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Need suggestions on how to get into the car scene, for a inexperienced car lover

Hello everyone,

I would love some insight/experience-based tips based on the caption above. A little background on my situation:

25-year-old working a 9/5 with good pay, and a strong investment background (on the side). The greatest thing I ever owned was a 2011 Mustang 5.0, and it broke my heart selling it for something more sensible (a Subaru Crosstrek). I have been absolutely infatuated with cars my entire life, but not so much the working on them aspect (I have zero wrenching experience, or way to begin), although I appreciate that side as well.

My dilemma is I don’t know anyone in the car world, or anyone who even thinks the way I do about them. Most of my free time is spent on YouTube or reading up on different types of cars. Love American muscle the most.

I live in an apartment and consider myself frugal, so although I would love to go out and buy another mustang right now, I could not validate that spend.

Other interests for me include sustainability (not exactly what comes to mind when thinking American muscle) but would love to get an E85 swap on anything in the future.

My question is this: how can I get more involved in the thing I truly care about, without making a large purchase right off the bat? I have even considered volunteering my time at local collector shops just to get around some cool rides. In a perfect world, I would love to start something like a classic car investment firm ((in a perfect world)).

Has anyone ever been in my shoes? Any insight would mean a lot. Happy to clarify where needed as well.

Cheers

Join a car club. Or street rod association. Lots of folks to talk too.

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First, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be in the car hobby. There are car guys who tool around in sub-$1,000 rides. Many of us find the Pebble Beach crowd to be snooty and obnoxious.

There’s a community for your specific car (https://www.clubcrosstrek.com/). Join it and start talking with people. Also do some googling for car clubs in your city/state. There’s probably an import club that would be happy to have you along.

As for future sustainable American muscle… Tesla. And soon-to-be Lucid. Those things will leave muscle cars and all but the very fastest supercars in the dust off the line. In fact there is to date only one supercar faster 0-60 than a Tesla Model S - the Porsche 918 hybrid-electric, which had a very limited production run, and a used one will set you back at least a million bucks.

E-85 isn’t sustainable at all. It’s the opposite of sustainability because it takes more energy to make E-85 than you get out of it. And that’s not going into the eco-disaster that is western farming practices. All that farmland which could have at least been devoted to feeding people is instead being devoted to filling gas tanks, which is a terrible use of resources, especially in an era when long-range, safe, high-performing, and comfortable electric cars are becoming easier and easier to get your hands on.

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By signing off with cheers makes me wonder where you are located . Frankly right now with the serious Virus problem I think delaying contact to just be interested in vehicles might be a good idea.

I myself have stopped going to car shows and classic auctions . What few there are now.

Of course buying a used Mustang just to weekend drive is a good solution .

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Super insightful, thank you- and good point on E85, you have given me more to look into. I have done some research on high performance uses for ethonal, but agreed, energy spent on harvest > energy saved in use.

Jersey, and agreed- I am not so much really even interested in the car show arena, although I do love meeting new people etc- just not my purpose when looking into this, although it is an obvious symptom of car culture.
I honestly would buy a mustang for the weekend, but thats 2x insurance, 2x parking (at an apartment) plus whatever the car itself will run me.

I was you in my early teens. Parents were not car-people… Mom didn’t even drive. No one to show me or instruct me. I started by reading everything I could get my hands whose subject was cars. Most had how-to sections I read and re-read many times.

I didn’t have much money or time as I worked and went to school but I learned to do nearly all my own service. I tackled more and more complicated jobs. These included an engine swap and some head work on my big 6 cylinder. I rebuilt my 4 speed transmission and replaced the clutch. Anything I thought I could tackle in my single stall apartment garage.

I got a degree in engineering and and a full time job from my intern job with General Motors so NOW I was surrounded by real car guys and car stuff. Tons of people to ask questions! Rebuilt my engine from oil pan to the carburetor modifying it along the way.

I still read everything I could and joined the SCCA. I started parking lot racing… autocross… and things just grew from there. More great people to ask question of. I researched anything I needed to work on… long before YouTube! Did a lot of suspension mods.

Not everything worked out. There were “learning experiences” along the way. I have worked on nearly every part of my cars including building, servicing and road racing two cars for 17 years. Every part in them. THAT will teach you a LOT of expensive lessons VERY quickly I might add!

That’s the path I took. Lots self-taught. Lots of the basics from engineering school. Lots of hands on testing, designing and developing car parts at work. You don’t need a degree but you will need to be able to learn. There’s never been a better time in history for that… You have the world at your fingertips.

Wow what an awesome experience, thank you for sharing- you sound like an incredibly driven individual. I have the luxury of YouTube and that has been my main source of learning so far. You have given me alot to think about and I appreciate the response- much respect.

