What To Consider Before Daily Driving That Classic Car

Colin
By Colin Wood
Apr 19, 2021 | Classic Cars, Daily Driving

Yes, you can daily drive a classic car, but the big question here is whether or not you should daily drive a classic car.

On one hand, most older cars were meant to be used daily when they were new, but on the other hand, older cars can have some considerations to take into account: How watertight is that convertible top, how does it drive in stop-and-go traffic and, perhaps most importantly, how do you plan to insure it?

We’ll let you read the full story on what to consider when living with a classic—day in and day out—over on Classic Motorsports, though we can safely say that daily driving a classic car be rewarding if you are properly prepared for it.

So, what classic would you like to daily? 

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Carsandbikes
Carsandbikes Reader
4/20/21 10:22 a.m.

In September I " found " a fairly nice, low, quite low, mileage 06 Mustang convertible.   I have hesitated driving it because the mileage would be a significant selling point if I sell it (which I am thinking of doing) this summer.

And yet, it isn't really a classic, just a very beautiful, V6 Mustang that is fully loaded with a few parking lot dings and some curb rash on the wheels.  It currently gets driven a few hundred miles a month (the pandemic isn't helping) and I wonder what it might be doing to this car when I can see a light build-up of rust on the brake rotors between drives.  I have had the top down briefly, 2-3 times, partly to " exercise " it and partly because there have been a few times when I was driving when I remembered that I could lower the top.

My experience so far with this car, make me question the idea of ever owning a real classic car again.  (I have owned Triumphs, a 914, a 544 Volvo and have driven a few other classic cars.)

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
4/20/21 10:34 a.m.

I've daily driven a classic a couple of times and I view it as not a big deal.

People drove these "daily" when they were new. If the make and model has good parts support it's not an issue.

As for the insurance I just used my normal policy.............granted none of my classics were particularly valuable.

 

SPG123
SPG123 HalfDork
4/20/21 11:41 a.m.

Depends on how "classic" the vehicle is... But figure that it will probably break somewhere and you will need it to be towed home. I always keep insurance with towing included. Our older ones are now on collector insurance which is a huge savings. 

SPG123
SPG123 HalfDork
4/20/21 11:46 a.m.

Meant to add that it is easy to forget that all maintenance items need to be replaced . We had a hose on our 84 LTD police car that was 37 years old and did not show visible deterioration.  Trans never serviced on the F100... We like surprises. Just not that kind. 

  

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
4/20/21 11:48 a.m.

I have always driven sports cars as my primary vehicle and would do so again with a vintage one (my current daily drivers are both sports cars - Solstice coupe and Z4M coupe).

My most practical ones have been the MGA coupe, an MGC convert, and a Fiero (is 1988 classic?).

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
4/20/21 12:03 p.m.
wspohn said:

I have always driven sports cars as my primary vehicle and would do so again with a vintage one (my current daily drivers are both sports cars - Solstice coupe and Z4M coupe).

My most practical ones have been the MGA coupe, an MGC convert, and a Fiero (is 1988 classic?).

1988 was 33 years ago, so um yeah it's a classic. Psssst your Solstice is getting closer by the minute.

I've joked about returning the Datsun 1200 back to street trim, I wouldn't hesitate to drive that every day.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/20/21 12:40 p.m.

I hear the argument at every classic car was one point designed to be a daily driver, but the expectations of daily driving are very different than they were even just a couple decades ago. Average speeds are faster, traffic is denser, commutes are longer, the typical car in front of you stops and accelerates a lot quicker, and drivers are far more distracted than ever before. The truth is the classic cars were designed to be used in an environment that simply doesn't exist in most places anymore.

So the biggest factor I would consider is safety. The average minivan can out-brake, out-accelerate, and out-crash most classic cars. When I take my El Camino to work, I consider all those things and drive accordingly. 

wake74
wake74 Reader
4/20/21 7:24 p.m.

