About three times a year, on the big holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter) I am required by marriage to drive south from Louisville, Kentucky to Hodgenville for a family dinner with my wife’s extended family. This past Thanksgiving, I had recently purchased my 2016 Corvette and it was quite the conversation starter unlike my last car.
“I got a Corvette too!” My wife’s cousin exclaimed as we sat down to dinner. “Check out my license plate!”
He pulled out his iPhone and showed me his near-showroom condition 1998 Corvette convertible, complete with a pristine Torch Red paint job in a massive garage.
“Nice!” I replied. I then proceeded to get nerdy, because I felt a potential common bond forming. I am a man of passion, so when I find others share similar interest, I can’t help but get more into the conversation.
“Auto or manual? Does it have the Z51 package?” I inquired, hoping and praying I could not only learn the specifics of the car, but maybe something new about the C5 I didn’t know.
“It is an automatic, but it has an LS1! My license plate tells you it is a 1998 LS1!”
“Cool!” I’m nervous, because I’m scared he is falling into the Corvette driver stereotype, but I soldier on.
“How much you drive your car? I’ve owned mine for about 3 months and put nearly 2,000 miles on it. I’m hoping to do some track time next year.”
“So,” he replied, “I’ve owned the car for two years and put 1,500 miles on it in that time.”
Wow. Well, there goes that common ground. Back to repeating where I work, listening to the extended family rattle on about what others on Facebook are up to, and spewing misinformed political bullet points.
I used to get worked up about stanceworks, altezza tail lights, and putting bolt-on parts on a motor that barely yielded any gains, but were good at growing a deficit in your bank account. However, nothing gets me more worked up than a car that sits—especially a car that is mass-produced. Browsing Corvetteforum’s C7 General Discussion section doesn’t help much with the annoyance. In addition to insulting the engineers who put countless hours of their life into making the C7 the best car it can be, all while retaining the Corvette’s legendary fuel economy, it is just bad for the car. A car that runs constantly and is driven is better than a car that sits. I was fortunate enough to get my car from a gentleman who daily drove it, and was passionate about cars. I told him the day he handed me the keys I would keep driving it often.
Many times, I have wondered silently to myself what these people would say on their deathbed when inquired about their life experiences when it comes to their cars they refuse to let see either a drop of rain or the far end of the tachometer. Would they say “Yes, I owned a <insert $30K-$100K sportscars> and just wish I hadn’t put those extra 100 miles on it.” Or would they say “I wish I got to experience what I worked so hard to get a little more.”
I truly believe, deep down inside, they would say the latter. We can all agree on one thing, regardless of religion, income level, or geographical location—we will die and none of it can come with us: the cars we drove or didn’t drive, the money we make, the houses we buy.
Pull out your 1968 Mustang with the V8, your 1998 C5, or your 2010 997.2 Carrera S. If the weather conditions are suitable for the tires, drive it. Today. If not today, tomorrow. Remind yourself why you worked your ass off to get this car to be part of your life. Create experiences in your car that means a lot to you, so you can have a story to share at the next get together with friends, or a tale to tell your children.
At the Christmas dinner just a couple weeks ago, my wife’s cousin who has the C5 asked me how my car was doing. I responded:
“Great. I drove it here.”
One of my favorite parts about Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is that they are actually using some pretty expensive machinery to go do normal things. Jerry even brought out his own Carerra RS and Gmünd 356. I didn’t think anyone drove cars worth that much, other than Leno maybe.
Since I live in Denver I shut the Falcon down for the winter. This year we have not had a winter, but I have been working on it. If it was running, I would have been driving it.
This winters projects include new braided front brake hoses, new roller idler arm, fix the power steering leak, adjust the rear window, and install a decent radio. I also need a new top.
Hope to have it back on the road by March, then start driving the wheels off it.
I stopped daily driving my air cooled 911 and now I’m contemplating selling it this year. I think it needs new injectors (rough idle on new plugs, cap + rotor), and it definitely needs some interior work I’ve been neglecting to perform; the motor is strong, though. It’s the only car I’ve ever felt any emotional connection to and yet it’s the one I keep thinking I am doing a disservice to because I hardly run it any more.
It’s been beaten to death, but I don’t understand the point of saving your (common) car for the next owner.
In the three years since I bought my 04 Z06, I’ve put over 40k miles on it. I drive the thing through New Years, (first snow/salt) when I was living in Detroit, took my grandpa to our family reunion in KY, drove to Charleston to see a woman I was “dating,” and eventually took it back to college. Pretty much anything you could think a mid-20s guy would do with such a car, I’ve done (minus track time, unfortunately).
