1912Staver

" one" cars, can they be a reality on a limited budget ?

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Posted (edited)

 Several years ago my Mother; source of all wisdom in my life according to her at least, identified a problem in the way I was approaching the old car hobby.  She observed I had several project cars and no drivable hobby cars. She concluded that no old car hobbyist who was not fabulously wealthy; and who could not afford to farm out most or all of a restoration , should ever have more than one old car.

 I thought about that at length and stated that all the "one cars" , that is a single hobby car that would be a high enough stature car to satisfy all old car urges had forever gone out of reach price wise for hobbyist's of average means. In my case I can spend no more than about $750.00 { Canadian} / month on my hobby. That includes books, magazines, consumables, club fees etc. And I am extremely adverse to borrowing from the bank to purchase a car I only just want rather than need.

 

Are there cars out there that would fall in to the"  one car "category and still be affordable on that sort of a budget ?

My 1912 Staver Chicago basket case is a car that a person could easily spend a good part of a lifetime restoring / re- creating. But at the end of the day is a Brass era car that is suitable for a handful of events each year and not really my definition of a " one car".

 

 The 1936 Aston Martin pointed out by Mark Gregory in todays cars for sale section is a car I could definitely see being a "one car" but the 55,000.00 pound entry price is definitely not in my range.

 My friends fathers Dusey model J was definitely his one car, but he bought it in about 1955 for a modest amount of money compared to his income and spent the rest of his life restoring it. A situation that could not be duplicated today.

 

 Have any of of  you fellow forum members found cars that fit the limited means  "one car' criteria and what are they ?

 

Greg in Canada

 

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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I think immediate Prewar II, preferably Classic, because they are eligible for most of the old-car tours (not brass, obviously). If geared properly, or are equipped with overdrive. Many of them are capable of keeping up with highway traffic. Roll-up windows. Easy shifting. Comfortable, and can be used regularly.

 

Better still would be a large car from around 1931, but they're a bit more cantankerous, and I'm not sure I'd use one of those for regular driving like I would for a later '30s car.

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13 minutes ago, 1912Staver said:

Several years ago my Mother; source of all wisdom in my life according to her at least, identified a problem in the way I was approaching the old car hobby.  She observed I had several project cars and no drivable hobby cars. She concluded that no old car hobbyist who was not fabulously wealthy; and who could afford to farm out most or all of a restoration , should ever have more than one old car.

 

I think the important thing is that if your resources are limited, limiting your focus can improve your chances of success. I see so many guys with a bunch of beater cars or a yard full of projects but not one operational car. That would be very frustrating to me. My father owned, at one point, 12 old cars ranging from merely ordinary to truly crappy. With that pile of cash, he could have owned one truly great one. He spent much of his life frustrated and disappointed with the hobby. I think I know why.

 

I recently visited a collection of formerly desirable Corvettes in an estate. Each car was a decent car (1970 LT1 convertible, 1972 big block 4-speed coupe, 1967 big block convertible, 1970 LS5 coupe, etc.) that had been purchased, disassembled in preparation for restoration, but then another acquisition came along and the previous project was abandoned and that new car became the current project. That happened perhaps 10 times, so there are 8 or 10 formerly desirable cars that all could have been saved, now disassembled and their respective parts scattered among the garages of three suburban houses. For example, only one or two of the cars below have their engines in them and there were no engines visible anywhere near any of the cars--they were all in a garage across the street, some rebuilt, some laying on the ground, some in pieces. To make anything out of the pile, someone will have to buy the whole lot and try to reassemble the jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps most sadly, the guy who owned them never got to drive any of them, not even once.

 

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Focus. I like the idea of one car. Put your resources there. Save up until you can buy one that you love that is in a manageable condition. Don't get too excited and grab a project because you want to get busy. Don't get distracted like my father or the guy with the Corvettes.

 

If you're asking for a personal "if I could have only one hobby car" proposal, I still gravitate towards 1934 Packards, although I've owned two and didn't fall in love with either one. However, I'm very much in love with my 1941 Buick Limited. If I liquidated everything, that would probably be the last to go. Maybe that's the best way to judge?

