Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Shana asks: You have written about the “sweet spot” for cars being the era that began in the mid-late ’90s through the early 2000s; this being the time when new cars had achieved incredible durability, required little maintenance and were also comfortable, well-equipped and powerful. You have also written about the virtues of the much older stuff, made before the advent of computer controls and “safety” systems. But what about the cars in between these two generations? Should they be avoided? If yes, why?
My reply: Yes, they should be. I refer to the cars made – roughly – from the early ’80s through the early ’90s, up to the widespread use of OBD II systems, circa 1994. Prior to that, cars came with computer controls but they were often specific to the manufacturer and so required manufacturer-specific diagnostic tools to service, which can be a real headache. The other thing is that these cars are now 30-plus years old and antiques. Which means finding antique electronics for them. That is sometimes not just hard but impossible, as the parts have long been out of production and – unlike a bezel for a ’64 GTO – NOS and reproduction electronics can be very hard to find. And expensive when – if – you do.
Many of the cars of this era were also not designed to deal with ethanol-soused fuel. They may have steel tanks and lines that are vulnerable to rusting from the inside out; rubber lines and other parts that dissolve/swell or dry-rot because of exposure to alcohol. It may be necessary to completely update the fuel system to work well – and safely – with modern adulterated “gas.”
It’s too bad, really – because there are many neat cars from this era. Among my favorites, the Pontiac Fiero and the Honda CRX.
This isn’t to say don’t get one. Just be advised that getting one entails more than getting something newer. Or much older.
. . .
Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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