Driver Profiles . . .

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If you grew up when driving was liberating, you probably like driving. If you grew up after those times had come and gone, you are more likely to be indifferent to driving – and for that reason, not especially troubled by the automation of driving.

You may even like it.

It’s a psychological/emotional difference arising from different experiences, especially during one’s growing up years.

Practically everyone who grew up – who reached early adulthood – before the mid-1990s pined for their license to drive, which came around when they were just 15 and change. That was when you could get a learner’s permit in most states. A few months later – when you reached your 16th birthday – you got a full adult license. There were no restrictions on when or where you could drive – or with whom. Which meant you free to drive – with your friends – anywhere, anytime. In other words, you became an acknowledged adult at 16 – at least insofar as your mobility was concerned.

This was a clear line dividing kids from those who no longer were. If you had a car, you were no longer riding a bike. Or being driven around by mom. You probably drove to school. The kids waited for the bus.

It was empowering.

It was also a little intimidating, because as a general rule most of the cars available to teenagers in the ‘80s and earlier were not easy to drive. You usually had to do several things besides just put the gear selector in Drive, to drive. Usually, there was a clutch and it was never hydraulically assisted, as modern clutches are. It was a purely mechanical thing and it took a while to master driving – without stalling. There was no such thing as a hill holder clutch, either. One of the things you had to master – it was once part of the test they gave new drivers – was starting out smoothly on an uphill grade. Without rolling backward into the car behind your car.

There was no anti-lock brakes or stability control, either. It was up to you to control the car and this inculcated respect for driving one. Once you could, you felt like an adult. And in a very real sense, you were – even though you didn’t become legally adult for another two years.

We – those of us who expereinced the above – were also primed to want to drive from years of enjoying the drive, even if it wasn’t us behind the wheel. Because we weren’t strapped down, as everyone who came of age since the mid-1990s was during their pre-driving years, in “safety” seats.

It is not the point to debate whether strapping kids in these seats is “safe.” It probably is – at least in terms of hypothetical scenarios, the accident that “might” happen. Of course, most of the time it doesn’t. But since the mid-1990s, being strapped in always happens – and the demoralizing effects of this are probably very correlative with the declining interest in cars and driving that has been observed among the cohorts that grew up strapped down.

People tend to have an aversion to the unpleasant.

It is very unpleasant to be strapped down, especially if you are a kid. They are naturally wriggly and want to see and be a part of whatever is going on. Those  of us who got to ride in cars before they became prisons experienced the drive. We sometimes even got to drive – by sitting on dad’s lap while he did and maybe he let us hold the wheel. We were able to stick our hands – our heads –  outside of the open window and feel the wind in our faces, experiencing the Bernoulli Effect on the aerodynamics of our palms. We could launch ourselves forward to be part of the conversation between the people in the front seats. And – if it was a station wagon – roll around on the flat cargo floor in the rear, maybe even looking up through the roof glass at the passing clouds.

It was extremely pleasant.

A drive meant an adventure, not a time-out.

And we all looked forward to the day when it would be our turn behind the wheel.

Those days are gone.

People who’ve grown up since the mid-’90s didn’t experience cars as liberating things. And when they became old enough to be permitted behind the wheel, it was generally heavily restricted; no driving after dark – and no driving with other teenagers. This puts a “what’s-the-point?” sign on the windshield.

Plus, there aren’t many $500 beaters around for sixteen-year-olds to drive, insurance costs are punitively exorbitant and extremely difficult to  just not pay (as they were, back in the day – before there was a collusive computerized panopticon connecting the enforcement apparat of the state with the insurance mafia’s greed to make us all bleed) and there are similarly punitive “zero tolerance” policies in effect for even trace amounts of alcohol – not necessarily even in the body of the targeted teenager. An empty can in the car is all it takes to get arrested as a “drunk” driver – if you’re lot legally old enough to drink.

Even if you haven’t, actually.

Meanwhile, cars increasingly parent adults and teens alike. Instead of freeing, they are controlling.

Ergo, why not just surrender control, entirely? Let the car drive.

This is both the end result and the cause of it. Whether it can be reversed is a subject for another column.

. . .

