Classic Cars You Should Buy If You REALLY Want to Show Someone You Love Them
Topping the list of classic cars you should buy… the one that got away. Maybe you’ve been looking wistfully in your life’s rearview mirror, wishing for just one more glimpse of THAT car. You know, the one you bought with your paper route money. The one you learned how to drive in. The one that got you to the chapel on-time.
While classic cars are becoming increasingly valuable money-wise, it’s the emotional tug, the nostalgia that’s always been the driving force behind most restorations. It makes sense. After all, classic car restorations are EXPENSIVE – like, “That’s in DOLLARS?”expensive.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
And here at Airkooled Kustoms, what the heart wants most of the time is the flawless re-creation of early Porsches and Volkswagens that have haunted our clients for years – decades in some cases. Want to see some examples?
A tribute build in memory of Kaden, a little guy who left this world WAY too soon. Kaden and his dad Gerald had been planning to restore this sweet ’68 Beetle together. After he passed, his family decided to do it in his honor.
We’ve seen the pics of the original ride this understated beauty was built to mimic, as one very happy pair of newlyweds drove her away from their wedding. Oh, the original met an untimely demise after being rolled a few times. This one’s likely to live a much more charmed life.
This one, I (PP) got to see first-hand, in situ, about half a century ago. It was originally our grandfather’s Bug, but it also made the rounds with a couple of uncles before Matt bought it and got it restored (after lugging it around the country for a decade). Check out this video, and you’ll be drooling, too.
Screw Flowers… THIS Is How You Win Hearts
Of course, you could just go the way our client Ron went, and substitute a sweet high-end restoration in place of buying your sweetheart roses. Bumble Bee was featured in Issue #14 of Aircooled Classics. After all, nothing says luvin’ like a brand new, very old car!
Here’s another story from LittleThings.com:
Dad Collapses In Son’s Arms When He Hands Him Keys To Classic Car 50 Years After It’s Destroyed
Over the course of our lives, our parents sacrifice everything so we can be happy. They give us a home, put food on the table, send us to school, and teach us all the most valuable lessons you can learn to become a well-rounded adult.
At some point in our adult lives, many of us feel the need to give back to them in some way, to thank them for all these sacrifices, big and small.
For most, this means raising our own children the way our parents raised us. But for others, it’s also giving them as many material pleasures as our wallets can handle. We want to give them things not just because we can, but because we know it will make them happier than we can ever imagine.
Michael Green had this in mind when he dragged his father, Charlie, to the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly. He’s heard the same story countless times: As a 16-year-old, Charlie lost the classic car he loved, a 1955 Chevy Bel Air.
It’s been 50 years since that car was destroyed, but Charlie hasn’t fallen out of love with it. In fact, he was so moved by the story of his car, that he cried seeing one just like it in the parking lot.
Little did he know it was already his: His son had bought it for his father, and it would only be a matter of time before he saw it in his own garage.
Now watch the clip to see the moment the tearful dad realizes the car he sees is actually for him!
THIS Clue about Where to Find Classic Cars Will Send You Hiking
If you’re looking for one of your own, you might want to take this bit of advice on where to find classic cars that are hiding in plain sight. OK, maybe not exactly plain sight. Maybe hidden deep in the woods. Or, maybe covered by a pile of junk in a dilapidated barn. Maybe even tucked away in some forgotten corner of a junkyard.
Or… on the Samba!
I asked Spook about this middle-of-the-woods scenario, and he tipped his hat to these guys. What they did wasn’t easy. If you’re thinking about doing something similar, here’s a few pointers:
Be prepared to crawl around underneath the vehicle… somehow. You’ll come away with a new appreciation of a glorious invention – the shop lift.
Be careful! If you jack up your found ride on soft, unlevel ground, it’s not going to stay up.
Bring your bug repellant.
FINDING the find might be the easy part!
If you decide to work on it in situ, you’re going to have to lug a bunch o’ stuff with you if you want to drive it out of the woods. A jack, a full set of basic tools, and acetylene torches to wrestle those rusted nuts and bolts off (heavy and flammable, so be careful!).
“I would have done the same as a young guy. I’m pulling 50 now (as opposed to pushing it!). I like to be warm, dry, and not have bugs crawling up my neck. I don’t camp.” So now you have the final word on getting him out to the woods in a rescue for your find!
