So you think you’ve done all your homework in order to decide whether or not you should buy a classic or collector car. You’ve checked the title, the car's history, how much of it is original versus restored and NADA’s pricing and information guide. You’ve read all the books, taken a test drive and had an engine compression check; you’ve even gone over the car with a magnet to check for Bondo repairs.
We use a checklist that’s invaluable, but in our decades of experience of being “Car Crazy,” there are 7 important aspects of owning a classic car that you must consider before the purchase. They are as follows:
You will get to know all your neighbors. You could be living next to the same person for 20 years and never see them until you bring out your classic for a good detailing. Be prepared for some unsolicited advice on care and engine enhancements as well.
Running errands take twice as long. Plan on an extra 10 minutes to get into the store as you are asked a series of questions from fellow shoppers who saw you pull in. But leaving the parking lot will take an extra 30 minutes because of the crowd of people standing around your pride and joy.
You’ll see cars in your rear view mirror being driven frantically only to come up beside you and linger for a good look while holding up traffic.
Keep an eye out for their window to come down so they can yell out that all important question; ”what year is your car?”, or when I’m driving our 1964 Morris Minor “what kind of car is that?’. This past year it’s been great fun to count how many arms will come out of the window with a camera phone to take a snapshot.
Be very careful with these admirers, because they are not watching the road.
You’ll find that you’ll meet at least ten new friends on any given outing. It never fails to amaze me how many people there are who wouldn’t normally give you a second thought until they see you in your classic. Then it’s an hour of them opening their hearts and reminiscing about times in their lives when they drove a car like that. Ninety percent of the time it’s the spouse who made them sell it and looking back, they should have gotten rid of the spouse.
The family makes you buy another television so they can watch Desperate Housewives and CSI while you watch My Classic Car and Car Crazy. But it’s not just your television entertainment that will change. Hemmings Motor News will now be your new Playboy, and Classic & Sports Car will replace the Time magazine subscription.
Home Depot’s stock will plummet because you are now spending 50% of your weekly income on eBay, as well as Auto Zone and Checkers Auto parts. I would definitely check your portfolio and adjust accordingly.
Vacations will either be in Arizona in January, Florida in late March or California in August to coincide with the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auctions and Pebble Beach Concours.
The family can choose between the Grand Canyon, Whale Watching or Disney’s Epcot Center while you are bathing in chrome and exhaust fumes from the past.
If you can handle these 7 life changing aspects of owning a classic or collector car, write the check and go for the ride of your life.
Some hard-core collectors consider it sacrilegious to add an air-conditioning system to a vintage or classic muscle car that didn't come with it from the factory. For those seeking comfort, the upgrade option is available on even some of the rarest automobiles. Here we'll talk about the acquisition of replicated manufacturer type and standalone aftermarket systems. Review installation obstacles and the price ranges to help you decide whether up fitting your classic is right for you.
CAR AIR CONDITIONING HISTORY
Although air-conditioning was available in the 40s on a few Packard and Cadillac models, it wasn't until 1953 when new technology took the system to the next level. This was the year Chrysler made big advances in their air-temp trunk mounted cooling system. It was first available on the 1953 Chrysler Imperial and said to be able to reduce interior temperatures 30 degrees in less than five minutes.
Its efficiency was accredited to the recirculation function where the already cooled air was pulled back across the evaporator to be further chilled. The cool air was discharged from the package shelf behind the back seat and was angled up near the headliner as cold air would sink and cool the interior cabin efficiently.
Still, it wasn't until the mid to late 60s when the factory installed option really started to take off. General Motors teamed up with Frigidaire one of the most popular makers of refrigerators at the time.
GM cashed in on the recognizable brand name and advertised in showroom windows that their vehicles were available with this coveted upgrade. By the 1970 model year, more than half of the cars built in the United States had air-conditioning installed.
ADDING FACTORY STYLE AIR CONDITIONING
The job of adding AC to a classic car is a lot easier when factory air-conditioning was an available option on your exact model.
Both aftermarket and the manufacturer’s original equipment are available to fit these cars. Factory style heating and air-conditioning control panels are offered in kits with template type brackets that make the finished installation look like it was always there and belongs on the automobile.
As an example of the contents of the kit, check out the Ford galaxy 500. On this specific model, the kit includes an evaporator assembly, condenser and mounting kit, exact fit AC hoses, compressor with high and low-pressure cut-off switches and all of the mounting brackets to facilitate a professional looking, fully operational air-conditioning system.
Another popular option when adding factory style air-conditioning to a car it was available on from the factory, is to source these parts from a junkyard. Most components like the control panel, compressor and hoses are straightforward in removal. The more difficult parts will be the evaporator, retrieval of brackets and mounting hardware if the car has been exposed to the elements for a long period of time. Keep in mind that junkyard parts can be reconditioned by companies that specialize in vintage AC.
ADDING AC TO VINTAGE CARS
If your automobile was built before the 60s than a standalone aftermarket system will probably be your most efficient solution.
Several companies specialize in discrete hang on systems that provide plenty of cold air without detracting from the natural beauty of the interior and engine compartment. Vintage Air appeared on an episode of Jay Leno's garage and provides ready to install AC systems on vehicles going back to the late 20s.
