Friday, March 31, 2017

Could I ever have a "forever" car?

This is Carhenge. photo source: one

If you go to many car shows you may have spoken to several owners who will tell you that they have owned their car for years. I remember speaking with owners that had bought the car in highschool, now the guy I'm speaking with is in his Sixties. Why and how did he keep that car? Holding onto any old car for a long period of time is a lucky combination of desire, determination, and happenstance.

There are those that hold onto their very first car. This doesn't always mean that it has been in continuous use since then. Usually the car was used for a few years than it might have sustained a major mechanical failure that reduced it to a yard car. Or the car was passed down through a series of siblings until it usually suffered a similar fate. At this point many cars are sold or scrapped, but if there is an out of the way place to park/ store the car it might survive. The car might be forgotten and years later either the owner or one of the family of drivers might decide that he might want to resurrect the old bomb for nostalgia's sake. The best place to put aside a car like this would be a garage, barn, warehouse or outbuilding. In the city their are fewer choices and many languish in driveways, sideyards, backyards, or even just at the curb in front of the house. When I was growing up, I remember an old gent down the street who lived in a crumbling old Victorian farmhouse with maybe a half acre of the old orchard still surrounding the house. He had two old Buicks parked next to an outbuilding on his property; a 1949 sedanette, a fastback coupe, and a 1955 four door hardtop sedan. Did he want to sell them? Of course not. he was going to "fix them up some day." Fast forward fifteen years ahead and the Buicks and the farmhouse were both gone, replaced by a bunch of condos. I'll bet his heirs made out okay.

I suppose if the car in question was a more valuable or interesting car like an old Porsche or Corvette it may be treated better. It might be maintained or at least preserved until some future time when it might be restored. Life usually brings changes and we have to move ahead. As we grow up and become self sufficient and fully employed we need a car that is reliable to deliver us to work every morning. Then later we'll possibly need a vehicle that can transport our growing families safely. Money is tight and holding onto an old car that is just a cash drain looks less and less appealing. Besides we need the space in the driveway. So the car is sold, but the memories live on.

If we are lucky enough to have our financial situation improve over the years we might decide that it is time to reward ourselves. You can buy yourself a new car, a current used car, or look to replace the car that you have so many memories tied up in. In my own situation I decided to buy a hobby car, that was practical, an old 1975 Honda Civic. I went through a couple of old Civics before I decided that I really wanted a boatail Riviera.

There are lots of guys that buy a car needing a complete restoration and spend ten to twenty years in the process. They are patient and thorough. They budget the build and know that there is no way that the car will be finished for years. It's a constant project worked on steadily over the years until completion. I really have a lot of respect for those guys, especially since I am not one of those guys! I lose interest if I can't drive the car most of the time. I strongly believe in keeping a car in use and on the road.

I went through that long time ownership experience with my 1977 Sportster. There was constant maintenance, rebuilding and upgrading. Still the time came when I became bored with the bike. I actually keep some of my transportation, not recreation, vehicles for a long time, ten years or more.

I won't say that I have a bucket list of cars. In a previous post I listed some hobby cars that I would like to own in the future.

There are always articles about some wealthy collector who has an extensive assortment of old cars. Besides their valuable models they may have some cars that they held onto for sentimental value. Maybe, they can afford to have a huge collection of cars and this one, is just one of many. I wish I was in that position.

The problem with old cars is that they are OLD cars. Old technology. Lacking the amenities and comfort items that most of us consider essential for daily driving. It's was easy getting used to working a/c, effective heaters, cruise control, power seats, windows,trunk locks, tilting steering columns, and keyless entry. Navigation, Bluetooth, etc. Then there is the fuel economy. Most old cars only get between 15-20 mpg. at best! Not the twenty five to thirty five mpg. we now expect from a modern car. I won't even start a conversation on the increased safety and passenger protection of a modern car.

So you drive your new car everyday. Then when do you drive your classic?

I'm not an important, successful guy, but my time is taken up by work, family, and household duties. That leaves only a precious little time for enjoying my old car. Do I really want to spend it hot and uncomfortable or worse yet at the side of the road fussing with some mechanical problem?

Cars are inanimate objects that are frozen in time. They are what they are, despite modifications and updates done by their owners. The ownership of these old vehicles really says more about the sentiments of the owner than anything else. Humans are dynamic beings. We follow a curve of development and maturation that transforms our thinking and aspirations. Hopefully there is a progression in our lives and goals. (Unfortunately, there is also the possibility of regression!) We cannot or should not stand still and remain the same person forever. So how can we want and be satisfied with the same car "forever"?

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