Top five worry-free classic cars
Published June 09, 2012
Classic cars in general (and especially older exotics) have a reputation for being, let’s say, just a little finicky. The popular perception is that owners spend at least three hours tinkering for every hour of driving. Not so. Buy a well-kept example of any of the cars on this list and you can be virtually guaranteed of on-demand, drama-free sunny day fun.
- 1927-31 Ford Model A: Henry Ford’s successor to the model T is a car that fits nearly anyone’s definition of what a vintage car should be. They’re totally user-friendly to operate (it was the first car with a gas, brake and clutch pedal arranged in the standard fashion), parts are easy to find, and even if you can’t track one down, things like a bottle cork will often do in a pinch.
- 1964½-1966 Ford Mustang: Another Ford from a different era easily makes the list. Classic Mustangs are anvil-tough and extremely easy to maintain, particularly the six-cylinder cars. Anyone with a shop manual and a decent set of sockets and wrenches can perform nearly any task. Mustang parts are also readily available and inexpensive.
- 1953-62 Chevrolet Corvette: Sports cars often get a bad reputation for complexity and being difficult to maintain. Not so for early Corvettes, which eschewed maintenance-intensive things like power steering, independent rear suspension and air conditioning in favor of simplicity. Consequently, this first generation of America’s favorite comes with a carefree maintenance routine.
- 1970-73 Datsun 240Z: Other than the rust-prone bodies, early Z-cars just don’t seem to wear out. They’re reliable, and like the first generation Corvettes, lack maintenance items like A/C and power steering. Ancillary components like starters, alternators and fuel pumps seem to last forever.
- 1958-61 Austin-Healey Sprite: It may seem odd have a British car on this list, but the fact of the matter is, many of them are dead simple and easy to maintain if not 100 percent reliable. The little Sprite (known affectionately as the Bugeye because of its pop-eyed face) is perhaps the most endearing and the simplest-to-maintain British sports car. The entire front end lifts up to offer perfect access to engine and suspension, the engine itself is a tiny under 1-liter affair that is tough to break, and Sprite parts are easy to come by and cheap. There’s nothing here that a shade tree mechanic of even average ability can’t deal with.