Whatever Happened to The Ricers?

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The ‘90s/early 2000s was the last time messing with cars was a common thing among teens and 20s. These were the “ricers” and “tuners” – kids who worked on mostly Japanese stuff, especially Honda Civics and their higher-brow Acura cousins, which came with the hotter engines  . . . from the factory.

Italicized for reasons that will become clearer below.

The signature Ricer mod was a loud exhaust with a disproportionately huge muffler. Some put whistles in the pipe to mimic the sound of a turbo spooling up. This was Gen Y’s version of Gen X’s flipping the air cleaner lid over so that you could hear the four barrel moan when the secondaries opened.

But you don’t hear the buzzsaw sound of a tweaked out Civic or Integra much anymore.

The ricers have . . . retired. And no one has taken their place.

Yes, there are still some kids who mess with cars. But it’s not common anymore. Most gatherings of the car cognoscenti are populated by those long out of high school – and often well into middle age.

Why?

Several reasons come to mind.

The main one is – probably – lack of suitable raw material. Gen Y (which was in high school and college, the prime car-centric years, during the ’90s) was the last generation that had abundant, easy access to viable used cars.

Cars they could afford to buy on a teenager’s budget – and cars they could wrench on, without master mechanic skills and tools.

These have largely disappeared, because new cars have become orders of magnitude more complex since the early 2000s, with systems beyond the ken (and finances) of most current high school/college-aged kids. Drive-by-wire, direct injection . . . more app than automobile.

When these cars hit the used car market – or by the time they are teenager affordable – they are usually in an advanced state of deterioration. But that is not the real problem.

Thirty or 40 years go, a basket case car could be rehabbed, upgraded or at least made driveable with cheap used parts from the junkyard – but junkyards have become scarce and most cars built since the turn of the century have proprietary/integrated systems specific to that particular make/model/year that can’t be mixed and matched and made to work. Late model cars often require catastrophically expensive factory parts and hugely expensive diagnostic equipment – just to decrypt what might be ailing them.

The used Hondas of the ’80s and ’90s favored by the Ricers were favored for the same reason the used Chevys, Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, Fords and Mopars of the ’60s and ’70s were favored by the Gen Xers who preceded them.

They were easily tunable. Parts interchanged.

One could swap out a junkyard ’98 Integra’s high-revving VTEC four and slip it into a serviceable Civic’s body as easily – just about – as a Gen X’er back in ’86 could drop a cammed-out and stroked 383 small block Chevy into a ’78 Camaro.

That’s much harder to do today – and not just because it’s harder to do.

It is also harder to get away with doing it.

For one thing, areas that didn’t used to have smog check now do. And they check more than just the emissions. They plug the car into a computer- and that computer is plugged into Uncle’s computer – and that computer knows everything about the car. If the OBD system emits an unorthodox code, especially one indicating “tampering,” such as putting a different year engine in the car, the car not only fails, it is blacklisted. No registration, new or renewed – until the “tampering” is undone, regardless of cost.

The car becomes useless, even if it runs.

And they know if you’re running it regardless.

The DMV is everywhere – and so are ALPRs – automated license plate readers. Pass by one and the eye of Sauron is upon you. It probably won’t be long before they automatically send the Hut! Hut! Hutters! to your home for so much as a seatbelt “violation.”

And there’s insurance. It is both confiscatory (even for non-hot-rodded cars) and very hard to get away with not having – even if you never so much as splash mud on another car.

Computers, again.

And, complexity.

The late ’80s/early-mid ’90s Civics and Integras (and others) had no air bags, or maybe two. Didn’t have ultra fragile (because ultra-thin) body panels, as late-model cars do. These are extremely vulnerable to expensive damage. The air bags – cars built since the early 2000s have at least four, usually – are literally time bombs built into the car, physically as well as financially. 

If two go off in a ten-year-old car, the odds are it’s a goner – totaled rather than fixed. Even if it runs just fine. You’re not allowed to drive it with any federally required saaaaaaaaaaafety system not operating.

So even serviceable older cars get thrown away after mechanically fixable wrecks, because fixing the air bags costs more than the car is worth.

This, in turn has caused insurance costs to skyrocket to ludicrous extremes.

Teens have always paid more but now it’s at the point that they can’t pay at all.

The average monthly premium for al 16-year-old who has never wrecked anything or received a single jaywalking ticket is $250/month. Work that out. Assuming a minimum wage gig ($7.25/hour federal) that’s about 35 hours of work – almost a full week of full-time work –  just to pay the insurance. Most high school kids work part-time, and few kids want to work at all if almost everything they earn goes to the insurance mafia.

Even if they are willing, it doesn’t leave much for custom exhaust, whees and tires, etc. If the kid gets a single speeding ticket, his premium will likely go to $300 or more a month. Even if he wanted to keep on driving, he couldn’t afford to.

But perhaps the biggest reason for the crash of car culture is that the system keeps the rising generation out of cars until they are practically adults, by which time they view cars not as freedom machines but as debt albatrosses and appliances.

In most states, there’s an agonizing series of bureaucratic hurdles which must be traversed (none having anything to do with learning how to drive; rather, they involve water torture browbeating about saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety – which has become synonymous with Mindlessly Obey All Rules and Never Exercise Independent Judgment) before the larval driver may even get a license to drive.

And then it is hugely restricted until the kid is 18. For example he may not drive with other teens in the car, especially after dark. This is like going to the beach to look at the water.

So the kids game and text. They are ready for the automated electric car of The Future.

And the Ricers are no more.

. . .

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131 COMMENTS

  1. You know, now that I’ve thought about it some more… as awful as anti-ricer forums were, I now suspect they were the last vestige of non-twerpified, non-housebroken car culture. You could discuss street racing openly without everyone immediately assuming you were the Antichrist. You didn’t get shouted down for not worshipping Gaia and/or traffic police. Calling out bad taste and questionable workmanship didn’t immediately get you written off as a “hater”. They almost all took it too far and would dump massive amounts of hate on any car that had certain modifications (even well-executed), or any model that they didn’t think should be tuned, but I think we kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater in a big way. Frankly, I’d take any amount of hate over today’s “low and slow, obey all speed limits, aren’t pedal bikes fun?” car culture.

    • Hey Chuck,

      Maybe just once you could post about your love of cars without taking a gratuitous jab at cyclists.

      Just a thought,
      Jeremy

      • For me, the two go together. I hate bicycles because I love cars and want to resurrect the car culture of the 1960s.

        • Yeah Chuck, we know. You have made your irrational obsession with cyclists and your delusional belief that the mere possibility of a cyclist being on the road somehow prevents you from driving in a manner that you describe as “unjustifiable and dangerous”, quite clear.

          Lot’s of other people manage to drive fast and have fun with their cars despite the fact that a cyclist may be on the road. Many of my customers are also car enthusiasts, who drive pretty damn fast. Pretty sure Eric manages to have fun and drive fast as well. Why can’t you?

          Jeremy

          • My entire point is that it shouldn’t be “unjustifiable and dangerous” – or at least, no more than it used to be. At this point I’m really not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that, but I was probably trying to say that the best we as drivers can ever hope for from the authorities is benign neglect – so let’s not make that benign neglect, where we still have it, irrelevant.

            As for people enjoying driving, I’m really not sure how driving can be considered enjoyable when you have to treat some imaginary line in the middle of your lane as though it were the edge of the road. Bicycles really still aren’t “a thing” in terms of sheer numbers, but there could always be that ONE guy who thinks a poorly lit road at 2AM is a perfect time and place to walk or ride and very possibly without any significant illumination. And despite any claims that bicycles are “predictable, normal traffic”, it is pure luck of the draw. One day you can drive 250 miles without seeing a single non-driver, another you could see two hitchhikers and a bicyclist within 50 and all in places that are legitimately supposed to be for cars only. You can go out in the daytime expecting all kinds of hassle and see no one, but then go out at literally 2AM expecting a clear road and find the lightless rider.

            Again, my whole point is that, given that it was once possible for pass racers to run at 10/10ths on a given road for literally DECADES without a single racer or bystander getting killed, it should still be possible today. In fact, it should be MORE possible now than it was then.

            My beef with a lot of people on this forum and elsewhere is that, while claiming to be car enthusiasts, they put bicycles first – not just in theory, but in action. “I have a right so I’m just going to keep road riding until I get my wide shoulders/ped-free paths/whatever!” You and the others obviously think driving should be fun, otherwise you wouldn’t be on a car forum, but you still ask other drivers, by your own actions, to treat the entire shoulder and a significant chunk of the lane as a de facto bike lane (which directly interferes with driving being fun) until the infrastructure is upgraded to accommodate bicyclists (most likely in a way that directly interferes with driving being fun). You have a right to think this way and you technically have a right to road ride too, but to me there isn’t much difference between that and cheering when the police arrest someone for a harmless, months-old moving violation.

            • Hey Chuck,

              I’ve read your argument many times, it has not changed. I not only disagree with it, I think it’s delusional. As for your belief that you can’t have fun driving, the fact that many do means that this is an issue for you, not a fact. In so far as you are correct, it is due to the rise of the “safety cult” and the ramp up of penalties for minor infractions. Cyclists, as a class, are not responsible for this.

              “…but to me there isn’t much difference between that and cheering when the police arrest someone for a harmless, months-old moving violation”.

              That is a truly absurd and offensive statement. I ride in a manner that imposes no burden on drivers. Not once in 40 plus years of cycling have I ever caused a driver to have an accident or need to swerve or slam on their brakes to avoid hitting me. Sure, sometimes I annoy an incompetent driver when I dart into a side street in front of them and am out of their way long before they reach that intersection. But, I’m not responsible for their unwarranted over reaction.

              Jeremy

              • “As for your belief that you can’t have fun driving, the fact that many do means that this is an issue for you, not a fact.”

                It’s not just me. I wish I could find the “car-guy bicyclist” on another forum who said he used to race a GT3-prepped (ew, classes) Volvo Amazon in the canyons, but quit because more of his fellow bicyclists started showing up. Didn’t quit riding those roads, didn’t encourage his bicycling friends to do the same, just gave up and sided with his fellow bicyclists.

                I’m pretty sure he’s not the only one.

                This leads back to my original point. To the degree that fast backroad driving is “dangerous and unjustifiable”, if you are a car enthusiast, you should want to make it less dangerous and more justifiable.

                “In so far as you are correct, it is due to the rise of the “safety cult” and the ramp up of penalties for minor infractions.”

                Alright, let’s look at it this way. Say we took all the other factors impacting drivers – police activity, legal liability, penalties for moving violations, even average traffic volumes – back down to 1971 levels, but left nonmotorized road use at current levels. Would you, at that point, feel confident organizing or participating in a cross-country open-road endurance race, as Brock Yates did in that year? Would you feel comfortable running the mountain passes, as used to be very common (assuming single-lane runs here, just to be clear)?

                The people who still do that kind of thing, I really don’t know how. One canyon racer from California uses some top-secret setup probably involving a traffic counter to “see” other cars coming, but has mentioned that he still sees non-drivers wander onto the passes in the middle of the night; I guess he just sort of assumes it’ll “never happen to him”; in another video he mentions holding back on certain corners specifically because of bicyclists, though that was a daytime run.

                “Cyclists, as a class, are not responsible for this.”

                Well, to be sure, joggers and hitchhikers are probably worse due to being slower, more likely to be unlit at night, and more likely to be moving against traffic. Bicyclists just make a convenient figurehead for nonmotorized traffic in general because they’re more organized and widespread.

                ” I ride in a manner that imposes no burden on drivers. Not once in 40 plus years of cycling have I ever caused a driver to have an accident or need to swerve or slam on their brakes to avoid hitting me.”

