People will often ask me “why the heck do you want that?” or “why fix up that car?” to my latest vehicle purchase or desire. Well there are many good reasons to enjoy the offbeat and over looked of the automotive world. First is purely financial – have you seen what prices mainstream muscle cars go for these days? Well out of my budget. Heck even a nice MG B is out of my current budget. You can buy way more vehicle per dollar with an offbeat car. Given our MG B example you could buy a rather nice one for say $10k but looking a little deeper one could pick up a nice Jensen Healey for half the price. Plus the Jensen has the advantage of a Lotus twin cam engine, Donald Healey connection and you’re not going to see a whole row of them at the local show and shine.
Which brings me to my second point – different is good, different is interesting. Next time you go to your local show and shine check out which cars are getting all the attention. Sure the row of highly polished, over restored 1969 Camaros is very nice but I’ll bet that preserved original condition Pinto on the end is getting more attention. Lots of people with great Pinto memories and saying “haven’t seen one of these in years” or “used to have one just like it”. Oddly with all the cars I’ve owned I’ve only entered into one show and that was with my old Triumph Spitfire. It was a beater of a thing that I’d bought for $1400 but I loved it. Friends of mine where there with a driver condition four door ’59 Cadillac, cream puff Ford Maverick saved from scrapyard, an early Jaguar XJ6, and an Austin A40 Devon. None where in perfect shape (except the Maverick) but all where cars you don’t see every day. I have to admit to getting a kick out of people skipping over the perfectly restored cars next to us to check out our rag tag crew. The A40 was probably the most popular on the day with tons of people sharing their memories of how their Dad and or an uncle had owned one back in the day. The hand crank start was a huge hit as well. People enjoy something a little different from the norm.
A third reason is the great friendships and bonds that form between owners of these non-mainstream cars. I’m not saying you can’t find great people at the local Mustang club but when you are in the Lada fan club for example its you versus the world. When it seems the majority of the car buff population looks down their nose at your pride and joy then you gather together and do what needs to be done to keep your rides on the road. Things tend to be a little less serious and formal as well. No one will lynch you for using a non-stock part or even an engine swap.
There are of course some minuses too that I would be remiss to not mention. Parts supply can be a bit dicey at times I’ve found since the popularization of the internet that you can find pretty much anything you need with a bit of digging. It may not be an easy as flipping opening a catalog and may take a while longer to arrive but most things can be sourced. I once had to get a windshield for a Reliant Scimitar GTE and was able to do it. For the lower end stuff parts cars can be the best source of affordable parts. Another potential downside is some other people are just not going to get it. They won’t get why you are wasting your time on an orphan but that is their loss and our gain.
Here are some alternatives to the usual collector car suspects