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Expensive repairs, awesome car. Keep or ditch?

I smashed up the front end of my 1974 Plymouth Valiant in an accident around Christmas. No engine damage, it still runs great but the grill, bumper, driver side fender, etc need replacing + frame damage. Just yesterday I went out to a local shop and got an estimate on repairs… $5800 to get it back in perfect shape. Considering an imminent increase in my insurance rate and fuel economy, would it be wiser to keep it and repair or just buy something new?

Other pertinent info:
-74,000 original miles
-225 slant-6 engine

Not knowing the history of this car, your sentimental attachment to it, etc… I’d try and determine how much the car is worth now in its current condition, and also how much you could sell it for fully repaired.

From a purely financial perspective, it may not be worth putting the money into repairing if the final value won’t exceed what you put into it. But I’m clueless about the interest/market/value for this particular car. Good luck.


Looks like the repair costs are more that it’ll be worth, so it comes down to emotional attachment. And this is a unibody car, no frame. I liked my '72 Duster, drove it for years.

Your question is not a rational one but an emotional one. It makes NO sense to spend $5800 to repair a car worth, at most, $4800.

But vintage cars are about the emotional attachment. This isn’t simply transportation, it is a classic car. If your emotions are over-riding your common sense, by all means fix it and enjoy the car for what it is… a 43 year old, Slant 6 Valiant. It isn’t a huge amount of money either way.


In view of the fact that this vehicle has been driven–on average–less than 1,800 miles per year over the past 43 years, clearly this car is not a daily driver, and is obviously something that is reserved for occasional use. This means that the OP has another car–most likely one that is far newer–as a daily driver.

As a result, I don’t get the question about “buying something new”.
If you want a classic car for occasional enjoyment, and if–as I suspect–you are emotionally attached to it, then it would make sense (on some level) to repair it.

No one can really tell you the answer to this but you. It’s not a question of finance, unless you can’t afford to fix it. If it’s a car you like a lot and it has sentimental value to you, and you can afford it, and you don’t care if you’re going to put more money into it than it’s worth, well then welcome to the car collecting scene!

Keeping an old car around to collect it is almost never a money-making scenario, but then neither is model railroading or collecting scotch. Once you start down the hobby road, your decisions can’t be made purely on whether or not they financially make sense, because they never will.

So, how sad would you be if you got rid of the car? Assuming keeping it won’t put you in financial trouble, that’s the direction you need to be looking for your answer.

$4800…more like $800

I truly love these vehicles…but unless it’s a classic and fully restored show car…it’s not worth it.

Decent 4-door Valiants with the slant 6 sell for around $2,000 on Ebay. So do it if you want, but don’t expect to get much money back. A good rule of thumb is that a restorer of a run-of-the-mill car like this gets back maybe 50 cents on the dollar.

If you love it, it’s worth it. You only live once. Don’t go down saying “I wish I had”. Go down saying "I’m glad I did… that was fun!"
If you’re thinking of doing it as an investment, think again. You won’t recover the cost.

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If this is a car kept as a hobby item, it should have been insured by one of the specialty insurers that offers coverage for collectible cars. The cost is very reasonable, and the coverage is excellent, including collision, spare parts, towing, etc.

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