                Then you are a better rider than I thought was possible. But if I remember correctly, you mainly ride in the city, and my beef is not with city riders. It’s with the people who dawdle down very narrow and/or very fast roads at speeds significantly slower than even regular traffic, assuming that since they “have a right” and “barely take up any space” everyone else will just have to assume they’re there 24/7/365 even though they pretty much aren’t. Just as an example: I do a lot of freeway driving for work. There are many days where I can make a 120-mile round trip without seeing a single non-driver or even excessively slow driver – but then one day I’ll be coming home and see a moped joining the opposite carriageway while a bicyclist rides up the shoulder of mine at maybe 10 MPH. Pure luck of the draw, regardless of what anyone says, and if “not driving” did become common enough to be considered predictable, that would not be better.

                • Chuck,

                  Despite your many thousands of words attempting to justify unjustifiable behavior your “argument” is simple, always the same and absurd.

                  It goes like this: “I wish to use the public roads as my personal raceway, drive all out (10/10ths), well beyond my sight lines and, sometimes, beyond the limits of adhesion. In my saner moments I recognize that this is unjustifiable and dangerous (man, I wish I had never admitted that!) but, I’ve decided to blame cyclists for the fact that I don’t feel comfortable doing this”.

                  Your “argument” is not an argument, it is an assertion of an untenable desire, masquerading as an argument. Most of your other ludicrous assertions are just window dressing on your core “argument”.

                  You do present some legitimate criticisms, but those are completely undermined by the insanity of your broader point. I do believe that there are some roads that cyclists should avoid, due both to prudence and courtesy. I do believe that a cyclist has an obligation to be as visible as possible. I do believe that “pack cycling” is obnoxious and selfish. I do believe that if a sufficient shoulder, relatively free of dangerous debris, exists, cyclists should use it.

                  I understand why Brent practices vehicular cycling, and I don’t fault him for it. I ride in a different manner. The rule I follow is simple, I ride in the manner that is safest and most efficient for me, that also minimizes my impact on drivers. This means that I use anything available to me, crosswalks, shoulders, sidewalks, bike paths, etc… I recognize that, in many cases, this is “illegal”. However, the last thing drivers actually want is that cyclists meticulously obey the “law”.

                  Eric is correct when he notes that most of the problems “caused” by cyclists are actually due to the actions of incompetent drivers. We cyclists hate it when some douchebag driver won’t pass, even when they easily could. This creates a conga line of justifiably pissed off drivers. But, they usually direct their ire at us, rather than the asshole who created the mess.

                  Finally, your blanket condemnation of all cyclists is a perfect example of an EPAutos cardinal sin, condemning an entire group due to the actions of a few.

                  Jeremy

              • One thing I forgot to add: before all this started, I put a ton of thought into how to achieve speed without endangering other drivers; it’s how I became known as the “never cut the center guy” on another car forum and at least one YT channel. And then bicyclists came along and put a giant wrench into all those calculations, to the point where it’s barely worth starting again (especially considering the amount of space some mountain riders ask for). The difference is, unlike the various car-guy bicyclists who have given up racing for riding, I’m not so willing to just give up.

                • Hi Chuck,

                  At great risk, I will offer the following:

                  Some of us remember the era before adult recreational cycling became a common activity. When in most areas, almost all of the people who rode bicycles were kids under 16 – and they almost always avoided main roads.

                  At that time, it was implicitly accepted that main roads were for cars. And at that time, people still drove in a manner that was more “aggressive” by today’s standards – because they could. There were laws prohibiting “speeding” and such, but the penalties were far less severe and so people could still enjoy driving. A ticket for 90 was just a ticket. Cops were cops, not murderous AGWs.

                  Ok, fast forward to Now.

                  Adult cycling is a mainstream recreation. People have been brutally conditioned to drive like Clovers. The explicitly accepted (because imposed) doctrine nowadays is that the roads – all of them – are for transportation and must be shared.

                  Legally, that has always been the case of course. What’s changed is the milieu.

                  I don’t condemn adult recreational cycling. Hell, they are just trying to make lemonaid out of lemons. Driving is No Fun anymore. At least on the bicycle, you get some exercise – and might have some fun.

                  • Hi Eric,

                    Your attitude on this is reasonable, Chuck’s is not. It is true that some cyclists are assholes and some ride in places that would be better left only to cars, but most do not. I also agree that driving has become tedious and unenjoyable, cyclists bear little responsibility for this. Chuck has made it clear, repeatedly, that he wishes to drive in a fashion that is objectively reckless and dangerous if anyone else is on the road (yet he is now backpedaling on that). I don’t object to Chuck’s dislike of cyclists or his legitimate criticism, I object to his blanket condemnation of all cyclists and his transference of his own selfishness onto us.

                    Finally, this statement, “…but to me there isn’t much difference between that and cheering when the police arrest someone for a harmless, months-old moving violation”, is despicable. To equate cycling with the sadistic glee described above, shows that he is indulging an irrational obsession. So, Chuck, here’s some advice. If you want any cyclist to listen to your valid criticisms (and you do have some), don’t present yourself as selfish, irrationally obsessed, asshole.

                    Jeremy

                    • Amen, Jeremy –

                      I’ve come to realize that much of the hate directed toward cyclists is really – properly – directed toward people who can’t competently deal with cyclists.

                      Meaning, pass them.

                      These are the “drivers” who will slow to a near crawl behind a cyclist they could easily and safely pass – if they were competent drivers. But they aren’t – and so traffic bunches up behind the cyclist, whose fault it isn’t.

                    • PS: I hear you in re voting; the topic depresses me. I feel like a combat medic trying to salvage soldiers with their legs blown off.

                      I’d rather their legs not have been blown off in the first place.

                  • “Some of us remember the era before adult recreational cycling became a common activity.”

                    Huh? Bicycling started out as an adult activity in the 19th century. There was a period between the 1940s and 1970s when adult bicycling was rare in the USA, which is what you remember.

                    For some reason this relatively small period of bicycling history where only children used bicycles gets considered “normal” when it isn’t at all.

                    As to staying off the main roads when I was kid my parents wouldn’t allow it but the neighbor kids would ride down the fastest main road (PSL 50mph, four lanes, center high curb median) to get to the mall a few miles away.

                    It was the bicyclists that brought about the beginnings of the smooth paved roads in the USA only to forced off many of them for a few decades. And again, as I’ve mentioned before, wide curb lanes in urbanish areas and bike lanes in rural areas solve the passing issues for competent motorists.

                    • Hi Brent,

                      I’m on your side here; I’m not anti-cyclist.

                      But recreational adult cycling as a mainstream thing is a new thing. Before the mid-late ’80s the only people who rode bikes like Tour de France bikes wearing Tour de France gear were actual competitive cyclists, very rare in America until that sport became popular with Americans over the past 25 years or so.

                      Mostly, it was kids waiting to be old enough to be able to drive – and they rode their bikes on the shoulder/on sidestreets. One didn’t encounter adults cycling on major roads except very occasionally.

                      The ironic thing is, had cycling as a mainstream adult recreation blossomed in the ’70s, it would have been accommodated better because people were better drivers then.

                      It was expected of drivers that they know how to pass, for instance – and those too inept or timid were considered poor drivers.

                      All it would take to fix the problem today is just that.

                      Better drivers.

                    • I get that, but it isn’t new. It’s been an adult activity for 200 years. The first boom for pedal power was 200 years ago, although on two wheels it’s more like a 160.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bike_boom

                      Adult bicycling simply nearly disappeared for awhile. Both recreational and transportation. After the film “breaking away” it started up again. But even with the 80s rebirth the foundations were being laid in the 1970s for a comeback.

                      I may have mentioned my dad has always bought a lot of books. When I needed to learn how to repair my bicycle I found a 1970s book on the subject in the house. My dad hasn’t ridden a bicycle in my lifetime, but I was about 7 when that book was published and read it when I was about 12. Anyway my long diversion here is that there were already adult bicycling books being published in the 1970s. Among them Forrester’s Effective Cycling.

                      The new urbanists and people born after I graduated HS like to promote it as new, but it is not. Not remotely so.

                      It was through dismantling anti-automobile nonsense as well as get off the road anti-bicycling nonsense that I learned about what came before. Bicycling was a huge adult activity in the 19th century.

                      Bicycling then began to retreat into the corners as the automobile took over probably reaching a low in the 1960s. That’s where all this ‘bicycles don’t belong on the road’ nonsense comes from. Even as late as the early-mid 1950s we get educational films like “Drive Your Bike” that make it clear bicyclists are traffic.

                      My point is that the dark days you remember are the aberration since the bicycle’s invention, not the norm.

                      As to the spandex, it’s fashion. Sure some people will claim it is functional, and may be it is to them but I’ve always been fast enough without it.

                      As someone who doesn’t follow fashion I’ve had one or two motorists tell me I am not serious bicyclist because I don’t wear that stuff. It’s like any human endeavor, people want to look the part, wear the uniform, send the right social signals. It’s only weirdos like me who won’t.

                    • Hi Brent,

                      “Bicycling was a huge adult activity in the 19th century”.

                      It was also the most popular spectator sport in America and Europe. The first American Superstar was Major Taylor, dubbed the “Black Cyclone”. despite enormous racism, he dominated American cycling, even though he was barred from competing in many events. Encouraged to go to Europe where he would not face the virulent racism in America at the time, he refused because the major events were on Sundays. Due to his devout faith, he would not ride on the sabbath. European promoters, eager to bring Taylor to Europe, no longer scheduled the prestigious events on Sundays. He spent the last 10 years of his career there and earned a reported $30,000 per year, making him one of the highest paid athletes in the world. Upon retiring, bad investments and the ’29 crash wiped him out. He died penniless at 53 and was buried in a pauper’s grave at Mount Glenwood cemetery in Illinois. Eventually, Frank Schwinn was persuaded to donate money to a group of retired professional racers who used the funds to have his body exhumed and moved to a more prominent area in the cemetery. His headstone reads:

                      “Worlds champion bicycle racer who came up the hard way—Without hatred in his heart—An honest, courageous and God-fearing, clean-living gentlemanly athlete. A credit to his race who always gave out his best—Gone but not forgotten.”

                      Cheers,
                      Jeremy

                  • Eric,

                    THIS. This is the one thing that the “car-guy bicyclist” mentality just plain does not get. Street racing was always illegal, but time was when you could get away with just about anything as long as no one got hurt – to the point where police on Mulholland would often let racers off with warnings as long as they looked like they knew what they were doing. I believe the fact that no one over the age of 15 wanted a bicycle at the time was crucial to allow that state of affairs. So when Brent calls those “dark days” I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or hurl. Those are the days every car enthusiast should want back!

                    Then someone decides to bring bicycle culture back from the dead, and suddenly it turns out that every great driving road was actually a great cycling road all along, and anyone who wants great driving roads to ever be a thing again should just build them themselves, at great expense (and also at great liability, unless by some miracle that system is reformed).

                    Jeremy,

                    “…and some ride in places that would be better left only to cars”

                    Finally, someone admits this incredibly obvious thing! A few months ago I couldn’t even get Brent to admit that the fricking Nurburgring was a dumb place for a pedal bike. If the concept of blasphemy can be applied to car culture, then surely that is it!

                    “I also agree that driving has become tedious and unenjoyable, cyclists bear little responsibility for this.”

                    When I can go back to fearing the oncoming lane more than I do the shoulder, then I’ll agree with you here.

