QotW: Why do you own a classic car?

There are many reasons to own a classic. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or the feeling you get from driving something from a bygone era. Maybe it’s the desire to preserve something that gets rarer every year, or the satisfaction of restoring something that would otherwise be lost to time. Maybe it’s a desire to win trophies at car shows, or just to be different. We’re surprised it’s taken us this long to ask this question, but here goes.

Why do you own a classic car?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC would be best for an EV conversion?“.

There were many good suggestions that didn’t narrow it down to one make and model, but an entire class of vehicles. streetspirit made the case for electrified mopeds, light motorcycles, and the brilliant Fuji Cabin. crank_case cleverly argued that the previous generation of EVs like the Mitsubishi i-MIEV could be very effective if updated with modern tech. Meanwhile speedie nominated several of Honda’s ingeniously packaged cars like the Wagovan, Element, and City with Motocompo as good candidates. Cheekily, Alan chose any Nissan VQ.

Surprisingly, there was not one, but two votes for the Datsun F-10, from Steve and Mark Newton-John. The funky little FF hatchback certainly looks the part. Other cars that had the EV look included Fred Langille‘s Nissan S-Cargo and f31roger‘s Infiniti M30. In that vein, 555jay chose the futuristic-looking Subaru Alcyone and SVX, and they’re a brilliant choice:

I’ll nominate a duo: Subaru Alcyone/XT/Vortex and its successor Subaru SVX.

Both were “too ahead of their time” back in their respective days, loaded with “quirky” features that were novel until they were broken and too expensive to get fixed. But nostalgia comes back around and I’d love to see them all spruced up with modern tech.

The consensus seems to be that the weak point of the SVX was the 4-spd AT, and while the 6MT swaps are also very cool, maybe twin-motor direct drive would let it achieve its full Grand Touring dreams. The time you save high-speed cruising on the motorway still gets burned explaining the weird windows.

But my personal heavy 80’s nostalgia would love to see the Alcyone’s remarkable (again, at least for it’s time) aerodynamics coupled with modern hi-tech EV drive. I think we could go ahead and call the ‘back seat’ a mulligan and use that space for the batteries, but keep all/most the other 80s trappings like the amber digital dash and the SEGA-style shifter. Too rad!

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17 Responses to QotW: Why do you own a classic car?

  1. Richard says:

    I too nominate the Subaru XT/Vortex as a classic.. brilliant car wish I never sold mine beautiful lines and that super funky interior.. oh and maybe go Google series 1 Lancia Gamma coupe and I think you will find what Subaru looked at when they penned the Vortex, no shame in that they did a great job.

  2. Fred Langille says:

    It’s hard to pin down just ONE reason for having a classic car. Especially since we now have TWO. The S-Cargo is simple to understand. It hits ALL the buttons mentioned above: it’s something no one else has, trophies at car shows and parades (6), restoring something so it isn’t “lost”.

    There’s also a more personal element that came with the recent purchase of our 2004 Mercedes-Benz 230 SLK Kompressor. Not only is it supercharged (Kompressor means Supercharged in German) but, has a vario roof the folds into the trunk. Those two are the aspects of the car’s mechanics that first attracted me.

    The personal one is that back in 1959 (yes, I’m that old! We had cars then, not horse-and-buggies!), my Dad retired from the USCG as a Chief Gunner’s Mate. When the Merceds 190 SL came out, he was all over it! Mom said “no”.

    However, The Price Is Right was on TV (different format … lotsa high end stuff being bid on that included a 190 SL).

    THIS particular 190 SL wasn’t being bid on by the panel. It was to go to a lucky viewer who’s postcard was sent in. Dad was determined to get that car!

    We sent in 1,500 postcards.

    Come the drawing, the big winner was from Idaho and, THAT’S where the winner’s name was drawn from! Dad was so mad that he didn’t go berserk but, instead accellerated immediately to lightspeed! He called Bill Cullen EVERY NAME and invective he could … then, tried calling CBS in NY City to personally ream him out!

    He never did. He never got the car.

    It became part of family lore for years. I was remined of it when a classmate mentioned that, at his funeral, my late mother told him ” I wish I’d let him get his sports car!”

    So did I. 190 SL’s are through the roof. But, this story gets more interesting as I’m helping a friend who is a Mercedes aficianado find a 380 SL. I found several 230 SLKs in Hemmings but, he said that while they are a good car, he wanted the more collectible 380 SL. I had a chance to see one locally and, was impressed with it and, included one in my CARFAX search for a 380.

    I found one in KY in an intriguing color, Firemist Red. A metallic red bronze, very unique and, after talking to the dealer went to my finance company, where I had a loan that was soon to be paid off. Long story shorter, I got the loan, we got the car, my wife likes it.

    It needs, as the Brits say, some sorting out. Its not perfect but, it is now reliable and safeer. In my research on the 230 SLK, I did find that it IS a tech descendent of the 190 SL! Not as collectible … yet. Nor as expensive.

    But, here I am, 64 years later, restoring a soon-to-be-possible classic (in 6 years IAW AACA) whose ancestor was desired by my Dad.

    It doesn’t get any better than that.

  3. BlitzPig says:

    It’s all about the purity of the experience. No computers, no radio, no electronic nanny acting as a virtual helicopter parent, just the pure essence of driving.

    Yes it’s true that any modern car will handily outperform my old crate, but that’s not the point. Too many enthusiasts get caught up in the numbers, be it lateral G force, 0 to 60, whatever number you fixate on as the determiner of what makes your car “best”. When you are rolling down the road the numbers are meaningless compared to the raw joy of feeling the wind in your hair and all the tactile inputs the car is feeding back to you. Nope, no modern ride can compare, regardless of how fast they may be.

