The good driver is becoming extinct.
Cars are getting safer. But drivers are getting worse. That's a fact, and every one of us who drives a vintage car knows it. As cars do more and more for the average driver, the average driver does less and less skilled driving. Most drivers today open the door, sit in their self adjusting seat, push a button (because turning a key in the ignition is so "yesterday"), and let the car do most of the work. They sit in their car like they would sit on a train. They travel, but they don't drive.
Technology has a price.
Don't get me wrong.... I know that newer cars are safer, and there are fewer fatal accidents because of it. But all that safety (and let's face it- comfort) comes at a price. The price we've all paid is that the average driver has relaxed to the point that they don't need to be connected to their car in order to drive. The computer controls braking, speed and even parallel parking.
Connected to your car feels great.
You know what I mean when I say connected. It's that feeling of "I am one with my car." It's that feeling you get when you corner on a two lane road high in the mountains. It's knowing how your car "feels," and feeling it in your bones. The right speed, the perfect angle, the correct gear. Who wants ABS when cornering in a 5 speed? No one. At least none of my vintage car friends.
Two lane turds.
OK, I shouldn't use that word in a professional blog. But I get frustrated when I'm on a targa, enjoying the physical act of driving on a two lane back country highway, and I get stuck behind some guy with a computer on 4 wheels. He's not actually driving. He's stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, and he doesn't know how to handle his car well enough to pass. He doesn't "know" his car. No downshifting. No feeling his car's ability and matching that to the road. Nope. He's just waiting for an open stretch of 4 lane freeway so he can go really fast.
Challenge makes driving a remarkable experience.
Yes, it's a challenge to drive a vintage car. Most of us vintage car owners also own one of these newer "computer brain" cars. Let's face it- it's kinda nice, once in a while, to have an automatic transmission and a rear facing camera. But when we get into our modern machines, we still feel like we're missing something. Maybe it's part of our soul. I don't know.
I think it's the challenge of driving our classic cars that makes us enjoy them even more. It's the challenge of needing to truly "know" our car when we start it up. We learn every new sound. We anticipate the perfect operating temperature and the right vibration of the engine. It's the challenge of driving our vintage car that makes it a memorable experience.
Self-driving cars. Are they good or bad?
Our first response is... are you kidding? Of course they're bad. But hold on. Maybe not. Self-driving cars are not just the future... they are here right now. There are partially self-driving cars on the road right now, thanks to Mercedes, BMW and other manufacturers. And that's just the start. By 2020, just five years from now, there will be over 10 million of these on the road.
Maybe self-driving cars and all that sophisticated technology will solve the problem that technology created. Why not finish the job and completely remove the driver from the equation? Let Google's self-driving car software take the wheel from the folks already asleep at the wheel. There's no way that a self-driving car could be as bad a driver as some of the ones I've been stuck behind this year. Let the real drivers -us- actually drive.
Give me my vintage car and an open stretch of road.
I can't stop the march of technology, and neither can you. But we can make up our minds, right here and now, to celebrate what we have. We have the privilege of driving some of the most unique vehicles every created. We are classic and vintage car owners, and that also makes us great drivers. We have to feel the road and the car because a computer won't do it for us. And so we do. We feel every beautiful vibration and exciting curve. May that endure to the next generation of classic car lovers.
If you need insurance for your classic car, and you'd like to buy it from someone who owns a vintage car and loves to drive it, call me at (951) 284-0400. ~Jeff St. Clair, St. Clair Insurance
(photo by ken, and yes, that's a 62 corvette)
Don't forget these 3 engine maintenance basics:
I know that you know these engine maintenance basics. I know them too. But the gap between knowing and doing is sometimes as wide as the Gulf of California. So I'll touch on them again for me mostly, and you can read along and say "check!" to each one. :)
(And speaking of the Gulf of California, don't forget Targa Baja California, November 5-7. More info. Here is a fantastic video of Targa Baja California 2015.)
1. Change your oil.
Forget the miles. Change your oil at least every 6 months. It's cheap insurance.
We all know that when it comes to our vintage cars, oil changes are the language of love. We can't say "I love you" to our prized classic and then let old oil sit in the crankcase. The "every 3,000 miles" rule doesn't apply to our babies. They get so little mileage some years. Oil that sat all winter with residual gas, dirt and other contaminants in it... is going to break down. Yes, even though you didn't run the engine. And before you start with the oil change, now is a good time to check for oil leaks. Don't ignore them. Here's an excellent article on fixing recurring oil leaks.
2. Check your cooling system.
If you can't remember the last time you flushed... FLUSH.
