder--

but Auburnseeker's caution about "body redone" makes me

wonder too.  The pictures are of very poor quality, so it is

hard to tell.  Unless you're quite close to car's location, I would

request high-resolution digital pictures.  That will save you

from wasting your time.  Also, phoning the seller and

talking to him will give you an idea of the condition of the car

and the condition of his character.


     ANY car you expect to buy you should see yourself

and test drive, because even good pictures can't show

everything--such as poor rust repair behind the wheel wells,

or whether the chrome bumpers have small pits, the

mechanical condition, etc.


And even an honest seller and you can have different

interpretations:  "Paint is nice" may mean different things

to different people.  And seeing the car will eliminate most

scams, where a "seller" (who doesn't even have a car)

will post pictures he got from the internet, tell you that it's

impossible for you to see it, and have you just send him the money.  


I once bought a car all the way across the country, figuring

that a $300 plane ticket is a lot cheaper than misjudging

a car.  It made a nice little vacation.  You shouldn't have to

go that far, and if you find a car that isn't near you, a hobbyist

from this forum or this club (AACA) may be happy to look at it

for you if he lives fairly close and you pay his expenses.

Lots of people help each other out! 



Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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By the way, never assess a car's value by what

others are ASKING.  Actual selling prices, such as

those documented on Ebay and corroborated by a 

good price guide, are what you want to use. 

In recent years, a lot of antique-car dealers have

cropped up, and their asking prices are almost always

far higher than a car's value:  by 50% or 100%!


I much prefer a private seller, especially one who is

honest, knows the car, and has really cared for the car over 

many years.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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The monthly magazine Hemmings Motor News and its

accompanying website, www.hemmings.com, are the

most respected places to buy and sell collector cars.

You'll find everything there from $3000 to $300,000 and up.

And they vet their advertisers, so anyone found to be

dishonest or unreliable is prohibited from advertising again.


Mr. Wondergrape, we ask again:  WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED?

With members' keen and knowledgeable eyes, we might be able

to find some interesting possibilities fairly close to you.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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There should be no problem driving a vehicle, of the era you are looking at, year round.  I have been using my Grandfathers Pontiac as my year round daily driver since 1959 and have put 400.000 miles on it.  We have lived in Manitoba and B.C. and I have driven the car in every state west of the Mississippi and the four western provinces of Canada.  I have had only one breakdown on the road.  The clutch pressure plate disintegrated on the highway, probably because I was pulling  stumps with the car the day before.

I am a GM person but a Valiant is a great car and much smaller than the full size ones you are looking at. I notice that many of the full size cars from the fifties to the seventies are too large for current parking space.  I had a friend that used to buy three year old Cadillacs.  His first criteria was "how it felt when he sat in it".  If it didn't sit well he moved on.

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That is good. AACA has the Ohio Region with several chapters that tour with their cars locally for day trips and three times a year tour with all the chapters. We had a wonderful Ohio Region tour two weeks ago in the Dover, Ohio area. Besides wonderful back roads in Amish country, we toured a tear drop trailer manufacturer  and private collection with 30 plus cars including a Duesenburg, Packards, Caddys Kaiser Darrins, T Birds etc. The guy had two large buildings for the cars set around his nine hole golf course and his house. Most of the cars on the tour were 50- 70s cars. This weekend I was on our last local Southern Ohio Chapter tour on back roads of KY to General Butler State Park for lunch. We again had mostly 60's- 80's cars including a poster here Junk yard Jeff in 65 Ford 4 door sedan.  By the way, a tour is driving around usually in the country between stops for food,  private collections, historical sites and other interesting stuff.  Beats sitting around at car show in my opinion.


Tom in Cincinnati

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A few more thoughts on the topic.


I would stick to cars from the 1967-1972 model years.  1967 was the first year for a number of federally-mandated safety features, including dual circuit brakes and collapsing steering columns.  67 was also the first model year that disc brakes were pretty much available across the model lines (though they remained pretty rare until the early 1970s).  Yeah, I'm aware that some cars offered these features earlier (Caddys had the dual circuit brakes from the 1962 model year), but 67 was the first year they were mandated and available across the board.  1968 was the first year for mandated front shoulder belts (again, they were optional but rarely seen prior to that). 1969 was the first year for headrests on the front seats (and again, a rare option prior to that) and a locking steering column. 1970 was the first year for side impact beams in the doors. 1971 was the first year that the feds mandated the use of low-lead gasoline, so all 1971-later engines have hardened valve seats.  I would avoid 1973-newer because that was the first model year where federal emissions requirements were really imposed.  The resulting makeshift systems that automakers slapped onto their engines in those pre-computer days resulted in poor driveabiltiy, miles of complex vacuum lines under the hood, and cars that are difficult to tune if any of the emissions parts are worn or not functioning properly. 1973 was also the first year for federally mandated "buggy bumpers" to satisfy the 5 mph impact requirements.  This was not an aesthetic success.