                    “Chuck has made it clear, repeatedly, that he wishes to drive in a fashion that is objectively reckless and dangerous if anyone else is on the road”

                    It’s not “anyone else”, not at all. Well before this all started, I spent significant time figuring out how to work around normal traffic. My entire point is that non-drivers (“bicyclists” as a generic term) require an entirely different set of considerations, which is so onerous that it makes driving for fun – at any speed – not worth the bother. Between bicyclists who could be going as slow as 10 MPH on some uphills and joggers/hikers who are very likely moving against traffic outright, the end result is that the entire shoulder plus several feet of lane width is off limits anywhere forward visibility is not 100% perfect – and some corners aren’t even wide enough to give that much space without veering into the oncoming lane.

                    That’s what this is about. I’ve never actually driven at 10/10 on the street, though I would very much like to see it become possible within my lifetime. But when I drive, regardless of speed, I’d like to be able to do so without having to worry about whether I’m too close to the edge of the road for NoEngine McIHaveARight’s liking, especially when NoEngine McIHaveARight has a very low chance of actually being in the space I’m supposed to leave for them at any given moment. Apparently, that’s the same as wanting to go 80 in a school zone. Not sure how that works, but whatever.

                    If non-drivers were not an issue, I wouldn’t even bother to talk about this because the rest is easy enough to figure out. But they are, and even the so-called “considerate” ones ask for so much, and leave so few places untouched by their presence, that it’s barely even worth trying anymore.

                    “…and his transference of his own selfishness onto us.”

                    Transferring my selfishness onto you? Who’s the selfish one: the person who waits until the deadest hours of the night and then goes out for a rip, or the person who demands that massive but also vague amounts of road width be reserved 24/7/365 so that he can pedal along at 20 under? Maybe someone needs an escape route to avoid a moose/super wide load/veering car? Just “not speeding” or “leaving space” is no panacea for situations like those with so much coincidence involved.

                    And if you’re right, then what? Then either car culture, ethically speaking, must die, or entirely new spaces must be created specifically for non-drivers, everywhere. The willingness of so-called car enthusiasts to contribute to the former in the absence of the latter – in other words, to prioritize everything else over driving – disturbs me.

                    “To equate cycling with the sadistic glee described above, shows that he is indulging an irrational obsession.”

                    I can see how you could think this, but what I was seeing wasn’t so much sadistic glee as it was typical safety-worship. The 2AM roundabout drift didn’t hurt anyone, but it “could have” hurt someone, so the guy needed to be punished – in the words of one commentor, “even a year later, if they have evidence”. So I wasn’t equating cycling with “sadistic glee” so much as with a complete lack of concern for car culture or its future due to other priorities taking precedence. Would you be as upset if I’d equated cycling with the open environmentalism seen on other car fora?

                    Brent,

                    “Huh? Bicycling started out as an adult activity in the 19th century. There was a period between the 1940s and 1970s when adult bicycling was rare in the USA, which is what you remember.

                    For some reason this relatively small period of bicycling history where only children used bicycles gets considered ‘normal’ when it isn’t at all.”

                    Probably because, to normal people, it looked like progress, in the literal sense of the word. Also because, to the best of my knowledge, it was artificially reintroduced during the gas crises and environmental movement.

                    “It was the bicyclists that brought about the beginnings of the smooth paved roads in the USA only to forced off many of them for a few decades.”

                    Because they were going out of date, and probably would have continued to do so had the leftists not suddenly glommed onto LA smog/OPEC hissy fits to push their agenda. Honestly, I’m surprised it took as long as it did. The time of horses as a common mode of transport eventually passed too, except among the Amish; do you think “horse enthusiasts” should be out riding around on any road they can find just because they can? Because I guarantee you wouldn’t like it at all if they did.

                    “And again, as I’ve mentioned before, wide curb lanes in urbanish areas and bike lanes in rural areas solve the passing issues for competent motorists.”

                    As long as there was some kind of drainage ditch or other hookable edge inboard of the rural bike lanes, I’d be fine with that, though if you want them to be “pure” bike lanes that still leaves the problem of finding a place for pedestrians.

                    “Bicycling then began to retreat into the corners as the automobile took over probably reaching a low in the 1960s. That’s where all this ‘bicycles don’t belong on the road’ nonsense comes from. Even as late as the early-mid 1950s we get educational films like “Drive Your Bike” that make it clear bicyclists are traffic.”

                    Sounds to me like a natural progression. Like I said before, I’m surprised it took as long as it did. I’m also more than a little miffed that it didn’t stay that way.

                    “My point is that the dark days you remember are the aberration since the bicycle’s invention, not the norm. ”

                    “Dark days”? Are you serious? Those are the exact days I wish every day that I’d been alive to see. No catalytic converters, no or very little radar, no classes, and no bikes. Sounds like my idea of heaven.

                    • Chucky, Until you build your own private race course you’re going to have to deal with the fact that the public way is for traffic of all sorts.

                      And once again the greatest impedance I find on the roads are motorists who can’t be bothered to do the immediate task well. It matters not if I am using one of my automobiles or bicycles.

                      For bicycling they were dark days because popularity fell and bicycle technology stagnated. Of course you have to act like cloverian troll.

                    • Chuck,

                      “Finally, someone admits this incredibly obvious thing!”

                      I’ve maintained this from the start.

                      “It’s not ‘anyone else’, not at all.”

                      I know you’re disavowing it now, but you said this, not me. Here are your actual words:

                      “I know that my preferred style of driving is illegal and dangerous, and so basically depends on the good graces or simple absence of other people.”

                      I think this speaks for itself.

                      “Well before this all started, I spent significant time figuring out how to work around normal traffic”.

                      Wow Chuck, you figured out how to drive unsafely, safely. The fact that you believe this shows how irrational you are on the subject. Look, I’m not inventing how you wish to drive, all-out, beyond your sight lines and beyond the limits of adhesion, you described it repeatedly yourself. No matter how much time you spent “figuring stuff out”, driving this way is dangerous and does, as you once understood, require the “simple absence of other people.”

                      “Who’s the selfish one…”

                      Well, let’s see. you object to the mere possibility of any cyclist being on any road that you like, period. You have graciously rescinded the call for an outright government ban on us and replaced it with a call that we all choose to ban ourselves from these roads. All so you can indulge your fantasy that, were it not for cyclists, you could safely drive dangerously. What do I want? I wish to be able to use the public roads on my bicycle while being aware of and considerate to others.

                      Look, I don’t object to driving fast, near the limits of car and man. I couldn’t care less if you break the law. Of course, a power drift through a round about is fine, at anytime provided you can see that it’s clear. However, if the round about is blind, then it’s not fine, no matter what time it is.

                      I don’t object to the way you want to drive, but you have a moral obligation to do so without harming others. Even if every cyclist and pedestrian were banned from the roads, your preferred driving style would still be unacceptable on public road; you have not figured out how to safely drive dangerously.

                      Despite your protestations otherwise, you do have options, legal and illegal. You could try to organize a road racing event or series where you are, or you could travel to already established road races and compete in them. That you claim to lack the funds to do this doesn’t impose an obligation on me, or anyone else. Also, the first option requires effort, including fundraising but not necessarily much of your own money. Again, the fact that you are unwilling to make any effort, does not impose an obligation on me.

                      If you’re willing to subject yourself to legal risk in order to drive as you wish, without endangering others, you could set up set up a monitored and barricaded illegal course. Spend some time scouting around for a good section of road that can be barricaded and monitored, I’m sure some exist where you live. Preferably, it would be in the National forest or the State equivalent, have few access roads and be rarely traveled at night. Go out at 2 AM with some like minded buddies, set up a barrier at the beginning and leave one guy there to monitor it, if there are access points along the course, barricade them. Set up a barricade at the top of the course and leave one guy there to monitor it. Then take turns racing and monitoring the barricades. Of course this takes effort and involves risk to you. But, your refusal to do anything other than complain about cyclists doesn’t impose an obligation on me.

                      Finally, you wrote this:

                      “…given that it was once possible for pass racers to run at 10/10ths on a given road for literally DECADES without a single racer or bystander getting killed”.

                      You’re gonna have to back that one up, as a simple search contradicts your claim. But, if you believe that street racing was fatality free for decades, name the decades and provide the evidence.

                      Jeremy

          • Jeremy,

            “you can’t have fun driving, the fact that many do means that this is an issue for you, not a fact.”

            I’d argue that it is a fact and not an issue.

            I enjoy driving but fun is not a way of describing what driving has become in this era of new freedom.

            Interstates are no longer fun. The US highway is no longer fun. State highways are no longer fun. Even country roads only have stretches of 2 or 3 miles without a stop sign.

            Fun has been outlawed in just about aspect of life in these United States.

            • H T

              “Fun has been outlawed in just about aspect of life in these United States.”

              It has been criminalized! And this is No Fun. Part of this is due to the pathological obsession with saaaaaaaaaaaafety – which has ruined cars as well as driving them. This, of course, is not to advocate “recklessness” – though that is how it is taken and portrayed by the Safety Cult but rather to point out that it is an obsession and thus pathological. The Safety Cult has made people look upon driving as frightening, fraught with imminent peril – which must be constantly guarded against. The same applies to life in general in these United States.

              It’s very sad.

              • Eric,

                “The Safety Cult has made people look upon driving as frightening, fraught with imminent peril – which must be constantly guarded against.”

                And then end result, in reality, at least to me, it IS perilous.

                People tailgating because they are afraid to, or don’t know how to pass.

                Getting accordioned between Bambi, a Taka Claymore, and the jackass behind me has become a legit concern.

                T-boning some idiot making a left in front of me is another one. People seem like they abandon depth perception when they turn the key (or whatever passes for that these days).

                And don’t get me started on the cell phones. The laws are such that they HAVE TO LOOK AWAY from the road.

                I used to fly down to Sandusky, Ohio for lunch with a buddy of mine. A fun trip across Lake Erie from Detroit. Cedar Point is right on the lake as is the runway.

                Just as you’re crossing from water to land, here come the seagulls. Bobbing and weaving through the birds as you cut the power just before you touch down was always a rush. We would flip a coin when we saw the roller coaster to see who got to do the landing. That was fun!

                There is a huge difference between an unwanted adrenaline rush and something you anticipated and truly enjoyed.

                These days even driving in a city with a population of 25-30 thousand people is as much a pain in the ass as taking chicken bone alley (Chicago’s I 55) during rush hours.

  2. Oddly enough, airbags were touted by the insurance companies as reason enough to give sizable discounts for on your policy premiums, vs. the cars you insured without airbags. Now that everyone is “airbag equipped” regardless of choice, the same insurance companies rape you and rake you over the coals financially, and all for supposedly doing exactly what they said was best for your policy. I’m sure I said this beofre, but when you give con men, crooks, and bullies an inch, they will take a mile, just on principle.

  3. Eric, where do you get your pics for these articles? Thie kid in this first pic looks like he’s constipated and simultaneously trying to do his best impression of Dirty Harry, and not succeeding. I miss the car culture we grew up with, but I don’t miss the guys who had parents buiying them whatever they wanted and then used the car in some prick-waving contest. A lot of those guys’ only talent was spending money they never earned, just to get a piece of ass, then bragg about it…..losers, the lot of them. It’s no wonder women today have no idea what a good man is, considering all the screwed up crap they “learned” in Senior High. Don’t even get me started on College Culture either, that would never end, lol!

  4. It’s a very late reply but I can sort of answer what happened to the ricers. Yes, I’m sure the hater parade (which I’m ashamed to admit I was a part of, before I myself had a car, simply because I thought that was what car enthusiasts were supposed to do) was part of it. How many more dedicated car enthusiasts might we have today if we’d taken these people in and helped them grow and learn instead of building entire websites just to sneer “your car is gay and so are you and your mom should have had an abortion hurhurhurhurhur”? Heck, how many of these people left car culture, became bicyclists, and came back to haunt us with liability on the backroads?

