Matt Garrett - Dallas Texas


Original vs. Restoration, New vs. Old?

In a world where more 427/435 HP Corvettes, Yenko Camaros, Hemi Cudas and Big Block Chevelles are on the road now vs. when the cars were new, makes it obvious you need to do some homework doing before you ever invest heavily in a collector car.  Although there are many incredible restorations that are mind blowing, my experience with cars is that most average restorations are done with profit in mind, not for the love of the car.  This is so true today with all the hype in these cars brought on by televised auctions of actual mega rare top examples going for top money, etc.  These few cars have over inflated the values of the lesser examples of similar cars and has opened a world up for quick cash to those that can throw a paint job on an old car found in a field.   The terms like "just restored", "fresh restoration" and "recent frame off" scare me to death.  If it turned out so well, then why the heck is is it for sale so fast?  Again, many of the proper restorations on rare cars are truly exceptional and on very worthy cars, but many can also be cloned and passed off as originals for quick profit using lesser examples, re vin'd cars, re stamped blocks, etc.  Even experts can get fooled.  One thing for certain is that any car that has spent the past 20 years lying in farm field in total disarray, then restored at whatever level will never be as good as a low mile original of that same car that has been cared for all its life.  Unfortunately so many muscle cars fall into this category of left for dead cars brought back to life.  They were those “use-me-uppers” of yesterday, neglected, massively abused and now restored, most often for financial gain.  Just be careful before you get too passionate on these cars, and this is where I will say that low mile originals are the best cars to own.  They tend to be the most honest cars.  Problem is that you cannot find low mile originals of everything.  For me personally, I would rather own a low mile perfect original of a not so popular car vs. a sub standard restoration of an icon.

Another true fact with cars that MUST be known before ever getting into vintage cars are that new cars are much better today than they ever were yesterday.  Tomorrow cars will be even better than today’s.  That is just the way progress works and it applies to cars equally as it does high tech computers, plasma TV's etc.  Comments like "They do not build them like they used to" are really incorrect statements.  The average luxury sedan has more performance packed in it than some of the 60's drag pack optioned cars.  Some sedans can run 11 second 1/4 miles and go 200MPH while weighing 500 LBS more than the biggest Cadillac did in the 60s.  The S65 Mercedes is this example.  Cars that were worn out at 60-70K miles years ago (60's SBC Chevy's), new examples now see 300K+ miles with minimal maintenance on top of heavy neglect.  Now styles can be argued all day, but that is style, not the quality, performance and drivability.  Other fact is that any car of today could be tomorrow’s collector’s, but you may have to wait up to 40 years to see that in most cases. 40 years old seems to be the point where a collector will see its biggest upturn in value.  For me, I do not have that kind of time left, thus you will see very few late model cars in my collection.  There are tons of new cars I would like to own that I have the utmost respect for, but I am simply not willing to wait that long. I will be 90 years old when they hopefully mature like a CD.  I chose to invest my money in older cars, not spend it on the latest and greatest thing in a magazine.  I could not have so many cars if I did.  With a few extreme and usually unforeseen examples, all new cars depreciate pretty hard until they get about 15 years old, and then only the saved, original and not tampered examples have that chance to come back as valuable collectors.   The age where I try and get on board these days with cars kept as new from about 12-30 years old.   When I buy them, I make the commitment to myself that I will take them on until I am very old, or someone comes along and has to have it more than me before that happens.  In that case I trade out for another interesting low mile car. That is how I keep my hobby going.  If I actually make any profit, 100% is put back into the cars.


A Vintage car brings back a memory that was much better yesterday than today in reality

For those of us that lived those times of the 60's to early 80's, we all can remember when 69 Camaros, 65 Mustangs, etc littered middle America’s driveways, car ports and yards in some form of disarray.  They were our cars when we were kids!  You know how you treated yours!  Most ended up being scrapped or just became eyesores that had about a 50.00-500.00 value on average.  Also, so few really rare muscle cars were garaged and kept really nice.  Even fewer survived the test of time with any dignity.  So few people stored cars for the future back then.  No matter how well these cars are restored today, there are so many little details that cannot be duplicated and the more complicated a car is, the more these little improper details will show through to those that really know.  These two mentioned examples of a 69 camaro + 65 mustang, are actually easy cars to restore, thus their popularity to restore by people that do that for a living in the wake of the high dollar sales of the top rare examples.  There were also about 600K Mustangs built for the 1965 year leaving many still available to restore.  Restoring older cars gives potential buyers looking to re-live or hold on their youths something very tangible to do it with.  Take a drive down memory lane so to speak.  It also gives those now looking for an investment something pretty solid to invest in.  Combine both together and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Old cars do many things for many people.  These two main factors are what have driven up the price of classic cars, and that is good for everyone.  No complaints!

