Going Galt … on Wheels

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Lenin, the mass-murdering father of modern practical authoritarian collectivism, wrote about what it is to be done? I have a better idea. How about what we each can do – on our own?

It’s more individual – less collective.

Here’s what I do, which may inspire you:

I’ve taken advantage of the Antique Vehicle exemption from perpetual registration fees for several of my eligible vehicles. This saves me about $50 every year, per vehicle – which adds up over the years – and it also saves me from having to waste my time in line at a government approved saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety inspection station, as well as another fee for yet another government-mandated (and ugly) sticker.

It also enables me to legally avoid submitting my vehicles to the tender mercies of an indifferent stranger with an air gun.

No cross-threaded lug nuts; no grease stains left on my seats. 

These saaaaaaaaaaaaafety checks are annoying on several levels, especially for people who don’t need them. Which is any person who keeps up with vehicle maintenance. I certainly don’t need the government to check my tires or brakes – because I check them. And I check them because I have a personal interest in brakes that work properly and tires that have tread.

Your mileage may vary.

The only catch is that you’re not supposed to drive an Antique tagged vehicle “regularly” – this being defined by each state in its own way and usually by a certain number of miles per year and so on. But it’s one of those rules that’s easily bent – in my state, at least. Also, of course, this dodge only works if you have a car that is at least 21 and usually at least 25 years old.

Which brings me to  . . . the Virtue of Driving Old.

Not you – well, unless you are old. I mean the car.

There are several very sound reasons for having an older car as your regular car.  Above everything, it makes it feasible to avoid buying a new car – and so avoid the insufferable array of invidious busybody gadgets and peremptory, driver-usurping (and pestering) saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety systems you probably don’t want and certainly would rather not have to pay for.

The roster includes things I’ve been ranting about in my columns – such as ASS, or Automated Start/Stop, which almost every new car now “features.” And lawyered-up touchscreens that demand you “look for safety” (where is he?) every time you back the car up, insolently turns off the radio when you put the car in Reverse and makes you tap “ok” every time you start the car up . . . before the tech allows you to do something as used-to-be-simple as turn the radio on.

Or brakes that brake for you; and steering that fights you. Lane Beep Assist. Lots of beeps.

And worse.

Creepy in-car data recorders (and transmitters). Drive-by-wire that disconnects you from physical control over things like whether the engine can be turned off or on but makes it feasible for someone else to turn the engine off or on . . . remotely.

Accelerator pedal not connected to anything except electronics – which can override you.

Go back to about the 2000 model year and most non-luxury vehicles won’t have such things; a few years older and none will. But the car will have all the things which make it “modern” in the sense desirable. It will be fuel-injected and so start immediately and never stall out. It will have overdrive gearing in the transmission, so be relaxed to drive on the highway and get good gas mileage. It won’t need much in the way of frequent tweaking or adjustment, as really old cars – those built before the early 1980s – did.

It will be simpler, though, in terms of its major systems – and so more durable and almost always cost less to repair and be easier to repair than anything new. Plus, you should be able to afford repairs, when they become necessary – because you aren’t (hopefully) making payments.

Older are usually either paid-for cars or you pay less to buy one. Many you can buy for cash – and not much.

And you will definitely be making lower payments  . . . to the insurance mafia and (if you have to deal with this) the personal property tax on your vehicle, which is based on its retail or market value.

Finally, by eschewing the new, you are Going Galt (withholding your sanction by withholding your money) with respect to the new car “market” – which is increasingly defined by the fact that it isn’t one.

The government is force-feeding car design via regulations and mandates which are contrary to market signals – one obvious example being the general market preference for larger/more capable and inherently safer vehicles, even if they use “too much” gas, in the eyes of the government.

Same goes for the pushy pushing of electric cars, which few seem to want because mostly it’s only the very affluent who can afford them.

It’s not unlike Gate Rape – or Submission Training – by the TSA. If enough people had Gone Galt and elected not to fly as a means of registering their disgust, we would probably not have Gate Rape and Submission Training today.

If enough people simply stopped buying “government motors” vehicles – not just GM vehicles, but all vehicles built to government specifications rather than market demands – we’d once again have a market for cars – and it would be less expensive to buy new cars and probably enjoyable again, too.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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47 COMMENTS

  1. Great article Eric!
    I live in the Netherlands/ Europe and i drive two oldtimers motorcycles Kawasaki Spectre 558cc both from 1982.
    It saves me a lot of money and while driving two of them, with an allowed range of 5000 km each yearly ( not that anybody ever checks that ) they take me where ever i want to go.
    The insurance is a mere € 6,50 a month, each! Taxes??? a laughable € 30,00 a year, each!
    I drive easily 18 km on a single liter of petrol and the fun part is these Kawasakis never ever let you down. It seems like these engines run forever.
    So, yes, i get your message. Loud and clear!

