During the two decades that I have been writing articles and columns about accessible collector cars for NEW MOBILITY magazine, two basic facts have become clear: There is no “cookie cutter” definition of exactly what a collector car is, nor is there one single reason why people choose to collect, restore, customize or drive them. The cars can be called many different things, including classics, antiques, muscle cars, exotics or hot rods.
The hobby of collecting them is big business, as evidenced by the multimillion-dollar companies that sell or auction them, provide parts to restore them or haul them around the world to auction sites, dealerships and new owners. While some rare and pristine vehicles can sell for several million dollars at elite auctions, it is not necessary to spend a fortune to enter the world of car collectors, and the returns can be more satisfying than any monetary investment. One enthusiast summed it up best when asked what advice he would give someone who wants to purchase a collectible car: “Find something you like and then just do it. The first step might seem like a big one, but the results are well worth it.”
Fulfilling the Dream
Steve “Wheels” Bucaro of Palmdale, California, found his dream car at age 12. It was actually a model of a 1970 Chevelle, which he assembled and painted purple. When old enough for a license, he was into riding motorcycles and bought a road bike as a graduation present for himself and totaled it three months later. The insurance payoff allowed him to purchase that dream car, which had already been set up for drag racing. Two years later he was working on the car’s engine but didn’t have the torque wrench that he needed to finish the job. While waiting for a mechanic, he went on a motorcycle ride and was struck by a car and paralyzed. The work on the dream Chevelle has continued — slowly — for the last 20 years, with other priorities pushing it to the back burner as he pursued off-road racing and the building of other classic vehicles for competitions at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Thanks to the help of several friends, he hopes to fulfill his childhood dream and have the car on the road later this fall.
The Seven Year Itch
When Bob Shatney, a T12 para from Garden Grove, California, bought a used 1969 Camaro in 2007, he figured it would not take much work to return the popular classic car to its original condition. Unfortunately, that restoration turned into a seven year project that occupied most of the spare time he had available in retirement. After he bought it, he learned the engine needed rebuilding and the car was besieged by rust. Getting rid of that rust required replacement of the floor pan and most of the major sheet metal. Although it took more time, he did most of the work himself. Because of that effort, the project turned out exactly as he envisioned it would. Some setbacks with his health have kept him from getting behind the wheel for the past few months, but he anticipates cruising in it again very soon.