What Is it Like to Drive A Classic Car?

Tips for First Time Classic Car Owners

If you’ve grown up around classic cars or are old enough to have driven antique or classic cars when they were used as just “transportation” you may take for granted just how different it is for anyone new to classic cars. We decided to give some insight into what the most noticeable things will be when you ride in or drive a classic car for the first time.

  1. Power Assist- On most older cars NOTHING is power. Aside from higher end or luxury cars you had to crank your own windows up, your brakes were harder to push on, the steering wheel was hard to spin, you need to shift yourself, and no.. it won’t tell you where you’re going! As you go back in time cars required you to do nearly every function. Remember early cars were just taking the technology from a horse and buggy and powering it without a horse! Be careful your first time driving a classic car as you need more room to steer and stop the car. Not only is the turning radius wider on classics, the brakes don’t work as well. We suggest a parking lot drive to get the feel for no power steering or brakes!
  2. It Stinks!– Pollution and safety laws have really forced cars to become more and more a sterile form of transportation. Even though most cars are still combustion engines with fuel, they don’t smell. Classic cars use carburetors and have no emissions equipment. This means you’ll smell fuel, exhaust, oil, and other chemicals when driving and riding in a classic car. As the years went on cars became more sealed inside the cabin and some of the smells weren’t as noticeable when riding inside but you’ll still have those smells from outside the vehicle.
  3. Center of Attention- One of the best things about driving a classic car is that you’ll be the center of attention anywhere you go! Don’t be surprised if you’re getting honks and waves cruising down the highway or lots of friendly questions at the gas pump. If you’re not naturally a social person you’ll be a little out of your comfort zone, but we assure you 99% of this attention is positive and you can make a lot of new friends driving a classic car.
  4. Embrace the Noise- Old cars make noise. The older the car the more cabin noise you’ll hear. Engines weren’t as silky smooth and often times there is a mechanical sound to them when running. Very early cars sounded much like a sewing machine running when at idle. Don’t be too alarmed if you can hear the engine when driving an old car or that there are rattles or squeaks when going over bumps. Old cars have a certain charm about them and will alarm your senses the first time you ride in or drive one.
  5. Maintenance- If you decide to take the plunge and own a classic car you need to be ready to perform much more regular maintenance or pay someone to do so. Antique cars LEAK. It’s just a fact. You won’t see a Model T owner too worried if their car leaves some drips of oil underneath. Because of this you need to closely monitor the fluids and ALL moving parts need to be serviced with grease or oil on each oil change. This is alarming to someone used to a modern car where everything is sealed and an oil change is about the only regular maintenance item.
  6. Fuel Consumption- Old cars weren’t nearly as well-engineered and efficient as today’s vehicles. This means that large cubic inch engines and big carburetors gulped fuel by the gallon. Fuel was much cheaper then and it wasn’t a concern. Keep in mind that you will need to fill up a classic car much more often and you will feel it a lot more today with gas prices on the rise. If you’re budget minded when it comes to fuel you may want to look into a small displacement classic like a VW Beetle or a 4 cylinder import as they still have the same charm as all other cars of their era but they will be much more friendly on the wallet when it comes to fuel consumption.

We hope that these tips answer your questions about driving and owning a classic car for the first time. We suggest driving a driving a friends or local car club members vehicle on a closed parking lot for the first time to get familiar with the feel and controls of driving a classic car before jumping into traffic. If you need to restore, maintain, or modify your classic car you can find all of the parts, tools, and supplies to do so on our website HERE.

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