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Old 12th June 2021, 13:14   #1
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Default How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

Hello fellow petrolheads,

I will be shifting soon to Toronto, Canada and plan on staying there for a good amount of years. One of the things that have got me excited is the fact that I will have access to way more fun cars at affordable rates than what I currently have. While my definition of fun cars definitely encompasses modern sports cars, I always had more liking towards classic cars (I mean, you can just figure it out from my username and profile picture)

I always hated the fact how classic car ownership was extremely difficult and expensive in India, and to own some real drool-worthy machines, your pockets would have to be filled to the brim, or even overflowing. Sadly, I am currently too young to even afford an entry-level classic car nor are my parents exactly enthusiasts. So this new prospect of relatively easier access to classic cars in Canada has got me all pumped up. Till I thought about it in depth.


1. Classic cars are not exactly reliable and need constant maintenance

It is no secret that classic and vintage vehicles need constant care and TLC to make sure that they are running right. What this translates to is an adept and experienced person with enough mechanical knowledge to be around it, normally the role assumed by the owner. However...

2. I am an absolute novice when it comes to all things mechanical

I do own a beautiful Yezdi B250 - the first classic bike and vehicle I have ever owned - and I am slowly learning about the mechanicals and maintenance but that is barely scraping the surface. 70% of the time it doesn't start or has any other issues, I have to call my trusted mechanic to take a look at it. It has been just over 2 years that I have had the bike with me but my busy work schedule and the pandemic in between made sure that I have not been able to spend time with it. I do drive other newer vehicles as well but modern technology has made vehicles so reliable that I really do not even remember the last time I had a breakdown in them. Other things are taken care of by the service center when it goes for servicing. Long story short, I do not have much experience fixing automobiles. That becomes a problem since...

3. Labour is costly in the western world

Maintaining my Yezdi was not exactly cheap, but it wasn't making my wallet empty at the same time. I accept my mechanic did charge me top dollars, but the work was worth every penny spent. However, we know how labour and manpower is extremely expensive (compared to India) in the USA, Canada, EU, etc. On top of that, finding a good garage that knows how to work on classic cars can even come at a premium. Yikes!


After thinking long and hard, my happy mind wasn't as ecstatic as before. I was stuck. I cannot buy a $20-30,000 car and regularly spend thousands of dollars more to keep it running, especially when I will be having another daily driver in the garage as well. That would be absurd and just not affordable for someone who is extremely early in his career. The only option remaining is to be mechanically educated enough to work on my own car, as much as possible. But how? How do I get the experience?

I would need help from fellow T-BHPians on what steps should I take and how should I approach it? Owning a nice old American classic (and many others) has been a long dream of mine. I would really love to see it get fulfilled without having to sell my house, destroying me financially, and just getting frustrated with it.

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Old 12th June 2021, 18:58   #2
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

I guess everyone learns about stuff step by step. No one is born with all the knowledge from day one. Whichever car you get, I am pretty sure there will be support groups, forums, WhatsApp groups etc. for that particular make. At least that is what is seen for popular muscle cars like the classic Mustang, Chevelle, Chargers etc. Another option is to buy a complete refurbished one as seen on those American muscle car shows.

Also muscle car ownerships are a long term passion project and also there are several tutorials on YouTube too. You can learn about the whole process step by step. From your profile picture, I can see that is the classic mustang from Bullitt. Hope you can find a similar gem.
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Old 16th June 2021, 11:29   #3
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

As you rightly said, because labour costs are so high abroad, one can only own a classic in North America if you know how to wrench or if you have a lot of money. Old cars require frequent attention and based on your post, I think it'll be out of your budget to continually spend $$$. My advice would be:

- Rent a classic on Turo whenever you want (sample link).

- Get a modern muscle car like the Challenger which gives you a bit of a retro vibe & feel with modern-day usability + reliability.

- Get a contemporary sporty car. USA / Canada offer amazing driver's cars at every budget range.

- Learn how to work on your car yourself if you absolutely must own a vintage. But even then, time is money. Spending the entire weekend repairing a 50-year old car isn't my idea of fun. I'd rather be out driving that entire weekend.

Last edited by GTO : 16th June 2021 at 11:30.
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Old 18th June 2021, 11:45   #4
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

I see three roadblocks:
1. You've a busy work schedule
2. You're immigrating to a new country - you need to get accustomed to the culture, way of life etc
3. You're still learning the mechanical aspects

I'm 26 and living in the USA, I can tell you that I have no time for classic cars or motorcycles. I sometimes do minor fixes in my own car though.

