Classic Cars and Classic Owners

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Are old cars for old people?

It seems to be so – if you go by what one typically sees at an old car show. The owners are mostly at least as old as their cars – and most of them are more than 40 years old, which is roughly the line of demarcation between modern cars – those with computers – and those without them, which were last made in the very early ‘80s. 

The owners of pre-computer (and now classic) cars are now “classics” themselves. They are into classic cars because they grew up with them and remember what cars used to be like before Uncle ruined them.

And ruined driving – which used to be fun, too.

People who are in their ’20s and ’30s today have no memory of what it used to be like. Most have never been in a car with a carburetor – and without air bags. They are as unfamiliar with cars that don’t parent them as they are with not being asked for ID and compelled to allow a government goon to evaluate the heft of their genitals prior to getting on an airplane.

Flying used to be fun, too.

It isn’t anymore. It is something to be dealt with – and gotten over with – as  quickly as possible.

Similarly, cars are just appliances to most in their ’20s and ’30s – and driving isn’t fun for anyone because of the endless pestering and constant threat of over-the-top sanctions for trivial offense against arbitrary statutes.

Try to imagine being a 17-year-old kid today and having to deal with “zero tolerance” policies with regard to alcohol – something which most teens still regard as fun. The slightest whiff of beer – and there goes your license.

Imagine being 20 – and no longer a kid, really. Possibly, working full-time. That same whiff costs you not just your license but also your job.

It makes driving not much fun since you can’t go anywhere fun or do much that’s fun.  Unless you’re a nun – and they aren’t supposed to have fun.

This is all on purpose, it should be understood. The process has been gradual, but always with the end in sight – which has always been to alienate people from cars and driving them in order to get them to surrender – willingly, if unknowingly – their personal mobility.

It has been done under the guise of “emissions control” – at first – and then (in tandem) saaaaaaaaaaafety. Finally, in the name of throttling a bogeyman who doesn’t exist – catastrophic, unnatural “climate change” – but which the modern medicine men of the media have confected into a kind of looming Huitzilopochtli who must be appeased else the world will end.

The result of all this is anodyne cars as well as people no longer interested in cars.

Cars with computers are forbidding things compared with the mechanical things most over-40s today grew up with yesterday.

Especially to a 14 or 15-year-old, which is about the age people used to form emotional bonds with cars because they (used to) begin working on them around that time. Which they had to, usually, because the cars most kids that age had access to back in the ‘80s and before were old jalopies – like classic Beetles, for instance – they bought with their summer lawn-mowing and winter snow-shoveling money in anticipation of getting their learners permit at 15 and change and their full license (and adult privileges) at 16.

Today’s kids don’t get adult privileges until they are practically adults – and the cars available to them are mostly almost-used-up computer-controlled cars, which aren’t tinker-friendly in the way an old Beetle or similar relic was.

Raise the Beetle’s hood – and there it is, the engine. All of it. Mechanical components you can see and touch and take apart to see how they work and so understand how they work. It was the same, basically, for all cars made before the early Eighties.

Software is harder to see – harder to take apart and understand. Or care about. It is not the same thing, even if you do understand it, to read a code as opposed to physically taking apart a carburetor and replacing a bad accelerator pump or leaky float.

There’s not much charm in pulling a defective electric whatever-it-is, throwing it away and plugging in a new electric whatever-it-is.

People aren’t attached to their smartphones, either.

So long as it works – and so long as it’s the latest thing – then it’s “cool.” But when it stops working and is no longer the latest thing, it gets thrown away. How many people still have the phone they had five years ago? How many people still have the same car they had 30 years ago?

People didn’t used to throw away their cars.

They kept them, they fixed them and they handed them down to their kids (or sold them to some kid) for them to fix. Some fixed them to better-than-new and held onto them until they became “classic” cars.

By which time, the kid who owned it had become one himself.

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Eric, some bright news from Australia.
    Firstly, the classic metal here is loved by the younger (Z) ones I know. They know the prices are very high, but these are still dream cars, and shows are of some interest.
    Secondly, our industry continued making full size RWD muscle right up until it shut in 2016-17. So there are plenty of the greatest examples of Falcon and Holden still for sale in dealers yards. And yes, they got better as time went on, with more powerful drivetrains and well engineered chassis. This means if you are young, you can still buy a nice near new VF2 ute with the 6.2L or, depending on state P plate rules, a nice XR6. The drivetrains, particularly in the Ford case, are very tough. Our own 4.0I6 has nearly 300,000km and is unopened and consumes no oil. So for many years, young people will be able to buy cars like this at affordable prices.
    Thirdly, here in regional Australia, the kids still have a bit of a car culture going. It’s not a bad time at all. From drags to 4wheelie modding, my nieces, nephews and kids are able to do things like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDEeLSyDCX7nBjXZ4QEqksC-VXiU0L0jw

    Enjoy the turbo taxi, Eric 🙂

    • Excellent, Jack!