The down side is the hands off crowd that had these type cars when they were young, many times have put those cars up on such a pedestal it has clouded their memory of the reality of the car. 30-40 years have past and now when they actually get one today and try and have some romantic notion of using that car as transportation, those people end up quite disappointed.  You people have been very spoiled by the newer cars you have had since that car.  If the reality that old cars drove bad, had bad brakes, did not turn well and seemed much faster yesterday than they are now were not enough reality to take the car off the pedestal a few notches, throw a sub standard restoration on top of that and you could have a total disaster on your hands.   This "awakening" could lead to some downturn in the collector cars values I am afraid.  I think it has already started to shift the trend from average restorations to actual low mile originals.   The best of the best vintage cars, original or restored are nothing compared to the way newer cars drive, so do not kid yourself there.  A vintage cars usefulness lies in it's nostalgia, pride of preservation and hopefully a good investment on top of that too.  If that is good enough for you, then you will probably be happy with a vintage car.

Taking restorations in consideration of more complicated cars that have detailed dash boards, intricate trim, special interiors, intricate and every option under the sun, etc, many of these cars become darn near impossible cars to restore physically and financially.  Cadillacs, Lincolns and many high end loaded out Corvettes and full optioned high end muscle cars fall into this category.   That is where a kind of common low mile original car that has survived time can be more rare to find than a restored example of a lower production optioned example.  In 9 out of 10 cases, it will be a better car in the long run.  For this reason you will see very few restorations in my collection.  In fact I have no total restorations at this write up.  I may never again.   Not that I have anything against restored cars but with experience I have become just too critical and see through all the flaws and mistakes done on many average restorations.  Many sub standard restorations have no fixes to improve on other than to start over from scratch to make the car right.  That is a very hard road to go down as you could have bought that car out of that field originally and done it right the first time for less money than twice. 

For tomorrow's collectibles, I think that only the saved low mile cars will be the examples worth any value.  Today's car are quite complicated compared to 65 mustangs and 69 camaros.  We are also seeing the mechanics/automotive hands on trade people that are really skillful, slowly becoming less and less every year.  The public world has seemed to push this trade off mentally on to people that are not as talented, thus making the younger generation of talented people feel like they are should go with other options.  I was one of these guys myself.  Looking back I might have had a real impact on the automotive world if I had stayed there, but I was advised it was not in my best interest.  Who knows.  Because if this, in the future there will be few people that will be able to really fix these cars up really good, and you will have to pay them dearly to do so.  That will lead to cars really only making financial since if they are those low mile as new cars.  Restorations will be not as prevalent or even affordable but there will be even more people trying to relive their youths as the world population keeps on increasing.   Many of these guys will follow the same pattern of trying to buy a car that was cool when they were kids.  Usually 30-40 years later.

Whether you are 90 or 15, there is something appealing about an old car.   If you have a little extra money to spend and a good garage to park a second car for a toy in, why buy a new car for that purpose, you will lose money for sure.  With a vintage car, you can have something you can enjoy on limited occasions and you may be able to help put your grand children though college one day as the car increases in value.  You just never know.  Who would have ever known old cars would ever be worth anything at all, and who knows where it will stop. It could fall too, knock on wood.  I was always told in the late 70s by guys older than me that the 70s cars were never going to be worth 2 cents.  Cars with pollution control on them will always be worthless I was told.  Only 50s cars will ever be of any value they said to me then.  Old Cadillacs and Lincolns will never do well either, so the 50's guru's said.   Corvettes were not even supposed to be that good according to these experts back then.  It was only 55-57 Chevy's these jokers preached.... Think again people.  Some 79 TAs are worth more than any of those 50s chevys.  Top example 70s and 80s luxury cars are seeing extreme high prices already.  The future will be interesting to see.  I think there will be collector cars for every era and will always be.  15 years from now, the late 80's 5.0 liter mustangs, 5.7 liter Irocs and GTAs will probably be the hot cars to have as collectors.  The 90s ZR1 and 89 TTA will probably be the big money cars.  Now is the time to buy those I can assure you there. 30 years from now, 2000 model Honda Civics may be the #1 collectible.  I have learned that keeping your mind closed in cars will only make a really big fool of you.  Even though vintage cars do not compare to modern cars in performance, technology and drivability, the nostalgia of an era past and the fact really nice old cars have proven to appreciate are the two things that are very real about classic cars. Hopefully that will never go away.




My Phone # is 214-878-3823

You can email me at
Click to Return to my Home Page

Hit Counter