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A 1965 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe in much better condition than the model our reader is asking about. (General Motors)
A 1965 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe in much better condition than the model our reader is asking about. (General Motors)

Ask Joanne

My antique car needs too much work. What should I do? Add to ...

I’ve been in turmoil, thinking about what to do with an antique car. I purchased a 1965 two-door Chevrolet Impala 16 years ago when I was 17, much to my mother’s dismay. I loved, and still love this car. But I have a family now, with two young sons. I cannot even take them for a cruise on Sunday, as it doesn’t have seatbelts in the back, and in the front there are only lap belts.

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The car has seen better days. Its rebuilt 327 has lost compression in the eighth cylinder, and the lovely two-speed transmission is all but dead. In addition, the body has seen better days. I would love to hang on to this beast, and often dream about rebuilding it. I would love to put a modern power train, suspension and brake system in it, but can’t imagine ever getting the go-ahead from my wife to drop $30,000 into a Sunday driver.

Do I hold on to this car, with which I have so many great memories? Or do I bite the bullet and sell it for a pittance? The latter would be hard to do, but it’s taking up so much room in our double garage. – Tyler in Edmonton

As space, time and resources compete with memories and emotional attachment, at some point every enthusiast is tormented over whether to keep or sell a vehicle. The most painful stories to hear – or read in the automotive want-ads – are from collectors stricken with heartbreak and regret, longing to relocate a vehicle they parted with years ago.

Your 1965 Chevy wasn’t a low-production vehicle, and while nice, it’s not highly sought after. Could you find this model again? Certainly. But this is the one you love.

With a growing family, there are competing priorities for your garage space and resources. If not for your deep emotional attachment to this vehicle, I’d advise you to sell it, and purchase another fixer-upper when you’re ready. If you sell now, you’ll get a fast buck, clear your garage, and (perhaps) please your other half. But what will surely follow is a lifetime of pining, and wishing you’d hung on to it.

Restoration isn’t a priority, but there’s every reason to believe it will be down the road, so keep the car. When it comes to storage, why not use it to landscape the backyard?

“I’ve been in this business since 1972 and dealt with probably 10,000 collector cars. The fact is, once a car has reached that stage, for it to sit outside another five or six years isn’t going to hurt it,” says David Bennett, owner of Collector Car Group Inc., a Moose Jaw-based auction company. “In most cases the damage has already been done to those cars. Let’s face it, if it needs paint, it needs paint. There’s no such thing as ‘It just about needs paint.’ A lot of guys put them in a quonset with a cement floor and guess what – that’s the worst storage you can get. Or they’ll put it in a storage shed with mice running all over it. So there’s actually nothing wrong with putting a tarp on it out in the back, up on blocks, lifting the wheels off, and letting her sit. That’s my suggestion.”

Unless you’re desperate for immediate cash (Bennett estimates you might get $2,500 to $4,000 for the car), put your dreamboat in the backyard. Once your kids are past the toddler stage, a restoration could be a fun family project.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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