    But that’s not all there is to it. A lot of it, I think, has to do with our good friend Uncle Sam.

    When technology outruns the regulations that govern it, all is well and it makes cars faster, (sometimes) lighter, and more fun to drive. This happened from the dawn of the automobile all the way through the early 1970s, really picking up steam in the later half of that period after WWII ended. It happened again from the late 1980s through the early 2000s, as the first major wave of climate/environmental panic kinda sorta-ish subsided while engineers learned their way around computers and got to grips with the awesome forces unleashed by turbocharging, in the process setting up the tuner vs. muscle war that the whole “ricer” thing was a part of.

    When the regulations start to outrun technology, the opposite happens, and an automotive dark age is the result as technology is mainly used to make cars safer and cleaner and fill them with Clover-bait “shiny objects” such as touchscreen infotainment (in the process making them heavier, and more complicated, and harder to tune). Fast cars may still exist, and may even continue to gain speed, but this mainly happens with cars which are difficult for “normal people” to afford, or at least reaching that point – more pedestrian models become beaten-down and not worth trying to work with. This happened from the mid-70s to the mid-80s after the first wave of climate/air quality panic, and has been happening again since the late 2000s due to lip-flappingly insane CAFE standards along with other places suddenly having their own (largely diesel-induced) air quality headaches.

    The difference is, the first time this happened, it didn’t really kill car culture because the older models were still around in “work-with-able” shape and the new ones still had the basic essence of a fast car if you weren’t afraid of the environMental Prosecution Agency. This time, the older models are sometimes still around but they just don’t carry the visceral attraction of a muscle car, and new cars are frequently too far gone to be worth trying to tune. I keep telling people on other forums that they should be against this and that car culture can’t keep running on used models from the 80s, 90s, and 00s forever, but the response is usually some variation of “NO! SAVE ENVIROMEENT!”or “SAFETY UBER ALLES!” Then you add the insurance, and the gas prices, and the police culture, and lest I forget, the non-motorized traffic which is now everywhere at once, and I think car culture may already be on borrowed time. As much as I don’t like it, the current wave of enthusiasm for all things JDM may be the last wave of true car culture we’ll ever see.

    • I never really liked the ricers that would go full throttle at 2 in the morning. I didn’t care for most of the mods they did… but you’re right, they got a lot of genuine hate. The infighting between and within the various car-guy subcultures/enthusiast communities could have much to do with the lack of a car culture today. No one could just appreciate the machines and tastes of others apparently. I’m guilty of this too.

      So now the forums and blogs are all a bunch of true-believers. Behaving more like NPCs touting the same lines, not even giving a shit about cars. The comments/responses on car sites (this one excepted) and any other randomly chosen enthusiast community are indistinguishable.

      • You don’t know the half of it. You think car forums are bad, they’re nothing compared to forums about car-related video games. Those fill up in no time at all with people who have some vague attraction to cars (hence their interest in the games) but have seen a few too many scare PSAs and read a little bit too much environmental propaganda to really defend car culture in real life. These people will then tell you that you are an omnicidal maniac who does not deserve a driver’s license if you accelerate quickly away from stoplights or don’t want to go backroad scouting without a radar detector. (Too bad no one’s figure out how to make an NMT detector; that would be useful as well). They’ll also say that 160 horsepower is “wildly excessive” for a 2850 pound (if not more like 3000) mini-minivan; maybe with the you-know-whos around they’re right, but other than that I’d say it’s actually right in the middle of reasonable for a base model.

        This, by the way, is the other reason car-guy bicyclists annoy me. Other than the obvious foot-shootery of trying to be into cars and bicycles at the same time, well, I’m sorry, but bicycle culture really is killing car culture. Even if you believe in the abstract that speed limits are an illegitimate manifestation of authority or that people should be able to drive whatever they want, even if you usually act and vote based on those beliefs, you are still helping to weaken car culture by contributing to the increasing pointlessness of tuned cars.

        • I can’t believe there are car-related video game fan communities. The Forza/Grand Turismo games are basically the same each time. 60 bucks every couple of years and $350 worth of DLC car content that is probably already in the game, just locked. But I’m sure the NPCs who pretend to like cars in these communities are the same who get excited over a touchscreen being in a car, or push-button start, or electric vehicles in general. They probably are also the same people who buy games full price every year, and the season passes.

          Back when I read motortrend, I saw a comment, it was something like “What car needs more than 200hp?” or “who needs more than 200hp?”. Just people for some reason spending their free time justifying the engine-minimization + turbo trend that started then and continues now. And they pretend to like cars.

          • Gran Turismo used to be great, but it kind of peaked with GT4 all the way back in 2005. On top of which, they have a sad tendency to jettison huge numbers of their original-design courses (and quite frequently the best ones) every time the series moves to a new generation of consoles. And yes, its fanbase is chock full of these people, who also (annoyingly) tend to take Top Gear’s “Cool Wall” segments as gospel truth.

            Forza is the poster child for abusive DLC practices, and the Horizon series continues to be page one in the “how to take a great idea and then do it completely wrong” handbook. Horizon or Motorsport, it doesn’t matter, complacency has well and truly set in with this franchise. Even Gran Turismo beat them to (token) interior customization, which is truly shameful.

            Need for Speed used to be the business, but is now fully given over to “stance” culture (basically the modern ricers, but with even less pretense of speed) while also flushing itself down the brake-to-drift toilet because the most lucrative markets are apparently 12-year-olds and screaming YouTube clickbaiters.

            Assetto Corsa does so much right, but what even are graphics? A racing game made in 2014 being unable to properly simulate night racing without janky shader hacks is a joke, whether it was a deliberate design choice or not.

            The game I speak of is none of these and is one I would probably be playing right now instead of ranting on this comment thread, if the post office wasn’t currently doing everything in its power to ensure I don’t get the last piece of my new and much-improved computer until after I start working 6-7 days a week between two jobs.

            • I still have those, and my PS2. I never did give a rat’s ass about “chatting” or “blogging about a computer or video game, though, I just enjoyed playing what I enjoyed. I still have OS9 Escape Velocity and oodles of plug-ins, as well as OSX EV Nova and subsequent Classic upgrades I play from time to time. I even still collect and restore model trains that are as old as I am, but chatting about them online is very rare for me. Live online gaming irritates me, mostly due to immaturity of most of the participants, but also because I don’t really need someone else for my hobby interests. Sharing that interest on occasion is helpful and rewarding, in small ways, but does not make the “experience” as far as I am concerned, lol! I don’t need to compete with anyone but myself, and find that my own personal challenges are the most rewarding.

            • Shotgun Chuck, The old Need for Speed games were definitely the best. Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit, and High Stakes, were great racing games. Hot Pursuit 2 for the PS2 was good as well. These were of course made before EA became what they are today. Good luck with the new PC. I’m brandonjin on steam if you’re interested.

              Gtc, people were a bit nicer online in say, the mid 2000’s. Nowadays people just scream at you and tell you what a piece of shit you are. Then there’s the lag and inconsistencies. Playing online isn’t much fun. I do like playing with friends against A.I. Less frustrating and more fun, even if you lose.

          • Hi Brandon,

            There are few things more noxiously totalitarian – but presented in a form that seems, or tries to seem, so reasonable – than this business of “who needs.”

            Deconstructed – or rather, exactly defined – it means: I don’t think you need (x) and you should be prevented from having/being allowed to buy/possess (x).

            Or – the flip side – decrees you do “need” (y) for example, air bags and health insurance.

            That malevolent undercurrent of coercion is always there.

            • Actually Eric, the worst is the mirror image of that where Someone Else decides you or I MUST have x or y and will force it down our throats, and rob us for the means to do so!

            • Eric you had a great article about this. https://www.ericpetersautos.com/2012/12/19/if-guns-are-bad/

              If one accepts their premise, that one should not have something because they don’t “need” it, well, then, nobody really needs much of anything. Just enough food and water to not die. Of course, even in their socialist utopia, eventually, people can’t even get what they physically need, and die of starvation.

            • Long ago I came up with the perfect counter argument to those who say I don’t need something transportation wise. I agree with them, I tell them all I need is a bicycle and a compacted dirt trail and it’s all they need too.

            • this business of “who needs.”

              so true.

              It is often said that “no one NEEDS an AR 15 rifle, and cERTAINLY does not need the standard capacity magazine, that is, 30 rounds.

              Well, mthe folks in church in Sutherland Springs Texas a year or so ago did not realise they NEEDED one of those, as they’d decided they reallly did not NEED any guns in their church and so made the place a gun free zone, legal to do in Texas. Well, a crazed guy came in with the AR 15 HE thought he needed, and began shooting. Right then, the people IN the church building NEEDED an AR 15, but did not have one. Thankfully, they kept one (unawares) at their neighbour’s house and he ran and got it when he heard the shooting. He always thought HE needed one. He walked outside, saw the perp still firing at the ones still alive, and neighbour fired ONE ROUND (though he had one, he did NOT “need” his standard 30 round mag,,,, as he ONLY fired one round. But that one went just where he told it to go, and the killer stopped immediately and left the scene. He had been hit badly enough he decided he did not need to live anymore, and anded his own life. Seems he’d likely not have lived much longer anyway, as that one shot had told heavily.

              Then there was the chap, a week or two ago in I think it ws Ohio… he felt HE needed an AR 15, and could not find a good reason NOT to also need the standard capacity magazines. So he had them, too, in his home, along with the AR 15 rifle. He and his room mate were home one evening when five dirtbags came crashing into the house… three armed with the AR 15’s they thought they needed. Imagine their surprise when they opened a door into one room and found themselves looking UP the wrong and of Homeowners’ badly needed AR 15 rifle…. which barked….. one pero fell dead inside the house, two more tried to make it to hospital but died on the way, and the two unarmed perps were hit but escaped….. later caught when they thougth they NEEDED medical care. Homeowner did not report how many rounds HE fired, but police did comment that they icked up “dozens” of emtpy shell casings. Homeowner was not hit. He sure die NEED his AR 15 that day, and, as far as we know, also NEEDED his standard capacity magazines.

              Then we find a group of Korean folks, living in an area near Los Angeles, who decided they NEEDED to get some AR 15’s, this was back in 1992. It was before DieFie had decided NO ONE NEEDS one of these things, and so hornswoggled her way into saying so with a new law. When the riots happened in that neighbourhood after some kerfuffle, I think it was the Rodney King incident, gangs of thugs were roving about, busting into homes and shops, taking what they wanted, then burning the place to the ground. After doing this for a couple of days, the coppers doing NOTHING to stop them, the thugs approached the Korean neighbourhood, where the families, in Korean custom, had their businesses at street level, and lived in the back or in a second story residence above. Most of those roofs werel, as was common then, flat, so made extra usable space up on top. Low walls kept little kids and dogs from falling off. As the thugs approached with their clubs, bats, torches, olotov coctails, obviously intent upon hitting the Korean folks next…. the MEN of those families appeared on the rooves, armed with their AR 15’s and standard capacity magazines, and hollered at the monsters to not come any closer. After fair verbal warning was ignored, the gang kept on coming, and the Koreans now realised they really did NEED those AR 15 rifles just then. They let the hoods get close enough, then fired a few rounds aimed short…. as warning. The monsters got the message.. they now NEEDED clean skivvies, and fast tennis shoes to beat feet outta there fast. The rioting and burning and pillaging persisted for most of another week, and since the Koreans had felt they NEEDED those AR 15 rifles AND their standard capacity magazines, they HAD THEM, and had learned well how to USE them. Their homes and businesses were left unscathed, and everything around them was utterly destroyed… some 1500 structures.

