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1960 Desoto Adventurer 1960 Desoto Adventurer

6 upgrades to bring your classic car into the future

Owning a classic car offers a fun ride and a great piece of history to show off. Yet often  the car spends a good amount of time sitting in a garage waiting, for car shows and short trips to come along. By making a few modern updates to classic cars, also known as restomodding, you can let your classic see the road on a daily basis.

1960 Desoto Adventurer

Here are six updates to ramp up the performance and safety of your antique prize.


1. Disc Brakes

In general, classic cars come outfitted with either front or all four drum brakes. When you’re forced to break suddenly, you want the certainty that you’ll be able break in time wihout losing control. Poorly maintained drum brakes make for dangerous driving, and as easily as they distort with heat, they are as equally difficult to fix and maintain. 

Front disc brake kits come quite reasonably priced for many classic cars. Not to mention, disc brakes are easier to maintain, and replacements are found at any auto parts store. Plus, if you have plans to update your engine, you’ll want brakes that can handle the extra horsepower. Concerning cars produced before the 60s, while many kits force you to convert form a singe to a dual master cylinder, it’s a good step to make the switch regardless. This way the car will have some braking ability in case of a leak or line break.

According to Angie’s List, front-end kits vary in price between $800 and $1,200. Labor charges can up that number, but if you play the part of mechanic to your own classic car, it’s a steal for what you’ll receive in safety and driving improvement.


2. Power Steering

While varying in size (from tiny to whale), classic cars without power steering often make parking lots and tight spots a frustrating fiasco. Think downtown parallel parking, double-digit point turns, and angry onlookers. Luckily, there’s a conversion kit for that.

The price of power steering adaptions vary based on the car’s condition, and whether power steering was an original option. On original option models, the cost ranges between $1,000-$2,000 for an upgrade to rack and pinion power steering. Still, since parking lot scuffles occur with the best of handling, make State Farm classic car insurance a part of the plan to make sure you’re covered should anything happen to your baby.


3. Air Conditioning

Air conditioning isn’t just a comfort feature to add to a classic car. Rather, relying on air conditioning keeps up interior materials by preventing leather cracking and color fading from the sun when the windows are down.

To add or update an inefficient old factory A/C system, either purchase a universal replacement kit, or adapt the old system to use the modern refrigerant, R134. The new system offers very little engine drag, while keeping you sweat and sunburn free. 


4. Electric Fan

An overheated engine is a nightmare for any classic car owner. Instead of religiously listening to traffic updates and keeping out of rush-hour at all costs, opt for a bolt-on electric fan, which operates by maintaining an owner’s ideal pre-set temperature. Available for nearly every model, the electric fan cools down a sitting engine and frees up once horsepower is lost. 


5. Suspension

As notes, if plans for a power-heavy, performance-geared engine play a role in your classic car’s future, the stock suspension won’t hold up. A modern suspension upgrade will  make for a safer ride and a longer lifespan for your car.

While intensive suspension work and custom fabrication can take a toll on your budget, basic replacements of rubber bushings for polyurethane cost about as much as disc brakes. Rubber bushings crack within a few years and need constant replacement.


6. Seatbelts

Sounds simple enough, but for everyday driving, installing seatbelts into older model vehicles is essential. Restomodding advocate Jay Leno puts the same emphasis on seatbelts as on brakes for improving safety. Even models that featured stock seatbelts call for an ugrade to modern cross-body and lap styles.

It’s a classic on the outside, but it will run like you just fished it off the dealer’s lot. By upgrading your classic ride with modern power and safety features, you get a daily showstopper, complete with style and comfort.

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