      I can proudly take credit for getting to Gen Z teenagers into cars – one of them literally into a classic car that he drives every day. This makes me almost as happy as escaping the clutches of an AGW trying to catch me for “speeding”!

      • eric, I miss those chases. Unless I was in town, there was never a doubt of the results. I quit running in the mid to late 80’s when the cops got new Camaros and some Stangs. While not really potent, it wasn’t the one-sided thing I’d had with my Malibu. Of course when on my Zuk 1000 it was easy as pie and rarely did they even hit their brakes or only briefly. I finally put a cafe racer fairing made out of smoked lexan on it to cut down on injuries due to insects. I was going fast enough once to get grasshopper legs stabbed into my skin. I didn’t have to worry about my hands since I always used “trucker’s special” glove that would take the fit of the grips after riding on a hot day or three sweating them down and leaving them to take the shape. I tried half finger gloves but didn’t care for them.

      • Hi Eric, cheers for the reply. I might add this little bit of technical explanation on the Aussie Ford I6:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ6O1qnMmak

        It’s just so strong and capable of massive power, this is what Aussie Gen Z are playing with at the present, the turbos no doubt will be future classics, perhaps you can see what I mean when I say our ‘Golden Age’ down under is right now?

        And armed with the Turbo Barra, here’s a family SUV eating Corvettes:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcQ0z_BxYes

        • But the hoon laws…..

          I had hoped for a long time that Ford would bring last small block straight six to the USA. One of those would be nice in my Maverick in place of the 250.

          • Australia’s anti-fun laws are nothing short of awful. I would say that in Australia the police are genuinely as destructive to car culture as road bicycling is. Ridiculous levels of speed camera spam, cunningly camouflaged and set to come on at 1 km/h over. A second burnout ticket can get your car crushed. Bull-headed cops who will pull over any car that even looks modified and go over it looking for any excuse to declare it unroadworthy, issuing citations for unbelievably petty offenses like pod air filters. One journalist even reported that a cop pulled him over in a dead-stock AMG press fleet car and gave it the fine-toothed comb on the spot just because it looked modified. (No idea how they compensate people for the time wasted by these stops).

            Of course we are talking here about a country that basically public-shamed its manufacturers, back in the early 1970s, away from producing some 500HP, 160MPH homologation specials they were planning – and back then, they still had some delimited desert roads where those could have been legally wound out! In fact, that was actually part of why everyone tried to shame them!

            Whatever is going on in Australia, I really feel like I’m better off not understanding.

            • From the time I was 5 or 6 I wanted to emigrate to Australia. Every article just made me want to go more. I was still this way into my teens. Go to Australia, get out in the endless bush and do whatever there was to be done. Years of reading Soldier of Fortune at the barbershop only made my desire increase. But Vietnam and trying to stay legal and not in the military put my Australian emigration on hold.

              It appeared Vietnam was never going away although Tricky Dick said he was going to end it and only stepped it up. So I hung around and became an independent trucker in 73…..but I never forgot about Australia.

              A few years ago I was reading an article where they’d passed a law that anyone riding a motorcycle with a name on their jacket were to be arrested and jailed on sight. It was even more egregious than the laws passed by the Shrub, Cheney and all the rest of the cowards in congress.

              I couldn’t imagine such a bad law. This was after the gun confiscation which pretty much did in my desire to go there……for any reason. Then I saw other laws passed that boggled the mind, even more so than what we are seeing in this country. I suspect the pols here want to catch up to Australia desperately.

              Well, per the 2nd Amendment, wake the fuck up. It ain’t about hunting deer. They try to convince the anti-gunners but we all know the 2nd was made to hunt politicians. I just wish I were younger.

  2. Note the Maverick in the video. Shown as the still before hitting play too. Looks like it’s probably a ’76. Can’t tell if it is tan or ‘light green’, the original color of my ’75.

  3. Gun shows are mostly for older dudes, too. I don’t think the next generation cares all that much about hunting or shooting. Increased urbanization makes it harder to find a place to shoot. Schools indoctrinate students with the idea that guns are evil, and to be shunned. I’ve still got a rotary dial land-line phone, but the over-priced AT&T monopoly and the fact that most of the calls I receive are from overseas telescammers, means I will probably have to give up one of the last vestiges of clinging to the past. I was never much of a gear head, but at least I could identify most of the new and recent model cars, and name the components under the hood. Today’s cars all look alike, and are ugly as sin. Whatever differences there might be are deliberately engineered to reduce interchangeability of parts. I used to have a 1985 Chevy Nova (Toyota). If it burned a headlamp, I could go to Western Auto and pick up one from the three or four types in stock, that would fit anything. I think if I burned out a headlamp today I’d probably have to replace the whole front clip.

    • Patrick,

      You bring up gun shows.

      I’ve been hearing that gun collections are going down in value.

      Seems the younger shooters don’t want to be bothered with the intricacies of a beautiful old firearm. They like the polymer guns.