Probably a LOT easier to just tow it out – and then to the shop. But where’s the adventure in that?!
Watch Air-Cooled VW Enthusiasts Fix up an Abandoned Panel Van in the Woods
For many vintage car enthusiasts, the barn find is their Holy Grail. They dream of one day stumbling onto a rare classic that’s been stored for so may years, the original owner most likely forgot it was there. Then, they can begin the process of bringing their find back to life and restoring it to its former glory.
What about a forest find, though? Cars left in the woods don’t get nearly the same protection from the elements, but still. Sometimes they can still be restored. After all, that’s exactly what happened here.
Florian George, an air-cooled Volkswagen enthusiast who works for AirMapp—a website and social network for fans of air-cooled VWs—heard someone had abandoned a 1955 Volkswagen Type II panel van in the woods near his house. After finding the owner and buying the van, he originally planned to pull it out with a tractor.
But then he got a crazy idea. What if he and his friends could fix up the van enough for it to drive out under its own power? Surprisingly, it actually worked. Check out the video below to see the story of how they got it done.
Yep. What other kind of answer would you expect? I’ll tell you what other kind… one that’s all science-y, yo.
You might think you can tell an air-cooled engine by its placement:
Water cooled VW Bug = Engine in the Front (You can also find some bus models that are water pumpers.)
Air-Cooled = Engine in the Back
But you’d be wrong! (Although if you go looking at the early air-cooled Volkswagens and Porsches we build at Airkooled Kustoms, engine’s in the back.)
So, what gives?
Air-cooled engines use a combination of controlled air flow, oil, and fuel to help keep the engine within optimum operating temperatures. The Boxter motor is well designed for air cooling. They’re typically lightweight, made from aluminum, magnesium, and other lightweight elements. There’s directed air flow controlled by air speed, and that’s what keeps the cylinders well within operating specs. The heads are aluminum, the piston jugs are steel, and the connecting rod and the lower rotating assembly are all high-tempered steel. Even the gasoline helps to keep the heads cool.
Water-Cooled Vs. Air-Cooled
Water pumpers feature a water jacket surrounding the cylinders to help control the temperatures. Water becomes the heat sync. The actual engine case heads and jugs are the actual heat syncs with the fan directing airflow around critical areas to remove the heat.
Air-cooled rides never have a radiator. With the majority of models, the engine is in the rear, although there are some vehicles, including diesels, that have the engine in the front… but they’re still air-cooled. Most of those are 2-cycle engines, which means you have to add oil to the gasoline to help with lubrication – they’re dirty and smelly, but have a good power to weight ratio output.
Want to see some examples? This bit by CarThrottle.com will help.
6 Cars That Make Us Love Air-Cooled Engines
Be it a 12bhp flat-twin or a fire-breathing turbocharged monster, air-cooling definitely had its place in the automotive community
The technology is now obsolete in road car design, but these cars used simple airflow to keep their engines cool. Initially found in budget civilian vehicles for the masses due to its ease of use and lack of maintenance required, air-cooled engines managed to nestle their way into some serious machinery up until relatively recently.
You’ll only find this rudimentary tech in bike-engined vehicles nowadays, so let’s take a nostalgic look at some of the past automotive highlights of air-cooling.
Despite the unfortunate origins within Hitler’s Reich, the Volkswagen Beetle is one of the greatest-selling cars of all time. Translating as ‘The People’s Car’, Hitler himself told the engineers and designers that the car had to be air-cooled, as not every German could afford a garage. Antifreeze for coolant was also rare and expensive in the 1930s.
The original design was manufactured from 1937 until 2003 when the last manufacturing plant in Mexico shut down. Using a simple flat-four engine pioneered by one Ferdinand Porsche, the Beetle ranged from 1.1 to 1.6-litre form, with the aim being to transport five people at 100kmh while using no more than seven litres of fuel for the respective 100km. Without the Beetle, it’s safe to say that a couple of other cars on this list wouldn’t have come close to existing, so this popular bug deserves some serious respect.
The 935 was Porsche’s endurance racing entrant in the late 1970s, using the 930 911 Turbo as a base. It utilized are rather large turbocharger and mechanical fuel injection to create unprecedented levels of turbo lag but with the ability to produce up to 833bhp.