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65 COMMENTS

  1. Nailed it!

    I got my permit at 15 in 1995 in California, license the day I turned 16. I think I was the last year or almost the last year that 16 year olds had no restrictions on driving. Within a year or two the law became no friends under 18 in the car or something like that, and more restrictive ever since. And my first car, besides the old minivan, was a stick shift (a Saab 900 turbo I was later T-boned in by red light runner, unharmed).

    Hardly anyone younger than me understands that having a car in the US made you among the freest (freedom=unrestricted mobility of your body) people who have ever lived on the planet. It still true, but not for long. The wealthiest, most powerful person on earth in 1900 and earlier had less personal freedom than any 16 year old American with a car and $100 in gas money in 2000. That kid could theoretically decide on the spur of the moment to “just go somewhere” and be 1000 miles away – a trip that would take the Roman Emperor or Napoleon weeks – in one day. No checkpoints, no permission, millions of miles of contiguous asphalt.

    Restrictions on travel in the form of roadblocks and new kars (karen cars that narc on you) mark the end of the golden era of human freedom.

    • Amen, bg –

      Very well-said. I consider it a duty to preserve – and transmit – the knowledge of the freedom that existed in this country and which has been under unprecedented assault for at least the past two generations. It will take time to claw things back. But that does not mean it cannot be done!

    • bg,

      Unfortunately, restrictions were placed on younger drivers BECAUSE they got hurt in large numbers! When we went to my mom’s funeral, there was another funeral going on too; it was for four teens killed in a horrific accident caused by reckless driving. I never got the whole story about what happened, but I know this: all their caskets were closed for their funeral. You don’t close a casket UNLESS something bad happened! That’s why young drivers have restrictions placed on them; they earned it.

      • Hi Mark,

        You write: “That’s why young drivers have restrictions placed on them; they earned it…”

        But which young drivers? All of them? Some of them? How do you decide – other than by blanketing them all and presuming every “young driver” to be careless and dangerous?

        Do you see the problem here?

  2. “Ergo, why not just surrender control, entirely? Let the car drive.”

    And now, the dildos are choosing to surrender control over their BODIES.

  3. Passed my drivers test after three driving lessons in 1978. My Dad taught me for a year before taking the test.
    This is in Scotland. I was on night shift the day I passed and he had a Pugeot 504. 2.0L fuel injected rocket I got to take to work.
    I turned out of the village onto a mile long straight. Floored it shouting yee hah a la Dukes of Hazard. Awesome surge of joy.
    Bought a Hillman Imp that was slower than a wet rag but it took me and my pals wherever we wanted to go. It was often parked at the pub because I had to waddle home! (1/2 a mile).

  4. A few years ago, my oldest son had taken a job in Arizona. We decided to drive his vehicle out (from Pa), and then I would fly home.

    My youngest son decided that he also wanted to go on the road trip…and had conveniently just gotten his learners permit. On the first day of the trip, he was cautiously looking forward to his turn in the saddle…while also rattling off all of the restrictions that he was to abide by. There were hour/night driving restrictions, in addition to the fact that certain states did not ‘honor” the permit.

    I laughed out loud and suggested that it was time for him to take over.

    He got into the drivers seat, and never looked back. Within an hour, he was tooling along the highways and byways in an expert and confident manner. He did at least 1/3 of the driving, and the permit restrictions were never mentioned again…we had a great road trip!

    A few months after our return, it was time for the drivers exam and road test. He passed without incident…and while he was finishing up with the paperwork, the instructor came over to talk. He said that my son did well, but also cautioned me…due to him being new and inexperienced (on paper)…I chuckled to myself and nodded, while thinking…if the instructor only knew that he just driven across the Country…!

  5. Another thing kids are missing out on. Piloting small pleasure boats. Back in the day, (before the late 1990’s) no licenses or minimum ages were required. So I “drove” (sometimes sailed!!) boats long before (probably 9-10 years old) I drove a car. You could still get a ticket of course from the DNR cop that was sometimes on the lake. Wish the homeowners on the lake had been smart enough to keep the lake private (the roads at least are still private), but its hard to stop that kind of thing once its started.

    Now you need to be sixteen and have a license (mostly a safety course). At least if were lucky enough to be born before 1980 (in Michigan at least) you still don’t need a license as your “grandfathered”. At least for now, I don’t see that lasting much longer as you know how that goes now a days.

