Rob Siegel defends vintage car ownership


Some of us may remember Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines, wife of deposed dictator and kleptocrat Ferdinand Marcos. One of Madame Marcos’ claims to fame was that, when the couple was forced to flee from power, she left behind 1060 pairs of shoes. But a lesser known is the fact that she left 15 mink coats. Yes, that’s weird because the Philippines is a tropical country. But typical of her narcissism, she and her friends would parade the furs around in a refrigerated room within the Royal Palace.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/03/rob-siegel-defends-vintage-car-ownership


I’m right there with you Rob. I don’t have any one car that is worth a ton of money, but I seem to have tons of old iron laying around.

I think I have about 10 insured with Hagerty, then several in different stages of decay. Can’t seem to part with them or impart to parts. :wink:

I plant trees as much as I can to offset my poorly tuned carbs.


As another keeper of several guzzlers I’m conflicted too but there’s salve in the faces, young and old, that smile in reflex when one of these rolling histories passes by. History matters…

The tortured logic of the Marcos fridge was to save carbon by not flying off to frigid climes to flaunt cold weather garb. Oddly Ferninand (aka, Malakas (Strong One of myth)) still ‘occupies’ a walk in fridge in Batac, his home town. The Philippines inaugurated a museum of Presidential vehicles last month. Ferdinand - Conti Mk VI, Imelda - RR Phantom V.


Stay calm Rob - drive and enjoy your cars! Even staff within the California Air Resources Board (the world leading environmental agency) have owned and driven vintage cars. Many emission engineers in auto companies such as myself own vintage and race cars. Keep your cars tuned and you can enjoy guilt-free driving. If you’re still conflicted sell a few of them and buy a newer 500-700 hp model that has near-zero emissions. Please feel free to let me know if you need additional counseling😉.


Hi Rob,
I think you’re only covering a small part of the debate focusing on old car emissions. I haven’t bought a car from a dealership in about 30 years and I haven’t bought a new car ever. That said my garage has it’s share of German iron from my impressionable high school/college days. In my mind that means I haven’t contributed to the building of new auto plants, the mining of precious resources, or the emissions associated with any of those activities.
I have kept cars out of landfills, worked minor miracles recycling roadgoing vehicles and helped many large and small support operations that endeavor to do the same.
Also, until very recently, each of these cars were pretty small displacement engines compared to current standards, heck my e30 M3, period quattro and 914 all get 30 MPG! They will all pass current smog I believe but are surely not as enviro friendly as current cars but I feel they have a positive offsets elsewhere to consider.


Rob, I’d add another potential justification for driving my '66 MGB out in the countryside, pretty distant (as in, a hundred miles or so) from an urban area. My understanding (which could be fed by wishful thinking) is that most of the emissions standards and technology were aimed at reducing local smog conditions and the NOX and unburned hydrocarbons are not so significant when added to the atmosphere away from the area where smog results. If correct, my drives and your highway jaunts to various BMW events ought to be some partial credit against our environmental crimes.


Rob, you need to work on your sense of self confidence and not let ridiculous California emissions control advocates cloud your thinking. You are “guilting” yourself because the popular opinion here in the Golden State is that these old cars are bad, and you see yourself as an environmental criminal. As a native Californian, who loves vintage cars, I’m more concerned with brutally excessive gasoline taxes and destructive amounts of ethanol in our gasoline. My '69 Mustang fastback (SportsRoof) is presently getting its electric fuel pump rebuilt because the gasoline has eaten its O rings. Concern yourself with the huge increase in California registration fees rather than practicing self flagellation over emission control.


I have big block and small block cars, some with very little emission controls and some with none whatsoever! They are beautiful to look at (they are all American built) and there is nothing more fun than passing a tree hugger in their Prius and thinking to yourself “Suck my exhaust B…H”!! Fact is we don’t drive them as daily’s and given their age and today’s appliance like appearance old cars are special, very special and should be cherished not scorned. Happy motoring!


The most preposterous endorsement I’ve heard here. Those bureaucrats are the worst of the worst, and with any luck, the Trump administration will disenfranchise them in the other dozen “compliant” states. I say this as a victim of my own NY State’s goody-two-shoes government that signed onto CARB rules. Unfortunately, NEITHER considered the weather and environment here before enacting their autocratic rules…to NO KNOWN BENEFIT.
That these unelected and unsupervised bureaucrats drive “illegal” cars only confirms my assumption that they are arrogant, hypocrites, inconsiderate, and of course, “mean.”


Rather than hand-wringing over straight-forward emissions, I’d much prefer a thoughtful piece on the future of repairing/collecting such Rube Goldberg contraptions–both environmental and convenience–in today’s cars, 20 years from now. We think parts and knowledgeable service are crazy now…just wait till somone tries to repair, much less, restore my Panamera S e-Hybrid two or more decades from now.


