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BoxheadTim HalfDork
12/23/09 4:00 p.m.

OK, so I loathe using the "I" word (investment) but Andy Reid's columns got me thinking...

I do have a massive dislike of seeing assets deprecate. On some work-related assets that's a fact of life for me but I don't like seeing the value of large purchases go down the way you see it when buying a newer car.

So, if I were to buy a classic car in good condition - nothing that needs work, I've learned that lesson - that I could use as a daily driver with reasonable maintenance costs and that wouldn't lose money if I drove it for 6k+ a year, what would you recommend?

Oh, budget is about $20k, maintenance costs should be reasonable (so no Ferraris) and DIY-friendly is welcome, too. Cars with more than two seats are less welcome.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/23/09 4:02 p.m.

I know this can quickly become one of those threads where everyone picks the car that they own, but how about a Porsche 911 SC or 1984-'89 911 Carrera?

BoxheadTim HalfDork
12/23/09 4:10 p.m.

I've been thinking about them (you'll notice there is one in "my garage"). A slightly modified Carrera or even a 964 would appeal, true. I didn't try to limit the choice too much as I'm always keen to hear oddball suggestions.

VClassics Reader
12/23/09 5:17 p.m.

Porsche is a very sound suggestion, if that's what floats your boat. I wouldn't mind owning one myself at all.

I do have to point out (yep, Andy's right on that count too) that $10K will get you a near-mint Volvo P1800, 1800S, 1800E or ES, and $20K will get you any of those with power and handling that would shock you -- all the while retaining cast-iron reliability and a reasonable level of comfort. They are appreciating slowly but consistently as well.

Fiat and Alfa roadsters each have their strengths, if you want to go to a ragtop. MGB and BGT have many adherents.

Can't think of much else that has two seats that would make a reliable DD, unless you want to get into something modern enough that it's not a classic just yet.

Sownman New Reader
12/23/09 6:13 p.m.

Funny but "anything not unibody" popped into my head. Hopefully you live in dry warm state using a collector car daily in the rain/snow/salt will wipe out your plan. I think covered parking on both ends of the commute would be a must as well.

I work with a guy that daily drives his 1984 vette and covers with a cover here. Looks really sharp still. Plastic cars a plus for you.


Sownman New Reader
12/23/09 6:22 p.m.

Heres another suggestion. Very rare, only 130 or so built. Tubular SL frame and aluminum (no rust) Also they are remarkably cheap considering the small numbers. Usually under $15K. Take one to a Brit car show and you'll not only get attention, you'll never see another one.


tr8todd New Reader
12/23/09 7:50 p.m.

Triumph TR8 or a BMW 2002. Both great cars once they are modified a little bit for reliability and increased performance. Easy to work on and relatively cheap.

benzbaron Reader
12/23/09 8:29 p.m.

A 560sl mercedes might be a good bet. You can get an 89 for around 10k. I don't know if you'd call them a sports car though. They are also fully depreciated and would probably much more comfortable than some of the other suggestions.

I'd be afraid of the volvo, mg, or bmw rusting away if driven in all weather.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
12/23/09 11:15 p.m.

First thanks for reading. I think 20 grand is a good amount to start with. My picks would be: Alfa Romeo Duetto(the real 1600 model) 83 911sc cabrio Series 2 XKE coupe(they can be had for this much or a bit more) or a series 1 2+2 MGC/gt Lancia Fulvia Zagato(I know where one is)


KaptKaos Reader
12/24/09 1:02 a.m.

I think it's prudent to ask where you live.

A classic for a DD is really only practical/possible/reasonable in certain parts of the country. Especially if it's your only car.

For example, if you live in Minnesota, my recommendation would change.

ddavidv SuperDork
12/24/09 5:38 a.m.

I'll take Andy to task on the Lancia for one reason...parts availability. If you're going to use something as a daily, regular maintenance parts should be no more than a day away. BMW aftermarket, as an example, is exceptional. An oddball car like a Lancia is going to be a challenge if, say, the water pump starts to fail.

I like the 911 choice. You really can't do much better in bang-for-the-buck and solid build quality.

aeronca65t HalfDork
12/24/09 6:48 a.m.

MGB with hardtop.

Unless you live in snow country....then a classic Mini.

Both are simple to work on and easy to get spares for (I've owned both of these.....both fun, practical classics).

wspohn New Reader
12/26/09 12:28 p.m.

MGB GT or MGC GT fit the bill. For that money you can get a restored one and have it rustproofed.

Ian F
Ian F Dork
12/26/09 4:33 p.m.

Like Phil, I have a leaning towards Volvo 1800's... specifically the ES wagon... really a 4-seat car in name only... the rear seats are basically useless... and the seat back folds down into a nice cargo shelf with a bit of semi-hidden storage... although that would really depend on where you live... in the rust belt?

Otherwise, I agree a 911 would be a great choice... although the Volvo will turn more heads... if that matters to you any.

Tommy Suddard
Tommy Suddard SonDork
12/26/09 10:03 p.m.

Another vote for a 2002 here.

kevintpoe New Reader
12/28/09 8:37 a.m.

Here in the Southeast, my Dad used a late model Corvair convertible with a 110 and a 4 speed as his DD for close to 20 years.

Gary Reader
12/28/09 1:08 p.m.