I just finished a 2 year frame-off on a TR6, so it's been getting shake down / sorting cruises in the evenings.  It's been about 15 years since I've owned an LBC (previous MGB), and I'm reminded by how defensively I find myself driving in comparison to tooling around in the Tundra.  Usually with my wife or son (important cargo), so it's always assume everyone is not really going to stop at the four way, is the guy coming up behind you in the Excursion even know I'm there, etc.  The TR6 looks normal in the garage, parked between an F250 and a Suburban, you are 2' lower, and 3000 lbs lighter.  While I was just emerging from my own fabrication in 1974, I doubt that 5,000-6,000 lb vehicles were the norm back then.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
4/20/21 8:49 p.m.

Yes new cars are safer but as for faster acceleration in my area that isn't a factor in rush hour traffic. As for the braking that's an easy fix if one finds that a concern. As someone who once did the daily commute on a motorcycle a classic is far safer than that.

j_tso
j_tso GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/20/21 10:32 p.m.

I remember being stuck in traffic in the summer wondering if people regularly fainted from heat exhaustion before AC was common in cars, say the 1960s.  On one hand there was considerably less traffic 60 years ago, but also there was no or very little emissions controls.

rustomatic
rustomatic Reader
4/21/21 4:09 p.m.

Been thinking about this lately.  In the 1990s, I mostly drove cars made in the 1960s (Mustangs, Broncos, Firebirds, Bugs).  They were cheap and sexy.  Yes, I bought my first driver 1965 Mustang for $1500.00, and it ran and drove fine.  No, I'm not a boomer.

Cars from the '60s, in the '90s, were generally crap; pretty much everything needed to be replaced by 200k (short of maybe the diff, unless you had a big V8 model).  Granted, most cars from the '80s were crap from birth, with some exceptions.  My 1985 BMW is so much better than my Mustangs were with much less age, even with more or just comparable mileage.  The thing about that is this:  The BMW cost 10 times what the Mustang did new, only 20 years later, so maybe it should have been a bit better . . .

Plenty of people drove at 70-80 mph in the '60s.  Certain areas had plenty of awful traffic.  The driver's mind was just a bit different (perhaps present, which would be an upgrade).

To lasso my ADD for a minute, let's just take the Blues Brothers route, but somewhat differently:  crap brakes, crap steering (except for a Bug), crap shocks, crap tires, crap transmission gearing, zero chassis rigidity, weird smells, odd vibrations and noises, likely overheating, blah, blah, blah.  It's a dream.  

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
4/21/21 4:48 p.m.
j_tso said:

I remember being stuck in traffic in the summer wondering if people regularly fainted from heat exhaustion before AC was common in cars, say the 1960s.  On one hand there was considerably less traffic 60 years ago, but also there was no or very little emissions controls.

The Very Hot places in the country did not start to get seriously populated until air conditioning in buildings and cars became common.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
4/21/21 4:51 p.m.

I put more miles a year on my 2005 S2000, 1999 M3, and 2001 Sequoia than I do my 2020 Civic Si. 

1) They are all way more enjoyable to drive 

2) They are for the most part easy to fix

3) See #1

The Si has way more creature comforts than all of those combined (it barely beats out the Sequoia) but all of its technology makes it pretty numb to drive. With these current used car prices through the roof I'm thinking of letter her go. The problem is, I love great handling FWD cars for HPDEs and it does a great job of gobbling up miles on long Texas highway trips. Where as the S2000 and M3 are more of a pain for long trips and the Sequoia eats gas like it's at an all you can eat buffet. 

 

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
4/22/21 10:52 a.m.

Actually, I missed one out of my list.

I've driven my 71 Jensen Interceptor about 1100 miles in one shot, stopping only for gas and food. They are fairly powerful (big block Chrysler V8), smooth, quite decent handling and more reliable than some other British cars.

Think of it as a Chrysler minivan with better looks.  The only downside is fuel mileage.

 

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