By on September 3, 2017

Chevrolet El Camino 1966

While there are dealerships that will happily service your vintage automobile, there are reasons a lot of classic cars are wrenched at home or taken to speciality shops. It’s not typically in a service center’s best interest to hunt down rare discontinued parts and train employees on the reassembly of carburetors. But it still happens, especially among premium brands.

Porsche is rather obsessive about its heritage and has extended that to maintenance and repairs at a large number of stores. It isn’t alone, either. Mark Rogers, a 20 Group consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates as many as 1,800 U.S. franchised dealerships are willing to service vintage cars. Some are even selling them — putting desirable classics on the showroom floor in the hopes they might garner positive attention. 

With more high-value classics on the road than ever before, some dealers are thinking it might be time to expand the business to include them. However, the practice isn’t exactly rampant.

“Dealers are too busy selling and servicing new cars,” Rogers told Automotive News in an interview. “It is not financially feasible to dedicate the time and space” for classics, he said.

That limits franchised servicing of vintage cars largely to premium brands, which owners are more likely to develop and maintain an emotional attachment with. The same goes for sales. Hennessy Porsche North Atlanta in Roswell, Georgia, became one of only five factory-designated Porsche Classic dealerships within the United States in 2015.

Porsche 356

According to Jeff Corey, the store’s service director, the shop invested heavily into new tools, the training of two technicians and two service advisers, and finally designated a pair of service bays specifically for models years 1998 and older. When the dealership was remodeled in 2016, Hennessy also allocated a portion of the showroom for vintage Porsches.

“We’ll do 15 to 20 cars a year,” Corey said. “The average repair bill is $3,000, though we’ve done a couple at $20,000 and rebuilt the whole engine of a 964 for $42,000 … The oldest Porsche we’ve worked on was a 1963 356.”

Those old cars can occupy valuable real estate on the shop floor as technicians wait for specialty parts. But the dealers willing to touch them are starting to see the benefits from a marketing standpoint.

Michigan’s BMW of Ann Arbor has been a BMW Certified Classic Center since 2014. It sees roughly one vintage Bimmer up on a lift per month, said the dealership’s service director, Mark Wade. The oldest to come through the garage doors was a 1972 2002 tii, but he said the shop also restored a 1985 BMW M6 to factory condition, noting that it was exceptionally difficult to acquire parts.

“But it’s a labor of love for us and the owners,” he said.

BMW M6 1985

While not highly lucrative in itself, Wade believes the center’s prestige attracts other parts and service customers among owners of older BMWs.

“We do get plenty of early-to-mid-’90s cars, but those customers aren’t looking to restore their vehicles, usually,” he said. “They’re more concerned with the mechanical breakdown or drivability issues.”

“I would imagine the volume will increase once those cars from the ’90s hit the 30-year mark and the value starts to increase,” Wade continued. “We would like to see more.”

While classic servicing and sales isn’t exclusive to premium manufacturers, it is limited to the more exclusive models. Buds Chevrolet-Buick in St. Marys, Ohio, provides service to owners of vintage Chevys, primarily Corvettes from the C4, C5, and C6 generations. However, work on such classic Corvettes is sporadic — perhaps only 15 a year, according to Troy Jones, the service adviser and shop foreman.

Jones recalled an instance where it took technicians five hours to replace a faulty heater core on a 1980 Corvette (which sounds about right). It would have taken much longer, he explained, but, thankfully, the owner had brought replacement part with him.

A dozen or so vehicles a year isn’t a massive number, even for a small-town dealership. But Jones is also of the mind that the shop’s relationship with vintage Vettes bolsters its reputation and solidifies its relationship with current owners — which may translate to future sales. Buds Chevrolet-Buick hold an annual enthusiast meet-up each May. Jones claimed this year’s event attracted more than 600 Corvette owners.

 

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94 Comments on “Could Bringing Classic Cars Into Dealerships Create a Halo Effect?...”


  • avatar

    Does having a ’90 Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham, ’88 Coupe DeVille, and ’89 Electra T-Type all at once count?

