The following is a guest entry written by Todd Hyso. I work with Todd at my day job and he loves cars easily as much as the next fanatic. Don’t speak of modern cars around him too much though. He gets moody if you don’t discuss cars older than me.
Recently I was lucky enough to be called to the hinterlands to shed some light on a really cool car. It had been purchased from the original owner back in 1964 with 500 miles on it. It was a ’64, 409 four-speed, 2-door hard-top, non-SS Chevrolet Impala. It was living quite well in a nice metal barn with a concrete floor. The guy that bought it has been gone for over 20 years, but his wife keeps his memory alive with the car.
A friend of mine called me in to see what needed to be done to bring the car back into service. The Impala featured manual drum brakes on all corners, manual steering, and no AC—all of the things you don’t want to see your Grandma deal with in the middle of a Southern summer cruise. After two hours of crawling all over the very clean, original, and complete Impala, I came to the conclusion that considering the advanced age of the woman and the advanced age of the car, an extensive restoration was required to make it drive-able for her. A younger car guy could probably get by with a quick valve job, tranny tune up, and brake rebuild, but I was not comfortable with this lovely lady having to plan her stops, worry about all the noises coming from all areas of the car, and break her arms trying to park this full size car as she turned red from heat exhaustion during the 4th of July cruise.
As we sat at the kitchen table, I explained the process that her car would need to go through if she was as serious as she had been on the phone about bringing the car back to life so she could enjoy it again like she did with her husband so many years ago. It was not to long into the discussion that an old, too familiar vibe entered the room. It was the strange reaction that I have seen way too many times. It always seems to infiltrate the Classic Car experience, and I am sick and tired of it. It is a Monster. The Fear Of Spending Money. And it will keep you from owning your dream car if you don’t know how to deal with it.
It was obvious that my prediction of at least $30,000 for the rejuvenation of her Impala had hit her right between the eyes. I made the casual comment that the $35,000 that she spent on each of the new-ish Chevy trucks in the driveway were losing money as we spoke, as well as not having any other use than to take her to town in the snow. I believe her Cadillac was handling daily transportation. This situation is a bit different than yours or mine. Unless something really crazy had happened, the farm, barn, land, and house had been paid for since Reagan was in office.
I told her that her Impala would always be worth more money than she paid into it and would be a pleasure to drive and enjoy. I thanked her for letting me climb all over it for two hours and went on my way.
Unfortunately, I have been in too many of these scenarios lately. It is understood that those of us with “normal” jobs are unable to shell out crazy money for a restored vehicle. The folks I’m speaking to are the ones that really have a nice chunk of expendable income and either have a car that needs a restoration or want a classic car. All too often you get all fired up about either getting your car running or buying one and BAM! The cost of the restoration/purchase fries your brain. I know what many of you were thinking while you read this Chevrolet Impala story, but this happens to men as well as women.
When The Fear Of Spending Money Monster enters the room, the Classic Car meets its demise as quickly as a bad TV show. It is possible that The Fear Of Spending Money Monster is a filter put in place by the Car Gods, to keep the wrong people away from Classic Cars. Maybe it’s just another crazy “ism” that we all have in some form or fashion. Either way, it has denied many would-be car people their long wanted machines.
So what are some of the weapons you may use to battle The Fear Of Spending Money Monster? My favorite one is simply being honest with yourself and understanding that no amount of daydreaming is going to make you feel like you do when you are actually in your car, enjoying it as you imagined you would. Or as you did in High School. Or like you wish you had been able to do in High School. There is no other way to smell that classic car interior and feel the rumble in the seat of your pants than to just get out there and make it happen.
A more quantitative method is PROFIT. Just the other day a friend of mine stopped by my expansive office and began to chat about his long gone 1969/427/4-speed Chevrolet Corvette. We got around to how much he sold it for 10 years ago: $22,000. The car has recently changed hands again. He was contacted a few months ago by the new owner and was told that he had just paid $35,000 for the car. How many times have you “not done so well” on an investment? If I told you that you were guaranteed to recover all of your money on something fun, if not make a healthy profit, would you not consider it?
Excuse-makers and Tightwads, you no longer have a leg to stand on. Those of you that still have “reasons” to not get a car probably don’t need one. One guarantee you do not have is that you will wake up tomorrow morning. So get out there and fulfill that dream! A few years ago, I lost a dear family member to a heart attack. We finished a phone conversation, and he was fine. Fifteen minutes later the ambulance had dropped him off at the hospital.
If you have the money, there is no reason in the world to wait another day to begin looking/restoring your classic car. One of the coolest things about classic car ownership is the camaraderie that you instantly have with other enthusiasts. Take your car to a car show. In a matter of minutes you will be talking to someone that shares the passion that you do. I would venture to say that there may be a son or grandson that would really enjoy it with you as well. Don’t forget that many good friends have met at a car show.
So here’s what you have to do today. Get that car restored/purchased; get classic car insurance, and start having fun. Today is your day. I guarantee you will have a tremendously cool time with your dream car.