  2. Great philosophy.

    This has been my objective for years. Keep, maintain and repair.

    Newest is an 05. Oldest 56.

    I have been able, through hard work, delayed gratification, luck and thrift been able to drop off of the mortgage, credit card and new car payment Habitrail wheel.

    Aside from the Mirage, which also amazingly promotes visibility as a selling feature on the Mitsubishi web site, nothing pleads with me to open my padlocked wallet.

    • Amen and good-for-you, Bostwick!

      Paying cash; owning our things outright; being debt-free; living within or below our means; and not having to have everything under the sun, is about the most we can do to remain as free as possible.

      Most people today are literal slaves to their things; to banks; to employers; etc. They give up their most precious commodity- time- in exchange for essentially nothing other than stuff which wastes even more of their time.

      Thank goodness I figured this stuff out when I was but a kid- ’cause once ya get entangled, it’s nearly impossible to break free. Consequently, I’ve never had a car payment in my life; own my place free and clear; save and pay cash for what ever I buy; can live on practically nothing, so I can choose the type and amount of work I want to do- no 9-5 job EVER, and can keep my income below taxable level. That’s as free as it gets in modern-day ‘Murca. (And no insurance- other than the mandated car insurance- which, for $300/yr. I’d probably get anyway)

      • Well said, Nunzio.

        And good for you, too. I found when I took on debt it was oppressive, suffocating and stress producing. And then eliminated as quickly as possible.

        Sometimes I think this sort of life choice is a dying philosophy. It’s depressing.

        I see all this consumption fueled by debt and think somehow I got it wrong. It’s so pervasive that prudent financial behavior is looked upon as aberrant behavior.

        Especially amongst automobile journalists who never seem to think twice about unleashing their inner snobs.

        Stay the course Nunzio. Glad you’re out there.

  3. The US is a bankrupt warmongering police state.

    Not only do Americans think surrender is the answer to tyranny, Americans want to shut down anyone who spreads news about the collapse.

    Insanity.

  4. Great article which seems to resonate with many people. Pre 2002 of my favourite car used cable accelerators so those are the goods!

    Can anyone tell me, if the car has GPS, can signals come into it and discern location, driving style – or worse, take it over?

    Eric as an idea, perhaps compile a list of cars with anonymity and freedom (ie no GPS/connectivity/drive by wire). It’s like paying cash for goods vs cards.

    • Hi Jack,

      In many new cars, the GPS for the nav is integrated with “telematics” (e.g.,GM’s Onstar) and these can absolutely transmit data about your speed and location and so on to . . . whomever. And, yes, such a car can be disabled remotely, too.

      • Eric, I became aware of what could be done to a car in the early 90s.

        A friend had a new Caddy with the Northstar driveline. Locked himself out and contacted the dealership who most likely contacted corporate. The doors unlocked. I didn’t think it was as good as he did.

        I saw the first ad from GM a few years ago that bragged their vehicles were always in contact so the various systems were monitored to give realtime data giving them the ability to find flaws for practically every part. What they don’t say but I’ve known for almost 20 years the vehicles life history is stored in the ECU. My cousin was a GM tech who told me this showing how a guy he knew got nailed for pulling too much weight causing the transmission to fail repeatedly.

        They looked at the data and denied him what would have been his 3rd warranty replacement. He was hauling almost what a semi would haul.

  5. If it weren’t for the fact that I’ll be leaving Police State USA before long, I’d be seriously looking to buy something from the 60’s-80’s from AZ/NM/CA where ya can still find unrusted non-restored old vehicles to work with.

    Like others have said, anything old from much of the rest of the cunttree is either too rusted….or completely worn out/beat to hell.

    Saw a 66 or 67 Pontiac Tempest for sale out on some’s lawn a few years ago locally- a model I’d love to have- You should’ve seen this thing 🙁 EVERY panel on the car was rusted, and many bent or dented. Paint was non-existent; Frame and undercarriage was so rotted it looked like it had been deep-fried in batter; Interior was turning to powder. All mechanical parts were very rusted and beyond worn-out. I literally don’t think there was one salvageable part on the whole car- if you could still call it a car. After a few months it was gone. Maybe someone needed a serial number for $800…..if one could still be found.

    If you see anything that’s even remotely viable….it’s some beat-up, long-abused hacked-together “classic” that somebody parked 15 years ago after their teenager beat the hell out of….and now they’ve dusted it off, and if the paint still has any color left to it, it’s a $12,500 “project” or “rat rod candidate” or “easy resto”.

    For most of the country, viable old vehicles for actual use are essentially already gone.

    T’was a nice looking old VW Bug on CL a few weeks ago…never got past talking to the seller one time- Never got to see the car, as the guy has become unreachable (Maybe his ad was getting to many responses, so he figured his price was too low, and will save it for spring and double the price, or something).