    I had more people ask on price on my ’15 Maserati GrandTurismo, but more people engage me in conversation about the ’90 Cutlass Ciera S coupe we had in the showroom.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    So apparently C6 Corvettes are now considered vintage.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Chevy dealers had better not put a ’65 Impala SS convertible on the showroom floor. It would make every modern Chevy look like a complete POS.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      You mean the one with the solid rear axle, drum brakes, mechanical carburetor, two-speed transmission and crumple-free body? That ’65 Impala? I appreciate the rolling sculpture that was the a mid-60’s GM B-body, but to consider it rendering all new Chevy’s “complete POS” shows what little you know. In case you haven’t heard, it’s not about sculpture alone anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      LOL but which would sell to the majority of buyers? I bet 75% of the people who would walk by it would thank their lucky stars that don’t have to deal with a carburetor, points, bias ply tires, or reverse lights as the only “safety feature”. If bet most would be more than happy to drive home in a new Silverado or Camaro instead.

      For a d/d, only a select few would be willing to put up with such, and those who would are getting to the point (age wise) to where they couldn’t deal with it even if they wanted to. And God help them if they crash it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I think you touched on the negative for dealers (and makers) of mass-produced cars, over premium brands. The switch to cheaper-to-make unibody, front/rear clip, FWD cars with huge center consoles has made some older RWD cars look more spacious and comfortable.

      The splash of colors no longer available, the simpler controls, the exterior brightwork, and the greater visibility from behind the wheel all work against new cars, even though they’re safer and mechanically more reliable than those “near-classics”.

      Why, putting older cars in the showroom might lead customers to demand column shifters, sealed beams, and bench seats! The industry can’t go back to that era of design, and stay competitive – or CAN they?

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        That huge center console really annoys me. They’re getting bigger and bigger, which leaves less and less room for my knees.

        The answer is not to buy an F150. The answer is to quit building cars like the driver is in an F-16 cockpit.

        The 2005-2009 Prius is a perfect example of how it can be done right. Even the cupholders are large/deep enough for more than a 12 ounce can.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      He says, while failing to notice the El Camino in the lede image has such poor panel fit the (closed) hood doesn’t line up with anything.

      • 0 avatar
        Prove Your Humanity 2+9=?

        It could just be an optical illusion from the reflection on it, but it looks like the front fender is mashed in.

        • 0 avatar
          Middle-Aged Miata Man

          The fender is undamaged. Look closely and you can see the top and side fender creases are undisturbed.

          And JimZ, I also hold GM in deep contempt, but I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the OEM for an ill-fitting hood on a 50+ year-old vehicle. Besides, a counterclockwise twist or two of the rubber hood stop at that corner would remedy (most of) the problem.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I would. People really don’t seem to remember how sloppily assembled cars were back then. One of the higher-ups at work has an original (unrestored) ’61 Continental which lives at the building I work in. The panel gaps and overall fit and finish make anything Tesla builds look like an S-Class.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Adjust the hood bumpers seems simple enough, but then your hood might not close.

            If it was me fitting that hood , I would see if i could adjust the hood latch. See what I could do with the striker?. Can’t see the hood to fender fit at the cowl. If the whole hood side is too high ? Drop the left hinge.

            You can also shim the fender up… When all else fails, loosen the rad support mounts and pry the front clip to the right.

            In 1977 I was a spare “hood fitter” . 5 guys working on every 5th job.. 60 JPH = 5 minutes on a moving conveyer to fit a hood . If you just plain couldn’t finish the fit in the allowed time, you wrote it up for reject.

            Auto workers for the most part, are NOT careless or sloppy.

            Management sets the standard !

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      In a similar vein, if Toyota saw fit to put ’93 Corollas and ’92 Camry XLE V6s on the showroom floor, I think anyone who sat in one of the old cars and then got in a new one would be pretty darn depressed about the degradation in material quality and fit and finish. Ditto checking out a ’94 Toyota pickup or gen 1 Tacoma or T100 and then poking around a new ’17 Taco.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        My Toyota dealership (Toyota South in Richmond, KY) has had a classic Toyota FJ in the showroom for years, they have also had a twin turbo Supra (the last model) and as of Tuesday had the next to the last model turbo Supra in the showroom. They are way more interesting to me than the new stuff.

  • avatar
    nvinen

    Yes, that would be my concern. I think having classics on the dealership floor is a good idea but only if the modern offerings seem competitive with the classics in some way.

    Servicing classics, on the other hand, is probably best left to specialists. Perhaps dealers would be better off farming service work on older vehicles out to a well-regarded local vintage specialist.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      “only if the modern offerings seem competitive with the classics in some way.”