Avoid the "barn find" hysteria.  Not only is this a construct dreamed up by the big auction houses to drive up prices, but the absolute worst thing you can do to a car is to let it sit for years.  Any one of these cars will require complete replacement of every non-metallic part in the brake and fuel systems to be safe and reliable.


Avoid cars from the rust belt. It's worth your time and money to buy a solid car from the desert southwest, even if you have to pay shipping costs. Mechanical repairs are easy and relatively inexpensive.  Correct rust repairs are very expensive and time consuming. There are far too many poorly repaired cars.  An ad that says "no rust" usually means "no rust visible at the moment".  Be wary of freshly repainted cars. I would much rather have faded original paint than shiny new repaint.  The latter always begs the question "what's under that resale red?"


If you don't feel qualified to evaluate a car yourself, enlist the help of an expert, even if you have to pay for them to inspect the car. These cars are half a century old.  Lots of stuff has been done to them over the last 50 years, and frequently it had been done poorly or incorrectly. If you have a particular marque in mind, join the local chapter of the national club.  Talk to the members, look at their cars, and ask around.


Good luck.

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Only problem with 67-72 style versus 60-64 style say is ,  well the style.  Alot less chrome,  alot more plastic.   I too prefer the early 60's over the late.   Driving a 60's car year round in OH will probably not be an easy task as the winters are very salty and will consume one fairly quick.  Lots of extra nooks and crannies for the salt to collect in.  Even with a modern vehicle it's a battle and that's with fluid film, grease, You name it. 

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13 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

Welcome to the Forum, I'm totally clueless to all things musical, could you please post a photo of the $500.00 turntable you mentioned in your first post? Why is one worth that kind of money? 



Hi Bob,


Here is an example of a $500 turntable:




It's a thorens td160.  It was manufactured in the golden days of turntables, the early 70s.  Specifically, it's value springs largely from the same source as classic cars: performance and aesthetics. This table has very low vibration, a high quality low-mass tonearm and high quality electrical mechanics.  This combines to create a reasonably pure audio image.


However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are record needles out there that cost $10,000 alone.  Turntables for $50,000.  You'd be shocked the lengths people go to extract that final minutae from those tiny grooves.


If you feel like losing yourself in another hobby, I can't recommend the audiokarma.org forum highly enough.

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You say you are in Ohio so I looked up some Craigslist ads from Columbus because why not.  WOW do they ever want a lot of money for sixties cars now. And, they can't leave anything alone. Over 200 ads and I did not see a single one I could whole heartedly recommend. Everything overpriced or buggered up.


The best candidate I saw was this 65 Mercury hardtop with 390 and 4 speed in Zanesville. The 4 speed is extremely rare especially in a full size car, it may be unique. Car looks in decent shape and the price not too scary at $6000. It is parked in front of a nice house which is always a good sign.




Then there is this 66  Plymouth Fury hardtop for $6500 in Galloway. The mag wheels are a bit of a red flag but, this sort of thing seems to be very common. This car may be even a better deal than the Mercury.




There are others that caught my eye but I don't think they are for you. Need too much work, too modified or obscure makes. Or the ad said " I'm trying to cheat someone with an overpriced junker" if you read between the lines.


As I said before, it may take a few weeks to find a real gem.


Do you know any experienced old car guys who could go with you and help evaluate some cars?



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That one looks pretty good from what I can see and CA lineage is usually a plus as it means it was usually in a good climate to survive.  Looks extremely clean under the hood so it has been "detailed"  It appears to be top dollar but then again if you bought the same car in CA and had it shipped you would spend quite a bit on that.  I would still like to see photos underneath.   Though an all original car that has been well kept is always a good bet.  Problem is, it would be a shame to put this into regular service , especially during the winter months.  

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Seems to be a nice car. I agree with Auburn that in Ohio you'll lose her quick if you drive year round. A second car will be a must unless you don't mind shredding previously nice cars every few years, and of course, that would be an awful shame. 

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All right guys, a lot to digest.  I think I've learned that I will be able to use this car for six months, and will have to store in in the garage for six.  This isn't a huge deal because I have young kids, and would have to keep a back up vehicle to cart them around in anyway


It does, however, push the timeline back monetarily. Probably a couple of years from now, which is plenty of time for me to expose myself to various makes and models from this time period, all of which I will be happy to report back on.  Thank you all so much for the guidance.

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