They also offer sure fit systems that are designed to replace defective air-conditioning on popular muscle cars from the 60s and 70s. Kits are manufactured for vehicles that came with air-conditioning and for those that had AC deleted. Classic car collectors often say, there is nothing money can't fix. When it comes to adding the comfort of a properly functioning AC system to your classic car all it takes is time and money.
Once you have entered into the classic car world, you may find a language being spoken that is full of jargon and not readily intelligible to outsiders. It can almost be described as a code or classification that embraces all aspects of classic cars. We have put together a list of the most common verbiage you'll need to know in order to understand and communicate properly in this very close community.
Antique - Commonly used to describe the earliest vehicles, generally those manufactured through 1916.
A-Pillar - The first pair of structural posts supporting the roof and windshield.
Bonnet - An English term for the hood of a car.
Boot - An English term for the trunk of a car.
B-Pillar - The pair of structural posts following the A-Pillars and front doors.
Brougham - Commonly used to describe a car with a closed in passenger compartment behind an open drivers seat.
Cabriolet - An early French term meaning folding top, or convertible.
Classic - The definition varies widely. The Classic Car Club of America states that it refers to vehicles built between 1925 and 1942.
Club Coupe - A two-door hard-top with a small rear seat.
Concours - A term that refers to a car show of very fine vehicles.
Convertible - An open car with windows and a folding soft top attached to the body.
Coupe Chauffeur - An open compartment for the chauffeur followed by a closed compartment for passengers.
Also known as a Brougham and a Coupe Limousine.
Coupe DeVille - Originally any car with a fixed roof over the rear seat and a convertible roof over the front seat.
Coupe - A two door closed body type that is distinguished from sedan by its sleeker body and shorter roof.
C-Pillar - The third pair of structural posts following the B-Pillars that supports the roof and rear window.
Drag Plates - Metal plates that have a car club's name and logo identifying the vehicle and its driver as a member of that club.
Drophead Coupe - An English term for a convertible.
Estate Car - The early version of a station wagon.
Fencer's Mask - A term used to describe early radiator grills that look like the mask a fencer uses.
Fixed Head Coupe - A hardtop coupe.
Four on the Floor - The common term for a four speed manual transmission with the shifting lever mounted on the floor rather than on the steering column.
Fodor - A name used by Ford for a four-door sedan in the 1930s and 1940s.
Frame-Off Restoration - This is a restoration in which the entire vehicle is completely disassembled and all parts cleaned, rebuilt or replaced as necessary in order to meet the original factory specifications.
Frame-Up Restoration - This type of restoration is not as detailed as a frame-off, but usually involves restoring the paint, chrome, interior and mechanicals without completely dissembling the car.
Governor - A device attached to the carburetor to limit the engine's speed.
Gran Turismo (GT) - An Italian term, commonly used by US manufacturers, meaning grand touring.
Gullwing Doors - Gullwing doors are hinged to open vertically rather than horizontally.
Hard Top - An automobile designed to look like a convertible but having a rigidly fixed, hard top.
Hood - The American term for engine cover. In England the hood is called a bonnet and a convertible top is called a hood.
Kit Car - This refers to a reproduction of an existing automotive design sold as a kit that the builders assembles themselves.
Landau - Originally described a limousine that had an open driver's compartment, front and back seats that face each other and a two-part convertible roof.
Land Yachts - A term referring to oversized luxury vehicles of the late 50s to the early 60s.
Matching Numbers - A term used to describe a vehicle whose engine and transmission are marked with the same sequence number as the chassis VIN number.
Marque - A model of automobile that has been recognized as a world-class car.
Muscle Car - Medium-size cars with large displacement engines built between 1964 and 1972.
O.E.M.- Stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. The term is generally used to distinguish between parts made by the original builder and the aftermarket.
Opera Coupe - A two-door hardtop with a small folding passenger seat, for easy access to the rear seat.
Phaeton - Refers to an open vehicle where the rear seat area is extended for added legroom or for an additional row of seating - typically used in ticker tape parades.
Pinstripe - A thin line of paint that is a contrasting color to the body color; originally called a coach-line.
Rib - A bow shape of wood or metal that supports a convertible top.
Roadster - A two seat convertible vehicle without side windows.
Rumble Seat - An external seat in the rear of the car.
Suicide Door - A rear-hinged door, typically for the front seat. It earned the name due the chance of it opening at any speed would cause the door to whip backward with great force.
Targa - A two-door coupe with removable hard top panels over the front seat.
Tonneau - Originally the rear seating area, but now the term is usually used to refer to a rear storage area.
Tonneau Cover - A fabric cover to protect the Tonneau area of a vehicle.
Touring Car - A four-door open design that has no windows or top.
Tudor Sedan - Ford coined the word "Tudor" to mean two doors.
Trailer Queen - a term used for a collector car that has been restored and is transported to shows in or on trailers with little or no mileage on the odometer.
Unibody Construction - Refers to a body and frame that are manufactured as one component.
Vintage - Vehicles manufactured between 1916 and 1924.
VIN - This is an abbreviation for the Vehicle Identification Number, the car's identification that carries its serial number, model, year of manufacture and basic equipment information.
Window Strap - Predecessor to the window crank. A strap attached to the base of a window allowing the window to be pulled up. The strap has a series of holes that can be hooked on an inside pin to hold the window at various levels.
Wing - An English term for fender.
Woody - Originally referred to vehicles made out of wood but now is a slang term for a vehicle with wood covering part of the body.