Duff71Riv

Should I daily drive a classic car?

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I need experienced advice. I have a 71 Riviera right now that just got fixed up and I was wondering if I could daily drive it. I've been looking a second car (with at least halfway decent mileage) .. actually right now I'm looking at an 81 rabbit. Any thoughts? Thanks! 

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Either car could be your daily driver, they were when they were first sold and should be able to keep up with traffic. Why not?

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I drive my 38 Studebaker as a daily driver, but some say I’m crazy. It’s not a show car, it’s fun, it runs well, it’s easy to fix IF something goes wrong, I get to have 2 blondes (see photo below)  in the back seat and my wife doesn’t mind!  Why not drive a 71 it’s 33 years younger than mine!  Have fun. 

Dave S 

76376E75-A5EE-419E-BA0F-739E29C5CAF6.jpeg

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)
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For 2 years, I drove a 1973 Riviera as a regular car,

and enjoyed it.  An older car will require more repair,

but you should have an enjoyable experience.

 

Duff, you haven't said where you live.

Be sure that you do NOT drive your Riviera in the winter

if you live in area that gets snow.  Old cars are much more

rust-prone than newer ones, and salt absolutely ruins them.

Cars back then would have rust perforations after only

3 or 4 winters.  A car 10 years old was a rarity in northern

climates back then, because their lives were so shortened.

Driving your car during the winter would ruin your investment.

 

Just go into any endeavor with your eyes open.

You'll always remember your experience.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Duff71Riv said:

I need experienced advice. I have a 71 Riviera right now that just got fixed up and I was wondering if I could daily drive it. I've been looking a second car (with at least halfway decent mileage) .. actually right now I'm looking at an 81 rabbit. Any thoughts? Thanks! 

 

As the original and still owner of a 1980 VW Rabbit, and other VWs from this era I have (more than) a few words of advice.

 

1.) If you are mechanically inclined you will need a set of metric tools. Cost of owning a VW.

 

2.) If you are not mechanically inclined you will need to locate a shop that is willing to work on a Rabbit and KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING. That will be a HUGE challenge to find a shop that will/can do both of those things. Forget about taking a Rabbit of that vintage to a VW Dealer for service they will not touch it with a 100 foot pole. If a dealer does agree to look at it I would be concerned. The chances of a technician working at a dealership now-a-days knowing anything about a Rabbit is virtually impossible unless they are in their mid-late 50s in age.

 

3.) Basic mechanical parts for a Rabbit can be found but do not expect your local auto parts store to stock them or be able or willing to get certain parts. Like parts for other car brands, non OEM parts for a Rabbit can be problematic when it comes to fit and function. Another way to put it, buy cheap parts for a Rabbit and you are asking for a headache.

 

4.) With very few exceptions obtaining parts for a VW Rabbit from a VW Dealer can be VERY DIFFICULT and Expensive. Many VW Dealer Parts Departments are simply not motivated to sell parts for older VWs. If you have the (VW) part number you need then they may be inclined to look up the part. If you do not have the part number then that means a LOT more work for them. If that is the case do not be surprised that a parts person will simply say "that part is No Longer Available" (NLA) without even trying to look up the part.

 

5.) When it comes to purchasing Rabbit parts, most VW Dealers I know have a NO RETURN policy for Rabbit parts. Many also require PAYMENT IN FULL for the part when it is ordered. Both these policies are due to VW's corporate parts policy for old parts. That being, the dealer cannot return the part to VW for Credit so the Dealer eats the cost of the part. That is one thing almost all dealers will avoid doing.

 

6.) Non mechanical parts for a Rabbit (ie body parts, interior and some/most electrical parts) will be your biggest headache trying to find them. Need a new door or hatch or hood for a Rabbit. Good luck. Sources for those parts are next to non-existent at least in the USA. Finding these parts in a junk yard is virtually impossible since there is no demand for these parts and junk yards crushed these cars 20 years ago. Your only hope would be to find a VW junkyard somewhere in the southwest if one exists.

 

7.) VWs are NOT Toyotas. They require periodic maintenance. If you are not diligent when it comes to maintenance, VWs will give you a costly reminder at the most inopportune time. 

 

8.) VWs of this vintage had more than their share of electrical issues. My 1980 Rabbit (before it's restoration) was the poster girl for electrical problems.

 

9.) Driving a Rabbit in the winter (in an area that gets snow and whose roads are chemically treated) is simply NOT AN OPTION. Back when Rabbits were new, rust was an issue and back then chemicals used on the roads were not nearly as strong as they are now. Speaking of rust, be sure to look over EVERY SQUARE INCH of any Rabbit you are considering purchasing. That includes the chassis, suspension and engine bay and everywhere else. 