Here are some tips:
1. For learning, get a used bicycle, motorcycle, gas engine-powered lawn mover/leaf blower. Try DIY maintenance with them. (If you easily master them, then start thinking of a car)

2. Start by finding yourself a home with enough garage space. If you don't have a proper garage, you need to rent space for winter. Else the car will rust and become worthless in no time.

3. Once you have some time & space, start buying equipment like jacks, jack stands, socket sets, torque wrench, etc.

4. Find a classic car that IS NOT rusted. Critical in Canada as they salt the roads in the winters. Ensure that the car has easy spare part availability. Most popular Fords & Chevy's are easy to get parts for - check the Autozone (or similar) website for parts.

5. Buy the Haynes' manual. I know a few people who swear by them.

6. Get frustrated; Scratch your head; Fix stuff; Have fun; It's all part of the process.

My dream car is a 1970 Mercury Cougar (a 'Lexus' version of the Ford Mustang). I hope to find a version with a three-on-a-tree. I fell in love after seeing the sexy headlights in person:


EDIT: You should be able to find classic car forums online for popular models. And if you're willing, try getting an old Datsun.

Good luck!

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 18th June 2021 at 12:01.
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Old 18th June 2021, 20:05   #5
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Impala59 View Post
Hello fellow petrolheads,

I would need help from fellow T-BHPians on what steps should I take and how should I approach it? Owning a nice old American classic (and many others) has been a long dream of mine. I would really love to see it get fulfilled without having to sell my house, destroying me financially, and just getting frustrated with it.
Hey Impala59,

I think Landcruiser123 has summed it up perfectly:

Quote:
Originally Posted by landcruiser123 View Post
I see three roadblocks:...
Good luck!
In additon,

You must first join a classic car club. It would help you in many ways. It would be good if you join one even before your ownership. It will help you through out your buying period and ownership.

Then I would recommend you to attend classic car meets and shows. You would get to look around the cars freely and meet like minded people.

I would suggest you to start with something like a foxbox Mustang. Yeah, it's not a proper classic but you can slowly progress from that as many 60's and 70's are costly.

And take your time. Pull the trigger when you have gained enough knowledge about the particular classic you want. Buy it when you have found the right example.

Last edited by aah78 : 19th June 2021 at 02:32. Reason: Spacing fixed. Please avoid double spacing.
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Old 19th June 2021, 00:26   #6
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

Try not to be too academic about this.

Just buy something you really like in decent shape. Contrary to popular believe classic car maintenance doesn’t have to be that time consuming or that difficult. As long you are not depending on your classic as a daily runner, it doesn’t really matter. What is important enjoying getting your hands dirty and learning as you go along.

As long as you enjoy fiddling with it as well as driving it you are good to go. Cars are to be bought preferable on emotional grounds. Especially a classic car or hobby car. The only rational is budget and how much car you can get for that. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive classic cars get, the more difficult they are to maintain and repair. You can pick up a classic 25 year old Jeep Cherokee for a few thousand dollars. It will run forever, parts are easy to come by and maintenance is easy.

All this rational is off putting. When you really like a car, you will put up with its quirks and the occasional small problems. Part of oenig a classic car is having unexpected breakdowns and improvising along the way! You don’t want to get stranded, forget classics, because even the best maintained classics will break down. My 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider never let me done in over 100.000 km all over year. Until last week, when the gear box threw a wobble whilst touring in France. It happens. It was great fun (mostly afterwards ��

Pick a reasonable budget, money you can afford to loose if the car turns out to be a real pig and buy the best you can get for your budget.

Joining a good car club does make sense. Check out their website. Some clubs offer technical expertise and buying tips. With the pandemic slowly abiding, classic car shows will be re-started. Good place to do a bit of hunting and enjoying the classic car scene.

If you enjoy fiddling with cars, you will make the time. It’s that simple.

We have been moving around the world most of our professional life. Once the home or apartment is arranged we always start looking for picking up our hobbies. Very important and it is often a great way to meet new local people.

Good luck

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 19th June 2021 at 00:37.
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Old 19th June 2021, 02:17   #7
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

We all need to address the basic constraints that apply to anything in life. Constraint of money and time. After that, these things come to my mind - based on some experience maintaining an old/classic motorcycle for a few years.
  • First thing I needed was a covered secure garage, where I could leave the project in a half complete state. Go do research and get back. Or shop for better parts, or wait for parts.
  • Space to organize store tools.
  • Social network of like minded people who can come help me out.