  6. My personal work truck is 1993 F150.

    It has a 1973 drive train that still was a bolt up match for the most part: 300 cid inline six, carb, points ignition, manual gauges.

    Outside of the stereo, not a transistor to be found.

    • Best engine Ford ever made. How many miles did the original engine go? Those were the days of throw-away carburetors IIRC, back when GM made good pickups with TBI. Those days are certainly over now.

      • The stock engine was a 302 cid V-8 with port injection and early ECM computers Duira-Spark 4 systems IIRC. Horrible choice for a truck, low torque, short stroke junk. The injector on #8 cylinder failed, washed the cylinder wall with raw gas and scored it, losing compression. Ripped all that crap out, pulled the 300 out of the last truck that I “threw in the woods” and rebuilt it. It was still running at 365,000 miles when I parked it for the 93, and the internals were remarkably clean and in good shape. This was ten years ago now and still going strong.

        I have two Carter YFA-1 single bbl carbs for it. A rebuild kit costs $20 and can be done in a hour or two. I keep one on the shelf as a spare.

  7. Another bonus of driving old is that if you pick the right model and have the extra space one can acquire a fleet of the same model to cannibalize from when needed. They can be had cheap too by buying non running ones on CL.

  8. Right on! I am just reading a classic baseball book (Glory of Their Times) about the dead ball era – during this gross cold weather. I can kind of relate (as much as a female can) to the Detroit slugger Sam Crawford. He had to be tracked down by the author (in the early 60’s). His wife held down the household in L.A. while Sam wandered off the main roads. He didn’t want a telephone or TV. I assume he enjoyed the freedom and anonymity of cars of that era though!

    • You do know that there used to be an inspection sticker in Colorado, right?

      I think they cancelled it in the early 1980s. It was just a scam anyway.

      • My understanding is that you can be ticketed for driving a vehicle deemed “not roadworthy” whatever that means. But given some of the shade tree repairs I’ve seen on the highway I think it open to a lot of interpretation. One thing that I know they’ll get you on is a busted tail light or headlight out. But I know people who fixed their tail light with red tape and left it on for years without incident.

        • They outlawed red tape in Texas no matter how small.

          Quite the scam in Texas now. Get inspection and take that piece of paper along with insurance to the tax office where your new “plate” is the windshield sticker.

          I’ve used farm plates for 35 years. I know people who’ve been ticketed pulling a pleasure boat although I never did. I figured one ticket every 10 years you’d still be money ahead. A lot of places I fished I accessed the boat ramp via private property. FEAFEFH.

  9. I bought a vintage plate from a guy who restores them for my old musclecar, and when I tried to register it, the DMV said it was already in use, so I couldn’t use it. I’ve been driving it that way for about 5 years now. If I ever get pulled over, “oops, I forgot to take that off after the last car show”.

  10. Plenty of nice toys out there that can benefit from some modern technology (Engines/Bolt On’s and internals, tires, not anything really electronic) that are ripe for the picking

    A good Muscle car or JDM/Euro from the 70’s and 80’s can be a solid DD, and without having to go to the DMV, can be made into monsters.

    Goal this year is to find the perfect classic to daily

  11. I’m way ahead of you, Eric. Haven’t bought a new vehicle since 1980.

    Newest is a 2006 that I got in 2008. The others: 1991, 1989, 1988, and 1976 (not currently being driven). All “permanent” (not antique!) plates. Marginal rate for insurance is very low.

    • Excellent, Who Is!

      My newest is an ’02… and it’s new as I’ll ever own, I think. It only has two air bags – one I can turn off. No seat belt buzzer, no LCD touchscreen.

      I love the thing!

      • Well, the price was right on the 2006 //wink

        Aside from having some parts to fail that I’d never heard of before (code reader and web search works for those) it’s actually been a pretty good car I guess, especially after I swapped out the ghetto wheels for something realistic.

  12. I agree with you Eric, 100%. However, in my case and a lot of drivers in the rust belt, they tend to rust out way earlier than they can run mechanically. My oldest right now is a ’99 K2500 that we keep for farm use. It is just starting to rust on all it’s panels from the inside out. And this is late, being 20 years old, because half it’s life was spent in the South West. I will let it rust, but it will come a time, unfortunately.
    After this past weeks storm here in NJ/NY you should see the cars, all covered completely in white salt dust. You can wash it off, but it never really goes away.
    My local mechanic friend is now doing early 2000’s trucks brake lines routinely. They all are going. $1500+ job.

    • As much as I like with Eric’s sentiments about running an older car — and do it for myself (but not the wife) — I must agree that it is very difficult to do in the North because of the salt.

      That being said, I actually see more “classic” restored cars in the North than I do in the South. It seems that in the South, even though cars don’t rust out, poorer people will drive them into the ground before giving them up on the used market, and by then the interiors are shot, they’re dented to hell, the paint is peeling off and they have 300,000 miles on the clock.