      At least one twenty something, a tow truck guy, asked me why I carry a 1911. He has a couple 1911s but carries a HiPoint for the simple fact the cops will take it if he uses it.

      Under thirty and he grocks that he will never own anything in his life. And while he doesn’t speak highly of that, he sure willingly accepts it. When the state generates a sizable percentage of your income…

  4. Although I am in the nostalgia demographic and agree with most of Eric’s Good Old Days sentiments, this could have been written 40 years ago (using different examples) and the same complaints would be made. New is crap, Old was better. Certainly simpler. I hate dealing with robots not people, who are bad enough.
    Yes, change is hard. Our generation has seen more than most. Nearly all for the better gadget wise, but government wise, not. But everyone grows older (if they are lucky) and cars today for the most part are better than the old ones. That guy with the “$35.00 Chevy” must be dreaming. Even 70 years ago driveable ones cost far more. So gripe all you want. I do anyway. But better to try to learn new things and adapt. Absent catastrophe, the Old Days are gone for good. Soon enough, so are we.

    • Muggles,

      “this could have been written 40 years ago (using different examples) and the same complaints would be made.”

      100% correct!

      Works pretty good.

      Eliminate freedom, instill fear, rinse and repeat. Same objections, but different results.

      Quantifiably different results. Much more fear and much less freedom.

      Always the same complaints.

      • I don’t know… changes that came into play 40 years ago were not as radical. What’s the cost comparison between overhauling a carb (or even throttle body or port injection) and a direct injection fuel system? Replacing the fuel pump? Replacing an old-school starter or alternator versus the new combo units used with start-stop systems? How about R&R of a transmission from an old-school rear-drive car versus front-drive or all-wheel-drive setup? A 2 or 3-speed automatic trans is something one could conceivably overhaul in one’s own garage, I know people who have done it. How about a 10-speed electronically-contolled trans or CVT? (Just to name a few items that immediately come to mind.)

        Older cars certainly needed more routine servicing but most of it could be done inexpensively by the shadetree mechanic using hand tools.

        • My first car was a 1966 Chevy. With a timing light, dwell/tach, and a good set of hand tools, you could do pretty much EVERYTHING (in terms of maintenance) to those cars. Can’t say that about the newer cars…

    • Around 1990 I purchased my running and driving 1971 Custom/10 Deluxe pickup for $350. Granted, I’ve put a lot of hours and cash into it since for bodywork and drive line but it was a fully functional truck when I bought it. Even 15-20 years ago you could buy safe, fully operational cars for $500.

      I think you missed the point, Muggles. 40 years ago a new vehicle operated exactly the same as one that was 40 years older. They had a carburetor, points ignition, mechanical fuel pumps and no electronic controls. They were easy to work on and there was a booming aftermarket for speed parts. Back in my day we would read all the Hot Rod mags and figure out what combo we wanted for our 350 V8s, and would work on them in the garage or driveway. We learned how to swap cams, lifters, intakes, valve springs and stock manifolds for headers. We would re-jet the carbs and adjust the secondaries to kick in at just the right time. If you found a nice car but it had a straight 6 instead of a V8 it was nothing to do a swap and put in a V8, since there were no computers and sensors to stop you.

      We lived and dreamed this 40 years ago when I was in High School, and a lot of times would end up on a secluded blacktop to find out who had the fastest 1/4 mile. It was also not uncommon to have a few beers while doing this. Did we ever ever caught in the act? Yes, and would get a stern warning from the local Policeman (Peace Officer, not today’s AGW) while watching him pour the beer on the ground. Do this today and the book would be thrown at you with thousands of dollars of fines, and probable mental scarring for life.

      I’ll take the past, and am glad I got the chance to live it. Today’s generation is missing out on the hands on learning experiences we had, and are too immersed in their phones to learn even the minimum of hands on mechanical skills that are needed to function in society.

  5. Government wrecks everything they touch. Anyone in government is a control freak. Nice story and the new times are not always better than the old. Many of the changes in the auto industry have come under the false flag of man made global warming. It’s a total waste of time and resources when our lives are being legislated by people who only want control.

  6. this article really hits the nail squarely on the head. I’m 56 andgot 2 old mustangs, a 72 Mach 1 Q code with 56k miles and an 87 LX 5.0 that I ordered new and still have. I’m at cruise nights all summer and the graying of the owners is very apparent and I’ve been wondering if our cars will have any value as us we get older and die off. The kids coming up now haven’t a clue what it was like in the “old days’ getting your license and hitting the road in some fixer upper like we all did. Thankfully my 23 year old son who is already a licensed electrician, is a gear head like me. He loved going to the shows in his car seat as a toddler and now has an 86 Mark vii that he has modified with nitrous and GT40 top end. Maybe there is hope for the younger generation yet??

