Given the chance, Hagerty readers prefer the preserved base model

1964 Buick Special

Talking “what-ifs,” also known as bench racing, is always entertaining. So when we put the Question of the Week out on the Hagerty Forums—and asked, which do you prefer, the preserved base model or a high-option car that needs restoration?—we knew you would weigh in. We just didn’t know how it would shake out.

The debate is as old as the hobby itself, as there are many vintage cars that have been lovingly cared for from the time they left the dealer lot. The spread of these preserved cars is wide. The most desirable preserved cars are rare and highly-optioned, but there are plenty out there that have survived in spite of their base-model status.

Based on the responses last week, these base-model time capsule cars would be where you’d put your money, given the choice between those and high-optioned cars of questionable condition. Restorations, or even just keeping an antique car properly maintained, is expensive. Though a preservation car does not guarantee it won’t need some pricey fixes, it does keep a buyer from descending into a dark hole of repairs, not knowing where the bottom may be.

The most common reasoning for the selection was that a preserved car is less likely to be mangled with half-thought-out repairs or issues. A survivor car also gives the owner the choice to restore it in the future, but also plays into the adage that “they’re only original once.” One can lovingly enjoy the car knowing that restoration can bring it back, or work to keep it original for future generations to enjoy.

Do you agree with the consensus? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to chime in on this week’s Question of the Week; we’re asking what advice you would share with a new classic owner. The top tips will be featured in next week’s Answer of the Week, so stay tuned.