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Buying a classic car can be more than you bargained for

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Dear Car Talk:

I am not a car nut; hence, I don’t know much about the innards of a car. However, I would love to own a classic 1960-ish muscle car, like a Mustang Fastback. Is there anything I should be aware of before I get myself into it?

What would you warn me of before I get into buying myself a classic car?

— Kunal

I would warn you that you’re not buying a car, Kunal, you’re buying a hobby. Maybe a career. And possibly, a divorce.

From a mechanic’s point of view, 50 to 60 years ago, cars were pretty lousy, compared to cars today. They were less reliable, less durable, they handled poorly, stopped poorly, and crashed less safely. But they looked great, right?

So, you’re going to need several things before you embark on this bank-account-and-free-time depleting project, Kunal.

First, you’ll need a modern car so you can make the classic your second car. You don’t want to count on a 60-year-old car as your daily driver. So, don’t sell your Corolla.

Next, you’ll need some savings. Old cars are always reaching into your pocket, so just accept that. It’s not just the purchase price, it’s the ongoing care and feeding.

After that, you’ll need a subscription to Hemmings Motors News (“the bible of the old car hobby”). That’ll be your bathroom reading for the next 20 or 30 years.

Finally, you’ll need a support group. Fortunately, most areas have old car clubs, where nuts and aspiring nuts like you get together and enjoy themselves.

These will be your new people, Kunal. They’ll recommend mechanics to you, give you tips on where to get parts that are no longer made, and share their knowledge. They’ll also provide emotional support, giving you a shoulder to cry on when you spend two months of weekends replacing the transmission in your ‘66 Mustang, and on the first test drive, it won’t shift out of second gear.

In fact, joining a club like that in advance will help you get advice on what year, make and model to seek out, and, even more importantly, what cars to avoid.

And if all that doesn’t dissuade you, Kunal, you’ll have a wonderful time with your classic car, and you’ll make lots of new friends. Especially tow truck drivers and mechanics. Enjoy!

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