In comparison, my buddy bought an 03 base model after driving mine. In two years he’s put about 3000 mikes on it and keeps the thing under a cover, choosing to instead drive his 150k mile Hyundai Tuscon everywhere. It occasionally leaves the garage for Cars and Coffee and maybe a Sunday drive.
I just don’t understand his thought process. He got visibly upset when I told him I leave mine parked at the bar overnight in downtown Grand Rapids. At least I’m getting my money’s worth. It’s not like there isn’t a dozen low mileage examples for sale at any given moment.
I’ve had quite a few similar conversations, normally centered around my various Mustangs that went through continuous abuse and daily driving. My ‘06 was totaled with 97k on the odometer and I drive my ‘17 about 600 miles per week through rain, cold, snow, whatever. As much as I like it, it’s still a tool that gets me to work every day. A fun tool, but a tool nonetheless.
On the flip side, my uncle owns an automatic ‘14 V6 convertible that he bought used, keeps in a heated garage, and drives about 400 miles per year. The weather has to be *just* right for him to even consider taking it out.
It’s a bizarre phenomenon, that. I suppose it’s takes the place of a painting or sculpture over the mantle. Something to look at and appreciate rather than drive balls out. He’s an older guy who hasn’t had the easiest of times, so maybe, just maybe, that’s all he really wants: a cool car he can hang his hat on and talk about at work.
Apart from snow (I hate salt & rust) either you’re an Enthusiast who loves cars or you’re a poseur .
Talking about mass produced cars here although one friend drives his 1939 Lagonda all the time in any traffic .
Is there a rule of thumb for the ideal amount of usage for a classic valuable car. 2500 miles per year? 5000? as many as you want as long as you keep up the maintenance? I am referring to a car you view secondarily as an investment
If you’re looking at it as an investment, then the correct number is as close to zero as possible.
I bought a 2001 MIata in Florida in 2015. It had 75,000 miles or roughly 5,000 miles per year. It now has 123,000 miles on it. Autocross, lapping days, multiple road trips from Southern Ontario to Tennessee, Connecticut, Arkansas and Ottawa. Two trips to Tennessee planned this year early and late June, Traverse City MI in August. Fun cars are made to be uses not just put in show and shines IMHO
Most Corvettes are second cars. In our case a fourth car. So it is not a daily driver and will never be driven as such.
Still, human nature is to put down others that don’t think like us.
A Corvette is not a car in general means of transportation definition. It is art. Not much different than a beautiful painting, or a magnificent Persian rug, or sculpture. Some enjoy its looks and the melody of art and science. Why do you think so many pristine example remain?
A true DRIVING enthusiast doesn’t drive a Corvette or Porsche. They drive something cheaper that can be driven at 9/10 on a regular road (CivIc Si).
Quit judging people and being a snob. Enjoy the ride and remember the Corvette community is one that embraces those of your type and your family member. But you must be new to Corvette ownership, it will take you time to comprehend.
Thanks for your reply. Interesting that thinking differently or having an opinion is considered being a snob or putting others down. Yes I’m new to Corvette ownership. It sounds like you are not. I climbed the ladder to finally be able to afford one. Why work so hard for something, an asset that takes so much work to get, and just not use it? I get it is nice to look at, but model cars are cheaper.
The car is our third car and definitely could sit if I wanted it to.
Your assumption that true enthusiasts don’t drive Corvettes or Porsche is absurd and extremely inaccurate. My favorite section on Corvetteforum and the one I browse the most is the autocross and road racing section. I believe it will change your thoughts on that subject.
John, I love to drive, and I love my old C4. But I don’t drive it in the snow. It’s not fun. I have an AWD Passat for that. Most Corvette folks look down their noses at the C4, but I always say if it wasn’t for the success of the C4, you wouldn’t have had a C5 or later. The C4 saved Corvette. And I drive the shit out of mine.
A true enthusiast will not drive any car at 9/10ths on a road; they will take it to a track and get proper instruction on fundamental high performance driving, whether it’s a Civic or a Veyron. That is the only location where you can safely explore the limits of a performance car.
? What about letting it out on remote Desert roads ? .
I don’t have any ‘performance cars’ but I -do- like to have fun when there’s no one ’round to get hurt or squeal on me .
Hmm, I have a C4, would you call it a work of art? Didn’t think so. Snob.
I could not agree more, I bought a Porsche Cayman at the end of September 2016 and it now has 22,000 miles on it . I drive it whenever I can, my only surprise has been how good a “car” it is, 100% reliable, easy to see out of, a hoot to drive spirited, comfortable to drive in the commute. Since I live 30 miles east of Seattle I did half to compromise and put on all-season tires. Because for half of the year it is ~40 deg in the morning and 50+ deg in the afternoon with the random 60 deg day in mid winter. I do drive one of our other cars when snow happens over night, but when I have gotten caught out in the snow it was fine and got me home.