Porsche kept with the air-cooled flat-six engine in the 935 up until 1978, when water cooling was introduced to increase the reliability of the small but powerful engines. This sad move occurred due to head gasket failures on the 1977 cars which had switched the single turbocharger for a twin-turbo setup, resulting in too much stress across the engine block.
Citroen 2CV 4×4 Sahara
The Citroen 2CV is the definition of ‘simple but effective’ and they also pose potentially the cheapest route into motorsport through racing championships dedicated to the plucky French legend. The most interesting of the vast fleet of 2CV variations comes in the shape of the 4×4 Sahara. Intended for the French colonies in Northern Africa, the Sahara came with four-wheel drive as well as two engines – one in the front and another crammed in the rear, both driving their respective axles.
Separate transmissions allowed both axles to be driven at any time, creating traction and drive if one axle began to slip. Using two 12bhp air-cooled flat-twin engines, the Sahara quickly became a favourite with off-roading enthusiasts. Outright performance was never going to be great, as with just one engine running the 2CV Sahara had a top speed of just 40mph. Fire up that second engine however and the lightweight utility vehicle was capable of 65mph.
Tatra decided at some point it was a good idea to air cool a V8, making the 700 the quirkiest car on this list. Produced in 3.5 and 4.4-litre form, the rear-mounted OHV V8 somehow made it into this Czech luxury vehicle.
Although Tatras in general were never built in big numbers, the saloon cars like the 700 were driven by the local industrial bosses and dignitaries as a sign of prestige and power. It’s safe to say that the 700 wasn’t successful in the slightest, and production ended in 1999 after beginning in 1996 due to poor export performance to the rest of Europe. But name me another company that had the guts to build a rear-engined, air-cooled V8 saloon?
Porsche 911 993 GT2
Named after the racing series that these homologation specials were required for, the 993 GT2 was the last air-cooled 911 ever manufactured by Porsche. With widened wheel arches and a massive rear wing featuring those stunning integral air intakes, the first ever GT2 paved the way for the most extreme road-going cars within the 911 range.
Producing 438bhp and 432lb ft of torque from its air-cooled engine, the 993 quickly became known as a widowmaker due to being rear-wheel drive and having a low kerb weight of 1295kg. The 3.6-litre twin-turbocharged flat six was capable of propelling the GT2 from 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds and topping out at 187mph – seriously impressive figures from a mid-90s car. Only 57 were ever built making for seven figure values in today’s Porsche-crazy market.
A car that dominated the Eastern Block countries during the Cold War, the Trabant 601 (otherwise known simply as ‘The Trabant’) was built to counteract the West German-built Volkswagen Beetle. Although it was manufactured to be cheap and reliable, it came with independent suspension all around and lightweight composite bodywork.
Due to a lack of R&D funds, Trabant had to stick with a two-stroke air-cooled engine which came from before the Second World War, putting it at a great disadvantage to its four-stroke Volkswagen rival. The 595cc block was capable of producing around 25bhp and when coupled to a four-speed transmission could achieve 67mph with a serious run-up. Despite this, over two million cars were built, so it can’t have been all bad!
Do you have a favourite air-cooled vehicle? Do you maybe even daily something that harks back to these simpler days? Comment below with your air-cooled experiences.
Want to Know Who Drives Volkswagens THIS Old – ME. That’s Who.
What’s the scoop with a person who drives Volkswagens that are museum-quality, one-of-a-kind, and polished to a mirror shine?
Crazy? Maybe – no argument there, but maybe not in relation to the driving thing.
The whole time Airkooled Kustoms was building Miss Mabel, the 1959 VW Ragtop Beetle that took People’s Choice at the 2015 Ultimate VW Build-Off in Las Vegas, I kept picturing what it would be like to drive her.
I probably wasn’t alone in that – but for the others who harbored such fantasies, it’ll never be more than that. For me, it’s nearing the time when I’ll take delivery of that saucy and sinister babe on wheels.
First, the guys will raise her up just a smidge. You know, so that hitting a penny on the road doesn’t constitute a crash.
There are also a few other minor adjustments and some repair work to the paint in a few places. She did well on the show circuit, but transport and proximity to people are minor hazards to be expected.
As long as the weather’s fine…
As long as it’s only to putter around town…
As long as it’s daylight…
As long as I’ve got driving slippers… (yeah, picture Mr. Rogers doing the switcheroo)
Then I’ll drive her. With a big smile.
