Classic Cars

A. The Classic Car Hobby.

Collecting cars began a year after they came onto the scene.  Individual shops or small mom-and-pop manufacturing companies built most cars until Henry Ford entered the picture.  He made the Model T economically available to ordinary people in the early 1900s.  Most were 4-cylinder engines.  Then in the 1910s, the larger 6-cylinder engines popped up.  The Packard Win Six offered a 12-cylinder engine.  In the 1930s, the vehicles became streamlined and had better mechanical designs. 

After World War II, in the 1950s, car designers went crazy.  There were cars of all types, shapes, and designs.  The single-piece wrapped windshields became the mainstay.  The 1960s became the era of muscle cars.  Then when the oil crisis hit, compact cars became more important.   In the 1980s, safety became important with the SUV’s introduction.  Goodbye to the station wagon. 

B. What is a Classic Car?

What makes a vehicle a collector car?  This is as broad as the expression. It’s in the “eye of the beholder.”  However, two main ideas permeate the vintage car market.  Generally, if the car is rare, it is more collectible.  The second idea depends on the market—the more in demand, the greater the value.  But market forces are not easy to spot without hindsight. 

What is important?   The number one rule is “keep it stock.”   That is, do not change the engine, the body design, the radio, or anything else.  A Hemi engine in a Model T kills the value.  Next in line is keeping the vehicle operational and attractive.  Big dents and rust spots will ruin its value.  Keep all of the accessories that went with the car.  Some fancy radiator caps or hood ornaments may be worth as much as the car.   The third is documentation.  Keep as many ownership records, manuals, parts lists, and detailed repair records as possible.  For example, having a car owned by a famous person could be more important than the car itself.  Photographs of the vehicle from purchase to current are a good idea.  Winning awards in car shows are helpful and more than just bragging rights.  Winning awards indicate that experts in the field have inspected the car.

C. Social Benefits of Car Clubs.

One of the greatest benefits of car collecting is socialization.  Almost every city has car clubs.  Many clubs meet once a week for breakfast.  Some clubs form caravans to drive to upcoming car shows.  The Hot August Nights in Reno is one of the largest car shows.  Finding a car show near you is a click away at Car Show Radar.  or Car Show Safari.   The Classic Car Club organization is a gem for contacts.   The GoodGuys is the granddaddy of car shows and has great connections in every aspect of car collecting, including the best classic car insurers, repair shops, available parts, etc.

D. Must Name Your Car.

Personalizing your car makes it unique.   The best way to do this is by placing a personal name on it.  It can be your first name, surname, or initials.  However, using it as a unique name is better.   Years ago, a hot roadster was on a 32 Ford chassis with a flathead V-Eight engine.  Yes, this was a few years back.  It beat everything in its class in the quarter-mile race.  This hot rod was special because it was named “Tinker Toy.”  Everyone talked about how nasty Tinker Toy was on the drag strip.  There will be those naysayers out there that will warn about being sued for trademark infringement.  But the trademark Tinker Toy is for games.  A Classic Car is not a game.  

Find a name that fits.  How about branding your car “Tiny Bubbles”?  That could describe what you see in your rear-view mirror when you cross the winning line.  Have fun finding your car’s name.  Shoot Quorvita an email if you find a great brand.