    My dads cousin let my 15 year old nephew drive the pontoon boat last summer for a while, when we noticed no DNR on the lake. He loved it. But he sees in no hurry to get a drivers permit, it doesn’t help my sister in law doesn’t really want him driving yet. I had my learner permit about the first day I could have it, and passed my drivers license test on my birthday. I couldn’t wait to drive!!

    My late grandma started driving cars at age nine. Of course in her day licenses weren’t required, since nobody needed a license to ride a horse so why would you need one for a car? She broke her arm badly when the starter crank kicked back on her.

    The open road is an endangered species unfortunately. They may never have to ban it as electric cars may just do the job for them. They won’t get better and even if somebody comes up with something that does, it will be regulated away.

  6. I learned to drive with a 1989 F150. I learned how to change drive belts, troubleshoot vehicle issues and develop a lifelong love of driving. Driving a RWD pickup in Wisconsin winters teaches you a lot about how to handle a vehicle. I miss that truck now.

  7. Speaking of $500 beaters, I had a couple. I spent many hours stranded by the side of the road, pre-cellphone era, relying on the kindness of strangers to either give me a lift to a phone or get the car running for me. Not the best situation for the 17 year old, passably pretty girl, but I survived it. In the 80s, we didn’t just assume every stranger was dangerous, even though I do believe the crime rate was a lot higher back then. The worst thing that ever happened was in high school. The car broke down in the school lot and the buses had already left, so I was hoofing it home. I accepted an offer of a ride and about 5 minutes in, the guy’s hand was on my leg. He stopped at a light and I just calmly exited the car. No histrionics, calling the cops or alerting the media … just get away.
    What I learned from this period in my life:
    *Minor car repairs. I can actually change my own flat tire, push start a stick shift and hook up the battery for a jump start. I had a Jeep where I learned how to use two screwdrivers on the starter motor to get it going. I was happy to learn what I needed to know and had people willing to show me: “If it happens again, do this …”
    *Interacting with well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) strangers. I was extremely shy, so I had to learn to graciously accept help, while not coming off as helpless, and learning to spot the weird ones and assertively send them away.
    *Appreciation for the fact that I don’t have to drive a $500 beater anymore. I actually own what I dreamed of as a teenager: A sporty convertible that starts EVERY time I want it to. I appreciate the kind strangers who saved me on the side of the road back then and try to pay it forward and help others who are at the $500 beater stage of their lives.

    • Back then, people still picked up hitchhikers. I know I did. We were nervous about the risks, but it seemed the decent thing to do.

    • “Appreciation for the fact that I don’t have to drive a $500 beater anymore. I actually own what I dreamed of as a teenager: A sporty convertible that starts EVERY time I want it to.”

      That right there is one of the reasons people no longer appreciate ANYTHING, including life itself. When one is spoiled by their parents or the system, they expect EVERYTHING to be handed to them, which means no desire to improve one’s own life. This lack of desire eventually leads to an easily manipulated society. Hence why older (and CHEAPER to own) vehicles are being regulated out of existence.

  8. Hmm…lying about one’s age…to drive…in 1941?

    Y’know, given that a LOT of “patriotic” boys lied about THEIR ages to join the Army, Navy, or Marines in that conflict, I wonder how many kids were driving TANKS? Then again, one of the elite Panzer divisions in the Germany “Army”, or more specifically, the Waffen-SS, was the 12th SS Panzer Division, or the “Hitlerjugend”, meaning, “HITLER YOUTH”, as those boys were recruited DIRECTLY from the Hitler “Yutes”…by 1944, as young as SIXTEEN. As was shown in the otherwise historically-questionable 1965 movie “Battle of the Bulge”, where Oberst Martin Hessler (the late Robert Shaw), first reviews the assembled tank commanders, after his trusted aide, Conrad (Hans Christian Blech), questions the wisdom of the new command, pointing out that five years of war has killed off the proficient soldiers. Hessler expresses concern that his commanders are too young and inexperienced (“too many boys!”), but his CO, General Kohler, asserts that their first taste of battle will “turn them into MEN”. One very Aryan-looking, fresh-scrubbed kid begins singing “Panzerlied”, and Hessler feels that their “National Socialist Ardor” will somehow carry the day. It didn’t, but came damned close.

