Jim’s Blog: The Best $1,500 Upgrade

Buying and selling is the core of American Car Collector magazine — but we’re also very much interested in things people can do to their own cars to make them more usable. Modern traffic isn’t always friendly to classic cars, and why own a classic if you don’t drive it? There is a time and a place for originality, and there are things you can do to your old car that make it a better driver without throwing away its Read More

Jim’s Blog: Is Patina Just a Fad?

When “barn finds” took off in popularity back around 2010, so too did cars wearing worn, thin paint.

Evidence of wear all of a sudden became cool, at least among a certain segment of buyers in the market. To those buyers — the “it’s only original once” crowd, there’s nothing cooler than original paint that shows its age.

That said, the car world is built on fads, and patina may just be another one. Is it really all that different Read More

Jim’s Blog: Prepping for Parade Duty

The 4th of July is prime car time. If you own an old car, chances are you’ll be adorning it with a flag or two and taking it out this Thursday. But will it be ready for slow-speed cruising in the heat of summer? Here are a couple of things to check before you hit the road for your local hometown parade.

1. Coolant level/leaks

This is probably a no-brainer for most of you, but let’s cover it just in Read More

Jim’s Blog: Three Favorites at Mecum Portland

Portland may not be one of Mecum’s bigger auctions, but it tends to bring in a bunch of interesting cars from all over the northwest. This year’s sale just wrapped on Saturday, and ACC was there to cover cars at the sale for an upcoming issue. Complete results are still pending. In the meantime, here are three of my favorite cars from the sale:

F75 — 1986 Pontiac Fiero GT

Wow, nice Fier…Oh, is that a big block? Yep, Read More

Jim’s Blog: When Was the Last Classic Built?

I hear a lot of car people lament that the last classic car was built in 1973. I don’t agree.

“Classic” is technically defined as “Serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value.” There’s nothing there to limit production years on cars. I think that comes from the definition of “antique” as it relates to state DMV definitions, which vary depending on where you live. But to me, sticking a year cutoff on the term misses the point completely. Read More

A Modern Classic

Values and trends have always been the heart of ACC, but “value” is a loaded concept.

Dollars and cents may run the market, but owning classic cars and trucks is supposed to be fun, and a lot of that fun comes from actually getting out and using the cars we covet. In that sense, value is more than just a number. That factor has been a major theme of ACC since the beginning, from our “Snapshots” features through our “Wrenching” Read More

Jim’s Blog: Are GM’s C/K Trucks on the Way Up?

Built from 1988 to 1998, GM’s C/K pickup has traditionally been viewed as nothing more than a basic taskmaster. Other than a few special editions, such as the 454SS and the Indy Pace Truck, car people have not considered these trucks all that special.

But with a rising interest in 1967-72 GM trucks helping to push up values of square-body (1973-87) GM trucks, that puts the later C/Ks of the ’90s in an interesting spot.

We’ve seen it happen before: Read More

Jim’s Blog: How Old Are Your Tires?

Most of us know that gas has an expiration date. We typically say that oil should be changed at least twice a year. But when’s the last time you considered the age of your tires?

If you’re lucky, you might put a couple thousand miles per year on your classic. Unless you’re doing burnouts the whole time, it’s unlikely you’ll end up putting much wear on those tires, and that brings us to a situation that you maybe haven’t thought Read More

Jim’s Blog: Car Spotting at Portland Transmission

Here in Portland, car season kicks off with a pair of huge swap meets in early April. About a month later, on the Saturday before Mothers’ Day, the city’s car people wake up all their classics and head out for the inner east side of town, where all gather for the annual Portland Transmission show.

This is a free event that tends to sprawl out from its epicenter at the Portland Transmission Warehouse, taking over blocks and blocks of street Read More

Jim’s Blog: Are Engine Swaps OK?

Small block, big block, and LS Chevrolet V8s tend to find their way into all kinds of classic cars. Should they?

I’m all about making a vintage car more drivable — from steering and brake upgrades all the way through the addition of modern fuel injection. All of these things can make a classic car more usable in today’s busy traffic world. But what about that engine?

I’ve been talking with ACC columnist Jay Harden about this at length Read More