People Ask, Can Vintage and Classic Cars Be Drivers?

People Ask, Can Vintage and Classic Cars Be Drivers?

People Ask, Can Vintage and Classic Cars Be Drivers?


Should an owner of a vintage or classic give in to the temptation and drive it regularly on the road, or is it just for special occasions?

Whether it’s something as formidable as a 1960’s Ferrari or something as fun as an original Fiat 500, getting behind the wheel of a classic car can turn any drive into a special event, even the daily commute.

In the 1970’s I drove my 1959 Ferrari 250GTS LWB almost every day, till I foolishly sold it to an admirer for 5X what I paid, today that car is 11,363X what I paid for it in 1969, that would be $25-M.

Here is a picture of the 250GTS LWB in the car park of my Beverly Hills, California home in 1974.

People always ask, should I drive it or should I keep it in storage for special occasions only?

For James Cottingham, acquisitions director for Ferrari specialists DK Engineering in the US, the answer is simple, resist the temptation at all costs, do not make your vintage Ferrari your daily driver.

“If money were no object and you really had no care in the world, there would not be anything stopping you from using a classic Ferrari as a daily driver,” he says.

And Mr. Cottingham’s response is not simply born out of the fact that his company maintains and stores some of the most valuable 1950’s and 1960’s cars ever made.

“There are certain Ferraris that are more suited than others to regular use but classic cars are meant to be enjoyable,” he explains “And if you were to use one every day you would soon lose the enjoyment.” Unless you are a Ferrari mechanic with a storehouse of parts to go with your car.

classic cars as daily drivers

There are plenty of E-Types on the market but thatis  because owners haven’t driven them on a daily basis, I drove mine a lot in 1961, but it always needed attention.

The overwhelming majority of cars, not just those from the Maranello outfit, built between 1950 and 1980 were built in a period where reliability was a dream, not a reality and where construction techniques meant that vehicles were prone to rust and rot.

“All of the cavities and exposed metal under older cars is what killed them” says Jaguar’s Tony O’Keeffe. “They allowed salt from the road and water to get inside and stay inside, meaning that they corrode from the inside out.”

Even those owners knowing that they might have a future classic on their hands too often made the mistake of taking a car out, getting it wet then parking it up and leaving it for weeks before taking it out again, but in the process allowing rust to start forming.

classic cars as daily driver

Any Porsche from the mid-80’s onward can be driven as an everyday car

This corrosion issue is why California has become one of the world’s most popular hunting grounds for European classic cars of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

That 300 days of California Sun might fade the paint but it also ensures that even classic English and Italian steel sports cars remain rust-free.

But for those that still like the idea of having something a little bit different and a little bit fun as their runaround, you can go German. Over 70% of all cars ever built by Porsche are still on the road and often in daily use.

Or for those with a smaller budget, Mr. O’Keeffe suggests looking to the late 80’s and 90’s. For instance the first Jaguar XJ sedans (the X300 series), built under Ford’s watchful eye from Ys’ 1994-97, are reliable, comfortable, have great leather and walnut trim and can cope with inclement conditions and they will not break the bank with good examples costing as little as $1,000.

But as for undertaking the daily commute in a Ferrari 250GT California Spider or a Series I E-Type Jaguar…

“If there’s salt on the road, would you really take out your classic car? I’d say that with their hand on their heart, most classic owners would say “no” because they want to keep them for as long as possible,” declared Mr. O’Keeffe.

classic cars as daily drivers

The Jaguar XJ Sedan X300 series from 1994–97 could be a great classic commuter compromise

Stay tuned…

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