  9. I remember the Nova and it’s “badge-engineered” siblings in the other GM marquees. Given that Olds (Omega) was supposed to be a higher trim/option level than Pontiac (Ventura, reusing a “Chief” branding from the 60s), but less than the Buick (Apollo), I’m kinda surprised that a “stripped” Olds with a 3-on-the-tree and no AC was even possible, but who knows…it coulda been that the Van Nuys, CA or St. Louis, MO assembly plants had a run of X-bodies (not the later infamous FWD X-bodies, which ALSO were badge-engineered to death!) with the straight six and the Saginaw 3-speed, and the “suits” dictated that a certain portion had to be other than Chevys.

    Yep, a kid was stuck for high insurance payments, the reason should be OBVIOUS. But it was “freedom”, in a way, though literally anything but FREE.

  10. I knew a man in Massachusetts who was arrested for a DUI. He was sleeping it off in the back seat of his car, with the engine running (it was winter). The court told him that he was “in control of the car”, because he had access to the keys and could have driven.

    • Hi Anon,

      Yup; this reveals the truth – that it is about “control.” Not “drunk driving.” If it were, then the law would encourage people who’ve been drinking and who are reluctant to drive – being responsible – to “sleep it off.” The argument that people will drive “drunk” and then squeal into a parking lot and park to avoid the charge is specious on its face because it does not matter whether the engine is off – and stone cold – to be arrested and convicted.

      • You don’t even have to be IN your car to be charged with DUI. True story. Some ambitious “porkers” got a listing of apartment spaces matched to their apartments, and cruised about the complex one evening with an IR camera, which would light up a car’s warmed-up engine. Knowing which apartment to go to, they’d get out of their “squid car”, go to that apartment to do the “knock and talk”, and if the person that answered had alcohol on his breath, and admitted ownership of the car in the parking stall (they already had the registered owners name, age, and gender from the license plate), they would immediately arrest him/her and charge with DUi, on the “reasonable suspicion” that a vehicle with a warm engine and the owner with alcohol on the breath meant they’d driven intoxicated. Of course, from a proof “beyond reasonable doubt’, that was absolute horse shit, and a decent DUI attorney could get those charges thrown out…for “reasonable” fees, of course! But the worse part, aside from a bullshit arrest, was that these overbearing coppers would have that car TOWED away, so the unfortunate victim of this questionable “sting operation” had to pay exorbitant impound fees to get their ride back, even though it was already HOME. I wonder how many DUIs or “wet reckless” pleas were gotten from that BS.

        • The car owner mistakenly answered the door without a drink in their hand. This was pointed out to me as a DWI avoidance measure by a member of the Gestapo, useful in any accident situation. If you’re sitting there drinking from a bottle when the Gestapo arrives, they have no evidence you were drunk when the accident occurred.

    • Which brings to mind just such an incident involving a friend of mine decades ago. He had pulled off on the shoulder because he realized he was too drunk to drive, and proceeded to sleep it off. A noble gesture. A deputy stopped and illegally opened the car door, at which time my friend, fearing he was being robbed, assaulted, whatever, grabbed the deputy, drug him in the car and beat the crap out of him. Too bad for the deputy, the court declared he had no authority to open the door. Not so today.

  11. —–“We sometimes even got to drive – by sitting on dad’s lap while he did and maybe he let us hold the wheel. We were able to stick our hands – our heads – outside of the open window and feel the wind in our faces……….”We could launch ourselves forward to be part of the conversation between the people in the front seats.”——

    My kids do this when we drive. We don’t buckle them in the “safety” seats we have. They can sit in them or roam.

    My 8 year old bitches constantly about driving with anyone else to his homeschool co-op class because “they’ll make me wear a dumbshit seat belt dad”.

    I can’t control what other people do with their kids, but my kids are growing up like it’s 1987.

    On another note, I took drivers ed in 1994. I drove to drivers ed and parked the car a couple of blocks away so it appeared that I walked. On a cold morning in January after I had been dropped off to drivers ed I called from a pay phone for one of my parents to pick me up after we were done. They weren’t home so my 13 year old brother drove over to get me and I drove home.

