For most of us, December is not the best month to drive our classic cars. Aside from the cold, there often is snow on the ground — and many roads have been salted.
I would guess that somewhere more than 80% of our classic cars are sitting under covers in heated garages and attached to battery chargers.
Nonetheless, this is a good time to look at what classic cars bring to our lives, and how we can make even better use of our four-wheeled friends in 2017.
First, make a list of everything that needs attention and start working on it now. Too often, we let little niggling things, like a glovebox door that won’t stay shut, irritate us. Yet, we don’t get that door repaired. Whenever I drive an old car, I make a list of everything that needs to be done to it. Then I schedule a time to take it to a shop to have it looked at.
Right now, my Giulia Super needs the left rear armrest reinstalled, the Duetto has a vent window latch that has fallen off, and the passenger-door handle on the GTV is getting hard to work. Before February 1, those will all be taken care of. Most shops are fairly quiet during the winter, so they can fit you in sooner.
Your goal is to have your car be “on the button,” so that when you want to drive it, you can just get in and start it up. As you drive away, you’ll be glad the glove box door stays shut instead of flopping open like it did the last time you drove the car.
The second thing you should do is plan out the major events you want to enjoy. For me, that tends to be two or three 600-to-1,000-mile vintage car tours. There’s nothing like living with your old car for a few days. You can pretend it’s 1967 again, and you’re driving the nearly new sports car of your dreams.
Last year I drove a 1967 Alfa GTV on the 1000-mile Porsche Club Northwest Passage, a Giulia Super on a Tom McGirr-organized 1,400-mile tour to the Wallowas in eastern Oregon, and my 1967 Duetto from Portland, OR to Monterey Car Week. It was a good year.
If you make your decisions and reservations early, you can lock these dates into your calendar and plan around them. Also, you’re likely to be able to get the most desirable lodging and dining. I find if I wait until the last minute, I often allow other obligations to supersede my touring plans. And when I sign up late for tours, I often end up at Motel 6 and eating at Shari’s, while everyone else is in the host hotel and eating at a boutique restaurant.
Finally, support your local marque club. Be sure to pay your dues to both the local chapter and the national club. Attend meetings. Volunteer to help at events. Show up for evening and weekend tours.
Club membership in general is declining, and only your participation can change that. You’re likely to make new friends and will surely see plenty of old ones.
Our old cars are just devices that bring us together, to share stories and experiences. We’ve all got gasoline in our blood, and spending time with others who are afflicted in the same way is always a way to create old-car experiences and make fresh memories.