Old car daily driver question

Hello all. I’m finally in a financial position to afford a new car. I live in San Francisco, and actually don’t drive everyday, but often enough to require an auto. I’ve grown up a gearhead, and have been seriously considering purchasing an old car to use as my daily driver. As of this moment, i’ve got a 2002 mustang which i like, but not love…and am looking to get something new within the next few months.

Anyways, my question to you all is, what older cars serve as great daily drivers? Ideally I’m looking for something that isn’t going to be a giant issue, a wallet vampire, not too expensive to own/maintain, fun to look at and drive. I’ve got an affinity for late 60’s/early 70’s cougars/thunderbirds, I’m in love with (don’t laugh) the Ford Country Squire/Colony Park, think Vista Cruisers are awesome, Lincoln Mark series (again, pre-oil crisis), ford LTDs are pretty cool as well…does that paint a clear picture? I’m just looking for advice about older daily drivers (doesn’t have to be the fastest car in the block), what to look for when i check them out in person and if there’s something in this list that rises to the top as something to go for…

thanks, looking forward to the responses-

Since you can live a few days without a car you can tolerate some down time for repairs. That opens up all kinds of options for a daily driver. An old car in good shape with new drive belts and properly maintained can go lots of miles. The benefit of some older cars is they are easy to work on and parts are still available. Since you mentioned a number of domestic options I’d say just keep looking for that “fun” ride. Your kind of fun and the next guys concept of fun are different so this is your choice. I’d stay away from older foreign cars, but those you mentioned are good options.

If you are looking for something that is more than 10 years old, you have to be prepared for frequent repair issues, no matter what make of car you buy, so be sure that you budget at least $1,000 per year for repairs, over and above what you would spend on maintenance.

When a vehicle has been driven for an extended period of time/mileage, the maintenance that it received is far more important than the particular make or model.
So–my advice is to limit yourself ONLY to vehicles that come with full maintenance records.

With private sales, it should not be that difficult to locate a car that you like, and that also comes with full maintenance records. If a car owner claims to not have maintenance records, that means either that the maintenance has been slip-shod, or that the owner just plain doesn’t care about the maintenance of the vehicle, or that he/she has something to hide, and none of these scenarios is a good thing for the next owner.

And, of course, make sure that you have a prospective candidate for purchase inspected by YOUR mechanic, prior to purchase.

Another thought–While it has been some time since I was in SF, I seem to recall that parking can be problematic. Do you really want to have to find a parking space big enough to accomodate a land yacht like a Ford Country Squire or a Lincoln sedan? Those things were HUGE!

Anything that old will require frequent maintenance. Do you have the space and tools for it? As for what to get, I’d look at simple cars with few options. You won’t need a/c, don’t get a Lincoln or Caddy, too many things to go wrong. You’ll want manual windows, but power steering and power disc brakes. Get one that’s been restored to good running condition.

But “daily driver” and “60s/70s car” just don’t go together, unless you’ll be keeping the Mustang for backup.

hey all, thanks for the responses! these are great! i do have a parking spot, so storing the car won’t be an issue…as far as parking in/around the city, i hear you loud and clear about the wagons.
Simpler does sound better, and after restoring a couple cars back in HS and my early 20s, i agree that something simpler is indeed better, thanks for bringing that up!!!

You said that you want something new in the first paragraph and then talk about used in the second. I could not guess what you would “love” as tastes differ. If you want used, then keep what you have if it works.

Otherwise if you are tired of what you are driving, then try renting a few different cars to see which brand might suit you.

We own three cars and I can tell you, as much as I like them all, I get tired of driving the same car. Driving another car for a few days makes the first one good again. Occasional renting for a few days could do that for you.

If you want a restored car, I suggest you buy one that has already been restored. It will cost you far less to buy a restored car than to restore one yourself. Especially most of the cars on your list. If you don’t drive much, you might try the classic car insurers for your auto insurance. Tell them the straight story on how much you plan to drive it and see if they will cover you. They give you more leeway on how much to insure the car for. A standard insurer would never give you anything close to replacement cost for the cars on your list if they were hit. Also, try the Central Valley for vintage cars. They are far enough away from the ocean that there might be a lot more cars you like on the road. I have seen a lot of older cars (50s, 60s) on the road in the Bay Area, though.

Sounds to me your asking a question you already know the answer to

If not you should. I can name a few but i wont because its a secret

oh by the way. We have a little meeting weekly here summers.

How rare is the GTO Judge getting to be??