Does the Thought Terrify You?
If the whole idea of driving your restored classic car feels about as wreckless as wandering the streets holding onto a Picasso by the edges of the canvas, that’s understandable. But maybe it’s the best possible way to enjoy your ride.
Here’s a piece that may sway you into the driver’s seat.
Drive Your Fucking Classic Car
It was a good day for an apocalypse.
It was just a few hairs short of 100 degrees; the sun was bright as a nuclear bomb; the sky was greasy with tomorrow’s rain. The entirety of Long Island smelled like it was sweating. The news was all tanks in Turkey and guns in Orlando and killer fucking viruses carried by bugs we already hated even before they took up new hobbies.
It had been bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way down from Connecticut and was still choked now between closely planted streetlights. My Evo coughed up blood at a stoplight; it had always been unenthusiastic with air conditioning, but since the engine swap, running the A/C had become a wasting disease.
A kid in a Subaru listlessly gave me the finger. I returned it, but without enthusiasm. Keeping up the Mitsu-Subie rivalry seemed pointless in light of the looming end of the world.
We—my lover and I—were in my Evo X on our way to take a look at a BMW, a 1991 E34 M5 that seemed like it might be worth a three-hour detour. A lifetime of checking out used cars had given me a certain set of expectations about where cars like it were usually found. A chain-link girdled lot grid-locked with imports, maybe. In a cracked driveway, backed against the recycling bin like the old family appliance it was, perhaps. Behind townhouse garage doors, resting peacefully in a bed feathered with repair receipts.
That was not where this BMW was located.
This one was kept at a place called Deluxe Car Storage & Sales Gallery. A brisk black fence protected an empty parking lot; the cars were hidden within the warehouse. The Evo was breathing hard from its run down from Connecticut, so I removed its bridle and let it lay on the asphalt out front while we went to find our salesman.
Inside, a seating area was populated only with leather chairs and big screen TVs. A glass wall allowed visitors to see what they were waiting for: one of the dozens of luxury cars parked in the dim vast space on the other side. I found myself peering through the glass at what I thought was a ’64 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta. It peered back at me. I died for beauty, it whispered through the glass.
“Do you want to look around while I pull the BMW out?” our salesman asked. Steve. I’m pretty sure his name was Steve. If it was not Steve, he was so overwhelmingly Steve-like that Steve will do fine for the duration. It took me a moment to realize why he was offering the look-see: not to lure me into purchasing the XKE or the Carrera I could see from where I stood, but simply to admire.
I wound through the luxury automobiles as fluorescents came to life overhead. Here was a Chevelle, frowning pensively at me. There was a 280 SL, ears perked, waiting for a walk that never came. Here a passel of new Porsches looking clannish together. There was an assortment of Lamborghinis. One Lambo for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a funeral, four for a birth. Here was a pair of newer Ferraris, each tethered to this mortal coil by extension cords leading from wall to battery.
It was all very… stationary.
Steve pointed out the matching number princesses and the low mileage princes, but I couldn’t quite work up a froth over them. A low mileage sports car is like an attorney who’s never gone to trial. They were pretty, but this was a wax museum.
What’s a car without a driver? An art installation. Until you turn the key, it’s all theory, really.
There’s a phrase that’s been used to justify more vehicular comas than any other: “daily driver.” I’ll be at a gas station kicking some mud off the bottom of my ‘73 Camaro after doing a bit of non-asphalt exploration and here’s some guy telling me he likes the Camaro, he’s got a ’69 himself.
“Oh yeah?” says I, “where’s it at?”
“In the garage,” replies the guy. “I’m in my daily driver.”
Daily driver in this case means something like a Toyota Solara, which is a car I have to Google every time I hear the name because I can’t remember what it looks like even while I’m looking at it.
My daily driver is my boosted Evo or my boosted 370Z. The ’73 Camaro, according to the State of Virginia and my tax paperwork, is my “business vehicle.” I’ve put 50,000 miles on the Evo in the last two years, 8,000 on the Nissan since I picked it up this spring, and 15,000 on the Camaro in the last three years.
The Camaro’s been to the track, the Evo was on a dirt oval, and the Nissan’s first skidplate is crumpled and hanging in a library in Tennessee with my name signed on the corner. I’ve been informed by countless souls that I have devalued all of them.
I reckon that really depends what currency you’re figuring their value in.