Honestly, I don’t care what the gas mileage is or on emissions for the following reasons: 1. Its my hobby 2. as I bought them used , they had prior owners, I am recycling ! Meaning no new carbons spewed in the air to manufacture these, no new raw materials used and no carbons expended to transport them as new ones would. 3. They are less expensive then when they were new and so gas mileage does not mean anything (I can drive thousands of miles to come up to the new car price). 4. Funny that everyone is concerned now about CO2 but forgets that the newer brake pads spew soo much more brake dust into our environment, that that is an actual and immediate hazard to all drivers and pedestrians.
My 5 cents worth


Rob. I notice you have a 1973 BMW 3.0 CSI which you value at about $50,000. Why are the 3.0 CSL’s valued so much higher? They are both great cars and so much fun to drive.


With the inevitability of electric cars and/or non polluting vehicles the norm in our near future the demise of gas powered vehicles will come with a whimper not with a bang. We, the classic car lovers will be relegated to race tracks and car shows I fear … and better get your trailers ready now because you won’t even be able to drive them to these events either . I don’t like it either but it is what it is and the direction it’s all going until then drive the heck out of em I say .
Vince B.
1983 BMW 320i
1975 2002
1989 325i
1995 BMW 525i touring wagon
1984 Jeep CJ -7
1996 Ford Bronco


I agree with a lot of what’s being said here. We have many cars but as far as the emissions standards in CA I personally think lots of my ca peeps have to jump through hoops to get and keep their pre 76’s on the road. I try to keep in mind these cars are driven less than 1000 miles per year. Our daily drivers are all semi new but pass SMOG every other year as required. I’ll keep my muscle without feeling bad about air quality and wait to see what happens with the batteries of the ZERO emission, self driving, ECO cars of today about 20 years from now. And long live the Bandit!
1958 Chevy Apache
19659 Chevy Apache
1971 Pontiac Formula
1974 Pontiac Formula
1974 Ford Flatbed Ramp Tow
1978 Pontiac Trans Am
1979 Pontiac Formula Vert
1979 Pontiac Trans Am (3)
1984 Ford Truck
1985 Pontiac Trans Am Auto Form Vert
2002 Pontiac Trans Am
2008 Pontiac G8
2016 Honda Civic
32+ Pontiac 2nd Gen parts cars (just in case )


I don’t own a slew of vintage vehicles. Only one, my 1970 Dodge D100 pickup. Great driver, listed as an antique which limits how much I can drive it. Currently starting to do away with the drum front brakes. It is a bugger to stop if you are running the speed limit on the freeway. But, I love it and enjoy the h*** out of it.


Electric vehicles are NOT Zero Emissions vehicles. In fact, there is no such thing as a zero emissions vehicle.

First of all, mining, refining, and manufacturing the special materials that make up the batteries add the equivalent of 80K of miles of pollution.

Second, the energy needed to charge the batteries has to come from somewhere. You have a few choices - a power plant - either coal, gas, or fuel oil, or “renewable” - solar, wind, or water, and these are not 100% reliable. And, regardless of the source, you have to build, maintain, and repair these energy sources, and that creates pollution.

I recently bought a 1981 Pontiac Trans Am Special Edition. It was manufactured as a 49 state car and the catalytic converter had been removed. When I brought it into CA, I had to replace the cat converter, and there were restrictions on the converters I could get and have installed. When I got it smogged, it had very little in the way of emissions, in spite of having a Pontiac 4.9L engine (the biggest available in 1981).


“The dual Webers and hot cam do require some degree of rationalization.” Ouch. That describes my 1976 Alfa Romeo Spider exactly - and she does run just a shade rich at idle. There are times I wish she smelled a bit more like the flower child she is :slight_smile:

Still, it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come - a large nember of the cars on the road back then would make your eyes water - when in a traffic jam!!!


I do not think much about the environment here in California when driving one of my 1960’s big block classics. When I pass someone who is an enviro-nazi or in a hybrid Prius they either look on in awe because I have freed myself if only for a moment from the shackles of my state. Or they look on in disbelief how could I actually drive something so brutal, so masculine, so American and not have consideration for the California Air Resource Board. Aaahhh I love the smell of raw octane in the morning.


I have 7 vehicles in my "collection ". 4 are non emmission and 3 are compliant to their date of manufacture. I pick a dry day once a week and drive each one for 30 minutes to keep seals wet and batteries up in my rural garm area. Lots of waves and thumbs up when on my exercise cruises. The total of mileage for the 7 vehicles is under 6m a year. For 5-6 months they hardly turn a wheel. I feel zero guilt for the usage of my cars. I waste a lot of gas traveling to purchase gas with out ethanol even for my late model daily drivers thanks to it’s scarcity. Wide spread availability of ethanol free gas is my hope for our collector car hobby.


While I can appreciate your angst about what the old cars may be doing to the environment… I am sure you don’t drive all of them every day. Besides that, I have pulled up next to a way newer car (think 2005) than my 69 E type and that “new” car is blowing out more pollution than my E. And, as for battery run cars… where do we think all those dead batteries are going to go once they’ve done their job???