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14 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

I think.......if your resources are limited, limiting your focus can improve your chances of success. I see so many guys with......a yard full of projects but not one operational car. That would be very frustrating to me. My father owned, at one point, 12 old cars (and) with that pile of cash, he could have owned one truly great one. He spent much of his life frustrated and disappointed with the hobby.

 

Focus. I like the idea of one car. Put your resources there. Save up until you can buy one that you love that is in a manageable condition. Don't get too excited and grab a project because you want to get busy.

 

I have experienced what Matt cites above and agree that many people could use a little more focus than that.  I have found it better for me to have a drivable car while a project is underway.  I have my one eternal marathon project that I worked on for 20 years between acquisition and the first drive during the restoration and for most people this would be very unsatisfying.  However for a retiree working full time it might be OK if you would only be a year or two rather than 20 and are experienced enough to have enough patience to keep going, Todd C   

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Posted (edited)

Definitely if a person had a fully formed vision of the car he would truly be happy with and saved towards that goal ; perhaps for decades , that person might be ahead financially. Also I must clarify. That $750 / month figure was much less, more like $250.00 / month From 1990 - 2012 when I was paying off a mortgage. So those decades would have not added very much to the kitty.

 However experience is often the best teacher. If one collected money rather than old car's after a decade or two that person would probably know a lot about money but possibly not very much about old cars. 

Also many of the cars once within my definition have gone up in price far more than the rate at which most of us could have possibly put money away. Therefore over a few decades even the savers are further away from one car ownership than when they started saving.

 Few of us keep the same old car goals as we age. For various reasons. 

 I look at  money spent in the past as the cost of my education that helped form my personal goals in the old car world. We all know project cars are 80% spent money, very little is recoverable in this new era of the hobby. What should someone do with a mature vision and limited funds ?

 The vast majority of cars that were at one time both attractive to me and affordable given my income are no longer affordable. Facel Vega HK 500's ,Maserati 3500's  or down at the heals Aston DB 4's for example. All were at one time easily within my income { single auto mechanic for the first 1/2  of my 20's }, obviously no longer the case.  I progressed career wise each decade of my life however my car goals just got further and further away over that same time.

 

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

This question is like "what are all the types of fish in the ocean" ?  Perhaps a better question is "what floats your boat" ?  And, this is a super knowledgeable group of people that can then tell you if good choice or not.    I sat with a local collector last evening who has truly fabulous cars and the topic that was on his mind - Chevy Vega's (A to Z).

 

As to one car - I can take you to garages where people cannot handle their one car and I can take you to garages where people cannot handle their 20 cars - I personally would lean toward one and trying to have it fit all my needs, whether garage queen, tour car, show car and/or .... 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)

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Budget for this one car is key, a Model A budget or Packard, Cadillac, Buick and so forth.  Apparently you can have a great time and lots of support for the Model A and not go broke. Maybe a Model A to Drive and one project car to satisfy the want to restore it bug.

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You need to have a good chat with yourself, what makes you happy in the old car hobby? Doing burnouts with a Mustang until the tires pop, or patting the fender of a garage bound project? Not everyone has the same goals. Bob 

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I like what William Harrah once said.  "You can't restore them all!"   

 

That is coming from someone who could afford to hire staff and thoroughly restore one-offs and high end cars to perfection without running out of money.  Like all of us, his life-cycle came to an end first, and no one is exempt from that!

 

Craig

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This really depends on what you want to get out of the hobby.  For some people, the hobby is about having one finished car and driving it.  Nothing wrong with that.  Enjoy it.  For others like myself, it's the journey.  My collector cars are really just 1:1 scale model car kits.  My enjoyment is from building them.  Once a car is done (yeah, go ahead, snicker...), I move on to the next one. If I didn't have projects, I wouldn't need to go to swap meets and scan rows and rows of greasy, rusty parts while I talk to others in the hobby. Again, this is neither better nor worse, just different ways to enjoy the hobby. 

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Posted (edited)

I have been looking at '51 through '54 Packard convertibles for about 3 years. I have seen two nice ones just over $30,000 and a few projects around $10,000. These are not Caribbeans, nice Perry White cars.

The completed car is there to see in all its quality. The project is full of unrealized expectations that may or may not materialize, even with the best efforts.

 

I could have a "work in progress" where my personal efforts might reach the same $30,000 in 10 years. I'm not super aggressive. An average would be $250 over the 120 months, probably something like 10 hours per week. But I think time, costs, and contracted labor would go beyond expectations.