Who did I buy them for? Me, or the body that’s gonna sit in them after me? Life’s fucking short and anyhow, the world’s going to end soon, so I might as well put the miles on them.
I just had to Google Toyota Solara again.
It turned out Steve doesn’t even really have a daily driver.
I asked him about it the next day; we’d returned for the BMW. Steve told me he was a Porsche man, but he has a root beer Honda Element. It wasn’t in the lot though; he usually traveled, he said ruefully, via train and bicycle. His Porsches remained garaged. I was outraged on his behalf—this was like finding a pastry chef on a low-fat diet—but he assured me it was practical.
It was a good word for this place, the Deluxe Car Storage facility. It was practical to store your investments here where they would not devalue in this market.
My cells were slowly dying as I hurtled toward my expiration date, and none of these cars had moved since yesterday. Were they cars or were they assets? Did it matter that Corvette there had 425 horsepower at 6400 rpm if it never moved? Did it matter if it ran perfectly because it had low mileage if the engine never got to turn over? Was it thrilling enough to know its potential?
I googled “root beer Honda Element,” and then I asked Steve’s cohort if he wanted to go tear up Long Island in my Evo while my lover and Steve finished up the BMW’s paperwork. We did; it was fun; I can’t go back to Long Island now, but I’m not sorry. That car was built for making a mess in third gear.
We returned to find Steve checking his watch beside a Lamborghini. He needed to make sure he made his train back. I asked him about the Lambo and he told me the guy wanted him to sell it, but every time the dude took it out on a drive, he was killing its value. What a waste.
Really, it depends on your definition of waste.
I feel bad that I can’t fact-check if Steve’s name is really Steve. Look, Steve, I know you gave me your card, but I put it in the console with 50,000 miles worth of gas receipts and they all busted out under the seats when I was digging in there for toll change in New Jersey.
Here’s the thing about Steve: he’s an artist.
I learned this on the second day while I was poking around all the theoretical horsepower in the building. Steve had gone to school for art and had a proper studio and had spent years in New York City. When he hadn’t made it big with his art, he’d fallen back into detailing and selling cars.
I asked to see his art, and he pulled it up on his phone.
He was good. Pretty damn good, actually. It was a bit of a mind-fuck, really, to be looking at Steve, and seeing him both as Steve, perfectly fine car salesman, but to know now that there was also Steve, much better painter. He was standing there with all that unused potential in him, and instead of screaming through life with paint smeared on his arms as he drove his Porsches out of Long Island at 2 in the morning, he was plugged into the wall of a luxury car storage facility next to all the other assets that never got to do what they were made for, either.
There’s nothing much sadder than a beautiful car that no one gets to see, a rare engine that no one gets to hear, a sick piece of art that never gets painted, because you’re saving it for a day when there’s no chance of rain on the weather report.
I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
I’d rather drive my cars to death. Future generations might not have my ’73 Camaro to admire, but they’ll at least have the stories that came from the previous generation flogging the hell out of it.
Are we a generation of doers, or are we merely marking time in hopes that the next generation will be? The currency is time, and it spends whether or not you bought anything with it.
Sometimes I feel like nobody learned anything from Ferris Bueller.
Drive your fucking classics, people.
Maggie Stiefvater is a novelist, musician, car enthusiast and occasional rally driver based in Virginia.
How long can Cuba’s classic cars last? Spook says Cuba’s classic cars will last as long as there are people who love them and do what it takes to keep them on the road. That’s how long.
The ingenuity in the face of their lack of supplies and parts is pretty much MacGuyver these cars to keep them rolling reaches genius level. It’s phenomenal what the Cuban drivers have been able to do with basically no resources. They’ve adapted other technology and machinery to be able to keep these classic cars alive.
As Wayne and Garth would say, “We’re not worthy!”
A good life lesson on doing what needs to be done.
How Those Classic American Cars Survived The Embargo : NPR
Cuba’s cars are impossible to ignore. It’s like seeing a celebrity and trying not to stare. David Gilkey/NPR
Cuba’s cars are impossible to ignore. It’s like seeing a celebrity and trying not to stare.
The Car Talk Guys Weigh In On “How Long Can Cuba’s Classic Cars Last?