              I don’t need an AR 15 rifle, myself, but now the gummint says I can’t have one after his next July I’ve decided I NEED to get one, just in case I am wrong in my judgement that I don’t NEED one.

              Our forbearers fought a war to kick out the tyrants that “had a mind to tell us how we should live, and we had a mind that they wouldn’t”, including telling us what kinds of guns we should have what we should eat, drive, wear, live in, even think and like.
              I hope we won’t NEED to tell them firmly they cannot do that any longer, but if we do, I hope it comes before we NEED those AR 15 rifles AND the standard capacity magazines they were built with
              and find we cannot get them because too many eedjits decided “nobody NEEDS an AR 15 rifle, OR a standard capacity magazine……

                • AR’s are fine for sage rats, gophers, feral catrs, coons in the henhouse, and two legged predators at close range. Not even legal for deer anywhere I know of.

                  I much prefer an M 1 Garand, firing the venerable super long range, accurate, heavy hitting 7.62 x 55, or a BAR feeding the same round. A decent substitute would be either of those, or an FN AR, sending the slightly less capable but very satisfactory 7.54 x 51.

                  For really reasing out and touching someone, 7mm Mag, 338 Win Mag, 300 Wby mag, are all far more capable. There is some challenge to bolt action repeating rifles, but once they are learned, they are more usefull because EVERY round counts… and has the authority to do so. I know folks regularly hitting their desired target at 800 to 1000 yards reliably. The puny 5.56 is barely adequate at 300 yards, near useless at 400. I’ve known folks with a Smith .357 revolver put all six in a four inch circle, handheld, at 200 yards. That one is also quite useful against twl legged predators at close range, which I think can be considered anything out to 100 yards.
                  But there IS still that nagging business about the AR being so hated… AND so popular. Methinks it would be wisdom to add one of them as my own personal property before it is “not allowed” here. While I don’t see my NEED for one now, I would far rather find and buy one now when I still can, than to find, once I may not, that I had made a error in judgement and really DO need one. Its always easier to divest myself of something not neded than to acquire one once prohibited.

  5. HA!!!! I grew up in the you-pull-it yards. Only way I could afford to keep my cars running. I once fixed a friend’s car with used parts that probably would have killed her in a month or two for $75 in parts. Her dad was outraged because it would have cost $1000. I reckon he figured I was trying to get some action when I just couldn’t conscious seeing her die in that POS. She told friends I was doing it for free when she was supposed to pay for parts. Since she was Asian I let it slide not to embarrass her. Hey $75 eh? Then again maybe I was just a sucker. I loved that yard though, you’d go in and they’d print off a sheet with all the interchangeable parts. They had this sign on the wall behind the desk I loved, it said “All parts are used parts once they’re used” Now it seems they can’t care less for the individual picker anymore. Crazy prices and bad customer service. Seems the days of picking and fixing or picking and hoping up are over.

  6. Old Ricer here!
    We are not gone, but due to the many barriers Eric mentioned we have adapted our skills to handle more types of vehicle modifications.
    The term for todays aged ricer is a Modder. (Suspension modder, Engine modder, etc)
    Modders work on the concept that current cars are based on platforms. There are many parts which can be used across models with the same platform.
    One thing that can be modded on any car is the suspension, brakes, and tires.
    There are also things like headlights, horns, battery relocation, and the disabling of safety devices which we love to work on.
    Intake systems can also be modded depending on the engine.
    Many turbo-charged cars can have the ECU tune modified.

    So, the Ricers never went away they just became older, more wise, and learned to find new ways to tweak and tune their vehicles. With the internet, this information can be shared with groups with similar interests and bring new modders into existence.

  7. Hi Eric, thank you for the reply earlier in the thread. When you said

    “Part of the reason for the reluctance to sell such cars here is CAFE, the fuel economy rigamarole that has become an “emissions” rigamarole about to strangle the making of any car that isn’t electric.”

    I guess our regulations are different here in Australia, we move up Euro level gradations, I think Euro6 is the next one, and that has killed off some car variants or forced re-engineering of others. No company wide target Down Under?

    Given the recent ‘Yellow Vest’ riots in France (initially protesting diesel tax hikes as the French Gov tried to follow its climate change promises) – and now Macron backing down somewhat – are we seeing a Libertarian, working/middle class uprising against all this top-down legislation for the climate which adds cost and creates poverty? Are the US CAFE laws so written in stone that they can’t be changed? One thing I loved about being in North America was the pickup trucks (we are stuck with those smaller Thai built dual cabs with no tray space) – surely those US pickups consume as much fuel as a RWD sedan from Oz? Some of them had 7 litre motors!

    Btw I think Holden did an electric Commodore concept in about 2000/2001 – water under the bridge…

    Anyway, electric can be pretty fast too! And fewer moving parts. If I can rebuild my electric planer, I can do an auto electric motor. The electric cars could be closer to true automotive freedom (solar power off individual people’s roofs powering them) – but it seems to be bundled with a Big Brother style of connectivity and surveillance. Pity about that. And has anyone bothered to look up Lithium to see if it is a ‘fossil’ resource? – that is, is it infinite, or just like Oil is there a limited amount of it? We looked at it and concluded that it was ‘fossil’ in its reserve sizes.

    Of all automakers, Mazda is pushing in a different path with the Skyactiv-X ICE motors, almost a hybrid between diesel and petrol, but running off the latter – they argue wheel-to-well emissions see ICE still competitive. (back on topic:) Perhaps we could see Mazda ricers well into the future!

    Cheers for the site and I’ll slowly be collecting old Aussie Falcons to keep life good…

    • Hi Jack,

      I’m not opposed to electrically-driven cars, per se. The problem – which I seem to be pretty much the only car journalist willing to say so openly – is that they aren’t competitive on the merits with internal combustion cars; too expensive to be economical and too functionally limited to be practical. Hence, the need to mandate and subsidize them.

      Then I ask the worst question of all: Why?

      Why are EVs being so aggressively pushed on us? There isn’t much organic market demand for them. It is a weird combine of the government and corporations practically cramming them down our throats. Yet gas is cheap and abundant. Emissions from standard cars are practically nil. Internal combustion cars are simply better as cars.

      So, why?

      I am certain it is because governments and corporations – which have become effectively synonymous – want to use the EV as the vehicle to increase their control over mobility; to restrict it and make it cost us more.

      Nothing else makes sense/explains the weird phenomenon we’re witnessing right now.

    • Electric vehicles would be great – just as soon as we get that Mr. Fusion generator that runs on stale beer and banana peels.

  8. its still easy
    you just use an older car.
    my 20 yr old kid , who is a gear head and pretty good mechanic, has a 76 chevy pickup,
    he has done an LS swap, and a 5 speed transmission, and Ac, mostly by himself
    he can repair residential hvac , is a certified welder, etc
    bagged two deer already this season also.

    • Hi Justin,

      Yes, it’s doable – if the kid has the guidance you’ve provided yours. Most, however, have no familiarity with the old stuff, which is ancient stuff to their generation. That ’76 is (like my ’76) getting on 50 years old. It is akin to me having a Model A Ford when I was in high school back in the ’80s.

      I foresee a time, not far distant, when pre-computer cars will be forced off the road – for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety or because they constitute a “danger” to “the environment.” This will occur the moment large numbers of people begin using them as daily transportation rather than sign up for a new electric car.

      • That’s a good point. I think that might have something to do with why I’m not all that into the “retro” look of the Mustang and Camaro. The throwback look for vehicles that were introduced before I was born. It’s like hearing classic rock every where I go too.

        Nothing “iconic” about it. Just lazy design backed up by lazy marketing. Maybe the boomers will live forever (they’re working on it), but so far no one seems to have survived life (except maybe that one guy).

  9. Well, with this depressing article in mind, I need some advice. I have sons growing up. Oldest is seven. I bought a ’98 Lexus and a salvage Lexus of the next model year (for parts) to try and teach myself how to work on cars and teach my sons how to do the same. The hope is to teach them to be a little more self sufficient. Is it still possible? Should I junk the Lexus and go a different direction?

    • Nothing wrong with choosing the Lexus. There will be the usual painful Honda jobs but most anything FWD or Japanese or both will have those. You’ve got one car to practice on so it probably won’t be so bad. That was always the thing about the self serve salvage yard, getting the part itself was practice for the worst part of the job in most cases.

  10. Many good points today. Although re: insurance yes most places now require mandatory driver liability insurance but that doesn’t have to cover your own vehicle property damage. So it is cheaper than what most people buy (liability only is cheaper). If younger people drive anything at all they have to have that. So there isn’t any incremental cost to owning a fixer upper, ricer, etc.
    Among other problems, homes with garages are scarcer and those garages are smaller, not easy to have tools and room to work. You need more expensive and different tools, as Eric notes. Street racing still goes on (in my locale) but with many caused deaths it isn’t tolerated much. Middle class kids have Dads who didn’t work on cars because they instead were on college degree tracks. Lots of reasons.

    • How many young men were raised in single-adult household (re: by their MOTHERS), with Dad either out of the picture completely, or, assuming he’s got anything left after copious alimony and child support payments, takes ’em to Disneyland when he’s got ’em every other weekend. Not exactly a scenario for a lad to learn by helping Dad out (‘hold the goddamn flashlight, son!”).

      • I don’t think it’s so much the father not being there as an example and more of mothers doing ‘safety’ patrol or perhaps the father not there to override it.

        • BrentP December 3, 2018 at 4:49 pm

          I don’t think it’s so much the father not being there as an example and more of mothers doing ‘safety’ patrol or perhaps the father not there to override it.

          I think you have it right. When my son was little he would talk about doing something and I would let him do it after telling hjm the possible hazards. The wife would just say No. There were a few things that I deemed too dangerous, but most things it was just bumps, bruises, and scrapes. Good life lessons.

    • My 23 year old son pays $275/month for basic liability insurance only on a 1997 Maxima. He has no tickets on his record and 1 single car accident that was his fault (slid his ’97 RWD lincoln town car in to a guard rail on an icy road- 1 ER visit to check out his neck/back was all the insurance company had to pay).

      So I’m not sure the $250 quoted in the article is for full coverage. Insurance for me (no accidents or tickets for 30 years) has more than doubled in the last 7 years. Insurance has gotten ridiculous.

  11. Just remembered something

    My old friends kid brother is currently rebuilding an ’95 civic, original D block instead of swapping for a B18. Kids gonna be 20 in 7 days, and he’s been using his pay to manage it (Also has a JK Jeep)

    Not all hope is lost actually, just gotta know where to look (FB/IG/Forums/etc)

  12. My first car was a ’67 VW I bought in ’76 with money from a part-time job. Though no master mechanic, I was able to keep it running. Parts for a beetle were easy to come by then. I kept my bicycles in proper working order as well. Today I have a bicycle that cost more than my first few cars did, and I don’t even work on that.

    • You sold your SOUL, fellow Doug, if all you do is play with the toys and NOT maintain them. Even IF, somehow, your time is SO valuable that you bring in, in the time it would take to twist a wrench yourself, which I doubt (can’t miss those “reality” shows on Nut-work TV, right?), you’re losing an essential part of the EXPERIENCE.

  13. Ricers were the people who made the cars LOOK fast, tuners actually made them fast

    Such a shame, got a list of cars I wanna own as long as my arm and I’m afraid by the time I can own them, Uncle might make it illegal

    Hopefully, someday my work will inspire a new generation, already have the artwork for it:

    https://www.instagram.com/mikef_comics/

    Just hope it works out.

