Just Drive Them

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Just Drive Them

On the topic of cars– as I get older, the more I think how important it is to just drive them.

Back in mid-January, I had the privilege of attending the Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, Florida. I’d only been to an auction once before– just a small local event back in Oregon. All I can say about Mecum is, “Wow”. It was one massive tent after another massive tent, housing hundreds of classic cars– all eventually headed to the block over 10 days of auction.

CorvetteI was there primarily to photograph cars, and that I did– got enough iron shot to last a couple of months, at least. At Eckler’s, we’ll use some of those photos for social media, ads, promotions, catalogs, and we might use some in Chevy Classics Magazine as well. As you can imagine, for a car nut like me, it’s kid-in-a-candy-store time. On the surface, it was 9 hours of wandering through the tents, oohing and aahing, getting as creative as I could with my Canon Rebel. Over the course of the day however, something far more cerebral started to gel in me.

A lot of these cars were relatively “late model”, meaning late ’70s era and newer. I’m talking all brands too– everything from early ’80s El Caminos and Camaros to Fox body Mustangs. The care that had been given to many of these over the years was very apparent, too. It was the prices that these cars trade for that got me. Picture this– you bought your ’82 El Camino brand new, drove it for a couple of years, then tucked it away. Thirty plus years later, you decide to sell it. According to collector car insurance company Hagerty, that car’s average value is just over 8 grand. One in absolutely pristine “100% showroom condition” would go for about $17,000. In ’82, that car’s base MSRP was $8000-$8300 (depending on the model; base or SS). Assuming you’ve kept it in “as-new” condition over all these years, it would be worth a little more than double what you paid for it. How much did it cost you to keep it in storage for 33 years? It’s obviously not a sound financial investment. The point is, how much enjoyment could you have had with that car? How many memories? Car shows? Trips to the lumber yard? See what I’m getting at?

Of course, there are exceptions. If you happened to be in the right place and the right time and purchased some rare model, then by all means, that could be an excellent investment. Just ask the owner of an L-88 Corvette, a Shelby GT500KR, or a ’70-’71 Hemi ’Cuda. These are exceptions though. The vast majority of classic cars don’t appreciate to that level. Put it this way– I don’t want to be on my deathbed with some beautiful car I bought 40 years ago tucked away showing 500 miles on the ticker. Now is the time to enjoy your car my friend!

Your thoughts on this? Feel free to post in the comments section below.




  1. Steve Progler says:

    I have mixed emotions on this subject. I recently purchased a new 2016 GT 350 Shelby with 11 miles on it. I had it delivered by flatbed. Having other sports cars I thought I would be able to let the Shelby it and drive it once a month form garage to garage, 150 feet. This new Shelby has obvious features that my 2014 GT 5.0 Mustang and Corvette clearly do not have and I am dying to drive it. I am told by some to never drive it and others to drive it no more than 1000 miles per year. I do know that I would never put more than 200 miles on it in any given year based on my driving habits with my 2 other cars. This new Shelby is telling me it wants to be driven. Damn it, what to do ?? Any advice ?????

    • That’s a tough one, Steve! Nice problem to have though! The new Shelby is clearly going to be way up there on the collectible scale. If it’s an investment – meaning you want to sell it someday for a nice profit, then I’d suggest you garage it and keep the miles at next to nothing. You can still have fun with your 5.0 and your Corvette. If you’re not too concerned about making some major $$ off the new Shelby down the road, then by all means enjoy the car – it was made for full-on performance. If it were me, I’d keep the miles on it down to a few hundred per year. Have fun with it, and treat it like gold. I’d love to hear other people’s comments on this one…

  2. Lee Shaffer says:

    I own a 1967 big block Corvette coupe. I’ve owned the car for 40 years. There were some years that I didn’t drive it much, but that was more because I was in graduate school, running marathons, working long hours, and buying a house. However, I always drove the car a little, and for the last 15 years or so, I’ve driven the car a fair amount. It has a rebuilt engine (down to the bare block) and the engine builder and I decided to build an engine that was very powerful and yet streetable. I drive the car two or three times a week. The car looks nice and runs great. I go to local cars shows. Bottom line, I can’t afford to own a ’67 Corvette that I don’t drive. I like all cars and their owners can do what they think is best, but, man, I really like accelerating in my car. Have fun out there, everyone.

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