The old car hobby is pretty straight forward-for the most part.
Car guy/car girl meets old car/truck, car guy/car girl falls in love with old car/truck, car guy/car girl buys old car/truck, and then they build a story book happy ending together.
It is a pretty simple plot in its most basic form, but how about all of the various questions that may arise between that first meeting and the happy ending. There are several what-if questions after that first meeting and some of them are not typical questions.
For example, what do you do if you find an ultra-low mileage vintage vehicle and then purchase this frozen-in time ride? We will set the bar very high and make this vehicle’s odometer read less than 100 actual documented miles.
These rare vehicles do indeed exist, in fact there are a few of them with less than 20 miles on their odometer. Circumstances such as eccentric buyers are usually behind these low mileage riders and changes in their lives (up to and including their deaths) force the sale of their low-milers.
The crux of the question is whether you would choose to hop in this low-miler and rack up the miles on it while simultaneously driving down your purchase price investment. Most owners treat their low mile vehicle purchases like a rare painting- in fact there is a better chance to take the Mona Lisa for a spin around the block than the old car with no miles on it.
The other element of this question is also pretty basic: does the low miler purchase have an effect upon whether they should drive the car? We at MSCC believe there are factors that would influence a decision to get in the old ride, turn the key, and not stop until you get to the coast on the other side of the country-and back.
We should take two cars for this scenario and see which way the wind blows on this question. Make one a vintage Chevy Corvette big block four speed car and the other a bare-bones Chevy Vega. Both vintage cars have 50 documented miles on them and look like they just left the dealership. In other words, they both have a value well beyond their original sticker price and will command interest in the collector car hobby.
The vintage ‘Vette will have a 2015 price well beyond its original cost from the dealership, even if it was initially bought by a lead-footed punk who ran it hard and racked up over 100,000 rough miles on it. A 50-mile version of the same car will go through the roof price-wise.
The Vega is another story because it was a low cost econo-box built to fit a buyer with limited financial resources. The original owner was not interested in performance and did not want to pass everything but the gas pumps in the 70s-they just wanted to pass the gas pumps in their Vega. Few people dreamed about Vega ownership in the 70s unless their psychosis medication was too strong.
Little has changed over the years over the years because the ‘Vette will trump the Vega every time in a one-on-one race for the hearts and minds of car guys in 2015. Popularity wise, the Vega was not invited to the prom in the 70s and nothing has changed in four decades.
The 50-mile Vega will draw more than its sticker price by a considerable margin in 2015, but it will never be even in the same area code as the 50-mile ‘Vette. A buyer who gets in the Vega and drives it several thousand miles will not take as serious a haircut on his investment as the cat who does the same with a 50-mile vintage Vette. That ‘Vette owner will do horrific damage to his investment portfolio, so the smart answer is drive the Vega and park the ‘Vette.
The fun answer is don’t buy the Vega at all and use the money saved to buy a lot of gas for a long road trip in the ‘Vette.
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