Buying or Restoring your Vintage Dream Car is a question I get asked almost several times per week over the last 20 years. As someone who builds and restores cars for clients I also need to be the consultant of reasoning on which direction to take. You see owning and acquiring a classic vintage car is a luxury for everyone in the hobby. These are not cars we need in our lives but cars we all want. Does the car of a certain generation bring back fond memories growing up? Is the car a family heirloom? or did your favorite TV star growing up inspire you for a particular generation in cars? As we grow up from childhood and later move on to the real world when one gains a certain level of success in their lives they may now start to get the itch for owning that special car they always dreamed of. The collector car market is on fire in some regards mostly for cars like Ferrari, Porsche and very rare icons of the past. The remainder of the market has been stable but we have been seeing a dip in trends and new emerging trends coming to light that I never thoughts would see the day of light. Cars of the 80s and even early 90s are starting to show up at auction blocks all over the world and the demand and numbers are increasing each quarter. I question myself today if this means the new gen buyers of these cars will ever show interest in cars of the prior generations? Will pre-war cars become extinct as life goes on? Will a modern car such as my Shelby GT350 command hundreds of thousands at auction in 20 years? These questions are all unknown and that is always how the car world seems to pan out, especially the collector car market. Nobody knew the intrinsic value some of these cars from the 50s and 60s would bring in our modern times and if we did I guess they would have never been so abused and tossed away in barns and fields to rot away until someone like me came along to resurrect their second life.
An old photo of the 98 point scored engine bay of the 1955 Thunderbird I restored. The level of detail is what I am known for around the world in this industry.
Each week I consult clients all over the world and help broker cars, appraise and inspect them to see if they meet the standards I want my clients to own and invest in. One statement that I can not stress enough is you buy a vintage car for the emotional connection and never for the flip or profit aspect. The classic car world is a great place to invest but you must invest wisely and each week I seem to be always in a battle between a clients needs, wants and investment potential. So many clients come to me wanting cars that are not in very high demand therefore not great investments. They also come with unrealistic expectations of what it would take for a full restoration of such car which can be 4-5 times as much versus the market value of one already finished. Now in regards to something such as a family heirloom this now becomes a project done for personal reasons of passing the car on to future generations in that family. There is always the decision of do you spend 4 times the money to restore the car you have or buy one finished for 1/3 of the price? This really now strikes an emotional nerve because as humans we are programmed to become attached to objects based on past emotions and great times in our lives. If a particular car reminded you of something bad or tragic I doubt anyone would even think about wanting such car again in their lives. I am a prime example of that such person. Growing up around classic cars at a such a young age and customizing high end exotics, those were and will always remain some of the best times of my life. This is most likely the reason why as an adult I still tend to gravitate towards owning those cars even though I sometimes had such strong connections with them at such an early age. I see this connection with the classic car market lacking so much with younger generations these days, mainly because growing up they simply were not exposed to the world of classic cars or they did not grow up prior to internet age we all are immersed in today. I commend when I see younger kids at classic car events with their parents and even grand parents. To me this is something magical that they show an interest and feel the importance of that bond with their family. I also love seeing online these younger kids embarking on restorations and custom builds because this really reminds me of how I got started in the crazy car business.
I plan to really dive into depth on this subject matter as time goes on because I feel it is so important to share the realities of the classic and speciality car world. What also makes this interesting for me is because I play many cards to this deck as a business owner and a private collector. Sometimes I fight myself until I go crazy for cars I want and cars I know I really should never own because of where I live, where I drive and the cost of ownership. Sometimes owning such car can be such a headache that the initial experience of those fun times is vanished and replaced with negative aggravating thoughts. This is the purpose of this article I am drafting here today. It is an early Monday morning and I am trying to broker a car for a client in St Louis that the buyer wants but I think he wants for the wrong reasons. We shall see what the outcome may be and I will for sure share this on the website for you guys to all see and learn from.
Here is a project I did back in 2008, a Frame off Restored 1955 Thuderbird
The 1955 Thunderbird was always a car I loved as a child, I guess my dads wall posters in the house had something to do with it and the nostalgia of learning about the 1950s of our American Pop Culture. Growing up listening to dad play oldies on the turntable in the living room or WBCBS FM on the radio in his Cadillac or Lincoln got ingrained in this era of my life. I still sit here and feel I should have been born during these times of simple life and coolness. The 1950’s were a symbolic portion of our culture for amazing cars both domestic and abroad, music, fashion and most important the end of the World War. It was a time for peace, transition and fun and this also is a key component to why older guys love to collect and be part of this collector car hobby. If you guys want to attend an amazing event and hear some incredible stories you need to look into attending Lead East every labor day end of the summer in New Jersey. This is a total 1950s throwback party that will truly put a smile on you and your families face to attend, trust me it is that much fun.
The completed Thunderbird with the new owner. The level of detail was so incredible it was the highest sale of any 1955 Thunderbird in history besides serial # 001
Thanks for reading this quick glimpse into the collector car segment and please stay tuned to much more content on this subject matter. As Dennis Gage says, “always remember and honor the timeless classics”