Since I tend to buy new cars and drive them 130,000 miles before replacement a little patina is expected. I have always thought that showing up with only new stuff is a sure fire way to identify your self as a novice.
The worst thing you can do to a car is not use it. Seals and bushings dry up and crack, tires get flat spots and crack, moisture destroys brakes, fuel tanks, electrics, and paint, and in general the vehicle just gets destroyed. This is why garage stored 40 year old Ferraris with 20,000 miles need complete rebuilds. I guess you can enjoy a car without driving it, just because you like the looks and enjoy polishing those fenders, but I personally don’t know why anyone would buy a “fun” car if they don’t actually enjoy driving it. If the driving qualities turns out to be disappointing or it is otherwise just too much “hassle” to drive, sell it and get something more compatible, and let someone else enjoy it.
Amen, I have a C6Z06 over here in Germany, and I drive it whenever I can throughout the year, even in the winter. Unless, of course, there is snow and excess salt on the roads, but this winter has been mild enough in the Frankfurt area where this hasnt been much of a problem.
I bought my C6Z used off of a retired Navy guy after my last trip to Iraq, it took me to my first HPDE at the NCM motorsports park a few years later, and then to at least a dozen more at Raceway Park of the Midlands and Heartland Park in Topeka. I driven it on two continents, had it lovingly serviced by a gentlemen in Kansas City who has sold/worked on corvettes since the 60s, had the engine worked over by Katech in MI, irresponsibly street raced Turks in Nürnberg, ran down 911s on autobahn A81, even strapped my daughter into a child seat (it has a LATCH system) and took her to preschool a few times. It will take me to Hockenheim, Spa, and the Nürburgring over the next two summers.
Occasionally I fight with myself about buying something newer, better, faster, but it gets hard to imagine following through when I take the time to reflect on all the things I have done in this car.
If someday I blow the engine on the track, and manage to come out none the worse for wear, I’ll be happy it died a warriors death. I can’t imagine not driving it until such time.
I can’t imagine anything short of a Veyron being faster than a C6 Z06.
I don’t know about all that, even with the H/C/I work Katech did 🙂 However, there aren’t any cars right now that offer enough of a performance improvement over my C6Z to justify realizing the depreciation on a private sale/trade-in and turning that over into another $70K+ performance car as a replacement.
Your car is a piece of shit and I’ll do you the favor of taking it off your hands.
My ’64 Chevy truck started life as a work truck and ended up being a once a month, sunny day driver. This was because it was a mildly restored truck, which meant stuff got fixed, whenever it broke down, usually around town. My son’s ’68 Galaxie hotrod, on the other hand, was his daily driver, and ended its life in a ditch, on a rainy night, after he took a corner with a little too much enthusiasm.
I appreciate when things that are meant to be used are used but I think property rights are very important I’ve gotten to a point in life where I try not to criticize how people use their own property. I may think it’s a waste but it’s their property to waste.
If it makes someone happy to daily drive their enthusiast car, let them. If it makes them happy to drive it once in a while on sunny Sundays, they can do that if they want to. If they want to treat it like a museum piece and trailer it to cars & coffee, it’s their right to do so.
Hell, I have a collection of guitars that I can’t play. They look nice on the wall and friends can play them when they visit.
Hey Ronnie, thanks for commenting. I’ve read your stuff on various platforms over the years so this is a pretty cool moment responding to you.
Anyways, love the guitar analogy. I got 4 (low to mid tier, nothing crazy like Jack’s stuff) and all my friends are way better than me at using them. Makes me very jealous at times 🙁
I absolutely understand your sentiment and agree it is 100% their choice and right, and would never suggest “rules” to prevent people to use property (whatever that may be) in their own ways. My thoughts and criticism are just that: my own. I just wanted to share them in a forum that I knew would be good discussion. I just think no owner should be prideful of how low miles their car has. Instead take pride of the mileage you put on it.
I’m reading everyone’s comments and just want to say thanks a bunch for taking the time out of your day to read what I have to say, whether you agree or not.
This is an interesting discussion. I can see it both ways – I see the damage road salt and winter ruts and potholes do to a car; and I’ve seen former beauties rotting apart. And I’ve seen the photospreads of elaborate restorations of cars now considered classics – Tri-Fives, Mustangs, GTOs.
But to buy one and NOT use it…first, as noted, a static car comes apart in its own way. Seals rot. Machined surfaces get pitted. Vermin get in and sometimes chew wiring. Even in dry climates, every point that pivots or rotates, will rust.
It truly is a waste of money – not only the non-enjoyment; but of the beloved item decomposing from lack of use. How many rebuilds have we seen of thirty-year garage queens, that cannot even ROLL? Or of “school bikes” – Honda used to donate a lot of unsold inventory to vocational schools. Some got dissected. Many more just sat in corners – this last year TWO rare CBX six-cylinder school bikes came to light. Never started, ever.
