In it for the money....or because you actually enjoy it?


That’s the question I ask of people all the time. Are you in this hobby because you actually enjoy old cars or are you driven by how much it’s worth? I recently traded a nice 1966 Chevelle SS 396 for a 1956 Mercury Monterey 2 door hardtop that I actually felt was in better shape. Even though I knew the Mercury wasn’t worth as much as the Chevelle the Merc was a car at the top of my “car wish list”. Immediately I was being asked why did you do that? The Chevelle was worth more. Simply put I wanted the Mercury more than I wanted the Chevelle because I am it for the love of the hobby, not how much money the car is worth. Nobody would question me if I traded the Mercury and some boot money to get the Chevelle, if I’d wanted a Chevelle as much as I wanted the Merc. Of course the big block is faster than the 312 Y-block in the Mercury but the Merc rides better, steers better, and attracts more attention than any Chevelle, not that it matters but it’s a nice bonus. In my garage alongside the Merc reside my '37 Chevy 5 window coupe street rod and a 1963 Corvair convertible, the wife’s car. I drive them whenever I feel like it. Any given sunny day you may find me driving any one of these three cars. To the store…to the lake…to dinner…because I want to enjoy my cars as much as possible. And yes every car the wife and I own has brought dog food home in its trunk. Enjoying life through the windshield of a collector/classic brings me more joy than worrying about scratched paint, whether or not it’s going to get rained on, or how much it’s worth. That’s how I roll.


I don’t have the money to be in it for the money.
I do it for the grease under my nails. For the barked knuckles. I do it for the occasional expansion of my vocabulary. For the ‘under the wife’s radar’ money hording and for those damnable little bits that drop off the car and turn you into an instant cyclops. I do it for moments when you drop an irreplaceable bolt down the dark abyss of the engine bay. And I do it for the comradery of other similarly unbalanced people who like these things.
The best I can afford… is to be in it JUST for the insanity.


I believe the old car hobby is like Junior Johnson described the financial benefits of NASCAR racing: “If you want to make a small fortune in NASCAR, start with a large one.” Unless you are being paid to restore a car, I have never heard of anybody restoring a car and making money. You possibly can if you hack it, sling mud a lot and use cheap ill fitting sheet metal then sell it at auction where potential buyers are not allowed a close inspection.
I have a 68 Ranchero I intend to begin restoring with subtle mods in a couple years after I get done remodeling my house and those costs paid off. I am not intending to make money or even sell it after I’m finished. If I did I would have chosen a car with much higher value and even then, I would be a fool for believing it would be worth more than the cost of restoring it. A better plan is to buy a car already restored but, unless you’re in the business of buying and selling old cars, why buy it in the first place? But my Ranchero is a car I like and, like my house I’m remodeling, want to do the restoration myself within the limits of my expertise.


The answer is both. I have been driving and restoring classic cars for over 40 years 2 of those years I have worked at a restoration shop. 7 of my classics were my only transportation at the time. I currently own a 66 El Camino and I use it to go to Home Depot and to make dump runs. It’s very difficult to buy, restore and sell a car and make money unless you do a hack job like those guys on TV. On the other hand if I compare what I’m making now restoring cars and what I made at my old job I’m still not in it for the money!


We are in it for the pure enjoyment as now in our latter years retired with no big responsibility’s we are able to afford a car that in the year it was built we neither had the money to afford one or the free time to enjoy it,funny thing is our one owner Vette was cruised around the town we lived in at the time by the son of a local business man that ran a large tire shop I can remember drooling over the car almost 4 decades later we ran across him and the car and found out he was parting with it deal struck we enjoy the car immensly. R.


I could say both, a bit, but mostly because I love it. Enjoy isn’t strong enough. In 1974 I traded my 100 MPH lightened, lowered, built 1965 VW bug for another used car that seemed it would go faster with less work; a 1969 Camaro SS 4 speed. The Camaro burned the rear tire in four gears, so I bought it. I promptly trashed the console, cut a hole in the floor, tossed the factory shifter for a Z-Gate, and put headers and glass packs on it.

Over the years I removed all the front sheet metal to install a fiberglass tilt front end, chromed everything under the tilt that could fit in the tank, welded up the subframe, put in a sunroof, cut the framework between the package tray and floor out to lower and widen the rear quarters (you can’t see it, but the car is somehow different), tubbed it, and on and on. The floorboards come out with dzus fasteners, the dash is a flat panel of Stewart Warner gauges, and there are parts from every major automotive manufacturer circa 1980’s, some no longer in business (Trans Am front suspension, $10 at the junkyard)

I never considered resale value, but as it was my only car, I quickly discovered that a repair made with hot rod or junkyard parts was far cheaper than car payments. The Doug Nash 5 speed cost less than four months payments on a newer Camaro. The exorbitant paint job was equal to 6 months payments. The Currie 9” rear was less than two months payments. So, caring for the car myself with upgrades as repairs, everything has been touched by myself except the 9” innards, it has never needed maintenance.

So, for the money, in keeping it running as a cheaper alternative to purchasing a car every three years, and for the fun, because as I look back, I played with that car almost every available night and weekend for decades. I still have it, no longer a DD, but could be if I didn’t mind the lack of heat and AC in the desert, and it runs great.

So, fun 75%, money 20%, stubbornness 5%.


I fit a bit of both for me. I have an '87 Grand National, 100% original, with 18k miles and purchased from the original owner. My car show and ‘cars & coffee’ car. I try to avoid adding miles with the thought it will retain its value. On the other hand, I have a '17 Chevy SS Sedan that I drive like I stole it. Although it has collector potential and appreciation, I figure I’m old enough not to worry about it and drive it for the pure pleasure of driving a high performance car.


@caozman - That is a nice pair of cars.

I find myself doing it for passion, but very carefully so as to never be invested over the street value more than than I am okay writing off. It makes it a bit of a fun challenge to assemble the cars I enjoy within those constraints.


I enjoy owning/operating older, classic vehicles. It makes it easier to find your ride in the parking lot.

As far as the rest of it goes, every single car parts supplier (with the exception of rockauto and bugeyed.net) thinks I’m in it for the money.



I do it for the fact that nobody I know has or will ever have my cars. You can not buy them or build them they way I have built them. It takes a lot of time and patience to work on old cars, I love the hunt for parts. Trying to find that piece of moulding that is a one off year piece that only came on a handful of cars that year. Also I love to drive them and not like a new car that pretty much drives you. The excitement of actually driving a car, the smell, sound & feeling you get behind the wheel of a 50yo car that you restored. If you have one you know the feeling I’m talking about.


I buy them to drive and gather with folks at shows.