    Also need an alternative to Fast and furious, they’re really cop movies with cars, save Tokyo Drift

  14. I have owned both old-school (‘68 Olds 88) and ricer (‘02 Subaru WRX) cars, and enjoyed them both.

    I agree: No matter how you roll, it’s getting not only super expensive, but super inconvenient to drive, let alone soup up, any car these days.

    I second what everyone else says here, and have this to add: I don’t know about the ladies, but the guys I knew were keen on getting a car to not only get more freedom and stand out from the rest of the guys, but get girls: I kid you not: my parents set 16 as my age to date because, in their words, “it’s really awkward when your parents have to drive you around on a date.”

    Today’s guys don’t need a car of any kind to get lucky with girls, or impress other guys. They have smartphones that serve that purpose. In fact, driving can even turn some girls off, because cars are dangerous and they pollute, too.

    I’d even go so far to say that there are a lot of guys out there who don’t even bother with dating, because they have access to online pleasures that seem to satisfy just fine.

    That’s my 2¢.

  15. Eric – hope you don’t mind me posting these lyrics. I never thought it would happen – but Rush was a fan of Ayn Rand – I thought the lyrics far out then.

    RED BARCHETTA
    Music: Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
    Lyrics: Neil Peart

    My uncle has a country place, that no-one knows about
    He says it used to be a farm, before the Motor Law
    Sundays I elude the ‘Eyes’, and hop the Turbine Freight
    To far outside the Wire, where my white-haired uncle waits

    Jump to the ground
    As the Turbo slows to cross the borderline
    Run like the wind
    As excitement shivers up and down my spine
    Down in his barn
    My uncle preserved for me an old machine –
    For fifty-odd years
    To keep it as new has been his dearest dream
    I strip away the old debris, that hides a shining car
    A brilliant red Barchetta, from a better, vanished time
    Fire up the willing engine, responding with a roar!
    Tires spitting gravel, I commit my weekly crime…

    Wind in my hair –
    Shifting and drifting –
    Mechanical music
    Adrenalin surge –

    Well-weathered leather
    Hot metal and oil
    The scented country air
    Sunlight on chrome
    The blur of the landscape
    Every nerve aware
    Suddenly ahead of me, across the mountainside
    A gleaming alloy air-car shoots towards me, two lanes wide
    I spin around with shrieking tires, to run the deadly race
    Go screaming through the valley as another joins the chase

    Drive like the wind
    Straining the limits of machine and man
    Laughing out loud
    With fear and hope, I’ve got a desperate plan
    At the one-lane bridge
    I leave the giants stranded
    At the riverside
    Race back to the farm
    To dream with my uncle
    At the fireside…

    • One of my favorites from my youth.

      Sadly, no nieces or nephews (well, cousins kids) care to visit this uncle. Apparently the tractor, buggy and hunting truck are no fun compared to the digital world.

      Back when I was a wee teen, I would have sold my soul to be able to be able to play with a tractor, rail buggy or big 4×4 on an uncles acreage. Now, these kids just complain (without looking up from their glass cage) that my wi-fi is not fast enough and that they want to get home so they can play some digital off road game.

  16. The new car scenes is “stancing” out a car where you lower it and get crazy camber to get the car even lower. Drifting has caught on as well with a focus in rwd cars instead of fwd. Honda has gained a lot of “hate” from the new generation because of the past 90’s and 2000’s tuner scene. Civics are more sound than performance and that idea has stuck unfortunately.

    Eric i really do think that its the insurance premiums that killed the love for car as well. You end up paying 4x as much for a car just to insure. How can you possible modify. tune, and street race. I’m blessed to have been under my parents insurance and not worry about it especially since my dad was a car guy and always had 7 different vehicles around the house to pick from.

    • You’re telling me

      We need a reboot of car culture somehow, and sadly, other than Tokyo Drift, they weren’t really car movies but Cop movies disguised as one

  17. As I read your article Eric I kept thinking to myself “But we’ve got freedom! And the troops! And don’t forget all that freedom we’ve got!”

    As a child of the 70’s I used to look down on the ricers and their fart cans, poor kids don’t know the sound of a real engine such as a Chevy small block with headers and glass packs. Looking back I should have cut them some slack, they did very well with what they had to work with.

    • Hi Fred,

      Amen. Me also.

      Like you, I snickered. Because like you, I was fortunate enough to have been born in time to be able to own and play with V8/RWD cars as a teenager and 20-something. When I was in high school and college (’80s) it was easy for almost any kid to buy a used Trans-Am or Camaro from the ’70s; even a Chevelle or Mustang from the ’60s. Almost all my friends had such cars and so did I.

      Then the ’90s came and our younger brothers got into the FWD/import stuff and became Ricers. We – the older cohort – laughed at them. What did they know?

      And now we all know.

      • That seems to be the norm these days. I’m such a nerd that I have a ham radio license. Decades ago when I got my license I was the youngest guy in the room. Now that I’m 50 I’m still the youngest guy in the room. Nerd kids are still playing with radios, but they don’t bother to get their ham license and just stick to the ISM bands.

        Somewhere along the way we quit mentoring the kids. Not just in cars, but in just about everything. As usual, Uncle is probably to blame. The first 12-16 years of our lives are spent being sorted by age. That seems to have a powerful effect on one’s psyche, and marketing/fashion trends purposefully changing every few years doesn’t help either.

        • I remember Art Bell talking about the decline of ham radio and he specifically mentioned the licensing the morse code requirement and so on as needing to go away. However a lot of old timers wouldn’t let it go. And that’s what people do. They have their club and they create barriers to entry. Then many years down the line wonder why their club is dying out.

          Sorting people by age thing is deliberate. Again I refer to John Taylor Gatto’s work uncovering why it was done. In short it better allows for the conditioning of children and keeping people as children of the state once they become adults.

          • They did away with the CW (Morse) requirement for even General Class some time ago in an effort to bolster membership. I don’t believe it worked. There’s some pretty exciting digital work on HF bands these days, but participants are low. Why bother with tuners and towers and hard-wiring when you can just open your laptop? Why bother with Chicken Band when you have a sail fawn?

            I think the whole DIY aspect of Ham, of cars, of just about everything only appeals to a relatively small segment of the populace. Probably always has.

            • Oh for sure the ham radio crowd wasn’t going to fill a football stadium, but one would think there’d be a little more activity considering the whole telecommunications infrastructure is going wireless, at least from the customer perspective.

              Dropping the CW requirement just allowed everyone who didn’t want to bother with code to upgrade to HF. Didn’t do jack s*** for getting more membership. The larger issue is the horrible self-regulating non-commercial purists, along with the blatant hatred of smartphones and computers. There are a lot of grey areas that might not be commercial but use commercial services that should be just fine on the ham bands (and for sure the FCC isn’t going to care), but the self-appointed “regulators” are quick to put a stop to anything they deem verboten. And of course there’s the ARRL’s ceaseless promotion of contesting Über alles

              (Sorry for going off topic)

              • Ready,

                The whole notion of getting another license is what turns me off.

                I already have one from the 70s that “allowed” me to communicate with other planes and air traffic CONTROLLERS.

                The entire Congress shall pass no law EXCEPT (fill in the blank) is garbage.

                As far as autos go, why NOT require a Driving Plan? At least for interstate travel. All the precedents are in place under the DOT.

                We would all be safer if we had to get permission to stop for gas or a bathroom break. The Road Traffic Controllers could deny departure clearance when interstate traffic was deemed to be too congested. Or redirect us to our approved alternate destinations.

                Somebody needs to get Charlie Schumer on the line to get this great idea put into play.

                The TSA will come to your driveway to tickle your testiculars, search you car, and make sure you have the correct maps for your journey.

                I’m feeling safer already.

      • Millenial chiming in. I too used to make fun of the ricers and their what I thought then crappy cars. Today, I am one of them. I daily drive a 11′ Xterra and the guys/gals at thenewx.org have kept me up to speed with do it yourself repairs and mods. I installed an intake manifold spacer which added instant throttle response and a loud ass AFE cat back exhaust system that roars under acceleration and growls while cruising and I am addicted to its sound. (it only adds a meager 5 hp though). My best man from my wedding is a vietnamese friend who dropped $50k on a subaru brz last year and he and I are trying to keep pace of another on mods and upgrades. He is single and living with his parents in a house he owns as they are older and ill so he gets to blow money on it faster, but it is a nice ride. I am planning on removing the cats on the X and putting headers in and eventually doing a tune job, it is a serious fun vehicle to drive. The seats are uncomfortable but the throttle response is awesome for an SUV

        • Hi Brazos,

          I have an ’02 Frontier – so I gnoe what you bee sayin’!

          Mine has the four cylinder engine and is bone stock. I have thought about putting a header on it, plus a “performance” exhaust. I know I wont get blazing speed out of it, but I like the idea of it sounding right.

          What it really needs, though, is a six speed (with deep overdrive gearing on top) and a 4.11 in the rear, to get the gimpy thing going!

    • Hi Jack,

      Amen. I remember. GM, too, had the RWD Holdens. Chevy briefly sold a RWD “Chevy SS” but few even knew it was available because of no marketing; they didn’t even have one in the NE Regional press fleet, which serves most of the east coast of the U.S. – which tells you something, or should.

      Part of the reason for the reluctance to sell such cars here is CAFE, the fuel economy rigamarole that has become an “emissions” rigamarole about to strangle the making of any car that isn’t electric.

      But the other reason is they just don’t give a damn about cars anymore. They are corporate tools – the people in charge – and are concerned with virtue signaling while lining their pockets to bursting before heading off to the next gig, or a very comfortable retirement.

      • GM had internal battles over the Holden platform car in the USA. Those who wanted it managed to get it but those who didn’t want it made sure it died on the sales floor. It seems like that is the story about most GM products that are anything decent for the last 30 some odd years. Some internal battle that often turns the product to garbage or otherwise makes sure it fails. Then there is probably dozens of vehicles we never even see or learn about that get killed early on.

  18. Hi from Australia Eric,

    In many ways, our version of car culture has continued right up until recently. Australia had the RWD Holden Commodore (ceased 2017) and RWD Australian Ford Falcon (ceased 2016) and many of these cars at present are between near-new in dealers yards and old and tired in the classifieds – cheap – and parts are plentiful and cheap too. If you do nothing else, do a bit of research on the Australian Ford 4.0 Inline 6 and it’s turbo variant. A vast majority of these cars had simple drivelines that just keep going on, 500,000km can be expected from the Ford 6 with ease. RWD muscle continued unique and alone Down Under, much like our marsupial animals.

    Thus, myself, Gen X, spinning the spanner on 1971 HQ Holdens and 1970 XW Falcons; my Gen Z children learning on manual 1994 ED XR8 sedan (fitted with American ’93 Mustang Cobra SVO 302 motor in a 4 door family sedan, the Australian way… we were never big enough market to have dedicated coupes for long); and now one of the kids with a 2011 Ford FG Falcon XR6 4.0 NA inline 6 and ZF 6 speed auto.

    The Falcons were fully Australian from the 1971 XA model, with Cleveland V8s being built in Geelong until 1982. Later, the Windsor V8 returned, before being relplaced by the 5.4, and then going out with an Australian developed 5.0 ‘Miami’ motor with Harrop supercharger. Beast.

    Ford also developed the AWD Territory SUV off the Falcon platform and even equipped one variant with full time AWD Turbo inline 6.

    Holdens in the meantime had great manual V8’s built into the Commodore, with it being a fully Australian platform by the 2006 VE. They used the indigenous 308 until 2000 or so when the LS motors replaced them as bolt ins. Great handling cars.

    In this time, they both developed coupe utilites (utes) of these platforms, as well as station wagons, panel vans and occasionally a coupe. Most of the cars are still on the roads at present, so the good ‘ol days are here still in Australia for young people to have cheap cars to tune, drive and enjoy.