      Beyond that, consider the fact that FedGov took a significant number of good used vehicles off the market in 2009 with Obama’s stupid “cash for clunkers,” it is easier said than done to opt out of the new market and rely exclusively on decent used cars.

        • In NY, it was always “mostly highway miles”- although in lower NY, there is virtually nowhere where one could find any conditions that remotely resemble highway driving….even on the highways, where it could easily take 2-3 hours to go 60 miles in the stop and go traffic….

          My best friend’s mother back there bought a bubble Caprice. Paid double the going price, ’cause it was owned by an old fart and had super low miles on it. Without ever having seen the car, I told her not to buy it- that with such low mileage, the car had to have spent most of it’s life just sitting and being used for very short trips; that she’d be better off with a higher mileage car that had actually been driven and maintained…or just about any Caprice for the standard price.

          Of course, she didn’t listen…. Car turned out to be the biggest piece of crap she ever owned. Once she started driving it, everything started leaking; carbon on the valves; tons of rust in hard to see places; a plethora of electrical issues…..

    • My approach is to drive a cheap, reliable, and warm late model (defined as anything made after 1982 by me…) during the winter, then dust of the collector plated toys for spring, summer, and fall. It helps to live somewhere west of nowhere and have some big buildings to keep stuff in.

  13. My daughters left the country for Spain and I ended up with the car I bought them…94 Toyota Corolla. I’m keeping the Corolla and I commute in it everyday. Keeps the miles off my Tundra.
    On my classics I have the *Historic Vehicle* registration. I’ve only heard of one story of a AGW who pulled over a guy driving a classic with this type of registration. The AGW demanded to know where he was going and if it wasn’t to a parade or auto show he got a ticket. I say never answer any questions when pulled over by AGW’s.

    • “I’m going to a police ball and I’m going to raffle off this car”

      Naaah, the psycho taxtaker parasite might just steal it from you.

    • There is an exception in the fine print here where the cars can be driven “for maintenance and repair reasons”. I will NEVER get a ticket. “I just finished tuning the carb, and I’m taking her for a test drive, officer.” Apparently I adjust the carb quite often.

  14. “Automated Start/Stop, which almost every new car now “features.””

    That should be a dealbreaker for every thinking, um, peoplekinds.

    I am going to get a 90s pickup truck. I just decided that a few weeks ago.

    • was a deal breaker for us. recently (1-2 years) bought two FCA V8’s, and one V6, no start-stop. And a bonus in the v8’s, a ‘sport’ button that makes the cars shift like they used to, not like the latest short-shifting-crap-for-mpg.

      • That is why I gave up on the media long ago- and now, even largely have given up on the alternate media.

        The media gives voice to these small groups of weirdos, who would otherwise have no voice. Why would I care whatv they think of Seinfeld. Their opinion is irrelevant to me, except in that it makes them look like like the foolish and despicable Marxists they are.

        Then the alternate media gives them further voice- even if condemning them or pointing out their absurdity. And by so doing, the opinions and modus operandi of these very small groups of cultural Marxists ends up being promulgated throughout the world- and the less stout-hearted start worrying that they might offend someone if they quote a Seinfeld episode [Not that there’s anything wrong with it… 🙂 ]; or that maybe they’ll be ostracized if they admit to liking Seinfeld; idiots start “self-censoring”- and before long, the agendas of the cultural Marxists end up gaining much ground, even though they have no power to impose that agenda; it is accomplished just by the media giving a tiny minority a disproportionate voice.

        And the worst thing is: Where these bastards make the most impact is with the very young- adolescents and teens. They figure: “If it’s important enough to be in the news, the people advocating it must have some legitimacy”- and they end up believing at least some of the BS the Marxists spew.

        The media takes something which is just the rantings of a handful of radicals…and makes it appear much bigger, and legit.

        Since the media will never stop doing this, the only thing to do, is to stop exposing ourselves to the media’s drivel.

        You know it’s getting bad, when they even start going after Jews…and no one even pulls the “anti-semite” card……

        Of all the truly horrible things in this world to criticize…they instead go after something good. -But they can’t find anything wrong with rap “music”…..

  15. The X is 8 years old now so I have 17 years left in Texas. If the VQ40 or ECM tires out a LS swap or VK56de bolt on is in order to put some sick HP behind my commuter vehicle.

    • @brazos_bend – The VQ (if referring to the VQ engine) is one of the best you can get for very high mileage engines and do-it-yourself repairs.
      Have 240K miles on one and its not burning almost any oil, and have worked on 2 others with the same mileage.
      Biggest weakness is the timing chain guides in the gen 2 motors, but that is still a rare occurence for a VQ.

      Now, if they had just bolted the VQ to anything other than a CVT…

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