If I found a part time job that would net me $10 per hour I could schmooze my banker into handing over the 30K, put in put in an average of 6 hours per week, have the finished car, and drive it to my part time job. No body shop excuses, no rebuild mistakes, just a big smile. In my instance I always manage some windfall and would probably pay it off early.

 

I haven't done that myself. I am more inclined to buy a clean newer car and let the car, as well as myself, age to collectible status. I have bought restoration projects in the past, kept them for a few years, and sold them to fund a newer, clean, older (but not real old) car. The cars I own now, by age, are 59 years, 55, 35, and 16. I drove them all today and they are in pretty good shape. None of them were really that old when I bought them.

 

Pick a nice clean car that is not too old and keep it nice. Fixing up an old dilapidated one doesn't go with living long and prospering.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

I stumbled across this video and he makes some great points.

https://youtu.be/FgWPy4JavNc

 

I sure wish I knew the trick to imbed Youtube videos and not just posting the link.

The hypertext markup I am used to on other forums does not work here for some reason.

Edited by zepher (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Yesterday it was raining so I had some time to kill. Bring a trailer has a good cross section of mainly post war hobby cars. They also have a special category for those of us limited to the bargain basement. Its the under $20,000.00 category. I reviewed probably 200 + past BAT cars in this " low priced " category, less than 5 had any appeal to me. And they were all projects or cars a very long way away , like England. I am beginning to think I am hunting a unicorn, in the post war era at least.

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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I know guys who have one collector car, and have had the same car for many years. Without exception these cars are really nice, well done, and as they keep working on them year after year they keep getting better. They go to their share of shows and have as much fun as anyone, without spending a lot of money or time in any one year. These are mostly in the hot rod field.

 

Funny story about Pat Ganahl, former editor of a hot rod magazine. One day his secretary asked "are you rich?" Not hardly, what makes you think so? "You drive a different hot rod to work every day".

 

His "high end" hot rods:

 

A 1948 Chevrolet sedan his grandmother gave him when he was 14, and the Chev was 17. He has been working on it off and on ever since, it has had about 7 transmissions, 4 engines, 2 or 3 paint jobs, been reupholstered once, and numerous brake jobs, tires etc all done at home.

 

A 1932 Chevrolet coupe he bought in the mid 70s for $600. Now has a built small block, nice paint, nice wheels etc.

 

A 1960 VW beetle he bought for his son when he was in high school for $500. They rebuilt it California style as a father son project with 1835cc engine, nice paint, mags, etc. When son went off to college he tossed the old man the keys.

 

A 1962 Chevrolet Nova station wagon. Bought as a used car for his wife for $1800. When she got tired of it and got a newer car he took it and rebuilt it with V8 engine, mag wheels etc.

 

So. Less than $3000 cash invested to buy 4 cars. Plus some weekends and evenings of work at his favorite hobby stretching over many years. What you can do if you start with a project you can handle and stick with it.

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Funny just discussing this with my wife this evening. Told her I was planning to sell two vehicles because it is too expensive to maintain all of them. For me one to drive, one to work on. Then sell one and get something else. Wrench and repeat. Oh and lose money on every deal, but that's okay with me because its my hobby and that time counts for something. When I have more than one project I end up like a deer in the headlights and can't decide which to work on when I get the time.

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9 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

 I look at  money spent in the past as the cost of my education that helped form my personal goals in the old car world. We all know project cars are 80% spent money, very little is recoverable in this new era of the hobby.

 

Ask golfers, fishermen, campers, etc; how many of their expenses are recoverable....... :unsure:

 

Having fun can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be........or run you into the poor house if you have no self control which, fortunately, you seem to have.

I guess the real question is what's the price of making you happy........or not....... 😕 

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Posted (edited)

I have mostly lived in urban areas where garage space is a premium: Car collectors are usually "one car" people because you only have one free garage space to put an antique car.  Finding a garage rental where I have lived is hard, and it may cost you $250 a month just for the garage spot.  With that said, I think there's a "one car" for every taste and nearly every budget.  You have your budget, and you figure out what you want that is within your budget.  If you only have one garage spot, you work within that parameter based on your preferences and you get that car that really does it for you.