  7. Cars COULD still be simple, but there’s not enough demand nor profit potential in doing so.

    Besides, there’s ANOTHER factor often lost…too many boys being raised by their mommies (or BOTH of them, even if one ostensibly has a penis and isn’t named Hillary) and gaining NO mechanical aptitude, self-reliance, or problem-solving skills as well as practical craftsmanship. As well as the Boys Scouts having degraded into a gay-friendly organization and therefore a haven for pederasts, to the point that mine own faith (the LDS Church) has pulled out. It’s worthwhile to note on Father’s Day that MY Dad, raised for part of his youth on a farm outside of Fresno, CA, and a career Air Force officer, taught me more than a few things, both in building stuff and in working on the “Family Truckster” (a 1968 Chevy Bel Air wagon with a 327 small block and a TH350 automatic), mostly starting with “hold the flashlight”. I passed on this tradition to my kids, even my daughters. In fact, just recently, helping my #2 son prepare his truck to haul his stuff from his Iowa home (which he’s just sold) to his new job in Nevada, we rebuilt the front end which was a “fun” task…great way to spend one’s leave. Today, as with yesterday, I helped #1 son swap out a CV Axle on his “beater”, a 2000 Corolla, which, considering its age, two bolts holding the strut assembly to the steering knuckle defied repeated attempts to budge them…a few cans of “PB-Blaster!”, repeated heating with a torch (followed by dousing with cold water), and good, old-fashioned muscle, profanity, and blasphemy! But, the Corolla is road-worthy again, as my boy buys more time to keep his two “Yotas” (the Corolla and an ’84 pickup inherited from his late friend, a story of itself) and thereby not only maintain self-reliance but also stave off car payments.

    How many young fellows, or ladies for that matter, take AUTO SHOP (where is that done anymore?), learn how to rebuilt a carburetor, or set points and time an engine, or even do a simple oil/filter change? How many could adjust the valves on their VW Beetle or the Slant Six on a Dodge Dart? How many kids can even change a freaking TIRE? It’s as if the fictional Simon Phoenix’s observation of the future society (of a fictional city derived out of LA and San Diego after a supposed great earthquake in 2010) has ALREADY come true…it’s become a pussified, wimpy, Brady-Bunch version of a once great nation.

    • Hi Doug,

      Amen, in re all you’ve written. Just one of many vignettes: The coffee dive where I often go to work is popular with the younger crowd and I sometimes observe and listen. The younger women are often very loud and bossy; their dates often stoopy-looking soy boy types with the scruffy beards which have become popular. All that’s missing is the leash. And you know who’s holding it…

      • Well, I’m 30, so I classify as a millennial… and I guess I could be accused of having a scruffy beard, and of stooping… but you won’t catch me with a bossy woman, not for very long.

        I grew up with them, so I was there to hear all the “don’t marry too early, don’t have too many children, don’t let men control you, enjoy life (i.e.: be promiscuous)” from the mediocrities that pass for teachers in the indoctrination camps.

        My friends tell me that I need to stop worrying about what they say and just follow along until sex happens, then move on. It’s always said in jest, but it sounds so depressing because there’s too much truth in it.

        The prospect of getting shackled to someone who shrieks “PATRIARCHAL OPPRESSION!!!” every time things don’t go her way… it doesn’t do much to encourage stable, baby-making relationships. The bitchiness is castrating enough, and God only knows when it’ll turn into a divorce, then you can kiss your jewels (in every sense) goodbye.

        • Morning, Lane Splitter!

          It’s a mess – and for us all, men and women. Worse for them, I submit. I talk with my buddies about this often. We – as men – can get by on very little; we can make do. We have the physical power of our bodies (which is exponentially greater than that of almost any woman) coupled with the knowledge we possess about how things work which enables us to do so many things ourselves – for free – that women almost always have to pay a man to do for them. They may not “need” to be married to a man or have a man as a boyfriend.

          But they need men.

          We don’t need women.

          A woman can be nice to have around – if she’s feminine and pleasant and eases the stress of life. There is sex. And many men would like a pleasant, feminine wife and a family. But we do not need these things to survive.

          Once a man figures this out, he’s in the left seat – so to speak.

          There is a reason why women tend to be liberal – that is leftist authoritarians – to a greater degree than men and are often far more militant: They need government to force men to serve them. Imagine Hillary Clinton after an EMP. On her own.

          Women still lose in this game, irrespective of government leverage. They have an approximately 15-20 year window of biological serviceability and thus, appeal (and so, value) to most men. Any man who has the choice will not choose a 40-year-old woman when he can have a 30-year-old woman. And men who aren’t losers do have that choice – which infuriates the over-40 women who cannot find a “good man”… because those men do not want a worn-out/biologically useless female whose physical appeal is rapidly fading and whose bitchiness (often the result of menopause, which means the dramatic reduction in the female hormones that make women feminine and so appealing to men) is waxing and who probably resents men as a class because by now she’s been through serial relationships, probably dumped at least one “good man” – but has his kids – and so on.