      Yes, how could a new car possibly be competitive in SOME way? Some ways like fuel mileage, reliability, driveability, safety, comfort, features or the ability to not have to be “adjusted” (fixed) every week or two. Such a shame that no new cars could possibly hope to have any such advantages.

      • 0 avatar
        nvinen

        I drive a supercharged V8 that weighs nearly two tons, do you think I care about fuel “mileage” (economy)?

        Reliability is just an LS swap away.

        Driveability – in many modern cars this is getting worse. For example, turbo lag really ruins driveability in my opinion. So does taller suspension. Sure, there are modern cars that drive really well but they tend to be pretty expensive.

        Safety is a concern but it isn’t the only thing to consider when buying a car. I think good handling is a pretty important safety feature since it lets you avoid accidents but that isn’t reflected in safety ratings.

        Comfort – While I like comfort, I’m not willing to compromise performance for it. Besides, why can’t a classic car be comfortable? As long as it has decent seats…

        Features – the main features I like my car to have are: a windscreen, accelerator and brake pedals, steering wheel, a seat and a decent sound system. Everything else is not really necessary.

        In short, most modern cars I could actually afford leave me cold. I’m not going to drive around in a 60s or 70s car (mainly due to safety) but 90s? Sure, why not.

        • 0 avatar
          nvinen

          Anyway, that’s all besides the point. When a classic car is sitting on a dealership floor, the natural comparison that comes to eye is style, not safety or fuel economy or anything else. And the problem is that most modern cars are either lacking any style entirely or are ugly as all get-out (I’m looking at you, Toyota, Lexus and Nissan).

          And it also depends on what you consider to be a “classic”. There are plenty of modern classics, in my opinion. For example, the recent story about Lexus dealers keeping LFAs on their dealership floors even though they’re no longer being made. I think that’s actually quite a clever idea.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Servicing in the old days was largely diagnosing based on experience, then rebuilding and adjusting as needed – carbs, valves, points, timing. Now it is mostly plugging into a computer and replacing the module/assembly the computer says is malfunctioning. Not too many people in dealer service departments that have any experience with the former.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Maybe if automakers could build and design cars that elicit emotion rather than a prescription for Ambien.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yeah, its a shame we don’t have any Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Challengers or hotted up Fiesta/Focus’ to choose from. Sad state of affairs.

      Just because people overwhelmingly buy boring cars does not mean that’s all that’s out there.

      • 0 avatar
        hpycamper

        Put a new Taurus next to a 1967 Galaxy 2 door hardtop, and I think you will see Hummers point.

        • 0 avatar
          tonyola

          But time has given a glow to the ’67 Galaxie (not Galaxy). In the ’60s and ’70s, the Ford was simply just another ordinary car. Who knows what emotions a ’17 Taurus might evoke in 2067, when everyone is riding around in electric auto-pods?

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          Put em’ next to each other on a drag strip and unless the Galaxie is equipped with a 427 cammer the driver is about to get a look at some really boring tail lights. The modern vehicles do have their charm.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          And oh yeah, if it is next to a Galaxy then yeah, the Taurus is by far the more exciting vehicle…The Galaxy is a Euro Jellybean minivan soooooo.

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          A Taurus is a much more unique vehicle inside and out compared to other vehicles in 2017 than the Galaxie was in 1967. I can guarantee more people could tell a 2017 Taurus & Impala apart than could tell a 1967 Galaxie and Le Mans apart.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            ’67? From the front? No contest. Pontiac always had it’s “beak”. A ’17 Taurus? I’d like to see one.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            The Galaxie’s of that era seem to change headlight position every two years. ’68-’69 horizontal, ’66-’67 vertical etc.

            I’d love to have a collection of 60’s era Galaxie’s, Taurus of any era… not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        skotastic

        John T,

        Yes, but the cars you mention are hardly interesting like say a Citroen SM was, so much in fact, that they need to copy the looks of classic cars to generate any note of interest at all.

        I’d definitely take something new for practical purposes, but for enthusiasm/emotion/love? Nope…

        (of Course performance and handling in the new stuff is just SO much better, it’s not even funny, I get that, and that’s not to mention rust-proofing etc, but so what? Get to the next red light faster. And yes, I do own older vehicles)

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Do you really get excited about the new Camaro? I’m GM through and through and I could care less about it. Sure in 2009 I was pretty excited about the return; unfortunately the fruit was spoiled.