    I barely passed drivers ed because I already had habits of driving with one hand and not buckling up. Driving a sedan was easy because I drove dump trucks and flat beds for years before I took drivers ed.

    • Excellent, Ancap!

      And here’s another: Years ago, when I took the test to get a motorcycle endorsement, I rode my damned bike to take the test. How else was I supposed to take the test? I suppose this is still the way it’s done. The idiocy of government is boundless. Except, of course, it is not actually idiotic. It is intended to make us suffer and at that it is quite bright.

  12. My Dad started teaching me to drive our 1970 Ford Maverick (straight-6, 3-on-the-tree) when I was 14. Maybe it’s because that was the age he was when he started driving bread delivery trucks in 1941. (He lied about his age and got the job anyway.)

    I bought my first car from a neighbor a few months before I got my license … a ’66 Mustang (289 V8, 3-on-the-floor) for $200 in 1974.

    You’re so right, Eric — everything changed once I had the license and the car. No more hoofin’ it, no more bikes, no more ride-begging. The apron strings were severing. Freedom!!

    My kids know I had it better than they’ll probably ever have it. They’re learning to love their country and hate their government.

    • Hi Mr. Bill,

      Yup. We remember. A few of us convey these memories to the youth. I hope they can carry the torch. I will spend the rest of my life trying to recover what has been lost, for my sake as well as theirs.

  13. The only way left to get a respect for driving without “assistance” is to get a Class A CDL. Manual transmission? That’s pussy shit. Try an unsynchronized manual. You have to be mindful of your position to turn. You have to really know the vehicle to do a pre-trip inspection. If you ride the brakes, a nasty surprise will await you. You have to be able to back up without “assistance”. You have to know how to actually drive once you get above Class D.

  14. Many of your comments are dead on. I got my learner’s in 1989.

    Even before you got to riding in the back of a station wagon with the utmost freedom, I was already remembering doing just that in the back of grandpa’s station wagon as a young kid. It was a great time. Especially since grandma/grandpa grew up a couple generations earlier. Before the Interstate system. There used to be a thing to travel town to town, see the sights, etc. You didn’t hurry. My grandparents did the same when I was kid. Driving up from Atlanta to drive the W NC mountains and such. Sightseeing from a vehicle was a pastime.

    One thing you didn’t think of for your article is how tuning cars has been done away with except for those with the cash to do so. As the computer has taken over, it has gotten harder and harder to mess with vehicles to make them more fun for the average kiddo. No fun ride = no fun. Combine that with the internet/indoor life that kids now get, they don’t care to get out and do something. Even if they get out, they are tethered by their phones in some form or manner. I used to go out, drive a beater car, without cell phone, and deal with whatever happened. My parents didn’t helicopter me nor have a cell phone tracker on me. OMG at such a thought today.

  15. One of the first things you did was cut out the rear panel under the rear window and side panels of doors to install speakers to go along with your tape player, possibly from Radioshack or Lafayette. Figure out how to wire it all up and tap into power.

    Adding fog lights was another customization project among many others, ah, the good old days. Maybe a CB radio for calling out Smokey taking pictures at the 57 mile marker.

    • HI Mark:

      I remember Kraco radios and Sparkomatic speakers. From K-Mart…

      I also recall tiny “EQ/boosters” rated “1,000 watts”. Funny that they only used a 5 amp fuse (5A x 12V = 60 Watts). @ 14.4V, it’s still only 72W. That’s assuming 100% efficiency.

    • ‘install speakers to go along with your tape player’ — Mark

      In ninth grade, too young to drive, I got a ride home every day with 16-year-old Bryan H in his 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air 4-door (an embarrassment to car buff Bryan, who would have preferred a GTO) with — you guessed it — a three-on-the-tree shifter.

      Only one 8-track tape on endless loop furnished the sound track: Cream’s Disraeli Gears. By the end of the school year, we knew not only every song, but every note.

