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The Classics Perspective - Of Cobwebs and Carburetors

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by Brian Medford  More from Author

We buy them, work on them, spend money on them, treat them better than we do ourselves, so why don't we drive our classic cars more often?

(This column marks the beginning of The Classics Perspective, a column exclusive to AutoTrader Classics and written by our own Online Editor Brian Medford. We hope you enjoy it.)

There are cobwebs on the carburetor of my '61 Olds F-85. I noticed them when I went into the garage to grab tools to fix my neighbor's car. I didn't think it was too big a deal until I started thinking about the last time I had driven the car and drew a blank. I looked over at my '69 Olds Delta 88 Convertible and saw the same tell tale cobwebs on the wheels. What happened to me? A classic convertible sitting in a garage in the summer should be grounds for jail time. But I have excuses, right? I can't be alone here, can I?

Maybe you have the same running commentary in your head as I do every time I want to drive one of my old cars. Traffic will be too bad and I don't want to worry about doing stop-and-go with a 40 year old brake system. It is too hot that day (especially in a convertible with black vinyl interior). I need to get somewhere fast today and can't afford the easy driving style I afford my classics. It is just too much hassle to get the car out (my fault for leaving the yard tools in front of the garage doors again). The car is low on gas and I don't have time to swing by the filling station. Or  the car needs a proper wash and detail before going out in public. I seem to have an excuse for every cobweb on the car.

Those are my excuses and I confess right now that they are pathetic. Why do I have old cars in the first place? It certainly isn't for daily transportation; I have a cheap econobox for that. I have old cars because they call to me in my sleep. I grew up in my father's shop playing among the stacks of tires and generally bugging the mechanics. From a young age I can remember running from the service desk into the bays whenever any sort of old car was brought in. The deep rumble of the engine sent shivers down my spine and the smell of unfinished combustion was as sweet of an aroma as any desert flower. When I sat in my father's '69 Cutlass S and twisted the key I knew I had to have my own classic car someday. I was only twelve but that magic moment behind the wheel of my dad's car clicked something in my soul.

So why do we own old cars? Was it a cherished memory of a happy time in your life that comes back when you see your car? Was it a fleeting glimpse of a car that sent your imagination running? Was it the craftsmanship or detail you fawned over? Was it a family heirloom passed down through generations? Or maybe you wandered into the classic car life completely by accident. Whatever your reason may be the only way to connect with that dream is to get behind the wheel and drive. When I look at my '69 Oldsmobile I think of my father and what it must have been like to come out of the Army in 1969 and walk the dealer lot for my first new car. My parents knew they would need something they could both drive and my mother apparently never got the hang of power brakes. My father ordered his Cutlass with power steering and manual brakes. This would be the family car for many years and it served them well. Now it is my turn as I buckle my son's car seat in the back of my Oldsmobile for a ride with dad.

Recently I met a man at gas station filling up the tank on his '70 Cutlass SX convertible. It was raining outside and the car looked well kept. I asked him why he had chosen to drive his car that day. Turns out it was his turn to drive carpool! This guy not only drove his car in the carpool, he had put over 50,000 miles on it!  He told me he loves to drive the car. That is the answer, that is why we do it. For the love of the car. So the next time you look out at the garage throw those excuses out the window. Crank up that classic and drive, you'll thank me for it.

(Brian is avid automotive enthusiast who grew up in his father's shop and has had grease under his fingernails from an early age. He has been involved in the classic automotive industry for well over a decade. He has owned several classic cars and is currently focused on the Oldsmobile brand.)

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The Classics Perspective - Cars Make Us Do Stupid Things
A car guy's confession to not so temporary insanity.

The Classics Perspective - How Much?
The most common question I hear about my cars is "how much"?

The Classics Perspective - Of Cobwebs and Carburetors
We buy them, work on them, spend money on them, treat them better than we do ourselves, so why don't we drive our classic cars more often?


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