    But it’s all over now – I look at what replaces the Aussie cars and the closest spec you get to the RWD with the powerful drive line is in Euro cars that are far more complicated, cost 2-3 times the price new. Otherwise you are left with bland FWD or FWD based SUVs. It was good while it lasted.

  19. I’m afraid I’ve warped all of my kids. They all had to learn to drive stick shifts and then use one for their drivers’ tests. Now they strongly prefer standard transmissions. Though they are still young, I exposed them to old cars and V8s and non-computerized (other than ignitions) cars, not to mention my VHS collection and my manual typewriter, which I use daily. They have a view of the past and liberty many of their peers do not.

    In a way I’ve made for them a tough row to hoe. They’ll always act and see things a little differently from others of their generation. They might be my most lasting rebellion against the world as it is.

  20. Eric,
    You say the kids game and text. That is a big part of it. When I young and lived in a rural area you had to drive to have any sort of social life. Everyone wanted to get their license the first moment they turned 16! Now the kids get together on line. I have a nephew who lives in a rural area but he is online constantly. He is turning 16 next year and has no desire to get his license. His mom carts him around.

      • Man that’s crazy, I didn’t even have a parent around like that anymore at 17. The car was in her name and she helped with the insurance on it
        but a girlfriend took me to get my adult license, I lived in too remote an area not to have it by then. And then I cruised around on my own, working part time and making sure to take it for regular oil changes so I could keep skirting curfew and not have to ask adults for favors. Life would’ve been absolute hell without it.

  21. Insurance was not a big deal for me when I got my license in ’86. We all just put our cars in our parents name and went on their insurance. Which, if in good standing, was not expensive. And it did not even go up much for tickets. I know many young people drive a car in their parents name well into their twenties, hence all the out of state plates in Hipstervilles. If there is an accident they say they just briefly were borrowing the car. Does that still work?

    • It was a huge difference for me. I got my license in 1970 but lived in a canecutter-infested barrio in NJ. You could buy a beater for 100 bucks, but insurance for a teen was $1000 a year minimum, primarily because the goyas didn’t carry insurance. They just hit and ran, o law-abiding people had to ultimately pay for them.

      With the minimum wage of $1.60 an hour at the time, I wasn’t about to spend every waking hour either studying or working. I finally got a car after I graduated college.

      Mess transit was no picnic either. You took your life in your hands every time you used it.

  22. Flipping the air cleaner lid was SOP in the 60s and probably earlier up to the point where vehicles only had oil bath air cleaners.

    Lots of things I used to like about GM was parts interchangeability. I robbed the alternator off a wrecked T/A to go on a 454 pickup. I’ve robbed all sorts of parts off totally different vehicles.

    When a starter started going bad I’d get one off any GM big block, put the nosepiece off the small block on the big block starter I’d stick new bearings, brushes and drive in the big block and never look back.

    Even brake shoes were often close enough to use. Even in the 90s there was still a great deal of parts interchangeability.

    • GM used the same truck clutch disks for something like 40 years, maybe more?

      Then there was IH. Everything was outsourced, so even the same model year might have three different versions of the same part. “Is that an early, mid, or late 1957?”

      • Cornbinders? Don’t EVER go parts shopping witout a coy of the “line card” which was often pasted to the inside of the huge breadpan steel door of the monkeybox. I had a 64 pickup, that same model truck could have had ay one of FOUR front axles, and thus brake sets. Line card line card line card. the truck did not exist without that.

        As to cadging bits from GM products…… one time a friend’s MotoGuzzi had one hole dead. It had a Bosch electronic ignition system, everything doubled, one of each for each cylinder. I know the Bosch systems pretty well, we had NO specs available but I took my ohm meter and checked resistance on the crank sensors. Good, both. Wiring intact. Coils had logical resistance, pri and sec curcuits. Wires had continuity. One thing left… the spark ignitioin module, No way to check resistance, but hey, ony two cyiinders, swap them and see if the dead hole shifts. I did and so did it. Module time. Wrote down the Bosch part number, called my parts gues at the Bosch WD I deal with, they looked… looked….. Uhm, WHAT does that fit? I have no such number. Told him. He said that is a proprietary part, not available except through Guzzi dealers. Found the nearest one.. San Francisco, at that time of day a four hour trip, return. called. Yes, we have two. Price, for resale? $475. uH, you don’t mean four dollars six bits, do you? Nope, that;s five hundred dollar bills..OK, thanks, I’ll check with the customer. OUCHHH!!!! Crazy talk!!!
        Thinking cap goes on.. well, we have pickup coil terminals, the ignition coil terminals….. what if…… asked my friend the Guzziowner “do you have a spare distributor for the small blick Chev, an HIV type? Yeah… get it. Figured outwhich wire went where in THT distributor, removed the module from the base plate, made some spade connector leads to connect the GM module to the Beemer’s loom…. kicked the bike and it ran like a Guzzi on boty cylinders. He took it our for a blast, came back bugs in teeth.

        I doubt any modern GM part could ever be adapted to any current build Guzzi….. they just don’t DO things that way any more. And I’ll bet today’s version of that system would need a grand to buy the tiny replacement. When friend sold the Guzzi a couple years later, he waited until AFTER the test ride and deal were dealt with.. then he told the guy what had happened. He did not care. Far as we know, the bike still runs that way.

    • Ran a foreign car shop in Californa years back.. around the time the Bureau of Automotive Repair scam started. Chap came in with a SPrite, 1098 cc, had bacly burned valves, I happened to have on hand a very strong used engine. He paid me well to do the swap, and for the engine, left his scrap iron lying on my shop floor. I had recently heard a fatal big-end bearing knock in my ancient weary old Morris Minor, 850 CC engine, single 1 1/8 inch SU carburetter. Gutless pig, but it DID ruun and I had paid all of six bits for the car, running. I had had the head off and valves done. Top end strong, bottom end, southbound. It was “resting”.
      SO… one weekend out of boredom I yanked the dead 850 out of the Morris, removed the head, bolted that on to the now-removed head on the 1098 Sprite engine, settled the whole mess down into the maw of the Morris…. put the tiny single carb back on it, all I had just then. That car was about twice as fast ias it used to be. It would hit about 80 mph on the flat, and not take that long to get there. Dusty cedar green colour, pretty straight car, NOT cop bait like a Sprite would have been. It would hold above 70 mph and still gt 45 mpg on cheap regular. Seated four in relative comfoft, and was a real hardtop sedan car… no rag top to leak and flap in the wind. Real wind up side lights, too!!!

      Most of the Brit stuff from mid 1950’s right into the mid or late 70’s had stuff that would fit and work. But alas, no more this game can be played.

      • Ah yes, the old days of fixing clapped out British cars. In the ’70s JC Whitney had all of the original equipment engine parts and exhausts. I drove down to their warehouse with my brother, and boy, what a dump. It was in a rather bad neighborhood but blabbing with their black customers was a laugh while we waited for our orders. They were buying stuff for their Caddies and I was doing a $250 MGB. We needled each other and left laughing at our respective car tastes. Parts there were a third of dealer prices with the same stuff.
        I was somewhat relieved getting out of that ‘hood.

        • I was at the old place once when I lived nearby. The problem was needing to go past the projects to get there. Those particular housing projects are still there but the old warehouse has been replaced with condos or something.

          JC Whitney had moved to bridgeport in the mid 1990s. Then out to the middle nowhere downstate some time after.

        • I kept hearing about these guys, finally got their catalogue and orered, the prices WERE lower… but I soon found their quality was trribl. No, Eric,they did NOT have “the same stuff”. They had found some off lines and were purveying tnose as OEM quality, which they were NOT. Vaguely recall one set of pistons that were such poor quality I returned them for a refind, whith took forever, and bought a set of REAL ones from Moss Motors. Their “accessry” lines were the real junk… hoods to replace the ragged oneson the cars I always ended with never fit, hours infolved in trying to MAKE them fit, and they fell apart pretty quickly (based on other’s experience.. I just spiffed mine up when it was time to resell, the only reason I bought most of my old Limey iron.

          Moss are still in business, and still “doing it right”. I’ll gladly pay a touh more to them for REAL buts that go the distance.
          JC Whintey were to english spares what Harbour Fright are to tools’.

          Your vivid description of their physical place is a perfect fit with the stuff they put in boxes and sent out.

    • You wan to talk about part interchange, Nissan at least kept that alive with the last series of Xterra, Frontier, Armada, Titan releases that ended in 2016. Frontier and Xterra were identical under the hood and swapped parts easily. They even had the space and engine mount to drop in the VK56 from the big boys and even axle swap in the front

  23. your right eric…. sad but true…. the more I think about it, the more I feel the car will go the way of the horse…… a hobby for the posh rich kids….

  24. My nephews aren’t yet old enough to drive. They have bicycles but they’re sitting in the garage. My sister and her husband shuttle them all over the place. Before I could drive my bike was out every day. It’s how I learned about mechanical things like gear ratios and the importance of routine maintenance. It’s how I learned the rules of the road. And kept me fit. But most importantly it’s how I started to explore my world. And the day I rode it to the mall to meet a girlfriend was a day that changed my life forever (and not because of the girlfriend). The neighborhood seemed pretty small after that day and it is smaller every time I go back for a visit. When I got my license I spent hours driving around town just exploring the countryside. And suddenly the town got a lot smaller too.

    I used to love flying. But flying commercially is a terrible way to travel, and not only for the Uncle reasons. It’s because there’s nothing to see, no exploration. We give up an enjoyable trip for speed. I still dream of getting my private pilot certifications, and maybe now that I’m almost able to afford it I might. Even being a private pilot means you have flight plans and a thick book of rules, at least if you’re going through controlled airspace. You can’t just take a detour because something interesting caught your eye (for good reason, since you have to juggle fuel consumption and getting to your destination). Automobiles slightly predate the Progressive era so they have far fewer restrictions, but Uncle’s been trying to close that loophole for the better part of a century. He’s very close now, and now the masses are actually demanding it. My nephews don’t seem to notice or care. Culture evolves I guess.

    “Life’s a journey, not a destination” seems to be forgotten. Everyone is stuck on the destination and ignoring the journey. Because the journey has become artificially frustrating.

  25. No plate readers in NH, or red light and speed cameras either. They’re illegal here. No insurance requirement too.

    That said, you used to be able to drive with someone 25 or older once you turned 15, with no learner’s permit required. And you could go test for your license at 16, no Driver’s Ed required. And the were no restrictions on that license.

    But around 2000, NH moved to a graduated license system for under 18, which I believe is now under 21. It’s easier to have your license suspended now if you’re under 21, and Driver’s Ed is now required under 18. You can still practice without a permit.

    It was 70s and 80s muscle cars and trucks that were the vehicle of choice in my high school days, along with big sound systems. Trunks full of subwoofers.

      • Possibly. But NH is forgoing highway money by increasing interstate speed limits above 65 in some areas.

        NH tends to fo back and south between GOP and DNC control of the state government, so I suspect that it was during a DNC controlled session that it was passed.

        NH was a Real ID holdout until the last time the Dems had control. They were able to push though an option to get a compliant ID, although you can still choose a non compliant license.

  26. I’ve often imagined telling my nephews about my various automotive misadventures from half a life ago.

    Things they likely won’t believe easily because they grew up in a world of Time Outs, Play Dates, Safety First, Ubiquitous Cameras and No Automotive Enthusiasts.

    My first car, the one with the illegal V8 swap – well, illegal in the sense of using a V6-VIN’d chassis to dodge the prohibitive insurance rate.