          What man wants that? I have asked some women in this category whether they buy fruit on the verge of spoiling or with blotches on it… if they can afford to buy fresh fruit. You can imagine their reaction.

          • “But they need men. ”

            But thanks to government only collectively, not individually.

            Today wealth is transferred politically and then it is call someone and pay for it.

            The problems will begin as men start earning only enough for themselves and stay below the tax thresholds. It will get even worse if there’s a decent UBI program put into place.

            I suspect men will be denied UBI and will, even if they don’t have children, be government ordered to make an income appropriate with their abilities so they can be taxed. Those tax monies then be transferred to women.

            Women in general today have seemingly forgotten how to have anything on offer as costs and risks for men to deal with them have skyrocketed.

          • Let’s see, is that spelled “menimalist”? When was the last time you heard a man say “Oh, that couch is so…..70’s” or “I hate that old leather recliner, it’s all scratched up”. OTOH, I’ll get on a roll and work that old recliner over with saddle soap and it smells good, feels good, looks good….enough, and whoever gave it to Goodwill is one dumb….uh……person.

    • Doug,

      You can thank Uncle in large part for cars’ increasing complexity. If it weren’t for the emissions and SAAAAAFFFFEEETY regs, cars could be built a lot simpler and cheaper.

  8. Cars are an expensive liability these days. We are also seeing the heavy urbanization of the USA. Young folks don’t give two figs about cars because they are so expensive. Every state has different insurance laws and premium rates. Every state has their own license and registration fees that they screw you up the arse with. What do you expect?

    • Hi Lance,

      It’s true – and very sad.

      One specific thing related to this discussion: “Beaters” are getting hard to find; well, you can find one – but getting it operable and past emissions/safety tests is often a matter of more money than man teenagers can deal with on their own – and then there is insurance, which is extortionate for teenagers as a class.

      Plus, there’s the conflicting impetus for teens to also have gadgets – sail fawns and such – which the pre-Internet generation wasn’t saddled with. How many teens can afford a sail fawn and a car?

      You’re right – it’s just too much.

        • Hahaha! It took me hearing Eric say that to me for a year before I got it. I have a flip-phone, but absolutely no need for the type you have to screen-finger. All the latest technology is also intentionally designed to be operated in the most infantile manner. I get really bored and annoyed with it in about 5 minutes. Did I mention that women now have Blue-Tooth dildos? Yep, no skill required, just plug-and-play, literally!

        • The only good thing about a sail fawn is it acts as a decent user interface for OBD2 dongles…gotta love am $80 dongle+app that mostly replaces a $3000 factory laptop+app 🙂

          Other than that, it’s a leash for the War Department to text you with…”honey, pick up some bread on your way home”.

    • Once seen as a place to escape, young people are herding themselves back into cities, just like the UN’s “2030 Agenda” would have it. There are places in the US where there are no inspections and lower insurance rates but you have to live out in the sticks.

  9. There are no inexpensive cars today. My $35.00 Chevrolet would have a 350 Chevy engine power seats air and be north of 30k. Try to find a fix as you go cars on the cheap like we did. They are history. No $1500 running anything worth work for young people. My son’s first car was a 1964 Lemans convertible I bought and he and I replaced the motor any trans in our garage. We sold it so he could get an Alfa Romeo. Those days are gone.

  10. I think another reason why classic car owners are all old is that they have not only the time to futz around with cars… they have the INCOME as well, which many Millennials don’t.

    There are a lot of valid criticisms of Millennials, but in fairness to them, they’re products of their environment. Boomers lived very charmed lives of high income, high amounts of leisure time, cheap consumer goods, stable jobs, and continually rising housing prices that many profited handsomely from.

    I know guys in their early seventies who bought now-“classic” cars when they were KIDS and have owned them ever since. One retired guy I know with a restored Chevelle bought in ’71 for a couple or three thousand bucks or whatever they were going for back then. He was 21 when he bought it. I knew guys who were a few years older than me… back in the 1970s, they would get SUMMER jobs at steel mills and auto plants paying union wage plus overtime… they’d pay for a year of college AND buy a new car cash with the summer job money.

    A typical Millennial can not buy a 2019 SUV for $38,000 and pay this $50,000 college tuition with his summer job money… and even if he COULD, he wouldn’t keep that 2019 SUV for the next 40 years.

    Every time a see new Mustang GT today, it’s got some 70-year old grayhair behind the wheel who probably bought a house in 1979 for forty thousand bucks and sold it when he retired for $375,000…

    • A typical Millennial can not buy a 2019 SUV for $38,000 and pay this $50,000 college tuition with his summer job money…

      Bullshit! Quit apologizing for the slackers. You can buy a new compact for $15K or get a used car.

      And their are ways to get a degree without running up a huge debt. Just don’t take a stupid “studies” major.

      Boomers lived very charmed lives of high income, high amounts of leisure time, cheap consumer goods, stable jobs, and continually rising housing prices that many profited handsomely from.