        Corvettes are suppose to be the blue collar workers car, if they would stop putting so many exotic materials into the base model they could put the price closer to something that could actually get more interest from me, imho of course. In words, anyone with a tech degree should be able to afford a V8 corvette as a second car.

        Mustang, ehh the styling leaves something to be desired but the technology is interesting I suppose.

        The Challenger is now old, I still love the design – but much better designs have lived much shorter life cycles.

        I couldn’t give a rat about your 4 cylinder focus or fiesta soap bars. Sorry.

        Let’s not cherry pick the few American minded cars left while ignoring a sea of Rogue’s, Escape’s, 3 series’, Malibu’s, and Renegades.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Hey genius,

      You realize that back in the ’60s not everybody was bombing up and down the streets in SS454 Chevelles, Boss 429 Mustangs, and Hemi ‘cuda convertibles, right? The vast majority of people were puttering around in Ambien-like appliances such as six-cylinder Valiants, base Mustangs, etc. millions of those cars were used up and thrown away.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Of course not everyone drove the cream of the crop, but at least you had choices on top of choices. Want a open top SUV with a V8? Check. Want a muscle car that can be seen out of and uses the same parts as cheaper cars, making it truly affordable? Check. Want a small fuel efficient euro? Check. Want to turn your family cruiser into a hotrod? Where’s a 4-barrel? (Don’t get me wrong my IH scout has a fuel injection kit ready to go, the carb is too much work, fuel injection is better every day of the week)

        My main point is cars have no soul, even the base inline 6 cylinder had good qualities, nice strong steel bumpers, can load up a crowd of friends across two benches, which btw are more comfortable than the modern day overly firm seats everything gets. Cars were also more disposable, no one expected to spend they’re entire years paycheck for a good car that would be replaced in 3 years.
        Cars still today have some character but the soul and style are long gone. I’ll take modern day technological improvements but give me styling from yesteryear.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        The first and second gen Valiants had pretty distinctive styling, even for the time.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Hummer, a family member was married to an Buikc-Old-Pontiac dealer. Four door family sedans were his biggest sellers. They also led to repeat business/referrals. We all want a hot, fast car but four door family sedans remain the top sellers. Practicality and value come into play.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “It sees roughly one vintage Beemer up on a lift per month”

    Beemers are the motorcycles, dude. The cars are Bimmers.

    Yes, there’s a difference. No, they’re not interchangeable just because “Beemer” sounds more like Todd speaking with his mouth clenched and his cheeks puffed out at a three martini lunch with his hedge fund buddies.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      Good spotting. Your pedantry is noted and technically accurate. As a bike guy, motorcycle slang often encroaches into my car jive.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Nice catch, and as someone who has owned both (Beemers and Bimmers) using the wrong term usually quietly sets my teeth on edge.

      As so encroaching slang, try living life as someone who is equally loving antique motorcycles and antique bicycles. The wife often complains that when I use the term “bike”, she’s not necessarily sure which I’m talking about.

  • avatar

    A local GM Store, which I think is an outlier in dealers because the staff is all in their 50’s (even the techs !) sponsors the local Vette club. When I’ve gone in there, there was a vintage 308 and a 57 Vette lined up. There is always something fun in the drive in service area….I think it adds to the experience.

    A local Subaru shop had an 80’s version with 2000 miles on the floor, not for sale. It looks kind of sparse.

  • avatar
    formula m

    My new job has me visiting multiple dealerships of all makes each week and I noticed 3 different dealerships offering a vintage vehicles on the lot this past week. Most surprising was a mint condition, bright red 1988 300zx at a very rural Nissan dealership. My favourite was a 1970 Chevrolet C10 at the GM dealer that they park on the lawn out front with a Pontiac GTO judge beside it. The other is a 1989 Pontiac turbo trans am at a Kia dealership which seems random but they were a former Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealer for many years before the GM bankruptcy.
    I think it is attractive when a dealership shows some level of passion and enthusiasm towards vintage vehicles. Gives the perspective that they aren’t just about mindlessly pumping out CUV’s and Pickup trucks to pay the bills even though that is reality

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Imagine the backlash if Toyota customers saw the simplicity, tastefulness, and utility inherent in an ’86 Corolla GT-S while shopping for that newer Subie thing they cynically peddle instead?!

