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Older Cars -- Which Would You Choose and Why?

I am looking at purchasing one of these models in the future – mainly for a weekend car/light errands. I would want a model that is in good shape, clean overall, and comfortable to drive. From your experience as an owner or from your experience as a car enthusiast or mechanic, which would you prefer? Why? Thanks and Happy New Year!

A) 1987 Chrysler Fifth Avenue B) 1971 Buick Electra C) 1991 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz D) 1985 Cadillac Seville E) 1979 Buick Electra Limited

I would nix A due to brand (poor track record on repairs since late 60s)
B due to model year–the onset of emission controls, lots of problems
possibly C (American cars had not yet recovered)

Yes, the 1979 Buick Electra is a fine car. By that time most of the driveability problems had been resolved. I had an Oldsmobile of that era, and it was one of the best cars I ever owned. Gas mileage is not great, but that’s not important for occasional use. I would avoid any Seville; they are less than reliable, and expensive to fix, while parts are hard to find.

The Buick shares most parts with the LeSabre.

A) no, a tarted-up Volare, not a good car
B) no, very old, gas hog, but most ‘character’ of the bunch
C) no, the downsized one, but it would be OK, but why bother?
D) no, I dislike the ‘bustle back’, lots to go wrong
E) yes, of the 5 that’s one I’d pick, that chassis was pretty reliable
But I’d go with B) if you’re handy with a wrench and looking for more of a project car, with plenty of room to park and very few miles to drive (assuming you find one in great shape, that is).

You must live in a place with no emissions testing. Your choices can all be emissions nightmares…Get real and pick up a '94-2000 Crown Vic or Grand Marq. Trouble-free transportation.

It’s not going to be easy to find an example of any of those cars that will be in decent shape. Forget the caddys they have the less-than reliable alluminum engines. The rest are just malaise-era abominations. I suggest a 2003-2004 Mercury Marauder.

For me,nothing without OBD2.Unless it’s a BMW E-30 (3-series)the last of the BMW’s without a massive electronics involvement.

If constantly tinkering with it is part of the appeal, I’d definitely go for the '71 Electra-- it’s before any of the serious emissions controls and should be simple and fun to maintain. The later carbureted cars on your list will also require constant work to keep running, but the work will be much more aggravating.

The Seville has the fuel injected Cadillac 350 (assuming it’s not the atrocious diesel) which is actually a pretty reliable and straightforward engine. Assuming the thing’s in decent shape and you don’t mind the, er, unique styling that’s probably the one I’d go for just for a nice car to toodle around town in.

I loved the 65 Chevelle I had. didn’t have power steering or disc brakes, but it was smooth driving and pretty comfortable.
A 50s or 60s era Caddy would probably fit your bill if you can tinker with it on your own. Stay away from things with large wheels with skinny tires though

Choice A probably has a pretty tried n’ true powertrain that will give you little trouble. If it’s a carbureted V6 though, I’d probably avoid it. Choice B will also be mostly trouble free, but will be a gas hog and with a carburetor, may be hard to start in the cold and have driveability problems. It should be easy to fix, as it is very simple. It also may be rust-prone. I’d avoid choice C like the plague—these cars were built like junk and are expensive to fix. Choice E may or may not be OK—if it has the “Metric 200” transmission, immediately walk away. Some of GM’s early V6s had issues too, and I wouldn’t touch a 301cid V8.

Well, of that bunch I’d take B, the 1971 Electra. It’s just old enough to not have a bunch of emissions stuff, and those land yachts are just kind of fun. Of course, I’m pretty much anti-GM, so I really would not want any of the newer ones, and the less said about that Chrysler the better.

I also vote for the Marauder - last of the big-car designs (body on frame), great performance, modern engine, etc.