      Charmed?? Really?? I grew up in poverty in a slum and had to work my way up into a “charmed” life. I graduated at the top of my class with an engineering degree, but due to AA, it took me three years to get a job in my field.

      • True enough that a huge proportion of millennials are entitled slackers who think that blue collar jobs, or even white collar jobs that require putting in some long hours, are beneath them. Small wonder since they grew up hearing only of how special they were, and how they must never give up their dreams, and yada yada yada.

        But it’s also true that the ratio of income to durable goods prices, including cars but ESPECIALLY homes, has taken a dive since ol’ Tricky Dick closed the gold window. So I suppose you could say that the Millennials’ sad predicament is the endgame of two revolutions of 50 years ago – counter-culture, and fiat money.

        • Hi Lane,

          Many factors are at work – including those you mentioned. Cost is a big one – as a barrier to entry. One of these costs manifests as a lack of affordable old cars (not “classic” cars, just old cars) for first-time drivers. When I was in high school back in the ’80s, a kid could buy an old car that ran and could be driven for less than $1,000 and kept running on a shoestring budget and with hand tools. Such cars are no longer generally available because almost anything you can buy today for equivalent money is a “modern” car with a computer and EFI that is much harder to keep running on a shoestring budget and with hand tools. Almost anything that goes wrong with it will be very expensive – sometimes more than the car is worth – and beyond the ability of a kid just learning about cars to deal with.

          “Modern” cars are without question more reliable – for the first 10-15 years – and require less in the way of regular maintenance and repairs – for the first 10-15 years.

          But once they reach 15 years or so, they hit the wall. The great thing about pre-computer cars was that they could be resurrected to operational status more easily and inexpensively and kept running almost indefinitely – even if you did have to wrench on them more frequently.

          The inherent disposability of modern cars has helped to kill car culture.

  11. Had a ’74 Datsun 510 that was really something. Me and the pals pulled the 4 banger out without an engine hoist and dropped in a 6-cyl from a 240Z. Chopped the springs and retrofitted some power brakes to handle the power. I had no idea that those little things would become so collectible. Next to impossible to find one now.

    • I thought that ’73 was the last year for the original Datsun 510 after which the company brought out some really bizarre-styled stuff, then an ersatz 510 later in the 1970s. Although I’ve always preferred American iron I had an original 510 for a while. I picked it up used due to the first manufactured “gas crisis” of the 1970s. The 510 was something of a tin can and it rusted away quickly but was better than most of the foreign economy jobs of the time, with a more powerful engine and better suspension. (They didn’t last long out in the rust belt though.)

  12. It’s a problem of churn. Back in the day the old guys would die off at 62 of a heart attack. The widow and kids would just dump the old car(s) to get rid of that “damn thing.” Some kid would be there to pick it up on the cheap. Now they aren’t dying until their 80s. that’s 20 extra years, an entire generation, that missed out on the deals. And probably not as much a deal anyway as it was since it (and dad) rotted away for a decade or so.

    Doesn’t help that the next generation of old timers, who remember the old ones, decided they were an investment. This and the Internet made it a seller’s market for antique vehicles.

    Finally, where the hell are kids going to park these classics? Most suburban garages are pretty small these days. I know in my case when dad kicks the bucket it’s going to be pretty hard for me to inherit the old Charger, even with an “oversized” suburban 2 car garage. And not only because the amount of stuff stored. Builders are constructing houses with garages that meet the minimum code requirements, which are puny compared to what mom and dad got in the 1960s. And since mom and dad are still living in their 1960s 3 bedroom 1 bath on half an acre (now worth far more than a new house on a minuscule lot with deed restrictions and HOA enforcements), the kids have to find something else to collect.

    And let’s not underestimate the impact of all the old timers who chased off “the rice burners” when they tried to join the club…

    • Well, there are classics that will fit in small garages: Geo/Chev. Metro; Plymouth Champ; Chevy Chevette; the Bug; the Karmann Ghia. You can be classic and small. Maybe a Dodge K car?

      • And all those British roadsters (if you can find one that isn’t a basket case), 1970s Japanese sports cars and even the odd BMW 2002 too. But the old timers never wanted those cars, so they weren’t kept. Funny that the other day I passed a Suzuki Trooper on the highway. I never thought those things would be collectable but because they were the cheapest off road vehicle around people hung on to them. I remember my friend and I joking that someday the Dodge Omni O24 would be at car shows, but they got traded in and sold on and eventually sent to the crusher.

      • Do you remember the Dodge Ram D50’s in the mid to late 80’s? A rebadged Mitsubishi Mighty Max that were extremely popular then. Two of my friends owned them in 4×4 trim with the optional rims and roll bar. To find one today in any condition is next to impossible and less common than a winning lottery ticket. They were very stylish trucks, affordable but not a lot of power. To have a nice 4×4 today would be a head turner driving down the road.