 

My first antique car, or at least my first antique that ran, was a '49 Cadillac I still own.  It was a #3 driver that an earlier owner had put a lot of money into,.  For me, at least, it was the perfect "one car."  Spectacular styling, relatively easy to find parts, great club support, automatic transmission (as I didn't know how to drive a manual), and not too expensive (depending on body style).  A friend of mine wanted an antique car and bought a restored MGA, which was his perfect "one car" -- relatively inexpensive, beautiful lines, a great convertible to drive, and great club support.  (Having absolutely zero automotive knowledge, neither of us considered buying project cars.  We both bought cars that seemed to be in decent mechanical and cosmetic shape and that didn't need a lot of work.)  But which cars to pick is just what you love, not something that you can really analyze. 

 

 

Edited by 1935Packard (see edit history)
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I wish I could be happy with one antique car. But I just ain't built that way. One of my longtime best friends (passed away too young about seven years ago) was good that way. He restored a '29 model A Ford Murray body town sedan beginning when he was in high school. He finished it after a few years in the Navy and drove it happily for several more years on antique car club and group outings. For several years, he actually drove that model A as his only car. He toyed for a short time with getting a model T. Then decided instead to get a bigger, better one antique, and a modern car for work. He sold the model A, bought a nice older restoration 1925 Lincoln seven passenger sedan. A car big enough to carry lots of friends. For about thirty years, he was quite happy with his one antique car. Joined a model T club (the '25 Lincoln was built by Ford in the model T era!), went on tours with them, CCCA, Lincoln owners club, and other clubs and groups interested in that era of cars. He took very good care of that Lincoln. Tinkered and improved the car quite a bit, rebuilt the engine (twice). His wife still has the car, and it gets driven occasionally, usually by one of his many friends that still keep close.

 

For me? I lean toward older cars. Brass era, horseless carriage, both the bigger ones that go fairly fast, and the really slow ones. No one car really fits both those things. On top of that, I really like a model T speedster, properly restored to era correct in accessories, materials and construction. They represent an exciting area of automotive history, and they can be driven considerable distances at fairly high speeds. Gotta have one simple model T just as Henry built them, and because I really like to drive all year 'round, I do really want a nice Nickel era sedan. Over the years, I have had and toured nearly all the cars I really want. Unfortunately, family "needs" along the way forced me to have to sell all of them. So, I am left with piles of parts and projects hoping to get a couple cars back together to drive and enjoy again. None of the parts or piles is worth enough to be worth selling. Anything that was worth much already got sold. Besides, I like working on those really bad project piles and seeing them turn into a decent and enjoyable antique. I just need to keep them from now on.

 

So my minimum collection would be one good T speedster, a '10ish one or two cylinder, a '15 T touring car, and a mid '20s sedan (CCCA acceptable preferred). That should do me just fine. None need to be high end expensive cars. Older restorations are fine, no show cars necessary.

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I’v had many different cars over the years and only for around 6 years did I not have at least one running. It was the most miserable 6 years I can think of!!!

 

That said, up until a year ago I had 3 cars, two Model A Fords and a Model T - because of having three, they were not being driven enough to keep them happy. By this I mean the gas going stale, they had that stored car smell, always dusty even when in their car covers, etc etc... I won’t say this was as miserable as no car to drive, but it was sad in its own way.

 

We moved last year to a much smaller home, no longer did I have the 30x50 barn with two large sheds attached, but the typical 2 car garage so we sold the two open As and kept my T sedan. This opened up the door for me to buy the large classic car I had wanted since the early 1970’s when dad would take us to the car shows. I was 5 or 6 when I saw a Pierce Arrow for the first time,  and this was a car well out of my fathers means even then even though he had several car projects that he dreamed of restoring with his three sons... problem is, I’m the only one of the three that likes antique cars, and his dream cars were not mine which led to bitter disappointment on his end, he never finished one before he passed away two years ago. When he passed away, he had 6 non running projects and only one car we were able to get running for the funeral. The way the hobby has changed I doubt those car projects will break even with the 1970 and 1980 dollars spent on them, but that is for the executor to deal with and he isn’t a car guy.

