Driving vintage cars allows us to experience automobiles that we couldn’t afford when new. Perhaps it was the sports car you always wanted in high school or something exotic on a dorm-room poster, but older luxury cars are another option.
One-time status symbols fade into used cars, then reach a vintage stage where they offer a new kind of experience for aficionados with budgets. Generally, sedans don’t appreciate to the same degree in old age as their coupe and convertible brethren, but they can still provide an experience once thought unattainable.
While you won’t be mistaken for billionaire driving a vintage Rolls relative to a new Phantom or Dawn, these still draw attention and could even provide fun wedding rentals on DriveShare. It would be a lot more fun to pull up to school drop-off in one instead of another nameless SUV.
This week’s eBay find is a great example of slightly faded status for a highly faded price. Just over three decades ago, this 1986 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit would have cost its well-heeled owner just north of $100,000 (or about $225,000 today), but these days they can regularly be found for less than $20,000.
Of course, when it comes to a car of this complexity, the entry price is likely just the beginning of your ownership expenses. The 6.7-liter V-8 and three-speed Hydramatic transmission are certainly under-stressed and robust, serving up “adequate” levels of propulsion on a silver platter. Fuel economy may be a bit more stressful on your wallet. Rear self-leveling suspensions are said to be similarly robust, but if they fail they’re frighteningly pricey to make right. Reconditioning worn bodywork and that over-the-top leather-clad interior could easily exceed the entry price. So buy the best you can find. A thorough inspection and maintenance records are critical.
The opportunity to take the helm of one of Crewe’s finest is pretty tempting, and if you need a good rationalization, try this: Although mechanical repairs won’t be cheap, they’re certainly less painful than the depreciation that comes with buying a new one.