A classic car as an investment? Maybe. As a daily driver? That depends on the owner’s determination and fortitude. As a daily driver and an investment? Not likely. Every classic mentioned here was a daily driver at some point, so in theory any one could be a daily driver today. But if it’s driven regularly for a few years it’ll need work, probably a lot of work, before you can cash in on any possible appreciation in value. And in the snow regions that means rust repair. I had a Sunbeam Alpine daily driver in the sixties and a Volvo P1800 daily driver in the seventies. They didn’t do well in harsh New England winters with salt-covered roads, so I personally wouldn’t use a classic car as a year-round daily driver today. However, as a pure investment, if you purchase wisely (as with any investment), and use the vehicle sparingly and intelligently, you might get your money back in a few years … unless the classic car market crashes again as it did in the ‘80s.

BoxheadTim HalfDork
12/28/09 2:37 p.m.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm at my mother's place and stuck on dial-up so I didn't really check up on this thread for a while...

First, I'm not looking at a car as an appreciating investment, I would just like to get one that keeps its value if it's used as intended. Yes, I know that maintenance will be a factor but it will be a factor with a new car as well so I am not taking into account that particular cost.

Location-wise, that is a bit of an issue that will be hopefully resolved by March/April - my wife lives in Nevada so I'm looking to move out there, but that depends if I get a telecommuting job that I've been looking at. If I don't, we might have to move. And that might well mean Chicago. In that case, the 'classic daily driver' goes out of the window straight away.

I'd love the idea of a Fulvia Zagato but that would be a weekend car for me...

MGBs - had a GT, kinda liked it, probably wouldn't be able to resist the urge to modify it and I'm not sure howw well that would work as a daily driver afterwards.

I've been considering C4 vettes, possibly even a C3 but I think I'd be happier with a C4. If the job situation works out in my favour, driving a Miata for a year might allow me to buy a C4 ZR-1.

Andy, I assume you are thinking about the 'boat tail' Duetto? That would certainly wet my appetite. 911s - well, I do like them but I'm not sure that I can stand a convertible all the time due to the additional wind noise. Regarding the XKE - what sort of condition are we talking about? I think I can get one of those past the wife .

As to Volvos, yes a P1800 might fit the bill - coupe though, I don't like the looks of the ES much.

Keep them coming please, I do apprciate the suggestions.

There are those who call me...Ross.
There are those who call me...Ross. HalfDork
12/29/09 11:08 a.m.

1965 Lotus Elan coupe?

Gary Reader
12/29/09 12:12 p.m.

Probably couldn't find a '65 Elan coupe in daily driver condition within the $20K budget.

Gary Reader
12/29/09 12:35 p.m.

OK, if Nevada is the destination and you're looking for a daily driver, then I agree with Benzbaron. Go with an '80s era Mercedes SL. They'll fit the budget, they're bullet-proof, plenty of parts available, removable hardtop, and air conditioning for those exceptionally hot Nevada summers! When you come over to relocate in the U.S. take a side trip to Palm Springs, California (the wealthy retirement center of Southern California) and check out the rolling stock that's up for sale around there. There are more one-owner low mileage, dealer maintained, excellent condition '80s vintage SLs around there than you can shake a stick at, and they're usually part of an estate sale. Or, check out Keith McCormick's auction company http://www.classic-carauction.com/. He has a permanent classic car showroom in Palm Springs and usually has 2 or 3 reasonably priced SLs available.

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
12/30/09 6:53 a.m.

You need to carefully think about where you'll be daily driving it. In Nevada, you don't need to worry about rust much, but you DO need something with workable AC. Drive a B or CGT around and you're likely to be a sweaty, smelly mess. In Chicago, the ability to handle some snow and not rust away to nothing seems paramount.

Series6 New Reader
12/30/09 11:57 a.m.

I suppose it would depend where in Nevada you'd end up. Las Vegas or the southern area you could pretty much drive anything. Northern Nevada? May I suggest a classic Jeep CJ for year round? Having lived in Reno for many years, the (total) 2 1/2 weeks of heavy snow a year would warrant a Jeep. Plus in the remaining 49 1/2 weeks you could enjoy the back trails and Tahoe.

If you're intent on a two seat sports car I might suggest (blasphamy ahead warning) converting a Brit car over to an American engine/trans combination. Add in a Painless wiring harness and you have a bullet proof daily driver that's easy to get parts for. (Ever heard of NAPA?) Done right, a conversion give you all the good of a good LBC and none of the "where am I going to get that?" issues. There are conversion kits for MG, Triumph and (a-hem) Sunbeam Alpines.... Take your pick. And unless you go nuts, under 20k is more than a reasonable budget. You'll end up with change.

Outside of that, I like the MBZ 450/560SL route...

BoxheadTim HalfDork
12/31/09 2:35 p.m.

My wife already has a Jeep Cherokee. If we end up in Northern Nevada then I could certainly see myself in a classic Jeep and probably a Miata for regular DD duty.

If it is Chicago, then I'll just get something for winter and a nice-ish sports car for Summer.

Good point regarding the parts availability, that's one of the reasons why I'm still considering a Corvette. There isn't much that you need to keep it running that you can't get at AutoZone or NAPA, as series6 rightly points out.

wspohn New Reader
1/4/10 9:40 a.m.
BoxheadTim wrote: MGBs - had a GT, kinda liked it, probably wouldn't be able to resist the urge to modify it and I'm not sure howw well that would work as a daily driver afterwards.

Just stick a Moss supercharger on it and call it quits - no loss of drivability at all and plenty of fun.

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