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      This exactly. Or a silly “Corolla S” with its gaping maw and CVT next to a early 90s Corolla GT-S (the fwd coupe kind). Or a new 4Runner with “crying clown face” next to a mid/late 90s variant with nice chrome bumpers and rich deep paint.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Many Lotus dealers will work on the older models. The ones I know of have at least one guy who knows how to work on the older models. If that guy leaves, the dealer policy may change.

    Does it work as a halo, well in the case of Star in Houston, I got a better appreciation of Volvos and Aston Martins.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    The only one I see around here that consistently works on older cars is the Mercedes dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      This is true. While I was getting reamed on the B service I often saw pagodas and 300SE 6.3 saloons being worked on and then sometimes in the showroom.

      But I dont believe these really mean much to the enthusiasts.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Mercedes dealers see many classics, especially on the west coast. The dealer I worked at in the Seattle area had 5 guys that were good with the older cars, and they were very busy.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I love how when the subject of classic cars is brought up, suddenly everyone is complaining about how terrible every car built after 1970 is, as though none of them own anything newer.

    “Modern cars suck! (That’s why I drive a 2 year old car and am thinking about trading it in on a new one.)”

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      It’s not that modern cars suck, it just that they aren’t as appealing to the senses.

      Cars used to look nicer, and different brands had a unique look to them. Today, everything looks really similar – no real character in a positive sense.

      Cars used to sound better. The significantly more powerful V8 engines that you can get today don’t sound as good as the classic muscle cars.

      While modern cars are safer, faster, more reliable, more comfortable, etc., they simply lack the character of older vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I love hearing about the ’50s and ’60s from people who weren’t even alive back then. The only reason “classic muscle cars” sound the way they do today is because that is how the owner rebuilt them. I don’t think I’ve seen a ’57 Chevy Bel Air today which didn’t have a loping, cammed-up engine and loud exhaust, yet that is NOT how they were built from the factory.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Not EVERYONE here is that young. I actually rode in a ’57 Bel Air in 1958, owned by my Uncle (I was too young to drive, but old enough to hear the optional 283 V8), and that engine was pretty loud. Engines today are much quieter.

          A number of the early OHV V8s were pretty loud. My second-oldest sister owned a ’57 Pontiac in the early ’60s, and I remember the older boys in my high school (I was a freshman in ’62-’63) noticing that car roar by when she dropped me off. The 364 engine was LOUD, and it didn’t need any cam magic to do it, just 45-50k on the odometer to loosen everything up.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            you completely missed my point. Yes, they were somewhat louder since they had no resonators or silencers in the intake ducts, but they didn’t come from the factory with hot cams, lopey idles, tube headers, and 2-chamber Flowmasters like most I see today.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            My ’68 Galaxie 500 with 390 was never “lumpy” or loud despite the fact that it came from the factory with 10.5:1 compression ratio 4V carb and dual exhaust. It all depends on the exhaust you put on it. Harley Davidson is a modern example.

            Part of the reason that “old” cars “appeal” to the senses is that you sort of had no choice. Bias ply tires, poor sound deadening, 2 or 4 barrel carbs, drum brakes etc. don’t isolate you from noise and vibration like new cars.
            I was behind a ’66 Ford the other day. It was in front of a few other vehicles so i did not spot it right off the bat. I smelt the exhaust and unburnt gasoline first.

      • 0 avatar
        skotastic

        right on Garrett.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Amen. As someone who’s auto enthusiasm first flowered in the antique car hobby (by which I mean AACA, restored to original, and shove your hot rod or resto-rod up somewhere where the sun don’t shine), I’m usually somewhat pained by what shows up at modern car meets.

      Damned few four door sedans, not many more in-line sixes, it seems like nobody can restore or fix up an old car without putting some kind of custom wheels on it. For a few decades now, I’ve felt that the movie “American Graffiti” was one of the worst things to ever hit the antique car hobby. Since it came out, very few people restore an old car to factory stock original anymore. Instead, they insist on restoring that fifties, sixties or seventies car to the high school dream car they never had (and lie that they owned).

      And a lot of cars appealing to the senses depends on how old you are. Most car enthusiasts are most enthusiastic about cars that were showroom new sometime between their ages of 5 and 18.

