All posts by Andy Reid

Andy Reid’s first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars, “none of them normal or reasonable,” as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

AACA Museum celebrates the Lotus position

The 1978 Lotus Type 79 at the AACA Museum | Mark Usciak photos
The 1978 Lotus Type 79 at the AACA Museum | Mark Usciak photos

Lotus Cars has been at the forefront of racing technology and automotive design and technology since 1948. Much like Ferrari, Lotus was a company run by a racing-mad genius, in the case of the British marquee, Colin Chapman. His philosophy was one of building the lightest and most efficient cars possible, sometimes at the expense of reliability.

A complete historical retrospective of the history of this fabled automaker is featured in a new exhibitoin, Lotus: The Art of Lightness, at the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

More of the Lotus exhibit
More of the Lotus exhibit

Chapman’s designs resulted in an amazingly diverse record of racing success: seven Formula 1 world titles, multiple victories at Le Mans, winning the the Indy 500, success in saloon car racing, and even the World Rally Championship.

Chapman’s design philosophy of simple, light weight cars, basically building cars that were designed to last only as long as necessary to win races, also was incorporated into Lotus road cars. The result was a continuous series of iconic sports cars including the Seven, Elite, Elan, Esprit, Elise and Evora.

It seems that the automotive world has finally woken up to the idea that horsepower makes you fast in the straights, but light weight makes you faster everywhere – and more fuel efficient to boot.

We spoke with AACA museum’s executive director Mark Lizewskie about the show and its fit with the Antique Automobile Club of America.

“We are trying to dispel the idea that the AACA is just about Ford Model As and ’57 Chevys,” Lizewskie said. “Lotus has always been able to do fantastic things despite their small size as a company. They are the automotive equivalent of the Poison Arrow frog, a tiny little thing that can knock you down.

“That fact that this small company has had so much success is astounding and deserves to be remembered in automotive history.”

Some of the cars on display include:

  • 1956 Mark VI –
  • 1958 Lotus Eleven (Series II)
  • 1959 Elite (Type 14)
  • 1959 Type 18
  • 1962 Type 22
  • 1962 Seven S2
  • Elan S1 (Type 26)
  • 1966 Lotus Cortina (Type 28)
  • 1971 Type 69
  • 1978 Type 79 Championship winning Formula 1
  • 1979 Esprit S2 (World Championship Commemorative Edition)
  • 1984 Type 95T

Lotus: The Art of Lightness is on display at the AACA Museum, located at 161 Museum Drive in Hershey, Pennsylvanian and is open from 9:00 a.m. t0 5:00 p.m., with the last admission at 4:00 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults.
For more information, visit the exhibition website.


5 reasons not to buy a classic car

Gorgeous classic and exotic cars can complicate your life | Larry Edsall photos
Gorgeous classic and exotic cars can complicate your life | Larry Edsall photos

There are a great many reasons for buying a classic car: love for the history of a specific brand, the fun of tinkering with your classic, the experience of driving an old car, and the possible investment potential that many classic cars can offer, to name a few.

The classic car market is hotter than ever and, as a result, many people are looking at classic cars as a great way to invest their money. While that might seem like a great idea, there are also many potential pitfalls of classic car ownership, and just as many reasons for not buying a classic car.

We went through our list and broke it down into five reasons not to buy a classic car:

1. A friend of mine said I should buy a classic car.

Say you have a modern Porsche 911 or Dodge Challenger and your friends think you should buy an old one to go with it. You envision yourself as part of the hardcore, cool-guy crew. This is a dangerous mindset, especially if you’ve come to expect such things as satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and a good, working A/C, which are niceties generally not available on classic cars. And remember, a classic car will be less reliable and require more maintenance than its modern equivalent.

You should only buy a classic car because you want a classic car, not to be part of the cool crowd. We really aren’t as cool as we think we are.

2. I have been thinking of buying a classic car but I do not like working on mechanical things.

Not having experience with working on old cars is not a prerequisite, but you should be willing to learn about making some mechanical repairs. No matter how many mechanics you hire, at some point you are going to have to fix something yourself. Classic car people tend to forget that they spend a considerable amount of time fixing things, often more time that they spend actually driving their classics.

They forget this because they enjoy the process of working on and sorting out the issues that come up with their old cars.

Even the best of classics break from time to time
Even the best of classics break from time to time

Ideally, you should consider this tinkering to be part of the fun of the classic car experience. If not, think twice about making a classic car purchase.

3. I can afford a classic car but it needs to be perfect because I have just enough money to buy the car.

No classic car is perfect. We are not aware of a single person who has bought any classic car that did not require some amount of money to be spent on it immediately. It is best to budget somewhere between $1,500-$5,000 for maintenance in addition to the price you’re paying for any new classic car purchase, the added cost dependent on the price level of the classic. However, if you’re buying a classic Ferrari, most experts say to budget as much as $20,000 more.

If you cannot afford to pay for the inevitable initial repairs, then you are going to have trouble with classic car ownership from the start.

4. Classic cars make a great investment and I like a sure thing.

There are no sure investments, with the possibly exception of the big-time fine-art world. The classic car market has its ups and downs just like every other market.

Buying a car only as an investment is a big mistake. Old cars take care and attention, making them very different from other appreciating assets.

Buy a classic car only if you really love and want that car, and only buy a make and model that you love and not purely because you foresee upside potential.

Then, no matter what happens with classic car market values, you will still have that car you always wanted.

5. I want to buy a car on TV at an auction, like the big shots.

This has got to be the worst reason to buy a classic car, and every year more people buy cars because they want to be seen on television winning a bidding war. This behavior always astounds us, but we have heard so many people boast about having the opportunity to pay too much for a car on TV.

If you want to be on TV that badly, figure out another way, possibly by starting a cooking show or applying for a spot on Survivor or Shark Tank.

If you still decide to a buy a classic car, take a look at these guidelines and make sure none of them apply to you, in which case you probably should decide not to buy.

Always buy a classic car that you love because you want to own it and to drive it, and you should have a terrific experience.