  4. Geoff says:

    It’s pretty simple for me, I like shapes and colors.

    I have trouble telling the difference between a Kia Stinger and an Infiniti Q58928, because they’re both the same corporate homogenized gray with roughly the same round-edged design language. Similarly, the high-beltline tiny windowed coupes all look indistinguishable, whether it’s a Charger or a Mustang or a Camaro. There’s nothing like an old Z on the road around me, and being the weirdo that stands out because I’m pushing my classic around appeals.

  5. Fashion Victim says:

    I was born in 76, that makes me squarely in Gen-X category. By right, I should be crazy about 90s cars, it was my teenage years after all, which is supposed to be the best times of my life. But it wasn’t. The music and culture was cynical and jaded, and there was a loss of innocence. Throughout the 80’s I was a child. The decade promised a bright optimistic future, when things will only get better. The digital dashboards, electronic controlled suspensions, myriad of knobs and buttons in cars gave that James Bond/Knight Rider -ish feel. Soft touch materials were common in cars, even the economy ones. Today ? All hard plastic.
    Why do I drive an 80’s JNC then ? My first love is actually american coupes, but JNCs are more suited to where I live, with their smaller displacement engines and high reliability even after 3 decades.
    Why do I own such a car ? To get that special feeling again that I felt as a child, that sheer optimism, sheer excitement of driving a time capsule. Knowing things will never be the same again. Yeah there’s no VVTI and only a 4 speed auto or 5 speed manual, it sure as hell wont beat modern performance cars, but hey the feeling I get behind the wheel , and looking at it while it’s parked, is just priceless.

  6. MikeRL411 says:

    Because I can look under the hood and understand everything.

  7. The Z31 Hunter says:

    When I’m in my Z31 300ZX, it still feels, smells, drives, and sounds exactly the same as it did 30 years ago.

    I don’t have to grow up, at least for a little while. It’s a great feeling.

  8. TheJWT says:

    In the words of Marge Simpson, I just think they’re neat

  9. Tayor C. says:

    I didn’t necessarily own a “classic car,” but it just so happened that I’ve had it for such a long time that it became one, or a couple.

    I bought my first car, a ’97 Miata, back in 2005 right out of grad school. I sure didn’t have enough money to buy a 2005 G35 6MT sedan or an S2000, nor did I want to do payments. The Miata was fun to drive, easy to work on, and cheap to maintain. It was my only car, so I made sure it was able to take on anything I threw at it: road trips, track days, daily commute, stop-and-go.

    As I had more disposable income, I finally landed on the Z32 300ZX. The car that hit the 300HP (well, mine was 222HP) and ruled every sports car comparison. The commercials, the witty magazine ads, the shape, the wheels. The car was finally something I owned, and it was so cool to own and drive something I’ve previously stared at my bedroom wall for so long.

    After that, I bought an older non-JDM car, only because it appealed a bit more to me than a 2005 G35 6MT sedan. But at this point an M3/4/5 that came up locally on Craigslist and it sure looked good, and was within budget.

    Finally, I bought the 91 Prelude because, well, it was seriously nostalgic. My sister and I shared and ’85 Automatic briefly in high school (she took it onto college). It was also cheap because it had a blown head gasket and required a decent refresh, and thus would be a great learning experience, as it was mainly mechanical. Earlier this year I had thought about selling it, as I recently bought a CB7 with and H22A swapped over, but the memories this Prelude brought back, as well as the effort I’ve poured into the car really couldn’t justify letting it go. Ultimately I’m putting the CB7 up for sale; it didn’t have any nostalgic value besides scratching the rice rocket itch that I’ve addressed now.

    I guess what originally was a purchase based on finances has turned into a purchases to relive what I couldn’t afford back then. I still wouldn’t be able to plop down $35k for an ND nor an LS600, but I sure wouldn’t mind a 2000 LS400, or even 2005 LS430 for a fraction of the price, and get to experience that luxury that I drooled over back in the day.

  10. Lee says:

    I owned (and hopefully I’ll own another someday!) a 1990 Nissan 240SX, a 1988 Toyota Supra and a 1990 Toyota Supra. The S13 was sadly stolen from me while I was in class one day, I sold the 88 Supra to help fund my first adult car (a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT), and I sold the 90 Supra to cover expenses after a layoff. I regret not having all of them because they were my special to me. I caught the drift bug and wanted to do dumb stuff with friends in the 240SX back in 2009 so I begged my parents to buy one for me instead of something sensible like a Corolla when I graduated high school. The Supras came into my life when I realized I liked comfy GT cars and got a girlfriend that wanted something a little more luxurious than crank windows and manual locks. Now that I have some adult money, I’m hoping to buy either of these cars through TopRank and live out my high school and early post-college fantasies. I guess what I saw in those old clunkers is what kids will see in 20 years with the 86 Twins; my first cars, doing dumb stuff with friends, and first loves.

  11. Jonathan P. says:

    New cars didn’t appeal to me. I’ve liked classics for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t looking for anything newer than twenty to twenty-five years old. Always kept setting the search parameters to 1900-1989 just to see what was out there.
    Had the mindset of “classics are better”. Got lucky, and bought an ’86 300ZX N/A.
    I’ve since come to appreciate newer cars, but my love for classics is still on top.

  12. Gilles says:

    All the reasons here are good. Since I own mine since new. Mine is a 1977 Celica GT Liftback bought at 25, I’M now 71 and still enjoy it a lot!

  13. RotorNutcase says:

    ‘cuz they don’t make them like they use to.

  14. f31roger says:

    I think nowadays new gen and others see it as classic cars. But a lot of us grew up with these cars and so we don’t see it that way.

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