It seems Americans are obsessed with their vehicles, be it cars, trucks, or SUVs. None more so than those who own classics. Some buy a classic for the investment potential or because they enjoy taking care of and tinkering with them. Others enjoy the aesthetics of an older vintage or the throaty sound of a muscle car. Still others love classics as they remind them of a favorite, perhaps simpler time in their life. And, for those D.I.Y. types, the classics, with less technology under the hood, are simpler to care for and restore.This article reviews some of our favorite classics, what type of person owns them, and provides a list of some popular restoration and D.I.Y. projects for your classic. We debate the wisdom of a do-it-yourself approach to auto glass repair or replacement versus using a certified, professional company.
Coolest Classic Cars
Every auto enthusiast has their concept of the coolest classics. Although a classic car is defined as at least 20 but not more than 40 years old for insurance and registration purposes, we stretch the timeline a bit with our examples. This list is no doubt influenced by the author’s personal experience and fantasies.
1. 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS
One of our favorites of all-time is the SuperSport ’63 Impala. The example pictured below, courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auto Auctions, was commissioned by Vanessa Bryant as a Christmas gift for her husband, Kobe. This beautifully restored vehicle auctioned by Barrett-Jackson in 2014 is going under the gavel again in 2023 and is expected to sell for $250,000.
2. C2 Chevrolet Corvette 1963 – 1967
The second-generation Corvette, designated the C2, was manufactured from 1963 – 1967. One of the most iconic and most collectible models is the 1963 split-window coupe. With an MSRP of $4,037 in 1963, a pristine example sold in 2013 at Mecum’s Auction for $275,000.
3. 1967 – 1969 Ford Mustangs
Although the 1964 Ford Mustang introduction marked the advent of the Pony Car, affordable, compact, sporty, and stylish coupés and convertibles, the ’67 Shelby GT500 and the ’69 Boss Mustang morphed into true “muscle cars.” Today, both iterations are among the most valuable classics from the 1960s. Pictured below is a ’67 Eleanor of “Gone in 60 Seconds” fame and the actual Steve McQueen ’68 GT Bullitt, which sold at auction for $3.7 million.
Pony cars, specifically the Ford Mustang, are among the most sought classic cars today. Other popular pony cars include the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Hemi Cuda, and the Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am.
Although Pony and Muscle cars are vintage American autos, no classic collection is complete without at least one entry from across the pond. Enter the Porsche 356, the predecessor of the most incredible sports car of all time, the timeless Porsche 911.
4. 1948 – 1965 Porsche 356
The 356 was Porsche’s first production car, designed by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Ferdinand Porsche, the German company founder). The 356 is a two-door, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive available in coupe or convertible (cabriolet). The cost in 1948 in the U.S. was $3,750. Pristine examples sell today for well into six figures.
Although the cars featured in this article bring top dollar, if you are willing to search, today there are many fine examples of “project” cars of the same vintage available across the country at far more reasonable prices.
Who Owns Classic Cars
For data on the classic car market and who owns them, we turned to the Hagerty Group, an automotive insurance company in Traverse City, Michigan, specializing in coverage for classic cars and boats. Their best estimate is that approximately 5 million collector cars in the U.S. today are owned predominately by baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964. Nearly eighty percent of these cars are American made. Many are show cars, reside in collections, and rarely see the open road. Then there are those enthusiasts who live to get behind the wheel of their classic – people such as Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Nicolas Cage.
Returning to Hagerty, they recently surveyed 10,000 U.S. drivers and discovered to the surprise of many, that millennials and those in Gen Z are now more likely to want to own a classic or collectible car than their parents or grandparents.
Popular D.I.Y. Projects for Your Classic
For those who love to tinker, care for, and restore their classic, there are multiple D.I.Y. appropriate projects – from making your headlights sparkle to detailing the engine compartment or replacing the interior. Classics are easier to restore due to their more straightforward mechanics, which require only basic tools. Aftermarket companies sell exact replicas of sheet metal and complete, 60s correct interiors for the most popular models such as Mustangs and Camaros. Other popular D.I.Y. projects include:
- Minor Rust and Scratch Repair
- Installing a Modern Navigation System
- Replacing or Painting Interior Dome Lights
- Dash Cameras
There seems to be a do-it-yourself solution for everything. Many people gain satisfaction knowing that their efforts and perseverance helped bring their classic back to life and save them money. There are auto glass related projects we endorse, such as replacing your windshield wipers or a side mirror or reattaching a rearview mirror. However, that doesn’t mean D.I.Y. is always the most prudent option, particularly when repairing your auto glass.
When faced with replacing a windshield, often the lowest priced option, D.I.Y. isn’t the safest or best solution.
The Importance of Your Car’s Windshield
If you intend to park your classic in a garage, strictly for show, or if you’re dealing with a tiny chip, perhaps D.I.Y. is an acceptable choice; although even then, aesthetics, fit, and finish can be challenging for a novice.
If you intend to drive your classic frequently, or as a daily driver, or if you need a windshield replacement, we highly recommend an experienced professional auto glass company installation. Your windshield is one of the most critical safety features of your vehicle. An incorrectly installed windshield could fail in an accident, either allowing the roof to cave in, causing front airbags to deploy improperly, or even result in you or a passenger being thrown from the car.
Replacing the Windshield on Your Classic Car
There are several reasons why attempting to replace the windshield on your classic can be problematic. Professional auto glass companies have experienced, certified technicians with the appropriate knowledge, tools, resins and adhesives, and the proper OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) glass for your car’s vintage, make and model. You do not.
You only have one chance to do the correct installation process. Any issues with the glass, resins, fit, and finish, or if the repair does not hold, you will have to replace the windshield – again. Your insurance company will not cover a D.I.Y. installation; however, your comprehensive coverage pays the entire cost of a professional installation in many instances. Sometimes, with a professional auto glass company, you may even qualify for a rebate.
Not convinced – still considering a D.I.Y. installation? We refer you to Edmunds, the online resource for all things automotive, and their article on tips for when to repair or replace your windshield the right way. The experts concur windshield replacement is a delicate, technical process requiring expertise, the correct process, technique, tools, and equipment.
How technical? This article on “replacing a windshield yourself” details the complicated steps, the tools, and materials needed, the cautions and recalibration required once you have sourced the OEM glass and replaced the windshield. We found the segment on how you can cause further damage particularly enlightening.
Benefits of Having Your Classic Windshield Replaced by Professionals
Industry experts usually will recommend a professional windshield replacement company, like Suntecautoglass.com, to ensure correct part selection, placement and installation. Like many repair specialists, SunTec Auto Glass technicians are experienced; they have seen every type of chip, ding, and crack on classics, exotics, luxury cars, and collectibles. Unlike local standard auto repair shops, glass specialists like SunTec, can source the correct OEM or OEE glass part. This involves a network of manufacture relationships and industry knowledge.
With professional and experienced windshield repair companies like SunTec, you have the comfort of knowing they will maintain your classic’s optimal structural integrity, guaranteed by a lifetime 100% satisfaction warranty. This can typically include free chip and crack repairs for the life of the vehicle, provided they are within size parameters.
Like beauty, a classic car is in the eyes of the beholder, whether your classic is a ’60s pony or muscle car, a 90s BMW, or a 2001 Ford Ranger. Owning or restoring a classic car could turn into a valuable investment. Ultimately, the decision is yours for either DIY or professional auto glass replacement on your classic car. Many unique factors contribute to it such as repair experience, part availability & price, vehicle type, vehicle year, production total, etc.
For DIYers, don’t skimp on materials; shop now for high-grade adhesives.