      Bryan was killed in a car wreck in his late twenties, leaving behind a young wife. This one’s for you, Bean:

      When the city of Atlantis stood serene above the sea
      Long time before our time when the world was free
      Those were the days

      Golden cymbals flying on ocarina sounds
      Before wild Medusa’s serpents gave birth to hell
      Disguised as heaven

      Those were the days, yes they were, those were the days
      Those were their ways, miracles everywhere, are they now?
      They’re gone

      Cream, Those Were the Days

    • Re: rear speakers, my buddy put them in cutouts he made in the rear wheel well humps in the back of his 57 Chev wagon. First good burnout with the new 4 speed equaled lots of smoke thru the speaker grills. Good times!

  16. There should be no driving or drinking age limit. Pass a tough test, your in. get drunk at 15-16, you’ll learn your lessons pretty quick.
    There are a lot of states that have lower than normal driving age limits cause of farms. My kids got to drive ‘legally’ a year before the rest. But of course I encouraged, and let them, drive earlier than that (on the farm……..).

    • I don’t know that there “should be no driving and drinking age limit”, but they should be set by mom and dad, or some other voluntary structure, not a bunch of sociopaths with armed goons working for them.

    • In Florida when I was a lad, you could drive with one of your parents or a legal “guardian” (an uncle would do) riding shotgun as soon as you could reach the pedals and steer. I could do it when I was twelve…and DID. Some kids I knew learned to drive at NINE. It was very simple…the State of Florida ASSumed that your parents or guardians KNEW you well enough to know when you could handle the responsibility of driving.

      These days, driving under 18, if not outlawed completely, is so heavily regulated, taxed, and the insurance costs so prohibitive, that it’s become another way our “yutes’ are further infantilized.

  17. Do I see an honest old GM station wagon in the photograph? Perhaps an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser? The 1977 redesign reduced seating capacity from nine passengers to eight, but they were still family-car king of the road until they were supplanted by minivans within a decade.

  18. Dad started teaching me to handle machinery when I was 5 or so. My first taste was an old SkiDoo snowmobile. I learned throttle and brake and steering and all the basics. Then we moved on to off road vehicles- no ATC then, our dune buggy was a VW bus chassis with the seats still on and paddle tires. Then later when I was about 11 I learned to drive on the street, in a 49 Ford pickup with a non synchromesh 4 speed (This will teach a kid to DRIVE and respect the machine!). So when I took the absurd “driver training” at 15 it was a clear joke- and since they were already pushing seat belt indoctrination, dad and I made sure I took the driving test in a 61 Mercedes with no damned belts and a manual 4 on the tree (yes, really- European stuff had that). The highway patrol cop judging my driving test had to scrape so hard for something to ding me on, he took off a couple points for missing an 2-3 upshift while turning a corner after a light.

    Thank you dad for teaching me, especially that quintessentially American disdain for illegitimate authority!

  19. We are told that because teen drivers have so many crashes they must have a graduated license program. It allows little by little until they are 18.

    But, ask yourself, who taught them and certified them?

    Most are taught by GovCo schools in the Driver’s Education Program. They then go to the GovCo DMV where some lackey signs off on their ability to drive. Then half of them crash within the first two years. Then they blame the teen driver. Any training program that has a 50% failure rate in the first two years is obviously the problem, NOT the trainees. But, hey, GovCo is perfect, ask Anthony Boy Fauci.

    • Graduated licensing programs do not prevent crashes (ask me how I know).

      Do you know what does prevent crashes?

      Crashing. Get into a couple fender benders, and have to pay for them. You’ll learn right quick.

      A couple of actual lessons in car handling & control on a closed course would also have been very helpful—to learn to “feel” what you can get by with…and what you can’t.

      • This was a great article. Boy is that ever true. Even so back in the day we got more driving experience. The thrill of driving everywhere including long distances just for the pure fun and freedom of it had us kids spending hours on the road. The pride of learning to drive a stick in a cute Fiat! And yes occasionally we drove home from late night keggers wondering how the heck we even made it. We were so lucky to have that experience. And as a toddler standing up in the front floor of my dad’s Chrysler, holding on to the little handle. Or squished in the back of a jeep. Or rolling around in the back of the station wagon crossing the Mojave and feeling thirsty. No car seats for us! Loved the drives with family!

  20. I am a driving enthusiast since I was of legal age, and before that I was on the road from the age of four. So I say good on Eric Peters!