      Oh, and that term “character”? Usually, it’s the polite way of saying “unreliable”. Yeah, modern cars don’t have character. That’s because you don’t have to fix them every weekend. Case in point: What 2017 cars seem to have the most character? Fiat, Alfa-Romeo and Subaru. With Volkswagen coming up close behind. And as they get older, the big three German luxury brands.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Sorry, Jesus built my Hot Rod… And they don’t have to be wild “resto-mod” monstrosities, just because they’re not exactly “the way” god intended, pure “originals”, and like you remember as a child.

        And I agree about the wheel thing, unless they’re common mods from the era. Except I want my Hot Rods for more than just cruising around on a Saturday Night in perfect weather, and getting love from oldfart enthusiasts. Screw that.

        It may mean modding it with fuel injection, pwr front disk brakes, aftermarket HVAC, LED lighting, all-season radials, custom stereo, overdrive trans, catalytic converter, and much more.

        It might be my only ride at certain times, daily driver perhaps.

        So that wasn’t my sad looking, “original” ’69 Cougar XR7 you saw on the side of Interstate 40 between CA and TX with out-of-state plates and some dude under the hood, probably gapping the points or setting the carb for elevation.

        Mine was the “cream puff” looking XR7 that passed you like you were standing still, Middle of Nowhere.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Modern “enthusiasts” are usually nostalgic about the cars in the video games they played growing up.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Since it came out, very few people restore an old car to factory stock original anymore.”

        It is getting harder and harder to find NOS parts but if you can, that tends to price those parts out of reach of most DYI enthusiasts.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      To be fair, I “walk the walk” by sticking to driving stuff made in the 90s haha

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I guess I am a rare exception for bringing in a ’90s car into the dealer for service. I brought my recently-acquired 1993 Concorde in to my local CJD dealer for new belts/hoses, coolant flush, transmission service and suspension check shortly after I acquired it. I was talking with the master tech. He had been a Chrysler/ASE tech for over 27 years and stopped seeing these come through over ten years ago. Lucky me, I ran into the guy at the right time that knew about all of the ins and outs of older car. I feared that I’d run into someone younger who would shrug his or her shoulders and make wild guesses.

    I told him that it was my first classic. He told me that my choice of car for a classic was a “different” (which I didn’t take offense to, that’s not the fist time I’ve heard that since I got it) but that it was the nicest one he had seen in a long time, visually and mechanically. Even the passenger airbag cover, notorious for curling up on the first gen LH cars, was in perfect condition. The grey finish on the bumpers didn’t erode away in odd spots, revealing yellow plastic underneath, which was common on many Chryco cars of the time.

    Now if only I could get an ’87-91 LeBaron hardtop in good condition. I could, but my wife would frown on that. She already thinks I’m hoarding cars, between the Concorde, my ’06 Ram 2500 (also recently acquired) and my daily driver, the 200. I need to build a bigger garage/shop first. I’m actually looking into it, not just for the cars, but for the plethora of weekend projects I get myself into.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      Concord is a POS, you shouldn’t bother the technician. What you wanted an old guy who was too frail to tell you to get lost

    • 0 avatar
      skotastic

      Pentastar…

      Good work dude – keep it up.

      It’s guys like you that travel off the well-worn path that puts the fun into the hobby.

      Not my choice either, but it would be cool to see a Concorde on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I don’t have much of a taste for mopars, but I respect the hell out of you for seeing the value and having interest in a well maintained older-non-collectible car. There’s a few more of us out there! I was quite taken aback at how unexpectedly satisfying my brother’s newly acquired high-mile/single owner ’96 Mercury Mystique GS 5spd was to sit in and to drive, although to the casual observer it just looks like a totally bland and forgettable beige ovoid 90s sedan. I’m starting now to hunt around for a clean 90s 5spd Maxima, another car this is mostly disregarded and not seen as an object of anyone’s desire, but I personally find them to be a perfect combination of handsome looks, reliable/durable running gear, and eye-raising performance, even today.

    • 0 avatar
      True_Blue

      Love it. I still have an LH-platform car myself and they’re quirky to say the least. Glad to see one saved from near-certain demise.

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    My first job was at an art gallery. In the big front windows we’d put the biggest, best, most popular artists in our collection and rotate them out every month. Sometimes we had a great deal of traffic because we put up a local artist that people knew and loved, other times traffic would slow to a crawl because we put up a classic but otherwise unpopular painting.

