If you’ve ever owned a classic car, you likely know just how much time and energy (and money) they take to keep them running strong as time goes on. For most folks, a vintage automobile is something you put your heart and soul into restoring, then let it live out the rest of its days in a garage, maybe under a cover. Occasionally, they’ll be taken out for a cruise on a nice summer day or to a “Cruise Night” kind of event where owners can meet like-minded people and show off their toys.
And then there are folks who like to use their vintage vehicle as a daily driver. I was one of those people for a summer. The first summer I had the Patchbus, my 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, I treated it kind of like a daily driver. That being said, I didn’t do a TON of driving that summer, but I did use it to get around a fair amount. In fact, I remember the first day I got it on the road – I decided to tempt fate and take a trip to Toronto that night in her.
— Ken Elrick II (@DrPatchbeard) April 19, 2013
I was so pleasantly surprised – Rosie (that’s the Patchbus’s name) got us there without any problems, though it wasn’t the quickest drive to Toronto I’ve ever done. I remember spending that night in the parking lot of Sound Academy after having a couple beers at the show, I remember jumping the curb to get out when the gates were locked in the morning, I remember navigating Toronto with relative ease… And I remember the van crapping out on us along the side of the highway pretty close to home.
Yeah, it wasn’t perfect. Eventually it started back up and got us home though. It would leave me stranded a few more times that summer (though usually only for a few minutes before it would start up again).
Of course, with it being a vintage vehicle, some maintenance and upkeep was going to be necessary. I eventually found a new engine and swapped it in… And then had to take it out again, attach the flywheel properly, and put it back together. That, and a new battery made a world of difference.
— Ken Elrick II (@DrPatchbeard) June 9, 2014
And that second summer, I drove it kind of like a daily, although to a lesser degree. Toward the end of the summer, it developed an electrical issue that caused it to run like a bag of crap all the time, so I put it into storage for the winter, determined to figure out the problem in the spring.
It stumped myself AND my dad (who’s been a mechanic for 30+ years) until he discovered that one of the pins in the wiring harness that attaches to the old school Air Flow Meter was out of place. He pushed it back into place and secured it with I think a zip tie and I haven’t had that same problem since.
It just goes to show that you never know what issue could pop up next – something that’s highlighted in this video I found that pretty accurately sums up what it’s like to daily drive a car that’s not absolutely mint (and why would you want to drive that daily, anyway?). When all you want is to go to the store and get some Red Bulls, this is usually what happens:
That’s automotive enthusiast and YouTuber Rob Dahm behind the wheel, and his brothers in the car with him. And while that’s a beautiful car (suicide doors?!), it’s clearly in need of some TLC. Fortunately, after taking a couple guesses as to what the issue could be, Dahm is able to figure it out and get back on the road. Pretty much sums up any classic car driving experience I’ve ever had.
Personally, I haven’t used my van as a daily for a couple years now. That’s mostly because I’ve had a couple other toys since then – a convertible and this year a motorcycle. However, Rosie is still running strong. She still gets my friends and I to and from Montebello, QC for Montebello Rockfest every year, and I still get out for at least a camping trip or two in her. Now, however, I’ve replaced daily driving an old van with daily riding (kind of, not really) an even older motorcycle… And that’s not without its frustrations, but I won’t bore you with that.
If you’ve got a classic car that you want to use as a daily driver, perhaps you can get a few tips from this video from Jalopnik and /DRIVE: