Classic car repair hobby? Good idea or not?

I recently heard an argument that spending time and money to repair old cars is illogical. Those resources would be better allocated by junking all the old cars & buying a new or at least newer car. The counter-argument is that many or even most hobbies are financially pointless. For example I have a toy electric train set I received as a kid for Christmas, and I still run it every Christmas season. Nostalgia. B/c I still use it I sometimes have to purchase service parts. Hard to believe, but there’s a toy train store in this area that stocks most toy electric train items. The same mostly older gentlemen seem to be in there chit-chatting w/each other about the technical issues of electric toy trains. I’ve always wondered what it is they find so fascinating about this topic. But they probably wonder why classic-car folks find old cars so fascinating.

Any theories?

It’s not like golf is a money making opportunity. Hobbies are something done for enjoyment.


If you like playing with trains, building realistic layouts and running like a real railroad, go for it. There is little sales value in the finished product.

Like any hobby, it is the joy it brings you.

My racing was FUN but I spent tons of money to win wooden plaques.

If you like doing car restorations, great, just don’t expect a profit.


Train spotting is another hobby I don’t understand. On the other hand I suppose some folks like to drive to airports just to watch the commercial planes land and take off. Hobbies are a curious thing.

If somebody expects to repeap financial rewards from a hobby, he/she is likely to wind-up being very-much disappointed. In order to engage in a hobby, one has to be willing and able to spend fairly-large sums of money for purely psychic rewards. The probability of turning a hobby into an actual money-making venture is… unrealistic.

It is a passion thing, you either have it or you don’t, and if you don’t then you will probably never understand it…

I was watching a re-run with a NPK car on the street, it is a 3.7 second @200 MPH 1/8 mile monster on the track, and about 4.50’s @ 150-180 MPH on a good road, well it kicked a rod out the oil pan and cracked the block at the oil pan rail, basically it was a $40,000 short block… The race was for a crown and no money involved other than side bets… They have a passion for racing, that you will never understand…

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That is a waste of time and money, they should buy real trains and use them to ship freight.


It is just like birdwatching. Seeing the various trains in their normal setting. Cheap hobby, fun for some and like many hobbies, it can be a solo or social activity.

My sister does renaissance fairs and Viking re-enactments. I don’t get it but it isn’t my thing, it is hers.


Yes, repairing old cars doesn’t make much sense.

I collect records. I currently have between 600-700 12 inch LPs. I have 3 turntables and 4 receivers, none newer than 1983. With the money I’ve spent amassing and repairing these items over the last 30 years I could probably take my family on a nice European vacation.

I could take all my records and electronics to the dump and get my music in digital form online. But I wouldn’t enjoy it at all.

You want to talk about something illogical, let’s look at skiing. :smiley:


Or golf, AKA a good walk spoiled.


Like a boat, good way to lose money not to make it. That’s why it’s called a hobby.

I’ve never really been into trains but the brother of a classmate has been following them since a kid. Wrote a great book on the rock island line and local history of same. Learned a lot. He mentioned one depot at a little town near here I had never heard of. Took me two excursions with a plat book to find the place. Not much left any more. Trains or not great history.

Sure it does…if you like driving the “old cars”. If not, then maybe it’s less effort to just buy a different car that runs.

Bust Out Another Thousand is what some owners would say about boating, Like everything else the slip fee is more than it was when we bought the boat 14yrs ago but it’s more about where you go and the adventures you have. Some folks buy an RV for travel when they retire, my dad bought a 28ft boat for a deal that was helping the dealer cut their losses in the summer of 2009.

At a moment’s notice they can throw a picinic lunch together, grab the keys with the card to open the dock gate, and be heading out of the marina 30min after leaving the house. Go out more in the off season than they did when we had a trailerable boat. This one can go on a trailer but the entire load would weigh at least 10,000lbs.

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I’m a big believer in the idea that as long as what you choose to do doesn’t interfere with my life, then it’s none of my business. I don’t have to understand it to accept it.

Personally, I think our country would be a lot better off right now if other people would use this philosophy. But back to car talk… :wink:


I made the mistake of tossing my LP turntable after I purchased a CD player. I prefer the CD sound quality, esp when listening via studio headphones directly from the player. I don’t like that humming sound caused by the needle gliding in the groove that LP’s make. Music-wise, the problem is I don’t have complete CD’s of most of my favorite records. Fortunately I kept the LP’s, so the problem is easily solved. If I really want to hear a particular song I can usually download a copy to my mp3 player. On a recent episode of the tv show American Pickers one of their suppliers said he had over 100,000 LPs in storage. That’s a lot of records!

Often you’re better off finding a different vintage vehicle that is in better condition to start with. The prices of classic cars may be coming down as the people who originally bought them are are getting too old.

Over all it takes less work to take care of something now than it does to restore it later. Paint it now, or paint it and repair metal later.

Something that is becomming rare are the computers from the 90s that people played some of the early video games on, or used for specialized machine control that can’t be done on modern computers. In 2005 they were trash but now people will pay $200 or more.

A 59 Edsel isn’t for everyone but one of my cousin’s bought one as a birthday present for her husband who loved it. The buddy who found the car for them drove it about 200mi home and her husband was able to fix it up a little more on his timeline while driving it a few days a week to work (got a lot of attention parked outside the salon) for a total cost of under $15,000. Had his fun for several years before selling it to another Edsel fan. Helped keep Portland Oregon weird and the kids had fun going for ice cream after school with their dad.

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Have you heard about Spotify or Pandora? Sound quality isn’t as good as CD, but it’s close. I listen to Spotify all the time. My Kenwood receiver I installed in my Highlander a couple years ago has Spotify built in. And at home I added the app to my Roku device.

Restoring old classics. There are 2 basic approaches - restore to original or retro-mod. I personally prefer a retro-mod. I’d LOVE to own a mid 50’s Vette (C1) with modern technology. I’ve seen them restored this way, but the cost is north of $150k.


“Good idea or not?” depends on what you’re looking for.

To make a profit? Bad idea because without going into the lack of liquidity, the lack of a regular return, the regular cost of maintenance/insurance/storage/etc. and a “fickle market” that can turn on a dime, you’re much better investing in almost anything else.

Because it’s something you enjoy with no expectation of a financial return, the definition of a Hobby? Great idea!!
For myself, after a day spent with a flickering computer screen, shuffling papers and sometimes irrational people, time spent on a greasy 40 year old car banging on a rusted nut, repairing a leak or tracing an electrical fault was like heaven. And after you’re done and the car is on the road , in a time when it seems like all cars look about the same, part of the reward is seeing the smiles on people’s faces and hearing their stories about “Way back when …” :slightly_smiling_face:


Thinking too much is bad. Hobbies help prevent that.

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