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Even high end car auctions like Mecum and Barrett Jackson have inexpensive cars on the first days or two. Go to their websites and check sales prices for recent auctions. The inexpensive ones are not muscle cars, but may be predecessors to them. They might be from the lat 1970s or 1980s too. Another advantage of these cars is they are typically in good shape. BJ has an auction in Connecticut every year. Maybe the next one will actually take place and you can go, register, and try buying something for under $10,000. I think even late 70s Corvettes would be under ten grand.

What was the issue with the Mustang? There are practical cars that are fun to drive, so maybe that’s what you need here.

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One thing I might address is your comment about starting a classic car investment firm. That could be a very slippery slope as car values rise and fall quite often and you really need to know cars inside and out both as to value and the mechanical end of things.

Example. A few years ago at a Barrett auction in FL a 1966 Canadian Beaumont (Canada’s version of the Chevelle) sold for something like 42 or 43k dollars. Very pretty, low miles car in Butternut Yellow with a small block in it.
Later that year the same car went through Barrett in Vegas I believe it was and sold in the low 20s. Someone took a real financial bath on that one without even factoring in transportation costs, entry and consignment fees, meals, hotels, and so on.

Keep in mind that many of those auction cars do not even bring what was spent to put them into the condition they are in.
Also keep in mind that at an auction you may be buying a bad dog that needs to be put down. Some of those cars shine like a new penny but underneath they are in sad shape mechanically and/or the shiny paint may be covering up 40 pounds of Bondo.

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The one I had was gettin 15 mpg and I at the time had a 60 mile a day commute. That and living in a northern state, small storage and it chewed through tires- wasnt the best thing for a recent college grad commuting every day to own

All extremely valid points, I am no where even close to being in that position, rather its like asking a kid what they want to be when they grow up " a race car driver, astronaut" etc- thats where I am currently at

On Jay Lenno’s garage = I think it was Joe Rogan’s C2 Corvette that he bought. It was completely restored. But then he had some more work done and this mechanic found that the person who restored it completely screwed up. He cut a brace that was hidden behind the dash. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the car. As @ok4450 said - you need to know cars inside and out or be extremely lucky. @ok4450 probably has the experience and mechanical knowledge. I know that I don’t.

There are 2 parties that make money on classic cars. 1) The shops that restore them under contract for customers. Ignore the tv shows… most don’t do actual restorations and they never expose the real costs involved.

And 2) The middlemen… the auction houses and consignment shops. If you can avoid actually owning the car for sale, you are far better off. Sell it, take a commission and move on.

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I know cars pretty well but there’s no way in the world I would last 5 minutes in the car investment world.
It’s too fickle.

There was a story about 10 years ago (?) about a huge car auction in Dallas which featured a number of old Corvettes. The National Corvette Restorers Society volunteered to have some members drive the cars in and off the auction block.

It was stated that the majority would not even start and had to be pushed in and out. Many that looked good from 30 feet away did not look so good close up and a lot of them were leaking various fluids.
And while the auctions look good on TV I suspect that a certain number of people who bid and win on certain cars are extremely disappointed later when they find out their 40k dollar car is worth 10 tops due to flaws which due to no inspection and no test drives go unnoticed.

For starters, think a little about what appeals to you about cars, Nostalgia? Power? Efficiency? Body Design? Sporting Events? Investment? Enjoyment of Working With Your Hands? and then start looking for magazines that focus on your interests.

As others have mentioned, Car Clubs and Events are the places to see the cars and meet the owners “in the flesh”. Marque Clubs, Cars & Coffee, Hot Rod shows, British Car Days, Hill Climbs, SCCA events, Auctions … lots of choices and great information.

It’s an individual thing. Find what “turns your crank”, be it a Model T or a Tesla sports car and you’ll be hooked.

PS. An understand “significant other” really, really, helps. :grinning:

You might want to consider seeing if there’s a local Cars & Coffee in your area. I attend the one local to me pretty frequently. During the spring/summer it draws about 300-400 cars every other Saturday morning. The diversity in cars is the main selling point for me. You’ll see everything, exotics, muscle cars, sports cars, off-roaders, classics, antiques, tuners, etc. It’s not just for a certain kind of vehicle. You’ll likely meet people who share your same interests.

If you want to get your feet wet into the technical side of things. I would recommend picking up an older Miata and learn to wrench on it. You can get an NB in good condition for a few grand. They are reliable, fun to drive, easy to work on, and can be modified inexpensively. You might even get into autocross or HPDE.

Either that 60 miles was in stop and go traffic or you were hooning around in it quite a bit. I daily a 2016 Mustang GT and get around 21-22 MPG on my 5 mile commute to work.

You can’t get in as a spectator at the moment but there is a matchmaking service if you wanted to join a crew on one of the Lemons races around the country. Some races are cancelled but there may be one near you. https://24hoursoflemons.com/

If you are pretty sure you will be remaining in the area where you currently reside you might be thinking about buying a house.
Then take some auto courses at your local state/community college.