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The other day I was minding my own business, walking through Brooklyn in search of a cup of coffee, when I encountered a 1963 Dodge 440 classic car casually street-parked in front of a picturesque Brownstown. When I finally found my cup of coffee I thought back to my years spend driving a 1963 Dodge Dart in San Francisco. Here’s what occurred to me: vintage project cars are actually perfect for city life. Hear me out!

Who would want a vintage car in the city?

Aqua colored Dodge 440 classic car in the city.
Dodge 440 | Henry Cesari via Motorbiscuit

I grew up in the country, fixing up and driving old cars and trucks. Vintage cars and rural life go together like peas and carrots. Many people take pride in working with their own hands, and if you break down they want to help. You often live in a place with enough space—perhaps even an outbuilding—for you to wrench on your own stuff. And finally, there are scenic drives aplenty. Take for example, the trip to the world’s most wholesome car show.

Living in the city, however, I had less room to work on my car. I had less indoor space to safely store my tools. I figured driving an old car I’d always be terrified of it breaking down on a busy street and getting me in trouble. And of course older cars are less secure, so street parking them seemed like a no-no.

But I have such an affinity for old vehicles, I started to collect them as soon as I moved to the city anyway. What I found was that old cars and city life fit very well together.

Vintage cars fit city life perfectly

Dodge 440 | Henry Cesari via Motorbiscuit

My 1963 Dodge Dart was a slant-six-powered convertible with a pushbutton three-speed automatic. It certainly wasn’t winning any drag races, but could keep up with traffic. It was relatively simple to work on and drew attention wherever I drove it. While I might not have loved a long highway commute in it, it was the perfect vehicle for running around my neighborhood.

In a city, many of your drives are short and relatively slow. You don’t need a high-performing sports car. Also, when you are driving less miles in a week, vintage car mpg is not as critical. Finally, if you are always a few miles from home, getting an AAA tow is not a big deal.

Yes, old cars are less secure. But my solution was always to leave nothing valuable in my car and leave it unlocked. I’d rather someone open the door and look through my empty glovebox than smash a window or cut a top that would be difficult to replace.

Old vehicles come with a built-in community

Blue 1963 Dodge Dart
1963 Dodge Dart | Henry Cesari via Motorbiscuit

Other vintage car enthusiasts make an excellent community if you are just moving to the city. Go to a couple cars and coffee meet and you’ll immediately connect with like-minded motorheads. Getting together to do some maintenance is the perfect afternoon hangout.

Even if you don’t connect with car people, everyone else in your neighborhood will recognize you instantly. I found when I worked on my car on the street, neighbors would wander over to learn about what I was doing. As a conversation starter, having an old car was a great way to get to know people. And once I knew people, my neighbors helped keep an eye on my car parked in front of my place. If it makes sense for your lifestyle, having an old project car in the city is a win-win.

Next, find out the actual reason I’ve never owned a V8.


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