    A story on automation. Making driving, or piloting, easier with more assistance is usually good. There comes a point when the task is so easy that the driver does other things at the same time. ‘Expert’ opinion is that point is too far, if you want more automation then the driver’s hands must not be allowed on the steering wheel.
    Compare, the machine cannot have two masters, it has to be the driver or the auto control system, not both at the same time.

  21. My mother told me that I actually “fell out” of the back seat of a car she was driving in N. Hollywood, CA. I’m talking about circa 1967 or so and, more likely than not, my older brother “helped” that particular situation to occur.

    CAR:
    MOM: What was that sound?! Billy where is Franky?!
    Billy: I dunno. He fell out.
    MOM: HE FELL OUT?!?!
    CAR:

    Of course, 2 year olds are essentially made of rubber and so, here at 56.5 years later, no worries.

    • Same thing happened to my brother….pushed up the arm on the car seat and flopped out onto the freeway in Chicago. Mom was driving, no biggie. Stopped, pulled over, ran back to grab him…nobody called the cops or CPS…was just a funny family story. 1974

      • As it did to my 200+ pound Saint Bernard. Got his butt up under the rear door handle and accidentally let himself out of my 64 dodge, backward. I turned around just in time to see him pawing the air trying to keep from falling out. I stopped, but before I could get out he was back in the car. He did forget to close the door though.

  22. My ’74 Peugeot 504 didn’t have power steering or a hydraulic clutch, and I didn’t have a great deal of trouble with that. It was even a diesel and required the use of glow plugs to cold start. I STILL miss and wish I had that car today.

    • You know the first car my dad had (that I could remember in the early 80s) was Peugeot 504 from I think it was the mid / late 70s. Manual and diesel. Had it in Massachusetts and Maine – and basically drove it till the doors rusted off…. he tried to fix it, but never got the doors back on. Infact I remember for a bit in the mid 80s we drove around without the doors! In the end he got transferred, and well I think he just scrapped the car when we moved!!

      • No rust out West here, Nasir. That Peugeot was a solid car. It still was probably the most robust car, as far as body goes, that I’ve ever had.

        No, I’m afraid it was my own stupid ass who slew that gracious beast. I was young and impatient, and found that a little ether in the intake would get her up and running quickly. Did that too many times, and she eventually threw a rod. Wasn’t so easy to get old Peugeot parts in the States at that time. :p

        Lessons learned, though. I still have dreams of driving her, now and then, that fearsome rock-tumbler with the lion on the grille.

        • Badnon, You know my dad also talks about what a brilliant car it was – and if he had more time to take care of it he’d keep…. infact it started his love of diesel cars which lasts to this day….

          its also interesting how there was once a time that Peugeots werent shit cars… looking at them today its hard to imagine. Infact Clarkson (or one of the 3) also did a very good bit on them some time back – how they went from brilliant cars that would win rally races to absolute pieces of shit….

    • Ahh…those ol’ Peugeot diesels…one of the few things those FROGS ever made that was worth anything. I have a chance recently to purchase a genuine WWII-vintage Lebel 8 mm bolt-action rifle…only THROWN DOWN once!

  23. Something I want to brag about a bit (sorry). The other day, had to go into London for some work, and as it was a weekend thought would take the kids in as well, maybe grab a meal. Was late on the way back and with 1.5 hours drive home I told the kids to go to sleep. The usual excuses and arguments, particularly about how uncomfortable a seatbelt is. I told them figure it out and go to sleep (along with the usual threats of an ass whipping brown parents use). Anyhow they were quite and fell asleep in a bit. When I got home to get them out of the car, saw that they had moved out from under the seatbelt (without un-buckling in which case the thing would start beeping and rat them out) and were sleeping flat in the back lying over the seatbelt…. have to say – it made me proud 🙂

    • Throughout my teen years (1967-1973), playing summer league baseball, involving travel between rural towns, the most often used means of transporting the team was in the back of a couple of pickup trucks. Can you imagine the prison sentence the driver of said pickup would get today? Despite the fact that in all those years, no one ever got hurt while riding in one.

      • John, I can remember riding in the back of my dads friends pickup with his kids back in the 80s as well (in rural Maine and Vermont) in the summers. Cant imagine this today !!