And the buyer had to rebuild them – from the rot and rust and general decomposition of 40 years of careless storage.
So there is no real win on this one. Is it worth the five-figure investment, and the work and worry, to go to Cars & Coffee meet-ups? That’s for each to decide…but my vote for myself is “No.”
A natural car buff, I now regard what I own and choose to buy, as just an appliance. Use it and discard.
A little something I wrote on the subject over 11 years ago. I see nothing has changed in the meantime.
I wonder if the first Corvette article like this appeared in 53 or waited for the V8 in 55?
Just drive it. You’ll be dead for a long, long time. Life is too short to daily a toaster.
Last May, while tearing down the Hemi in my new-to-me Magnum for a rebuild (first-gen Hemi valve seats…) I got a phone call from one of my wife’s friends. He only ever calls when something is wrong with one of his vehicles, so I figured it was good timing what with me already being the garage.
“My Challenger is running funny. I took it out of the garage the other day for the first time this year. I was going slow around the neighborhood and it seemed like it was missing or stumbling.”
“Ok, how many miles are on it now?” I asked.
“Thirteen,” he said in tone that made me think he regretted every mile.
“Well you shouldn’t have any fuel pump or injector issues on a three year old car with only thirteen thousand miles…”
“Not thirteen thousand. Thirteen hundred.”
Silence from me.
“Any ideas?” the man who is now DEFINITELY my wife’s friend asked.
More silence from me.
“I’m thinking it’s the ECU and I need to take it into the dealer for service. What do you think?”
“When did you park the car John?”
“Last time I drove it was August.”
“How much did you drive it last year?”
“I put about 300 miles on it.”
“And how many times did you fill that gas tank?”
“Just once. It was at a quarter tank when I parked it.”
Silence from me again, on his end anyway. On my end he probably would have the noises from the friction between my hands and the wrench I was holding as I tried to wring it like a wet wash cloth.
“You’ve got bad gas John. Go drive the car.”
“Are you sure? I was reading on a forum…”
“John, I have to go. I’m sure. Go fill you tank, and drive the car every day for a week until it’s low on gas again, then fill it up again. And don’t store the car again without topping off the gas tank.”
“Ok, I’ll try it. By the way, thanks for the advice on towing. We are taking the camper out this week and….”
“Sorry, I have to get back to this engine. Talk to you later!” It was one of those times I missed an old handset that made people realize they were getting hung up on.
Apparently I’m stupid .
I thought the whole point of a Chevrolet Corvette was it’s cheap to maintain and easy to fix specifically so one could boy and enjoy it .
All the guys I know who own ‘Vettes do this .
I bought my Li’l RAM Express last May as a second vehicle.
I put over 12,000 miles on her in 2017 but right now she is sitting pretty and clean until the snow and salt go away. Twenty years and 250,000 miles sound just about perfect. Unless I buy that travel trailer and do the Mexico, Alaska, Florida and Newfoundland trip.
Comeon, anyone who own’s a Vette (or similar car) is an enthusiast. So what if they get their rocks off looking at it and wiping it with a diaper, instead of driving the thing? To each their own.
Bark had a great article on here or TTAC on different types of enthusiasts. Unfortunately 30 seconds of googling is unable to return a link. But I fall somewhere between the tinkerer and the sentimental.
I get the author’s view point, however cars are different things to different people, at different points in life. My current “enthusiast” car, a Saab Convertible, sits in pieces half the time. Either its being restored, modified, or updated as a hobby for me and now my kids. Going into the garage with a scotch at the end of the day to (leisurely) tinker with the car for an hour or two a few nights a week is something I (sometimes we) look forward to. It does get driven, typically about 5k miles per year, but its dependent on many (mostly family related) factors whether or not it comes out.
There was a time in my life that a motorcycle was my DD. Things change, and not everyone can or even wants to drive the toy daily.
I’m with you on not having a total garage queen – especially on a mass produced car – but if the memories with this little Saab, bought on a lark continue… then the very “next owner” may be my kid. In which case the preservation this car does get will be worth it.
Oddly I got my car passion from my Mother. Several years ago she purchased her dream car, an Audi A7. When the day comes that that car is moved from her garage into mine, hopefully a very long time from now, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to sell it – or daily it. It would be a special occasion garage queen, not for its value monetarily, but sentimentally.
In the end I agree the memories are more important, and cars are meant to be enjoyed. How someone enjoys it is up to them. But yeah, unless it’s an artifact (like the Bullitt Mustang) that should be maintained as a museum show piece, cars are meant to be used and enjoyed. Whether its special trips, working on it, or tracking them.
Ask and ye shall receive: