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Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

Posted September 28, 2021 4:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: Exotics

Some do it out of preference for the sights, the sounds, the smells of machinery and upholstery and paint from days gone by. Some do it out of spite for the ubiquity of technology and to rage against the march of modernity. Some do it out of sheer financial necessity, left with no choice but to go with the least expensive option in terms of upfront investment. Whatever the case may be, there's a small cadre of people who commit to old cars as everyday transportation, and today we're going to set out to determine who among our readers has done so and why.

This simple question - who here has the oldest daily driver? - comes to us from reader Glen Davis, who recently commented on David Conwill's post about his Corvair brakes, which brought out a number of readers who support the idea of daily driving old cars. Despite the simplicity of older cars, it's no simple task to put them on the road for regular use. Beyond the jousting with behemoth SUVs, road ragers, and other mobile dangers on the highway, there's the matter of foregoing modern comfort and conveniences, of putting yourself and your family in a vehicle with minimal safety equipment, of having to repair the vehicle in the slush and the cold to get to work the next day, and of deciding that the value of the old car lies in the experience and not in what it'll be worth when you're done with it.

But hey, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.

I drive a 2005 Dodge Magnum R/T, but 16 years is just a drop in the bucket compared to some daily drivers we've previously mentioned. If we were really going to do this right, we'd work out some sort of mathematical index weighing not just the age of the car being used for a daily commute but also the geographical location and the average annual mileage put on the car. It's one thing to tick 5,000 miles a year getting groceries in California, another entirely to plowing through four seasons in New England. Still, for everybody responding, tell us where and how much you drive your old car. Maybe tell us a little about the care and maintenance regimen you use to keep the car on the road and your reasons for doing so; after all, it takes dedication and determination to keep those older dailies going, and maybe by telling your stories we can convince more people to make regular use of their collector cars.

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#1

Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

09/28/2021 8:40 PM

2000 Ford 2WD F-150 7700 with about 200K miles. Too much rust to bother to try to repair, but still enough steel to hold it together. Sure, I could afford a newer truck, but why? I can still haul a yard of gravel in the back. The plastic bed liner keeps the gravel from pouring out onto the road.

2002 Chevy Suburban with about 290K miles. Some rust on the rear corner and the rocker panels are real bad. Again, not worth repairing the body, but the rest is holding together pretty nicely. I might just put a cutting wheel on my angle grinder and simply cut away what's left of the rocker panels. Brush out the rust, then put a nice coat of POR primer and something that sort of looks green to match the rest of the truck and call it done.

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#2

Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

09/28/2021 11:06 PM

I drive 1985 Mercedes 300CD Turbodiesel with 214,546 miles on it. Last year of the famous W123 bodies. I put on about 4K miles a year. Maintenance change the oil. No rust for a New Jersey car as I inspect it every month for rust. I'm a die hard diesel lover.

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Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

09/29/2021 5:27 AM

Having recently opted for semi-retirement I found myself with a very different part-time job and no company car. Amongst the many benefits of the new situation was the necessity to revive my classic VWs (both suffered under lockdown, and grumble terribly if not used regularly!). So first was the 1971 Beetle, with new plugs, points, HT leads, and a carb refurb (accelerator pump diaphragm was split), and now he (Bertie) gets me the 5 miles to work three days a week. There is no radio to mask the gentle burble of the flat four engine, and I must annoy the hell out of other commuters as I trundle along with a silly grin on my face. The car (like trad jazz) just makes me smile!
I do about 1,200 miles a year, and just change the oil once a year and check for rust.

Next comes the 1969 Bay Window Camper, which will share commuter duties, with the odd long weekend away thrown in.

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Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

09/29/2021 6:34 AM

The only problem you are likely to have with the bug is #3 exhaust valve.

It is the weak link because it has less airflow than the rest of the cylinders because of the oil cooler blocking some air flow.

I suggest running # 3 exhaust valve about .001" looser than the rest.

This will allow it a longer contact time with the valve seat to transfer some more of the heat away from the valve.(.005" instead of .004").

It may be a little bit noisier but it is not intolerable.

It is also important to keep the valves adjusted.

They tend to tighten up over time.

Factory recommends every 3000 miles.

The engine was designed originally like an aircraft engine with no sheet metal surrounding it,so it loves plenty of air.

Due to the characteristics of the fan,the faster your run the engine,the better.

Do not lug the engine.

It is nearly impossible to over rev the engine due to the short stroke,so don't be gentle to it.

Good luck with your good old workhorses.

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Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

09/29/2021 5:53 PM

Thanks for the advice, I’d scheduled valve clearances for later this year, so I’ll bear that in mind, although it doesn’t get as hot here in the UK as in the US, and journeys are generally short, so cooling is not usually a problem. Also, the oil cooler and fan were improved in 1971 to be able to cope with the larger, more powerful engines. Not sure which oil cooler I’ve got, I’ll have to have a look. There were a lot of changes in 1971.

Meanwhile, my next job is to adjust the camber on the offside front wheel which is way over positive. Even a gentle left hander and it sounds like I’m caught in an American car chase movie, tyres squealing etc!

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Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

10/14/2021 8:27 AM

The outside air has some effect on the motor temp,but a little extra clearance on the valves does not hurt.

The factory was aware of this problem,and delayed the firing of # 3 cylinder on the distributor lobe by a few degrees to take some load off of#3.

Best advice,is drive it like you rented it!

Keep the oil changed,they have no oil filter,only a strainer.If you do it yourself,loosen all 8 of the bolts and clean the strainer every time,don't just use the drain plug in the center.

If adjusting the valves yourself, bring the pulley notch to the dividing line of the block halves,then insert a screw driver through the bottom hole directly under the motor at the bottom of the pulley,and make a mark exactly below the factory mark.This mark will be used later.The firing order on the engine is 1,4,3,2,and the cylinders come up on opposite sides,which means you have to go from side to side every other valve.

The valve clearance is .1MM You can pull a .1MM through a .05MM gap,but you cannot push it through.Always push the gauge through the gap to be safe.A slight bow in the gauge is acceptable when pushing it through.

Turn the motor in reverse,and you can do both vales on same side in sequence instead of having to go side to side.

Every half revolution will close the valves in sequence,this is where the bottom mark comes in.Align it with the motor divide line for the next valve.

Repeat with the factory mark.

Always adjust with the engine COLD.If adjusted when hot,it will start and run fine when hot,but be very hard to start when cold because the valves will be very tight.

A good fresh tuneup should startup cold or hot within 1 second of turning the key.

If not,they did not do something right,either timing or valves.

If the head studs get loose,it will sound like a percolator when you press down on the accelerator.

Do not let the service department simply tighten the head bolts...the problem will come back soon.

The cause is the head studspulling out of the aluminum block.

The motor must be removed to do this.

The proper fix is to remove the heads,install a steel insert(14MM) kit in the block,and then reinstall the head studs.

This will cause a change in the valve clearance gap to new specs,so observe the new specs,but still allow a little extra for #3 cylinder.

All of my info is based on the older 70's and before;types 1,2,3,4 etc.models,so things may have changed since then,so take it with a grain of salt.

These motors were designed to be easy to service and they are.

I hope these pointers will help you keep this old workhorse running for many more years,and not get taken in by nefarious mechanics.

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#5

Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

09/29/2021 11:01 AM

Just bought a red 1984 Benz stick (5 gears) 2.2 diesel for $4000.00 with 147,000 miles on it. Working to correct a few minor flaws. Must row thru the gears fairly often but I love it.

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#7

Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

10/13/2021 1:08 AM

I just sold my daily driver. an 89 suburban with 301k miles on it. I just got tired of 7mpg. now I get 19.2 on the highway with the new truck and less around town.

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Re: Open Diff: Who Here Runs the Oldest Daily Driver?

10/14/2021 8:47 AM

I drove a 1959 Ford F100 short bed pickup for 17 years.

It had the 223 straight six,3 on the column.

It never let me down no matter how I abused it.

It had 98k miles when I got it in '71 and it was bought for $100 at a city utility auction.I saw one similar recently for over $13,000.

I really did not expect much out of it,was just going to haul firewood with it.

The odometer quit the second time around,so I don't know how many miles it had when I gave it to my nephew in 1988.

It was made from real steel,with a hood like the bow of a barge and bumpers that you could pull stumps with (and I did).

It had gotten rusty a bit but some of the original green remained.Now they would simply spray clear coat over it and call it a patina.

It smoked a little when first started(valve stem seals,probably) but did not drop a quart between changes,every 3000 miles.

I lost track of it over the years,and it is probably still running somewhere,or has been recycled into 3 or 4 modern cars.

Here is one similar:

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