    Having classic cars in the dealership would definitely draw in people depending on the brand and the age of the car. An early 90’s Cadillac probably won’t do anything but turn people off even if it was in pristine condition, but a Cadillac/Buick/Chevy dealer with a ’59 Cadillac, ’55 Bel Air, and a ’71 Riviera lined up will probably bring in loads of Boomers and millenials just to get a look at those cars. How many of those people would actually decide to buy a modern GM car based on their presence is much harder to determine.

    It probably does make business sense though to have a dealership that can service cars from older eras. It creates a positive image, because people buying cars for the long-term will feel that they can go to the dealership in the future for service even after warranties run out, and if the dealership is good about building a relationship with service customers it will mean good future revenue.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Back in the days when I worked for Ducati Richmond (15+ years ago), the shop originally started out as a BMW airhead repair/restoration ship before they got the Ducati franchise. And continue to do old BMW’s as our second line of repair (third line: anything else on two wheels that was a street legal motorcycle) because of BMW’s Mobile Traditions line which continued to produce parts for BMW going back to the pre-WWII 328 cars, and immediately post war /2 motorcycles.

    It was a very thriving business, killed only by the owner’s ineptitude of running the business, and his wife’s attitude that the shop was a place to supply her with play toys. For free.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “killed only by the owner’s ineptitude of running the business, and his wife’s attitude that the shop was a place to supply her with play toys.”

      The mechanics?

  • avatar
    Luke42

    How good of a thing this is depends a great deal on what I hope to get out of the car.

    My local Honda dealer has an antique early Honda on the wall. I don’t care, because I’m buying a tool, not a heritage or an heirloom. My family has owned Honda Accords/Civics on and off since the 1990s and put them through severe duty cycles with minimal hassle. Displaying penalty box from before I was born is irrelevant, because it does not resemble the 2016 Honda Civic in any way shape or form.

    Now, if I’m buying a BMW, I’m paying twice what the Civic costs for roughly the same utility. Hondas are good for long term ownership, BMWs are lease queens with sub-Toyonda reliability — and, if I’m going to pay multiples of what the utilitarian car costs, I want a m-f’ing heirloom. Servicing antique BMWs addresses at least part of my objections to the brand. I’m still not sold on the costs or reliability but, if BMW will stand behind its antique cars, that’s a substantive step toward presenting their vehicles as heirlooms.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “My local Honda dealer has an antique early Honda on the wall. I don’t care, because I’m buying a tool, not a heritage or an heirloom. My family has owned Honda Accords/Civics on and off since the 1990s and put them through severe duty cycles with minimal hassle. Displaying penalty box from before I was born is irrelevant, because it does not resemble the 2016 Honda Civic in any way shape or form.”

      Just because you weren’t there, doesn’t mean the heritage thing doesn’t exist.

      Trust me.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Another option with regard to classic metal would be to park some malaise metal in the showroom to make the new stuff look great. Drive a Vega, then drive a Cruze for example. Or a Datsun B210 followed by a Juke.

    • 0 avatar
      skotastic

      If I needed to actually get someplace everyday in comfort, I’d take the Cruze of course.

      If I actually wanted to have fun and not be a banal faceless dork, I’d take the Vega all day long.

      Of course I wouldn’t take either because Chevrolet, but you get the point.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        The point is the only way you are going to look cool in a Vega is if the Uber driver that picks you up at the mechanic drives something cool. Those cars were miserable.

        • 0 avatar
          turf3

          The Vega was a fairly nice-looking car with reasonable handling for the time, dreadful driveability problems (stalling every time you pushed on the accelerator, for example), dreadful reliability (burning a quart of oil every 75 miles, with only 70,000 miles on the clock, for example) and dreadful quality control (penetrating rust holes all round the windshield and back glass, at 4 years of age, in Texas for cryin’ out loud!).

          If you put a pristine Vega in a dealership, there would be a range of reactions – but anyone who was around at the time would be astonished that you could find a pristine Vega!

          But once the customer DROVE the Vega there would be no question.

          The one I had, I think would have made 0 to 60 in about half a minute, and 0 to 80 in “never”.

          Wattapiecea junk! You would not “have fun taking the vega”, you would drive it round the block and come back saying in disgust, “did people actually pay money for this piece of S***?”

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Porsche is an exception to most in that a lot of their cars retain great drivability. You can survive in modern traffic more easily with four wheel disc brakes and decent acceleration. Crash worthiness is not so good but most are not driving these daily. I cannot imagine merging on a modern interstate with one of the first Hondas etc.