    The car I refused to get inspected out of sheer principle and had to drive around after dark to avoid tickets.

    The game of Let’s See If This Speedometer Is Honest I played with every shop truck I ever drove at every garage and supply company I ever worked at.

    Multiple instances of driving from Florida to Pennsylvania and only stopping for gas, occasionally waking up closing fast on some truck’s rear bumper and having to pull some bullshit emergency move.

    The old Crown Vic cop car I did a 5-speed swap on and drove around for a year with a dead speedometer and no inspection stickers.

    It was a better world if you liked having questionable fun.

  27. Amazing observations, Eric. Hadn’t really given it much thought, but everything you state is true. I remember the tuner era – musclecar devotees used to make fun of them (myself included), but they were just as hardcore about the hobby as we were. These trends don’t bode well for our automotive future. If the majority of young people have no interest in cars (let alone the car hobby), they will be more than happy to submit to the automated/EV eventuality. Glad I grew up in an era where gear heads abounded. Thankfully, there are a few kids around who do like cars – the older generation needs to encourage that interest.

    • Thanks, Keith… unfortunately…

      I wish it were not so, but here we are. I have to give a nod to the anti-car/anti-driving zealots. They have been relentless – and effective. The left is much more strategically minded than any other form of authoritarian collectivism. It goes back to Lenin.

      I, too, am glad I was able to wet my beak before the well went dry.

  28. It’s very sad, but you’re right.

    Everything is being regulated for kids, not just cars. When I was a kid, I made explosives from Sears chemistry sets and blew up my legos – today, all that’s allowed is color changing liquids. I used Radio Shack electronics kits to build radios and transmitters – today, it’s against FCC rules. I built and flew model airplanes and rockets, today you need an FAA license to buy the engines that I used for rockets, and it’s illegal to fly the airplanes in any park, and official sites are expensive and require insurance. Skateboard in a park? Nope. Walk to school yourself? Illegal here in CA until you’re 11. Ride a bike without a helmet? Crime. It’s no wonder that XBox is so popular, and anti-depressants are as common as tic-tacs.

    The regulators are messing everything up, for our own good, apparently.

    • I used to fly model rockets before as well. Hard to hell to chase down unless you had a huge area to work with. Two stage ones as well. All built from kits. Quite sad if thats not available anymore.

      • If you want an idea of how dismally things have changed, I grew up in NYC and bad as it was, it was better than most places today. I too flew model rockets, but I often did so in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, only a couple hundred yards from shooty Fifth Avenue!

        I’ll never forget one moment, an Estes scale V2 rocket I’d launched became entangled in a tree. A NYC cop car cruised through the field and the officer driving swung by. I explained my dilemma and he helpfully positioned his car under the tree so I could use it as a stepladder to retrieve my model rocket. True he muttered some pro forma advice like “you know you’re really not supposed to fly these here, just keep that in mind,” then I thanked him and he drove off.

        These days I’d probably get drone-striked or nuked if I dared enjoy the hobby there. Worse, any onlookers would probably cheer on my immolation…once they emerged from whatever cover they were hiding behind, cowering like scared little bunnies until some Authority gave the all-clear.

    • What an excellent comment. Sad, yes, but right on spot. It’s fashionable to badmouth lawyers, but they really have done incalculable damage to our nation and culture. And of dourse all three branches of government are occupied by lawyers, Pres. Trump being a refreshing (if temporary) exception.

  29. And the junkyards are dumbed down as well. They have no idea of interchangeable parts, even when they exist.

    Years ago, I wanted a factory Q-jet for a 350 to replace the Holley that the p/u came with used. No, they didn’t have a comparable pickup, but there was an old Chevy van down there with a 350. A few minutes of wrenching and $20 or so and I was on my way.

    Now, you have to do your own research and then argue up, down, and sideways with the junkyard guys (or gals – even Worse!) and still often draw a blank. “A 15″ steel wheel with 5×110 bolt pattern? What’s it for? No, they never came with that wheel. Can’t help you, sorry.” If you’re really really really lucky, you can get them to look up a such and such or another which had the same bolt pattern and they might have them. All their fancy computer databases apparently don’t have the cross references between makes/models that all self-respecting junk men used to have in their heads.

    // end of old man rant for now

    • I’ve never known a junk yard to do interchange or be able to look something up beyond the basics. That goes back to the early 1990s. You-pull self yards where you’re totally on your own and full serve which just checks if they have the part for the make-model-year you tell them.

      The demon known as corrosion kill my ’97 Mustang’s cruise control module. No V8s in the junkyard. Lots of V6s. I ask the counter guy if he can look up the parts. Nope. I go home without it. Spend the night researching the interwebs to figure it out. Dealer only part discontinued. Hard to figure out. Eventually I determine they are same. Return the next day, new admission fee ($2). Get the part. It was worth the return as I spotted a couple other things I missed to add to my parts collection.

      • Well, my junkyard experience goes back way before the early 1990s!

        It’s long gone now, because the little stuffed shirt city shut him and his sons down, but back then you could just wander in, find what you wanted, and then haul it up to the shop to get a price and pay for it. Mostly I was looking for non-automotive stuff back then: pieces of scrap metal and hydraulic stuff. I got a brand new looking hydraulic pump for $5 and cylinders for almost nothing that only needed seals, and also a like-new transmission PTO for maybe $20 IIRC. He never did figure out that when I brought a 5 gal bucket of little pieces up to the shop to pay, that I was buying nice round holes to weld onto stuff!

        Of course, most EVERYTHING more or less interchanged back then, or you could make it do so if you had to.

      • Back in the day, any junkyard that was more than a couple of old Camaros on blocks in front of some hillbilly’s trailer, used to have Hollander manuals- a multivolume set of humongous books that showed what interchanged with what, across models, makes, and even manufacturers.

        I thought surely that if such was the case in the days of paper and ink, surely now with the convenience of computers and the instant access and constant update-ability they provide; and the reduced cost of having the data available online instead of in huge printed volumes, surely things would be even better today…..

        I’m assuming Hollander probably priced themselves out of the market for all but the biggest yards, now.

        Seens there’s not a day that goes by lately, that I’m not forced to say “Damn, what we’ve lost!”.

        • Looks like you beat me to it by a few minutes, Nunzio! I checked and Hollander is still around. It looks like their prices at least for the “classic” interchange manuals are pretty reasonable.

          Newer vehicles are more of a problem. I’ve even read that some electronic parts are keyed to the car’s VIN (provided by a “body computer”) and will refuse to work if installed in another vehicle even if otherwise still serviceable.

          • An ex had a brother who bought a VW in 2001. He had a nightmare swapping the stereo unit as apparently the car required the factory unit to run. Or some convoluted reprogramming that would allow him to change HIS stereo in HIS car. Apparently VW linked everything to everything to prevent theft. I suspect more likely, to prevent DIY fixing.

            There is lots of other ‘different just to be different’ as well. Look at how may offsets and bolt patterns there are for car rims today. Especially GM. It’s like they come up with a new one for every model and trim.

            • Late ’70’s I had my own shop in British Columbias Lower Mainland. I made heavy use of the largest import car parts house in Canada, and got to be good friends with one of the managers. One day I was lamenting the fact that on some Volksvagen car or other, same year and model, something (brake master cylinder?) was different between the two. I was miffed because I had a good used on in my own boneyard, but it would not fit.
              He then explained to me how VW, in the first four years of production of the Rabbit line of cars, had TWENTY SEVEN DIFFERENT part numbers for brake master cylinders. These guys managed to figure out what fit what, and reduce their stock to only sixteen different part numbers. They made their own interchange reference system.

              He told me it was a deliberate plot by VW to quash the aftermarket suppliers. Most smaller ones could not afford, either for cost or space issues, to stock all 27 M CYls for Rabbits first four years. In the Typ 1 and 2 linetup, the same M Cyl fit all cars for five years running. Part of why I hated VW cars!!!But, they put a lot of money into my pocket over the years…….

            • Disabling the car because of the radio doesn’t prevent theft. Thieves are morons. They’ll steal the stereo and then the owner is left with a brick of a car. Nice.

          • Yeah, Jason- with a lot of these electronic parts (and other parts that have electronic components built in) they are specifice down to trim level, options and date of manufacture….. add to that the fact that electronics don’t age well- especially outdoors in the heat/cold/dampness/dust, and used parts are getting to be a thing of the past.

            Most of the yards these days that deal in modern stuff, essentially just exist to sell crash repair parts.

    • Junkyards could be real assholes in their own right.

      These are actual quotes I’ve heard over the years:

      “Can’t let you in the yard. Insurance.”
      “Can’t let you take that intake duct. You have to buy the whole engine.”
      “We don’t sell cars. Getting the title’s a pain in the ass.”
      “Can’t let you in the lot – I don’t remember where all the dogs are.”
      “That taillight lens is $50 because that’s what eBay charges for that exact same part.”
      “We don’t sell parts here, we only scrap ’em.”
      “You gotta let us look in your toolbox.”

      If I didn’t love scrounging, I’d never put up with it.

      • I wonder if that’s the tragedy of owning a business far too long. Because people tend to remember the bad events of their lives more than the day-in day-out unevents, they start to pile on the rules. Or maybe a good business that was passed on to the next generation, but to someone who doesn’t bother to know how the business works? So instead of letting people out in the yard, or pull the intake manifold (leaving the blown engine the junkyard owner doesn’t want to deal with) they just follow the rules. Better to lose a small time customer than deal with the small time transactions. They probably even realize they’re cutting their own throats, but maybe they don’t really care. Enough business comes in to keep the lights on so that’s good enough. Or they don’t see that all their customers have grey hair.

        • Had a couple great boneyards locally which I used for years. they had the full Hollnaders books on the counter, he’d look it up or let me. Most stuff he knew in his head. Many years of relationship building made for grreat serivce. One of them, the owner (Bob) got to know the sorts of project cars I wanted. More than once he’d be out picking uy a huilk car, and drop by my place to see if I wanted that one. He’d quote me a lowball price, roll it off his wrecker into my yeard, hand me the keys, and tell me to come by the yard tomorrow. He’d have the signed title ready for me… from the owner who sold it to him!!!! He trusted (after the first few when I brought the state papers to show him I’d transferred it to my name) me to just go do it. Another time a really nice looking van rolled off the flatbed as I was puling the bits I wanted. I took a quick look around it, seemed intact, good tyres, straight body, under 100K miles…. tags four years old. I went in to the counter, asked him the story, he told me. I said HOW MUCH!! He quited a ridiculous bargain basement price, I pulled out my checkbook and we were finishing up the deal, he handing me the signed title from the seller… two guys walked in and asied if they couldn’t try and start that ven. He said No, HE’s just bought it. WHAAAAT!!!! I said yup. I checked it out, came inside, and hauled out myc checkbook while they were busy fine tooth coming the thing.

          I cleared the rotten fuel from the Quadrajet, put a battery into it. startd it, and drove it for a few years. Rotten fuel had prevented it strarting, the guy decided it was an ugly yard decoration (hint from his Wife, I gather) and called Bob. My gain, and the two bargain hunters were miffed….. He COULD have gotten into serious trouble if the STate ever found out he was selling whole cars without going through the whole junk title scam they’ve got going. It was just as if the former owner had sold it directly to me…… saved a TON of money and three tonnes of hassle with instepctions, itemised bills for everything on the stupid thing….

          The story of how Bob came by owning the place is also a time warm tale, but not for tonight. That could NEVER happen again.

    • Whatever happened to the Hollander interchange manual? Used to be the bible that just about all junkyards kept on hand so they could tell you a clutch pressure plate from the ’52 Bulgemobile they had in the yard would fit your ’59 Finster Fireburner.

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