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The 10 Laws of Vintage Car Ownership

Road & Track logo Road & Track 10/16/2020 The Editors
a car parked on the side of a road: Wanna buy a classic car? Prepare to live by these laws. © Ford Wanna buy a classic car? Prepare to live by these laws.

Modern cars are appliances: Turn them on, they go. Need to go faster? Just tell Siri to step on the gas. Those of us who have owned older vehicles, though, know they’re a different deal.

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Your stomach will try to crawl out of your ear in the time between twisting the key and hearing the engine catch. You start packing toolboxes for road trips. You spend a lot of highway time trying to figure out whether you’re smelling your marginal-at-best catalytic converter or some section of industrial America.

But you certainly won’t be zoning out to another true-crime podcast while you drive, because that what's about to go wrong in the back of your brain keeps your mind rooted in every sense the present presents. If your ride gives you a trouble-free stretch, you will be there for every clang, twist, and undersung bit of sidewall sag that makes old things such fun to throw down the road.

If you already own something aged, then you know the following rules. If you’re shopping, maybe give them a read.

The 10 Rules of Vintage Car Ownership

  1. There's always something to fix, but not right now.
  2. You should sell it while it's running great, but you won't because this experience is why you own the thing in the first place.
  3. No, you aren't going to make any money off it.
  4. One out of 10 parts will not arrive in time for the weekend.
  5. That rattle.
  6. There's always a better example for sale.
  7. You can never have enough spares.
  8. You're never going to use all those spares.
  9. Rust is an enemy worth fighting to extinction.
  10. That rattle.

If you have one to add, share it with us in the comments below—because Rule 11 might be that living with vintage stuff means a series of lists that never end.

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