    I do think they can bring in more foot traffic but certainly aren’t for everyone to own.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    I think it is important for makers like BMW, Porsche, Mercedes mores than the mainline automakers. They have an image that is based on the fact that you are buying something more than a normal car. That image was built on those classic models so keeping them around and on the road is a reminder of that, even if the cars they offer today are not that special when compared to the more normal makes.

  • avatar
    Raevox

    My local SF East Bay dealership has a beautifully preserved Civic CVCC and 1st gen Prelude on it’s dealership floor. They are both reputably local cars that are on loan to display there, courtesy of their owners.

    To the enthusiast, it gives the impression that it’s an enthusiast dealership that, despite being in what can be considered a VERY heavy “suburban” area, will still carry plenty of Civic Sport hatchbacks and all flavors of Si. Which they don’t.

    To the layman, it makes it look like the dealership has been around a while, and is invested in the local community and Honda car culture in general.

    The dealership itself is still a piece of shart, run by pieces of shart.

  • avatar
    skotastic

    New cars are better. Full stop.

    Old cars are cooler, more interesting, smell better, are more fun, and the old car community is WAY more fun to be part of than the new stuff.

    Fortunately I don’t need a car to commute, which allows me more space and funds to play with some older vehicles.

    If I did need to commute regularly, yes I’d buy something much newer, but I’d focus on cost of ownership/reliability first, so I have more funds to spend on the oldtimers.

  • avatar
    fishiftstick

    Depends on the car.

    On a recent visit to a Toronto area Hyundai dealership, I found a mint-condition Pony on display. I’m not sure which was more shocking: the existence of a a Pony as something other than a pile of rust flakes, or the chutzpah of the dealer in displaying it.

    • 0 avatar
      skotastic

      Interestingly enough, I’ve run into a couple of Koreans really proud of Hyundai, and one had a pony (plus some new sports Hyundai whatever) and the other really coveted one.

  • avatar
    skotastic

    Also, honestly, there is not much in the new car world that’s actually tempting or interesting if you are over 25 and under 50.

    There are some great hot hatches of course, but owning one looks and feels a bit desperate and mid-lifey to own one at 45.

    I respect Mustangs but not really my thing. The other new Muscle/Pomy cars have a pretty douchey image.

    Some of the Euro stuff like BMW and Audi look great inside and out, but aren’t much fun to drive, have all the electro-crap, and have big ownership cost questions outside of warranty.

    I’ll pass on the CUV/SUV eggpods (yes we own one).

    So my point is, even if I wanted something new that’s actually interesting/fun, there is little to choose from, so I’d probably default to something that’s remotely fun and cheap – maybe some 4-banger Japanese car with a stick, but do these even exist.

    I think I’m really for the electric revolution, as there is still little ICE that beckons, imho…

  • avatar
    carguy67

    When a new Austin-Healey dealership opens nearby I’ll be glad to bring mine down to the showroom.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The time I tried to bring my 10yo BMW into the dealership, they treated me like a leper. I didn’t get the friendly service if I had been under warranty or driving a newer model. Which is a shame on them, because you never know who your customer could be. For example my old man is rather well off but bombs around in a ’99 Aurora and a ’04 Trailblazer.

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      I’m not surprised by this.

      The BMW, Mercedes, and Audi dealers seem to act like they are doing you a favor, whether it be servicing or selling you a car.

      I guess this attitude works well with the late-20s early-30s $40,000 millionaire demographic they are trying to attract, using the time honored advertising technique of making your product seem particularly “exclusive”. It doesn’t work on old farts like me who have the money to buy one of their cars; but, then, we are not the target audience.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I’ve never had this problem with my nearly 20 year old H1 or 12+14 year old H2s at the old Hummer dealer. They’re always happy to take my money. Actually the last several times I’ve picked up my vehicles they’ve mentioned “x” number of people asked if my trucks were for sale, and how they (service manager) wished they still sold Hummers. Whether that’s flattery or honesty I don’t know.

        On a side note I hadn’t realized how downmarket Audi, BMW, and Mercedes had went. I started looking at competitors for my new car to know what direction I would be going after it is used up. I was sorely disappointed to see so many poverty spec cars with 4 cylinders selling for more than my SS sedan.


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