Behind the White Wheel
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Nuts and Bolts of Owning a Classic Car
This post contains the essentials for owning a classic car. I was inspired by an article Jeff Miller, the webmaster of www.mbzponton.org, wrote few years ago. I highly encourage every classic car’s owner to read it before taking his/her car out on a sunny day and every potential owner to use it as a guide for acquiring his/her first classic.
Owning a classic car is totally different from owning a modern vehicle! The owner must keep in mind that:
All classic cars need maintenance and care. One must get familiar with the car in order to be able to complete routine maintenance work, and to resolve minor fine-tuning issues. The task is simple, just pay close attention to maintenance works so as to limit the probability of a sudden failure.
Make your car shine as if it were new; the more often a classic car owner maintains his / her car, the more attractive the classic car will look once it is on the road…continuous efforts to maintain your car in shape do pay!! What’s more striking than a deep shining black paint or an immaculate chrome grill?
Allocate an hour every week to clean your car and three hours every 3 months to wax it using the finest accessible products. Remember, the more you allocate time and effort, the more rewarding the results will be!
Acquire and read the owner’s manual, this document contains valuable information that is often overlooked. Also, some cars have a factory workshop manual; this manual highlights the maintenance / repairs procedures needed to perform any work in the most efficient way. Of course, many owners won’t be able to perform complex mechanical, electrical, and body work by themselves, but reading the workshop manual will familiarize them with the reparation procedures and help them get an idea about the real costs.
Build your network of other classic cars enthusiasts and resources: join local and international groups and forums, establish contacts with experts in parts and reparations…etc.
Keep in mind that technology used in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s (for instance) is not quite complex when compared to today’s standards. This is a double-edged fact, on one side you will be able to understand easily how things work, but on the other you should not expect performance, road handling, and sometimes efficiency to be comparable to that of new cars! In other words, you should without any doubts know for example that a 1970 car might develop starting problems when the weather is cold, problems that are seldom encountered in new cars!
Learn about unique features and options specific to your vehicle’s model! Learn about the recirculating ball steering in a Mercedes-Benz Ponton, about the air suspension in a Citroen DS, about the different colors available on a 1975 Peugeot 504 etc... Try to enjoy these unique features and understand their importance in the well-being of the driver and passengers back then.
Discover the meaning of the various plate numbers in your car such as the chassis number, the engine number, the color code etc... This will help you determine where your vehicle stands vis-à-vis its model - is it an early model or a late one with some amendments?
Become familiar with the full range of your car’s model including the sedans, breaks, coupés, cabriolets, roadsters, as well as some special models that were manufactured for special markets and learn how every range differs from the other.
Finally, take a moment to imagine yourself back in the 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s! Life was uncomplicated back then! Your car reflects this in several ways.
Find a small mountain road on a sunny day, roll down the window and drive…Enjoy your car, enjoy every aspect of it, every reaction, every noise…and be proud of yourself for being able to drive an antique car that you’ve learned how to maintain…