 

I on the other hand, still drive the T frequently and bought the Pierce Arrow of my memories. I don’t have any plans to fully restore the car, it’s a decent looking original with the interior already done by a previous owner and I am going through the mechanics so she will be dependable, safe, and FUN. THAT is what this hobby is for me, and at some point once both cars are running well I hope to see y’all on the road...

 

Cars should be driven, and projects piling up will drive you nuts over the years IMHO.

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Posted (edited)

When I started in the old car hobby (in 1970) having more than one car was unthinkable. I was 19 at the time and when I mean "one car" I don't mean a car to drive every day and an antique. I bought an unrestored 1927 Cadillac, in what, today, would be considered remarkably well-preserved condition. I admit that I only used it as my everyday car for about a year and I was away at college much of the time so this wasn't an immediate issue. I've never actually had more than two or three cars at a time and likely will never again have anything as promising as the 1899 Panhard or 1929 Phantom I that I once owned. Now I have my 1910 Mitchell project. In thinking about it over the years I couldn't afford any old car at all I decided that only two periods really interest me, brass cars and the 20s and I will never be able to afford the sort of car I'd really like. If I could have a brass Silver Ghost, that would serve all purposes but it is out of the question. A brass era Locomobile or Pierce-Arrow would do the same but are equally unrealistic. When (an if) I get the Mitchell to the point of a running chassis I may consider a 20s Cadillac or Franklin... both cars that are a bit underappreciated and thus barely affordable.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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10 hours ago, cahartley said:

 

Ask golfers, fishermen, campers, etc; how many of their expenses are recoverable....... :unsure:

 

Having fun can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be........or run you into the poor house if you have no self control which, fortunately, you seem to have.

I guess the real question is what's the price of making you happy........or not....... 😕 

 

I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble, or run around with women.  My money goes into my cars.  My wife is fine with that, because she always knows where I am - out in the shop.  It keeps me off the streets. 😁

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6 hours ago, joe_padavano said:

 

I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble, or run around with women.  My money goes into my cars.  My wife is fine with that, because she always knows where I am - out in the shop.  It keeps me off the streets. 😁

Same here.  The only difference is I decided I wanted to build that one garage so. I would have the space for any cars I found along the way that were worthy.  I didn't realize that building such a big shop costs so much I will never have money to buy anything to put in it. 

The wife still knows where i am,  and every spare penny goes into the garage. 

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Interesting Topic!

 

   I have 8, recently sold the 9th. 2 are done & a 3rd should be done around the 4th of July. The way I look at it is....As long as all my bills are paid I am much better off spending my money on cars than women, drugs, or booze. (a few drinks now & then) I am a stickler for things being inside out of the weather, so at 8 I can still have room to work on them as well as fit both trailers & both transport trucks inside as well. Last year I added onto the building. My other problem is...Since I am a transporter, if I buy one of my own from out west, I lose somewhere around $3500.00, because I am not transporting a customers car back to this area! I did this twice in the last 4 months (one from California & one from Arizona) I am definitely done buying until I at least get two more done!

 

God Bless

Bill

https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/nationwide-single-car-transport-hauling-open-or-enclosed.614419/

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One thing that needs to be acknowledged: "Having" and "Acquiring" are two rather separate thrills in the old car hobby...or any other hobby. I can't imagine owning more than the three old cars I have right now (along with my mini van daily driver.) I've owned four at once and it was too many, at least for the semi-project type vehicles I tend to get. I spread my time and money too thin, but buying something else is always an enticing proposition. It's a thrill that doesn't wear off too quick if the car you buy is ok.

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For me two seems to be the sweet spot.  Just sold the third after coming to this realization. 

 

The 89 SL is a fun weekend car that my wife and son can also use.  It seems to get more attention as each season goes by.  We spent more than we should sorting it but it sees a fair amount of use.  I have somewhere between 25 to 30k into it, doing maybe half the work myself and half done professionally.

 

The second is a Model A.  Well supported relatively inexpensive car to own, a fun driver although it will eventually get freshened at some point and that will probably cost much more than what the car is worth.  I dont feel the least bit bad about that as its a hobby and not an investment.

 

So two different era cars, both set up to enjoy.  Both open cars.  Seems like the right mix for the time and money i can spare for this hobby.

 

If we ever added a third again, West's late 30s suggestion is a good one.

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