 

Hopefully the Rabbit you are looking at is not one with a carburetor. If it is you will have another set of challenges to face. Likewise, if it has a diesel engine which has it's own challenges/headaches.

 

The other thing to keep in mind is that if a Rabbit is in an accident (which I wish on no one) it will be a total write off when it comes to conventional car insurance.

 

Sorry my post here is not more positive. Old Rabbits of this vintage are great weekend, pleasure cars. Using one as a daily driver (especially without a back-up car) is not something I would do. This is especially true when one would have to wait days or more for a part that failed and left the car inoperable.

 

If you have specific questions about the 1981 VW Rabbit you are considering, feel free to send me a private message 

 

Charlie

 

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I have put 400.000 miles on my Grandfathers 99,000 mile Pontiac since it became my daily driver in1959.  I've been everywhere west of the Mississippi.

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58 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

For 2 years, I drove a 1973 Riviera as a regular car,

and enjoyed it.  An older car will require more repair,

but you should have an enjoyable experience.

 

Duff, you haven't said where you live.

Be sure that you do NOT drive your Riviera in the winter

if you live in area that gets snow.  Old cars are much more

rust-prone than newer ones, and salt absolutely ruins them.

Cars back then would have rust perforations after only

3 or 4 winters.  A car 10 years old was a rarity in northern

climates back then, because their lives were so shortened.

Driving your car during the winter would ruin your investment.

 

Just go into any endeavor with your eyes open.

You'll always remember your experience.

 

 

I live right on Lake Erie right by Cleveland OH. We get lots of snow. I would NEVER drive the Riviera in the rain/snow.. it could rust faster than I could run to the part store. I was think about using the vw as a car I don’t mind getting wet or rained on but after reading charlier’s post I might reconsider a vw. I don’t really want a new car as a second car but at the same time old cars rust quicker and are prone to gremlins. 

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1 hour ago, SC38DLS said:

I drive my 38 Studebaker as a daily driver, but some say I’m crazy. It’s not a show car, it’s fun, it runs well, it’s easy to fix IF something goes wrong, I get to have 2 blondes (see photo below)  in the back seat and my wife doesn’t mind!  Why not drive a 71 it’s 33 years younger than mine!  Have fun. 

Dave S 

76376E75-A5EE-419E-BA0F-739E29C5CAF6.jpeg

Dave S, it is so cool your drive a car from the 30s! I’ve have so many people tell my the riviera would just be a money pit and constantly break merely because of its age. 

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Duff I’ve driven the 38 on trips to Tennessee and Virginia a few times. It’s gone to Indianapolis and run on the track. After a Hagerty show we were allowed to run the track. I had the only prewar there. All kinds of sports cars and muscle cars along with me at the end of the line. I did at least 10 laps and never lifted, none of the other cars could say that!  I almost passed a turbo Porsche that stopped at the beginning on the straight away. But he step on it waved good bye and was gone. LOL ! . 

As far as the 71. Make the best of it, enjoy it and have fun. Check everything on a regular basis and keep up with the little repairs and you should have a good safe time. 

Dave S 

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Those are modern cars why wouldnt you drive them every day???? Thats what they were made for!!!

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That's awesome! It just shows that with maintenance old cars can still work like a charm. 10 laps and not lifting is extremely impressive given the age! I would never attempt that for fear of overheating the 455. My great-grandfather used to make trips across the country and it drove from its home in California to hear in Ohio 15 years ago, but then sat until I started working on it this summer. I just drove it for the first time ever (in fact it was one of the first times I ever drove, I'm only 16). I plan on using it for trips to and from Catawba island (about 100 miles) but mechanically all of it has been properly serviced. 

10 minutes ago, SC38DLS said:

Duff I’ve driven the 38 on trips to Tennessee and Virginia a few times. It’s gone to Indianapolis and run on the track. After a Hagerty show we were allowed to run the track. I had the only prewar there. All kinds of sports cars and muscle cars along with me at the end of the line. I did at least 10 laps and never lifted, none of the other cars could say that!  I almost passed a turbo Porsche that stopped at the beginning on the straight away. But he step on it waved good bye and was gone. LOL ! . 

As far as the 71. Make the best of it, enjoy it and have fun. Check everything on a regular basis and keep up with the little repairs and you should have a good safe time. 

Dave S 

 

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2 minutes ago, billorn said:

Those are modern cars why wouldnt you drive them every day???? Thats what they were made for!!!

There's a certain character that new cars just don't have. I like having something different in the high school parking lot. I guess I just like the simplicity of older cars over new ones. Although I will admit having a car that just works first crank must be nice.

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Congratulations on getting your license and having an awesome ride!  The girls are going to be all over you!  