I would encourage you to establish friendship with people who tinker with cars and go work in their garage (for free). Then have them over at your garage to work on your project. Share food, share drinks, great ideas often emerge when you break bread with someone. Not easy in a new country, not impossible either. There are clubs for every single automobile model, search engines have made it a lot more easy to find them. Unlike 90s where I had to hang out in parking lots while I spot something that caught my fancy, and hope that person is friendly enough to strike a conversation.

Last edited by GutsyGibbon : 19th June 2021 at 02:21.
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Old 20th June 2021, 14:41   #8
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

I believe the folks out here have collectively put together a lot of common sense.
So itemize the steps, start with getting your hands and nails dirty, chipped, whatever...but most of all enjoy the ride... With classics, the journey itself is a reward.
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Old 20th June 2021, 18:27   #9
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

A lot of folks here have given all the important points. Do realise you are in a new country, get your foot hold first. Lot of apartments will not permit a older car being worked on in an open parking space. Find a place which would let you do that or rent a house with a garage.

Meet local clubs, help others wrench their vehicles first and see if that is what you like. Lot of new comers me included go out and splurge on the newest tools which are pricey, you don’t want to be that guy.

Canada has high taxes and also high insurance prices, so sometimes may not make sense owning a second car which doesn’t drive.

Lastly get a very reliable first car. Some corolla or Honda or anything Toyota. That way your better half won’t stab you when your car doesn’t start on a cold winter morning at the grocery store.

Lastly you are going to a new place. Explore the area, travel and make the most of it before taking the plunge under your car.

Happy wrenching
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Old 20th June 2021, 20:14   #10
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

I seem to recall from another thread that you'll be moving to TO for studies. Its going to be rigorous academically as it is and taking out the time (let alone) money to keep a classic car in top shape will be a huge challenge.

Even if you do take out time to work on the car yourself, keep in mind that for 7 months in a year the cold would pose a huge challenge for DIY stuff. Heated garages in independent houses are rare. Condos do get heated basements but there are likely to be policies against extensive mechanical work.

And then you need to consider the suitability of a 40-50 year old car for winter/snow driving conditions. Handling will unlikely be sharp and awaiting a tow truck after a breakdown in -30deg will not be a pleasant experience either.

Goodluck with the move, generally, though. I am in India at the moment but live in North York There's a small GTA TBHP community we've got going.
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Old 20th June 2021, 20:37   #11
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

Most points mentioned have shown why NRIs tend to chicken out and stick to their Accords/Camrys during their initial years. And when they do start making money they tend to either upgrade to family friendly crossovers/minivans or splurge on high end Germans or a Hemi Dodge. Ending their muscle car/classic car dreams since reality bites back hard.

Don't take my suggestion seriously, but I would suggest buying a Ford Panther platform model.

Name:  images  20210620T202819.996.jpeg
Views: 1206
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Not a classic car per se, but it is the most modern car that you could get with the closest feeling to the old landyachts (ofcourse you could have that same feeling with newer pickup trucks). They are pretty reliable and if you could see past the pretty average fuel economy, this could be a daily driver too. Not to say, parts support is easy. Ofcourse, am saying this with respect to the US, GCC markets, but am pretty sure Canada is almost similar to the US market. Easy car to work on, and a good platform too for little mods.

Last edited by DicKy : 20th June 2021 at 20:39.
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Old 20th June 2021, 22:08   #12
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

Hey, it's good to hear that you've already started harbouring dreams a classic/modern car before you've moved. It shows that you have something nice to look forward to! Everyone over here has mentioned some amazing points so I won't bore you further.

Regarding the kind of cars you can check out, Foxbodies, Ford Panther cars, Chevy B-BBodies (Caprice, Impala, Buick Roadmaster, Cadillac Fleetwood etc) are some of the cars that come to my mind. They might be getting rarer nowadays, but they're also amazing and command attention so you'll not fall short on that aspects.

Plus, these cars are also appreciating, so if at all you find a good model and keep it well-maintained for the time you're there, at the end of it you'll also end up making a good amount out of them. So it's a win-win for everyone.

I live in Muscat at the moment and truth be told, the kind of cars that are available here for the price of your average econoboxes in India makes me giddy with joy. But sadly, one cant buy cars here and export them to India due to the high taxes and unfavourable import laws. All I can do it dream. But I wish you all the best with the moving in and hopefully you'll find the car of your dreams soon
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Old 1st July 2021, 19:12   #13
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?