    • I’m amazed at what of those old barges are fetching. Buckets that I remember owners had trouble dumping for a couple of hundred bucks back in the day are going for five figures.

      The other problem with modern cars as Eric has pointed out so many times is that once you get beyond around the mid-2000s they’re financial disasters waiting to happen once the warranty is up. In the old days you’d pick up a used carb, even a used engine or trans, at the junkyard for a few bucks and install it yourself. Now you have direct injection, all manner of complex/fragile systems, and computers requiring specialized dealer-only equipment to work on. Not only that, in some cases parts are “chipped” with the VIN of the original vehicle and will not work in anything else so forget about affordable used parts.

  13. And don’t forget the scan tool needed today to work on the newer cars. There is no other way you can figure out which of the electronic devices are misbehaving. You need one just to do a proper brake bleed on some of the ABS systems. There are several computers in the newest systems today. Each has their own set of error codes.
    The cost is high but it’s soooo easy for the ‘dealers’ to rip you off.

    • Oh yeah, and not just any scantool, the specific tool for that vehicle, make, most times also model. OBD2 codes do not give you most of what you need to troubleshoot fuel trim issues, ABS, electric steering, etc. etc., so you must pony up many thousands of $$$ for a Consult 3 reader (Nissan), or whatever. If you’re lucky, someone makes a good aftermarket reader, like VCDS for VWs, and it only costs hundreds, not thousands. But, for a kid in high school, or college? Even those hundreds are more than I had to spend in the 70’s to troubleshoot the balky Solex carb on my English Ford…and that’s the shame of it. No way I would have been able to afford the car, the gas, the standard tools, AND the unique computer tool!

      • Have a low mile ’13 CTS. It has thrown 2 error codes in the the 3 years I have owned it. Both were nothing and were erased with an OBD2 meter (Never To Occur Again). However, BOTH put the car in ‘Limp Mode” which would force the average owner to get a tow where the dealer would replace the affected system. Used to be when you had a Check Engine light you could drive to the auto parts store for a free diagnosis. Now cars are rendered immediately inoperable.

        • Hi D,

          It’s eve worse with late-model diesels; some will turn themselves off if you neglect to refill the DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) tank.

          “Our” cars is increasingly a misnomer; a bad joke.

          • “They” claim the trade is between “dirty air” and “paying a little more for your car”. The trade is really between simple, light, efficient and maintainable cars, and the automotive equivalent of the 1984 telescreen crossed with the Thinkpol. I had not heard of non-damaging OBD2 codes causing limp-in mode in some cars to date. Used to be, limp-in mode was reserved for things like melting down cats converters with raw fuel in the exhaust, or a transmission fault that might cause two gears to be selected simo (thus destroying the transmission). But, intermittent and/or non-damaging faults? Well, yeah, there is the DEF thing Eric mentioned…that’s bad enough.

  14. Classic owners are a dying breed unfortunately. I attend car shows and cruise ins whenever possible and too many young people either. I have a cousin in Newport News who owns a 1964 Galaxie 500 XL. His father purchased it new in a long closed Poquoson Ford dealer and it was assembled in the old scuttled Hampton Ford assembly plant. So the car never left home. Anyway, my cousin drives it to shows up here in the Shenandoah Valley. He even has the window sticker ($3,200.00) new. He has been begging me to show my car as well. The ’84 Hurstolds that has been commented on before. But it needs a good going over and all new weather stripping ( estimated $1,000). On the days I get to drive it, it takes me back to the days when I was 21 in 1988. My own personal “time machine”. Any modern auto will never do that no matter what horsepower and options it may have.

  15. My first car was a ’66 Chevy, and I worked on it ALL the time! Like your old Beetle, you popped the hood and there it was: the engine in all her glory, because you could actually SEE it. With the pre-computer cars, all one needed was a timing light, dwell/tach, and a good set of hand tools to do 90% of the work himself.

    My first motorized vehicle was an old Motobecane moped I bought from my uncle. I remember taking the carb apart on that thing to clean it-good times.

    My uncle had a couple of the original Beetles when he was younger. He told me about the one where the fuel pump was held together with a C-clamp! With the older cars, you could do things like that…

    Oh, and WRT the video, AOC and Bernie Sanders won’t give up THEIR cars! In fact, Bernie drives $100K Audi. I don’t begrudge him for having an Audi; I dislike his hypocrisy in telling us we have to give up our cars, while he gets to keep his.

    And when AOC returns to her NYC district, she doesn’t use the Acela Express train, the most environmentally friendly transportation option between DC and NYC; the good thing about trains is that they usually go downtown to downtown. AOC takes the shuttle (i.e. an airline) to save 1/2 an hour. Truth be told, once travel to and from the airport is factored in, that time savings evaporates anyway. But AOC is a hypocrite. Take the train, bitch! Practice what you preach, for once! Do YOUR part to fight YOUR WWII…

    • Once it gets to cruising altitude, a passenger jet is pretty darn efficient. Sure it’s gulping down jet-A at 10s of gallons per minute, but it’s also moving along at about 500 MPH too. High bypass turbojet engines are incredible machines.

