Add another random life topic to this blog: the odyssey of owning a classic car. In our case, a baby blue 1953 Mercury Monterey sedan. Say hi to Freddie. We’re in love. I figured it might be nice to write every now and then on our progress with the car for those that are interested – especially if you are dreaming about owning an oldie one day of your own. It’s definitely a different experience.
If you know me at all, you know about The Mighty Geo, my 1995 Geo Prizm that is going to run until the End of Days. Well I wish, but we know it has a terminal illness that will eventually lead to catastrophic failure and I didn’t want to pass up this deal while Freddie was available. In my family, when the dog starts getting old and you know it’s almost time, you bring in a new dog. I never thought of that as cruel to the old dog until now. I’m going to feel really guilty when I park them next to each other. But knowing The Mighty Geo’s days are numbered, I’ve been thinking for a while now that as a replacement I’d like to have a classic car instead of buying the cheapest piece of new crap I can find. They say they don’t make cars like they used to and since my husband is a mechanic I have a guy willing and excited to work on this project. Maybe project is the wrong word for this though – this is not a long term overhaul restoration…
I’m going to do two really blasphemous things with this car:
It’s going to be an “everyday driver”, not registered as an antique auto.
It’s not going to be sheltered – we live on a college campus and a house with a garage is just not a reality for me right now.
So I apologize right now if that gives you chest pains; I don’t like the no garage bit either but as far as driving it all the time I stand by that decision because I don’t buy useless things.
Life would have been SO much easier if I had never seen this car last week in Pigeon Forge at the Shades of the Past car show. But if we had thought seriously about taking a trailer and wad of cash life still wouldn’t have been as hard as going home, thinking about it, then deciding to drive seven hours to go get it this past weekend. And nine hours back, since a U-Haul car hauler is a poorly designed piece of crap not good for distance (not to mention mountain roads), and also since our truck’s computer and/or transmission were deciding not to work properly. ANYWAY…
Things I’ve learned/done so far:
1. Classic car guys prefer cash. Then they can turn around and buy more stuff from other classic car guys. And of course no paper trail through large bank deposits that might mess with their income tax. Making a large cash withdrawal, however, gets you a look of disapproval from the credit union lady who is concerned for your safety.
2. Proper insurance will be expensive when compared to your newer vehicles. I am currently underinsured through Progressive so it can at least be legal to drive but at some point we will need to get insurance instead through a company that understands how to value and insure classics.
3. Property tax, on the other hand, is far cheaper than a new car. Maybe you don’t live in a state that makes you pay property tax on a vehicle in which case I hate you. It adds two more long lines to stand in at a location different from the DMV.
4. Even if the car is a solid, drivable vehicle (like Freddie is), it’s still going to be a bit of a money pit. Things like hoses, gaskets, window seals and tires probably need to be replaced because of their age. Freddie is almost all original with one owner most of its life. We have to convert it from 6volts to 12volts, replace a rear window seal, and I’m trying to ignore the dry rot on the tires because whitewall tires are about $200 each. But it’s a beautiful car with all the chrome trim and we got a really sweet deal.
For the car fans out there who care, the engine is the original flathead V8. This sedan was a luxury model in its time and is a “Merc-o-matic” – automatic transmission. The keys are pretty too :)