Hello,

In my limited (6-7 years and counting) of classic car ownership, here are a few things to keep in mind:

- Parts availability
This is a key decision maker. Owning a classic car for which parts are super hard to find will not be easy. I know folks here in the UK who own some very classic Jags and have struggled. One is even considering selling his Jaguar XJS because he is unable to find parts for a faulty brake master cylinder (at non exorbitant costs).

- Labour
As you have rightly pointed out, labour is expensive in the west. A car that needs many trips to the garage will surely be a drain on the pocket. Also, keep in mind “repairability” of the car. If, for example, the engine bay is crammed, it take more time to access certain bits and will lead to higher labour.

- Storage
Especially such cars are best parked in a covered area/garage. Here in the UK at least, most garages are small and hence I had to consider buying a small classic car. Which was not a problem, because I always wanted a classic Mini

- Insurance
This may differ from one country to another, but do some research on what options are available.

- Emission norms and regulations
Again, varies from one country to another. Here in London, they have something called Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and almost all classic cars do not meet the emission standards set by this. Therefore, driving my Mini Cooper into this zone (most of London - from Oct 2021) will cost me £12.50/day

My advice - but something that has classic pedigree, but yet is easy to run, maintain and fix. I know its easier said than done - but whatever you buy, you will definitely enjoy your time with it!

Cheers,
Praveen
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Old 2nd July 2021, 22:38   #14
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrackDay View Post
I guess everyone learns about stuff step by step. No one is born with all the knowledge from day one. Whichever car you get, I am pretty sure there will be support groups, forums, WhatsApp groups etc. for that particular make. At least that is what is seen for popular muscle cars like the classic Mustang, Chevelle, Chargers etc. Another option is to buy a complete refurbished one as seen on those American muscle car shows.

Also muscle car ownerships are a long term passion project and also there are several tutorials on YouTube too. You can learn about the whole process step by step. From your profile picture, I can see that is the classic mustang from Bullitt. Hope you can find a similar gem.
Thank you so much for the encouragement. I think it makes sense to get a popular classic car that is mechanically fit and then slowly start to get my hands dirty, starting with basic maintenance with the help of fellow enthusiasts and then slowly and steadily move on to bigger jobs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
As you rightly said, because labour costs are so high abroad, one can only own a classic in North America if you know how to wrench or if you have a lot of money. Old cars require frequent attention and based on your post, I think it'll be out of your budget to continually spend $$$. My advice would be:

- Rent a classic on Turo whenever you want (sample link).

- Get a modern muscle car like the Challenger which gives you a bit of a retro vibe & feel with modern-day usability + reliability.

- Get a contemporary sporty car. USA / Canada offer amazing driver's cars at every budget range.

- Learn how to work on your car yourself if you absolutely must own a vintage. But even then, time is money. Spending the entire weekend repairing a 50-year old car isn't my idea of fun. I'd rather be out driving that entire weekend.
Renting on Turo is definitely a good option at the start! To get a feel, till the time I am confident enough to work on a classic car (or grow rich enough to have a mechanic at my beck and call )

Quote:
Originally Posted by landcruiser123 View Post
I see three roadblocks:
1. You've a busy work schedule
2. You're immigrating to a new country - you need to get accustomed to the culture, way of life etc
3. You're still learning the mechanical aspects
Thanks, landcruiser123. I can see how you've analyzed the problem like a true consultant - the rule of 3!

All your pointers definitely make sense. As mentioned above, the idea is to probably start with a popular classic that is in a good condition (at least mechanically) and take some time to understand it and its basic maintenance. Storage during the winter months is another major point that I need to add to my list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eshan Joshi View Post
Hey Impala59,

I think Landcruiser123 has summed it up perfectly:


In additon,

You must first join a classic car club.
Thank you for the advice. I am a part of a Yezdi/Jawa club currently and the amount of help that is extended by them is enormous. I hope I get similar treatment in car clubs there as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Try not to be too academic about this.

Just buy something you really like in decent shape. Contrary to popular believe classic car maintenance doesn’t have to be that time consuming or that difficult. As long you are not depending on your classic as a daily runner, it doesn’t really matter. What is important enjoying getting your hands dirty and learning as you go along.


Good luck

Jeroen
Hi Jeroen, thanks for the lovely answer. It really did fill me up with optimism and it means a lot coming from you

All the pointers have been duly noted.


Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy42 View Post
A lot of folks here have given all the important points. Do realise you are in a new country, get your foot hold first. Lot of apartments will not permit a older car being worked on in an open parking space. Find a place which would let you do that or rent a house with a garage.

Meet local clubs, help others wrench their vehicles first, and see if that is what you like. Lot of new comers me included go out and splurge on the newest tools which are pricey, you don’t want to be that guy.

Canada has high taxes and also high insurance prices, so sometimes may not make sense owning a second car which doesn’t drive.

Lastly get a very reliable first car. Some corolla or Honda or anything Toyota. That way your better half won’t stab you when your car doesn’t start on a cold winter morning at the grocery store.

Lastly you are going to a new place. Explore the area, travel and make the most of it before taking the plunge under your car.

Happy wrenching
I appreciate the truth bombs, maddy42! I completely agree with you. A lot of times we tend to act foolishly in matters of things we love and hence it is utterly necessary to think about the whole thing rationally. You also rightly mentioned the high insurance. I think there is a provision for classic cars where they are charged less, but I have not studied that in depth.

The plan is to definitely start off with a super reliable daily - mostly a Japanese - and once I have enough experience and comfort - both with driving and the life there is when I will think about venturing into this mad hobby.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeps View Post
I seem to recall from another thread that you'll be moving to TO for studies. Its going to be rigorous academically as it is and taking out the time (let alone) money to keep a classic car in top shape will be a huge challenge.

Even if you do take out time to work on the car yourself, keep in mind that for 7 months in a year the cold would pose a huge challenge for DIY stuff. Heated garages in independent houses are rare. Condos do get heated basements but there are likely to be policies against extensive mechanical work.

And then you need to consider the suitability of a 40-50 year old car for winter/snow driving conditions. Handling will unlikely be sharp and awaiting a tow truck after a breakdown in -30deg will not be a pleasant experience either.
Hey Deeps, good memory. I indeed am going for my studies. However, this plan is for after I graduate. So I guess I do have some time to get acquainted with the overall system. Thank you for mentioning the concerns which I, sitting here in Mumbai currently, cannot even fathom.

Quote:
Goodluck with the move, generally, though. I am in India at the moment but live in North York There's a small GTA TBHP community we've got going.
I would love to be a part of it. See you soon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DicKy View Post
Most points mentioned have shown why NRIs tend to chicken out and stick to their Accords/Camrys during their initial years. And when they do start making money they tend to either upgrade to family friendly crossovers/minivans or splurge on high end Germans or a Hemi Dodge. Ending their muscle car/classic car dreams since reality bites back hard.
.
Haha, this is so true! The idea is to not follow this trend and hopefully achieve the long pending dream of owning a classic. Although I would not mind having a German in my garage as a daily driver.


To everyone who has advised on this thread, I thank you all for all the pointers mentioned. In times like these, I am absolutely thankful to be part of the T-BHP community. Hoping to start a thread about the new classic in the next few years to come. Cheers!
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Old 3rd July 2021, 00:27   #15
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Default Re: How can a novice maintain a classic car abroad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Impala59 View Post
Thanks, landcruiser123. I can see how you've analyzed the problem like a true consultant - the rule of 3!
Most of it comes from my research. Plus working in consulting helps too haha. I'm in the same age group and want to own a classic car myself, but it is difficult without a house with a proper garage. And staying in the Midwest(Minnesota & Illinois), you could say I know a thing or two about winter, especially after seeing how cars are eaten by rust.

Forgot to mention - if you're into Japs, look for Datsuns. Also, I believe interesting models like the Yugo were sold in Canada at one point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DicKy View Post
Don't take my suggestion seriously, but I would suggest buying a Ford Panther platform model.

Attachment 2169090

Not a classic car per se, but it is the most modern car that you could get with the closest feeling to the old landyachts. Easy car to work on, and a good platform too for little mods.
@Impala59: This is actually some great advice from @DicKy. I had a friend during grad school who owned a Ford Crown Victoria and raved about the smoothness, comfort, and reliability. He did a trip from Minneapolis, MN to Galveston, TX and back. His only complaint- the cost of fuel . An ex-neighbor of mine had a Crown Victoria with 660k miles.

After all, the term classic is relative. What is classic changes with every succeeding generation. My dad won't really consider buying a '98 Maruti 800 today - only the Ambys, Padminis and Jeeps are classics according to him. But I'd snap up a good M800 as it is a classic in my eyes.

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 3rd July 2021 at 00:37.
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