Enjoy it, learn how to work on it and maintain it on a regular basis. Your grandfather would be proud of you and happy you are keeping it running. Have fun

 

Dave S 

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if you look at the rabbit--check the windshield on the drivers side where they rust under the glass--the leak there drips on the fuse box & helps rust it out--that's where the relay is for the fuel pump--when one has a foreign car salvage car, you learn real quick what sells--good luck--Tom

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2 minutes ago, 13CADDY said:

if you look at the rabbit--check the windshield on the drivers side where they rust under the glass--the leak there drips on the fuse box & helps rust it out--that's where the relay is for the fuel pump--when one has a foreign car salvage car, you learn real quick what sells--good luck--Tom

I will definitely check for that thank you

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Take a look at a Reatta. They are different, modern with all the accessories you want, good in snow, great following and best of all still pretty cheap.

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3 minutes ago, DAVES89 said:

Take a look at a Reatta. They are different, modern with all the accessories you want, good in snow, great following and best of all still pretty cheap.

Oh those are neat. It would keep the fleet all Buick :)

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Duff7Riv, If you are looking for a cheap, reliable winter car you should take a look at a mid to late 1990s Nissan Sentra.

Not the coolest looking car by a long shot but it will get the job done and save your Riviera.

My sister-in-law had one with well over 250K miles and it was bullet-proof.  She had a accident with it or they would still have it today.

Parts were easy to find and CHEAP. Another friend of mine has one he uses for his work commute into Baltimore, MD. It is approaching 400K miles

and he ignores it except for basic maintenance. Oh and he did have to replace both radiator fans a couple of years ago which cost him less than $60. Both of these cars were manual transmissions and got 30-40 MPG.

 

Given your age you might have your parents talk to their insurance person and ask what coverage would cost for a few different vehicles you are considering.

That cost could have an impact on your decision.

 

Charlie

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1 hour ago, Brass is Best said:

Go for it! Life is short, drive a fun car.

 

I'll put in my 2 cents... I am a first responder in our town and see auto accidents almost daily. As much as I love to drive my antique cars, and I put almost 1000 miles on my EMF this spring, I would NEVER use an antique car as a daily driver. There is something to be said for crumple zones, air bags, safety belts, etc. I used to be dead set against the use of seat belts and hardly ever used them. Now I've come to believe that those who use them walk away, those who don't get carried away...

I have come upon accidents with roll overs and people trapped in cars the size of peanuts and with a little help, they walk away with minor injuries. God bless the crumple zone...

 

Frank

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Frank, of course you are correct about the safety factors and the increased odds of bodily harm. Some take the safe way and others climb freehand. Others wear a wing suit and jump off of cliffs, And I have friends that smoke. You are definitely right, but we only live one life unless there is reincarnation. We need to live it like we need to.

Edited by JFranklin (see edit history)
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A good friend at work gave me a nicely done plaque with an Irish blessing shortly before my retirement - it said simply "May you live all the days of your life". Since then her husband passed away unexpectedly and I have watched good friends pass away waiting for the "right time"  to do the things they want to do.

 

The time is NOW -

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When I was a young construction worker in the mid 1970's, I drove a 1930 Model A Ford 2-door sedan to work every day, year round. It was an older restoration, with 2nd quality paint, incorrect corduroy interior, and a roof which really needed replacing (NOT a mint Model A). I loved showing up on a snow-covered job site back then, and seeing the astonished faces of other guys there. Admittedly, I was younger and tougher back then, for sure. 

 

However, insurance can be quite an important factor with driving vintage cars on a daily basis. I had a friend who used to drive a cream-puff older car to work daily. Then one day it was totalled in an auto accident. The other driver was at fault. That driver's insurance company insisting on paying only the Blue Book value on that "used car," which was very little at the time. He fought the issue in court, and got a settlement that was only a fraction better than the original offer. But that extra money was lost in attorney fees. His car was gone, and he was left with almost nothing to show for it. 

 

Contact your insurance agent, and get some answers about various potential claims in writing. Of course you can buy "stated value" insurance for collector cars, but there are often limits on how many miles you can drive per year, and/or whether or not it can be driven daily to work. I'm sure there are lots of different opinions on this, and lots of different situations from state-to-state with auto insurance. Just make sure you know the plusses and minuses of any decision you make. Or, just get regular insurance, and take your chances.

 

But beware that daily driving is what wore out most of those other '71 Riviera's, which have already disappeared---even from most salvage yards today. Rust happens inevitably. Dents and dings will show up from unseen encounters in parking lots. That original 1971 seat upholstery is weaker now than it was when it was "young," so it will fray, crack, and tear more easily than before. Diecast metal will pit, plastic components will get brittle, and road pebbles will chip the hood and front fenders. And don't forget that fender-benders are a part of life for cars which are driven as daily transportation. After a year or so, pristine, well-preserved looks will be fading away.

 

If you're cool with all that, then good for you. It's your car. Enjoy! 

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