A radiator flush for your classic car is often a good idea. But at least check your coolant. A cheap testing kit will tell you if it's the optimal (usually) 50/50 mix. And your eyes can tell you if it's green (good) or brown (bad). So take off that radiator cap and look. In short- check for leaks, bad color, and keep your antifreeze full. (I know- you air cooled friends can ignore this- ha!)
So what about the newer Organic Acid Technology (OAT) types of antifreeze? The orange stuff. Isn't it supposed to last longer and extend engine life? Don't use it. Orange is the enemy of our beloved vintage cars. It can wreak havoc with our older style gaskets, as well as trash our radiators over time. To be safe, stick with the recommended coolants for our specific cars... usually green. (I'm open to hearing your thoughts on the new "universal coolants" if you want to post a comment below.)
3. Keep your engine in tune.
If the rumble isn't right, tune it up.
You should visually inspect:
If you aren't into "under the hood" engine maintenance, take it to your favorite mechanic and have them do the under the hood inspection. Make sure you also check your air and gas filters at the same time. Air and gas filters for classic cars are simple front-line protectors of your investment.
I want to see your car in perfect condition!
My friends know how much a car in perfect condition makes me smile. I'll see many of you, my friends, on one of our annual targas , or at various events we all attend together. When I see your car, I want to drool and get excited when I hear it purring perfectly. I'd also like to insure it someday as your specialty car insurance agent in California, Arizona and Nevada. So run through the check list above, and I'll see you out there on the road!
Targa California 2015 has some of the coolest cars!
A beautiful day and we've enjoyed some of California's most awesome scenery today. Now it's time to kick back for a little bit at the famous Alice's Restaurant, in Woodside.
If you missed it this year- we hope we can see you next year! Contact me (after the Targa) and I can talk to you about the Targa California and maybe even answer a few insurance questions about the specialty coverage your special car needs. ~Jeff
I have collector car insurance already, so I'm fine, right?
So you're heading out on your next rally. Maybe you are all set to cruise in the Targa California, or you are setting your sites for south of the border on the Targa Baja California. Great! We'll see you there in our favorite Porsche. It was a blast last year- check out this video!
Almost every classic car enthusiast has made sure they have coverage for their collector car.
But it might not be enough.
If you already have specialty car insurance on your beautiful classic car, the next step is to make sure that you don't have one of the three most common gaps in coverage. So here they are:
1. Mileage or Use Restrictions
Not all collector and classic car policies are created equal. There's a reason for this, and it's not all bad. Because we collectors all have unique and individual lifestyles, and because we all have different things we do with our "babies," we all need different kinds of coverage. And we are usually willing to be specific with our insurance company about exactly what we need coverage for- and what we don't. We don't want to pay for coverage we don't need, right?
But what about when our usage needs change? Do we remember to call our agent?
If you have not looked at your policy in a while- maybe it's been years- you should. And it doesn't hurt to have someone who knows collector cars and insurance to look at it with you (shameless plug for St. Clair Insurance Agency). Specialty policies can be confusing- don't review your policy alone. Call me.
Let's just mention a few of the things we can check:
2. Inadequate UM/UIM coverage
You are driving on a Sunday afternoon. The skies are clear and the road is smooth. Suddenly, a clown in a sedan who isn't paying attention rolls through a stop sign. You are paying attention- you see him. But he still clips the front panel of your newly restored classic car. It's not a horrible crash, but the cost to repair it is still pretty high.
Then you find out he is under-insured (or worse, uninsured).
Do you know how your claim will be handled? Does your "regular" policy step in and cover the loss? Or is it your collector car insurance policy that's called on to get things paid for? And if so- is it enough to cover the claim? We all know how expensive it is to repair our vintage cars.
This is an area that many car collectors overlook. Check it out, and make sure you have this possible gap in coverage protected.
3. The agreed-value isn't enough to replace your car
"Agreed-value" policies can be your best friends. Many car collectors have them. They help avoid confusion and arguing with the insurance company at claim time.
So you went out and got an appraisal three years ago for your vintage car. You and the insurance company agreed to insure it for that amount. So far, so good.
But that was three years ago.
Do you know what your car is worth today? Do you know how much it would take to repair or replace it? Has it gone up in value? You probably know if it has- but your insurance policy may not reflect that. If it doesn't, come claim time, you may be in serious trouble. The insurance company could be in a position to "total" your car, write you a check for far less than it is worth today, fix it themselves, and resell it and make a profit. All because you had it under-insured.
Don't let that happen. Review your policy with me as soon as you can!
I love my cars as much as you do. I'm the proud owner of '78 Porsche. I can't imagine how I'd feel if I found out after an accident that I didn't have the right kind of coverage.
Call me at (951) 284-0400, or visit my website. I can help.