Buying a classic car can be more than you bargained for

Dear Car Talk:

I am not a car nut; hence, I don’t know much about the innards of a car. However, I would love to own a classic 1960-ish muscle car, like a Mustang Fastback. Is there anything I should be aware of before I get myself into it?

What would you warn me of before I get into buying myself a classic car? — Kunal

I would warn you that you’re not buying a car, Kunal, you’re buying a hobby. Maybe a career. And possibly, a divorce.

From a mechanic’s point of view, 50 to 60 years ago, cars were pretty lousy, compared to cars today. They were less reliable, less durable, they handled poorly, stopped poorly, and crashed less safely. But they looked great, right?

So, you’re going to need several things before you embark on this bank-account-and-free-time depleting project, Kunal.

First, you’ll need a modern car so you can make the classic your second car. You don’t want to count on a 60-year-old car as your daily driver. So, don’t sell your Corolla.

Next, you’ll need some savings. Old cars are always reaching into your pocket, so just accept that. It’s not just the purchase price, it’s the ongoing care and feeding.

After that, you’ll need a subscription to Hemmings Motors News (“the bible of the old car hobby”). That’ll be your bathroom reading for the next 20 or 30 years.

Finally, you’ll need a support group. Fortunately, most areas have old car clubs, where nuts and aspiring nuts like you get together and enjoy themselves.

These will be your new people, Kunal. They’ll recommend mechanics to you, give you tips on where to get parts that are no longer made, and share their knowledge. They’ll also provide emotional support, giving you a shoulder to cry on when you spend two months of weekends replacing the transmission in your ’66 Mustang, and on the first test drive, it won’t shift out of second gear.

In fact, joining a club like that in advance will help you get advice on what year, make and model to seek out, and, even more importantly, what cars to avoid.

And if all that doesn’t dissuade you, Kunal, you’ll have a wonderful time with your classic car, and you’ll make lots of new friends. Especially tow truck drivers and mechanics. Enjoy!

Dear Car Talk:

There are two types of SUVs: those that allow a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood to lay flat in the back and those that don’t.

Can you please tell the guys that review the vehicles to add this simple fact to their reviews? It’s OK if the plywood hangs out of the rear door on the way back from Home Depot, but the sheet has to lay flat and not scratch the heck out of the wheel well upholstery when you slide it in.

It’s a giant hassle visiting all the dealerships with a tape measure and/or a sample 48-inch-wide piece of plywood to see if it fits. I just read an SUV review and it’s full of useless facts about grill colors, logos, floor mats and nameplates.

Who cares? Does the sheet of plywood fit or doesn’t it? — Frank

I’m afraid you’re in the minority these days, Frank. Very few people carry 4×8 sheets of plywood anymore. If they need some 4×8 sheets of plywood, they’ll have them delivered. Unless you’re in the plywood pilfering business, Frank, in which case I guess delivery is not an option.

Seriously, even contractors will often have plywood delivered to job sites now rather than load and unload it themselves. So most SUVs aren’t designed to carry a flat sheet of plywood. Only the biggest, full-sized rigs based on pickup trucks will do that, along with some minivans with two rows of seats removed.

But because you took the time to write, I went back over the last 10 vehicles we reviewed on our website, cartalk.com, and have added, below, the information you’re looking for — whether these vehicles will carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood in the back:

Ford Escape: No.

Jaguar F-Pace: No.

Ford Mustang Mach-E: No.

Subaru Outback: No

Kia Stinger: No.

Ford Edge: No.

Nissan Pathfinder: No.

Mini Cooper: No.

Land Rover Discovery: No

Cadillac CT5: No

So you can cross those off your shopping list, Frank. Good luck.


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