Car Talk‘s Ray Magliozzi is in Cuba. He talks to Robert Siegel about the old American cars he’s seeing on the streets of Havana.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
About a year ago, I went to Cuba for the first time, and I took some time to appreciate the famously still operating 1950s American cars on the streets of Havana. I was impressed. But what do I know? Now a real authority is spending the week in Cuba, and he took some time out from his astute observations and perhaps a few mojitos to tell us what he thinks of the classic cars of Cuba. I’m joined now by Car Talks’ Ray Magliozzi. Ray, how you doing?
RAY MAGLIOZZI: (Laughter) Hi, Robert. How are you doing? You left out the Cohibas (laughter) – mojitos, Cohibas and the cars (laughter).
SIEGEL: It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. First, what exactly are you doing in Havana?
MAGLIOZZI: What are we doing?
SIEGEL: Is there – I mean…
MAGLIOZZI: Besides drinking mojitos, having Cuban coffee…
SIEGEL: Apart from the Cohibas, mojitos and drinking the mojitos and looking at the cars…
MAGLIOZZI: Is there a goal? Is there an intended purpose?
SIEGEL: (Laughter) Well, not to put too fine a point on it – yes.
MAGLIOZZI: Robert, we’re being journalists for goodness sakes, and we’re trying to ascertain how these cars stay on the roads.
Let’s Get Down to Business and Answer the Question!
SIEGEL: So tell me. As I observed, you probably saw some exceptional cars driving around in Havana. What do you think? What is this – does it make you feel young again?
MAGLIOZZI: Well, exactly that. I mean, I obviously haven’t seen cars of this vintage since I was a little kid.
SIEGEL: What do you think about the maintenance of these cars – think you could have kept as much of these cars on the road as you see in Havana?
MAGLIOZZI: No. I’ve been constantly impressed by the cleverness and the sheer determination of the people who keep these cars going. It’s amazing. So lots of the cars that we’ve taken as taxis, for example, do not have the original engines. But, you know, it’s funny. Stuff I read about Cuba before I came suggested that it didn’t really make much a difference how they put these cars together because most of the roads were dirt roads. Nobody went over 20 miles an hour, and the cars were just a curiosity and a conveyance that was not to be relied upon. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. These cars, you know, driving 50, 60 miles an hour (laughter). I was very happy that they put as much effort into maintaining the brakes on these cars as they had the engines and the transmissions because, you know, with no seatbelts and metal dashboards, it could be over in an instant (laughter)…
MAGLIOZZI: …If you know to mean.
SIEGEL: Yes, I know what you mean. And somehow they had to do this – getting parts. I mean, you can have a new engine under the hood. But you know, the dashboard should still look like the dashboard, and all of the appurtenance of the car should look appropriate. So…
Cuba – Where a Late Model Dates from the 50’s
MAGLIOZZI: Well, interestingly, I rode in a taxi yesterday that had had also a complete dashboard transplant. It was a late-model GM – late-model (laughter) 50…
SIEGEL: Oh, ’58?
MAGLIOZZI: ’58 Oldsmobile had gotten a whole new instrument panel, and he said he got it from the states. So he must’ve had a relative bring this thing in, so it was something that was customized to fit into that hole that had existed for the original instrumentation. So it had a new ammeter and a new oil pressure gauge and all that, and they all worked. I have yet to see a car, however, that has a speedometer that works.
SIEGEL: (Laughter) I see. I see. Are there any pollution controls in these cars?
MAGLIOZZI: Are you kidding?
MAGLIOZZI: The only thing that’s kept us from keeling over is the paucity of cars on the road.
Do Cubans Love Their Classic Cars?
SIEGEL: So tell me, I mean, Ray, which do you think is more the case? Do you think that Cubans hungry for a post-embargo era can’t wait to get a hold of some 2016 model Hyundais and Nissans or that this shtick has really become part of Havana’s culture, that people want to drive around in 60-year-old Chevrolets?
MAGLIOZZI: Oh, I think people would lunge at the newer cars in a minute if they could afford them. I don’t think there’s any question about that. You know, I mean, while this is fun and it’s been done obviously out of necessity, I think if newer cars were to come in – first of all, it would change the Cuban economy tremendously, so there’s going to be a lot that’s going to happen. But I think that – there’s no doubt in my mind that the average Cuban, if he had a chance, would love to drive a new car.
SIEGEL: Well, Ray, thanks for sharing the fruits of your journalistic investigation with us.
