Cruising down the road on a lazy Sunday afternoon with the windows down, enjoying the admiring stares of those you pass along the way… owning a classic car is a lot of fun!
But what happens if that collector car is your only car?
Putting a classic car in rotation for everyday use brings up a few questions. Of course, you want to know which model is the most reliable classic car. You’ll also want to look at safety as well.
Here’s what you should know about safety and reliability when your collector car is also your commuter car.
Is Using a Collector Car for Everyday Driving a Good Idea?
Let’s start with the benefits: Classic cars are a lot of fun. They’re simply cooler than most other cars out on the road, and the stares you’ll get along the way are proof positive.
But classic cars are just that — classic. That means certain features that we’ve grown accustomed to on modern cars simply don’t exist on collector cars. And then there’s the fuel economy (or, really, the lack thereof).
Given all these factors, there can be only one answer to the “everyday driving” question: It depends. While that’s really more of a non-answer, factors such as safety and reliability really do depend on a few variables, such as era and condition.
For instance, if your collector car was built in the mid-1960s or earlier, you might want to keep it in the garage except for special occasions. Back then, the technology was so different: We’re talking no seat belts, weak braking, lever arm suspensions, and low speeds. Collector cars from this era are best kept off the highway.
It’s a different story for cars built from 1966 to the 1980s, though. Technological advances meant better safety features, as well as cars that are easier to work on and service. You’ll also find it easier to purchase aftermarket products and upgrades, and many cars from this time period were built simply and durably with more longevity.
Of course, cars from the mid-1980s to 1990s tend to be even better for everyday driving. Modern safety features usually exist, so they tend to be safer. A couple of caveats, though; many cars from this era don’t really have that “classic” or “collector” vibe going yet. Rather, they just look… old. Plus, the aftermarket products haven’t really caught up yet.
The Safest Classic Car
When you take all these variables into consideration, there’s still one deciding factor: Sometimes you simply need to use your collector car for everyday driving. In such cases, finding the most reliable classic car is key.
BMW E30 and E34
The BMW E30 and E34 are consistently ranked amongst the most reliable classic cars. The E30 3-series featured both top-shelf engineering and build quality. The 323i and 325i also offered large capacity 6-cylinder engines. Since so many E30 series were manufactured, parts aren’t hard to find.
BMW released the E34 5-series for seven years, starting in 1988. Still good-looking today, the E34 featured a number of safety improvements, including four-wheel anti-lock brakes, airbags, and a rigid frame. Some models also offered automatic stability or traction control.
Though earlier Saabs may have won rallies, the 900 series is well-known for its engineering and reliability. Many of these classic cars have been on the roads for decades, and their popularity — especially the Turbo versions — is on the rise in recent years. 900 series built in 1978 and beyond offer a great combo of safety and reliability, thanks to features such as side impact protection.
VW Golf GTI Mk1
This Beetle replacement was built with longevity in mind. But this VW not only boasts an iconic design — it also offers a responsive driving experience, as well as a comfortable ride. Plus, parts are widely available, making this classic car relatively easy to fix. Note: The body tends to be rust-prone, so keep an eye on it.
Honda Civic Type R and CRX
The Honda Civic Type R has long been known for its dependability, and early models are no exception; they’re among the most reliable classic cars out there. Demand continues to grow for models in top condition, too.
The same goes for the CRX. When it comes to reliability, the CRX simply can’t be beaten. If you keep these peppy little cars maintained, they’ll run virtually forever.
So should a collector car be part of a larger auto collection rather than your everyday ride in rain or snow? In general, ‘specialty’ cars should sometimes remain just that, special, and only taken out for fun trips in optimal conditions – that being said, there are some classics you just can’t beat!