Car Corner
Future Transportation Plans

April 1, 2012
By Scott Lewis

This month you are going to see me start taking a more serious look at classic cars. My Classic Car Watch column is going to try and look at cars with a lot more scrutiny than in the past. Why? Because I am going to start looking for a classic car this summer.

I have a side project that is going to allow me to have flexibility that I have not had in a lot of years. It is hard to say how much I will make with this side job, but I am hoping to get a classic.

I know I should pay off my old debt. I will indeed pay off my credit card. But I am considering leaving my current debt consolidation loan where it is and using the money to get a classic car.

A couple of things have to happen first. I live in an apartment. My apartment complex has garages. I will have to get a garage. This will increase my rent. I have to prepare my budget to include the garage. Old cars are far too easy to steal. I need the garage and I believe my budget will be able to handle the garage by the end of Spring.

Next is my oldest son. He is going to be a senior in High School next year. He is going to need a car. OK. Need is a pretty strong word. But the reality is he will need one... especially if he is going to start working a part time job.

I am planning on buying a inexpensive used 4 door sedan for him. I will keep the car in my name. This will afford me the ability to do what I want with my current car, a 2004 Mini Cooper S. I love the Mini Cooper, but it is getting too small for two teenaged boys to ride in. And it is impractical for a long drive... even to Austin... for the three of us.

If I buy my son a sedan, then when I need a 4 door I will use it. I will mostly need a 4 door when he is with me anyway. This opens the door for me to trade in my Mini Cooper for a sports car. I cannot afford a larger car payment, so that means I would be looking at a Miata.

I already have $4,000 saved for a sedan. I have seen few cars at that price I would buy. But we are getting close. I figure somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000 should be about right.

This is all possible this summer. The classic is the issue. The more I spend on a classic the nicer a car I can get. I have seen some cars on the Internet under $10,000. But this was not in person. I don't know if a Corvair for $8,600 will stand up to scrutiny with an in person inspection.

I have also seem some nice cars in the low $20K range. This is going to be pushing my luck. If the job pays this much it would be nice. But do I really want to put that much money into a car. Granted, I would be careful to buy a car that will at least maintain its value, so I could sell it should the need arise.... like for college expenses.

In this month's Classic Car watch I list a Corvair for $8,600. I am very tempted to look at it in person. But I also saw a 71 Corvette for $18K, which tells me to save longer for a better car. Maybe I should stay in the middle and find a nice Mustang.

Over the next few months expect the cars in my Classic Car Watch column to take on a more serious tone... as I look at each car with the intent to at least call about it.

And expect me to tell you what I end up doing for my son and myself so there is enough practical transportation to support our needs.

Hopefully this will be a fun year for me and cars.