      • This is all true, but we’re talking a short flight here; we’re talking DC to NYC.That’s what, 40 minutes? Even if the plane gets to a high altitude, it won’t remain there for long; it can’t because it’ll have to start its approach. The approaches into major airports can be quite long. For example, the PHILBO3 arrival procedure into Newark starts over Northern VA! Once it’s on approach, the plane has to reduce altitude and speed.

        Another point to consider is that, given the short distance and lower altitude a DC to NYC flight involves, a turboprop like an ATR72 or Q400 would be far better to use vs. a jet. A high bypass turbofan, as you pointed out, achieves its max efficiency at cruising altitude and cruising speed. Over a short distance, it doesn’t even come close to doing so. Ah, but since the public feels better with jets, all airlines, including regionals, have changed over to them; even though a turboprop aircraft would be better suited to the shorter distances and lower altitudes that they fly, regionals have changed to jets also.

        My point was that AOC was being a hypocrite by telling us we have to cut back on our lifestyle, while refusing to set the example herself. If she’s so gung-ho about her GND; if she’s blabbing about how climate change is our WWII; shouldn’t she set the example and take the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation back to her home district in NYC? Shouldn’t she do HER part? It’s the RANK HYPOCRISY of these people that PISSES ME OFF! Read this for more hypocrisy from noted climate change activists: https://townhall.com/columnists/tuckercarlsonandneilpatel/2019/06/14/climate-villains-n2548220

        Also, once overall travel time is considered (i.e. door to door), the Acela Express would compare favorably to taking the plane anyway. Plus, it’ll be closer to where she’s going anyway; once in NYC, all AOC would have to do is walk across the station to take the subway line to her district.

        • Sorry for shitting on your point. That wasn’t what I intended. But though it was important to dispel the myth that air travel is inefficient and that rail is somehow better for the environment. For sure she’s on record as in favor of eliminating air travel (for the masses at least). If she really wanted to save the planet, she’d take a Greyhound…

          https://theconversation.com/which-transport-is-the-fairest-of-them-all-24806

          If the congress really cared at all about the environment they’d telecommute to Washington instead of physically going there all the time, but that could be said for just about any desk jockey jobs.

          • I took no offense at all. I was more blasting AOC’s hypocrisy. If she’s preaching her GND gospel, then there’s no reason she can’t take the Acela Express between DC and NYC.

            I think Congress SHOULD meet in Washington, because telecommuting, wonderful as it is, simply can’t take the place of everything; there are situations in which F2F contact is necessary. That said, I think Congress should only meet PART TIME in Washington as the Founders intended. They never intended Congress to be full time, nor did they want folks to make a career of it. They NEVER intended to have guys like MI rep John Dingell, who was there 59 years-59 years!

            The idea was, particularly in the House of Representatives (aka the people’s house, since they were the only ones directly elected when the Constitution was written), for people to leave their jobs for a few years, serve, then return to their home and job/business. Until the early-mid 20th Century, you had lots of turnover in the House; every two years, 50% of the resp were new. Now, you have people serving DECADES, not years! That’s the REAL travesty! One area where the Founders blew it was omitting term limits.

            God help us if AOC is re-elected! I’m hoping that, thanks to her big mouth, she pissed off enough Establishment Dems that they’ll simply eliminate her district after the 2020 census. NY state is expected to lose at least one Congressional seat, and I’m thinking that it’ll be AOC’s that gets eliminated. The Dems aren’t upset over her beliefs, per se; hell, they AGREE with her! What they’re upset about is that AOC was too OPEN & HONEST, thus letting the cat out of the bag.

            But, I heard a rumor that AOC might run for Chuck Schumer’s Senate seat. Now THAT would suck…

            • The Hillary arm of the party is looking for their new messiah. AOC is seen as the new “Well-behaved women seldom make history” woman. They burned Joan of Arc at the stake, but dispatching AOC won’t be so simple. She just has to stay relevant long enough to make her presidential run, after a stint in a cabinet position.

              The smart choice would be to make her an ambassador to some South American country like Brazil. The fun choice would be to send her off to Saudi Arabia…

              • Even if they eliminate her district, AOC could get around that by taking on Chucky Schmucky Schumer. If she has the Justice Democrats behind her like they were for her Congressional run, then she COULD hang around long enough to make a presidential run. Still, I know that Nancy isn’t happy with her.

    • Whether this ditzy “Congressperson” takes the SUBSIDIZED Acela Express OR a jet shuttle between DC and NYC, SOMEONE ELSE is PAYING. That’s the inherent evil…a bunch of freeloaders, using OUR hard-earned monies to promise OTHER free-loaders stuff they haven’t EARNED and never will be capable of doing.

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