MAGLIOZZI: Robert, it was my pleasure.
SIEGEL: (Laughter) OK. That’s Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk talking with us from Havana.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
What Are the Best Classic Cars? The Ones You Fell in Love with First
People often ask us what are the best classic cars to restore – and probably they’re looking for an objective, dollars and cents kind of answer. Some restorations actually turn into smart investments. Just pay attention to some of the outrageous Barrett-Jackson auctions to see jaw-dropping price tags on restored classics.
But there’s another way to gauge what the best classic cars are – and it’s a much softer science, not an economic fact, necessarily.
We call them heritage cars.
Mojoe and LB are just a couple of the heritage builds we’ve done.
This is the ride that captured a piece of your heart as a kid. It’s the car you watched your dad work on (and maybe you even got to help turn a wrench now and then). It’s the bus your mom drove to get your siblings and you to school, Scouts, and piano lessons. It’s the first car you ever bought – and never forgot.
We thought you’d enjoy this piece by Craig Fitzgerald at BestRides.com about how Tony Dow of Leave It To Beaver got his car back… and what he plans to do as a heritage build.
If you ask a heritage car’s owner, “What are the best classic cars?” you’ll get a one-word answer: MINE.
GEE, WALLY: ACTOR TONY DOW GETS HIS 1962 CORVAIR SPYDER BACK
Tony Dow is a director and a sculptor, but if you know anything about him, it’s probably his role as Wally Cleaver in the popular 1950s television series Leave It To Beaver. During the show’s run, he purchased a 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Spyder and sold it several years later. This week, he was reunited with the car, which he hopes to restore to its original specification.
Leave It To Beaver launched on CBS on October 4, 1957, where it ran for its first season. After the first season, it moved to ABC, where it would be broadcast until June 20, 1963. The show ended around the time that Jerry Mathers — who played the title character Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver — was headed off to high school. It achieved consistent ratings its entire run, but really hit its stride in syndication in the early 1980s.
Why the Best Classic Cars Are the Ones We Loved First
The Corvair in question was Dow’s first car, purchased during the show’s original run. He drove the car for four years, until soon after the show ended. At that point, he sold the car to Alan Dadisman, who built props for Universal.
More than 50 years passed without a word about the car’s whereabouts, until the phone rang recently. “[H]e and his wife, Lauren, received a call recently from a stranger who identified himself as Marty Tryon,” reads a piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The caller…explained that a dear friend had recently passed away and had asked Marty to track down Dow, the Spyder’s former owner, and give him the Corvair. Dadisman thought the actor might like to have his first car back.”
Dow remembered that it was Alan Dadisman’s first car, too. “Who keeps a car for 51 years, then goes to the effort to try to find its former owner to give it back,” Dow asked.
Sometimes the Best Classic Cars Have Been Forgotten for a While
The car hadn’t moved for seven years when Dow went to look at it, because Dadisman had been ill for quite some time. Nevertheless, aside from the 1980s-era dark blue repaint, updated wheels and 180-hp turbocharged engine, he was thrilled with its condition.
When it launched for the 1960 model year, the Corvair was a domestic competitor to popular cars coming from Europe. Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the Corvair had a horizontally opposed, rear-mounted engine, but that’s where the similarities ended. The Corvair’s engine was a six-cylinder to the VW’s four, and it provided a number of body configurations, including a coupe, a sedan, a convertible, a pickup, a van and even a small motorhome.
For 1962, Chevrolet began to honestly market the Corvair as a performance car. Monza-trimmed cars hinted at the sportiness in earlier years, but the Spyder took it to another level with a turbocharger.
Forced induction was foreign to the American car buyer circa 1962, except for low-production cars like the Studebaker Lark R2, which provided a belt-driven Paxton SN-60 supercharger. GM jumped into turbocharging with both feet in 1962, though, delivering not only the 152-hp Corvair Spyder, but the 215-hp Oldsmobile Jetfire, supplemented by the addition of “Turbo Rocket Fluid.” (Not making that up. See below.)
Having the opportunity to build heritage cars is one of the best perks of working at Airkooled Kustoms. We know that the best classic cars are the ones that have an emotional tug on the owner’s heart – and that for our clients, these builds are about much more than just vintage steel.
If there’s a classic car that’s been haunting your memory for a while and nudging you to start a build, maybe now’s the time.