  24. You haven’t lived until experiencing the raw power of a Vega station wagon. 😅

    It wasn’t just a POS, it was a ticket to freedom. Freedom that I paid for with money I earned. My father wouldn’t buy his sons a car even if he could’ve afforded to. “Congratulations on your license boy. Now get a car and insurance then you can drive” were his exact words. Still remember it like it was yesterday.

    • Those Vegas coulda been a great car…styling was good, handled well, reasonable FUEL economy…trouble was, after a couple of years, with that ill-fated aluminum engine, they used more OIL than gasoline! As well as had rusted-out quarter panels in less than TWO years of Florida weather, as did my big Sis’s ’73 Vega. Today, IF you can find one, it’s got a Chevy small block in it, almost certainly. I’ve heard of a few where someone found a GM “Iron Duke” in a boneyard and dropped it in, and even one I knew of had that Buick 3.8 liter V6 with the TURBO installed. What’s really galling is that all along Chevrolet had a 153 cubic inch four-banger engine, based on their venerable Chevy Six, which was sold in some GM/Chevy products in Latin America and/or Australia. It weighed some 65 pounds more than that ill-fated 140 cubic inch OHC four that proved to be GM and John DeLorean’s greatest embarrassment. Surely Chevy could have found a way to make a PROVEN engine work in that Vega, even with a 65 pound weight penalty.

  25. ‘Let the car drive.’ — eric

    Aircraft autopilot systems work well because the flight levels are basically empty space, except for other aircraft which are monitored by both internal and external (ATC) systems.

    By contrast, surface highways are a mess of other vehicles, humans, sometimes animals, in close proximity. Pavement condition, lane markings, signs vary enormously. Humans have an excellent visual processing system, backed up by a practical knowledge of the world that computers don’t have.

    Yesterday I drove through a construction zone in which one lane of a two-lane rural highway was blocked off, with a human flagger at each end. A sign advised ‘follow pilot car.’

    This alternating direction set-up is intuitively understandable to people. Not so much to a computer, which can’t read a flagger’s arm and hand gestures, and may not recognize the pilot car either.

    A limited defined goal, such as automated freight trucks on interstate highways, seems difficult but doable. Yet the automators have chosen to pursue the far more complex challenge of automated city driving.

    Is the urban market really that much bigger than long-distance freight? Or is an MaaS (Mobility as a Service) agenda being guided and funded, with a view toward establishing a lucrative oligopoly locked in by an impenetrable moat of regulation?

    Don’t know, but I don’t want it. Even on the near-empty mountain roads that I drive, I don’t want no computer in control.

    If there’s an elk off the side of the road approaching a blind curve, I know that (a) it may jump into the road without warning; and (b) there’s never just one elk. A computer doesn’t know that. I don’t want to find out how it reacts to a novel situation featuring darting large animals with the IQ of a Kongress Klown.

    • If only these retards had kept the freight trains running this country wouldn’t be facing a trucker shortage. Now we get to enjoy endless miles of functionally useless “rail trails” and the green imbeciles think it’s just swell. I hope they enjoy their hollowed out husk of a country when they’re freezing in the dark eating grass clippings for that cruel bitch mother earth.

      • They didn’t just fail to keep them running TieRod, they quite likely deliberately put them out of business with the interstate highway system. Because people want their stuff NOW!! And who knows what political or profit motives they had.

  26. And perhaps a manual choke.

    I’ve seen a thing even among my mostly well alternatively educated grand children. A lack of patience. Which I presume is induced by relating to the world on a screen too often and too long. I used to be a musician, fiddle and mandolin, but can no longer play because of my arthritis. I presented my 12 year old grandson with a mandolin, and explained its basic operation. He seemed to be disappointed that he couldn’t just pick it up and play it. I explained that it took years to learn how to play your first instrument. We shall see how it goes.

  27. I remember my first car. It was a $265.00 Olds Omega (Nova knockoff). It came with a lot of bondo, 3 on the tree, a bench front seat, Kraco radio, a inline six-cylinder engine and natural “AC”. The biggest letdown was the liabillity insurance was 3 times what I paid for my car per year. But the freedom and fun that came with it was priceless!

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