What to Know About Going Old . . . Before You Do!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Really old cars are becoming popular again – not so much because they are collectible but rather because they are practical.

Some are capable of exceeding the highest-mileage figures posted by any new car – because they are much more efficient than any new car, being so much lighter.

None of them are “connected” cars. All of them are vastly simpler cars than any new car, which means that even though they do usually need more in the way of maintenance than new cars, almost anyone can maintain them.

This also means they are less disposable. If you’re willing to learn how they work – and willing to work on them – you can keep one of these things on the road for decades.

However, these cars are now more than four decades old – the youngest of them – if we are talking about cars made before cars came with computers and without any “safety technology” – besides seatbelts. This means that most people in their 40s (and younger) today are unlikely to have ever driven a car that was not only built before they were born – but built in a different time. 

The years pass and models change, but a sea-change occurred in car design around the time that Ronald Rrrrreagan was first sworn in. Before that time, year-to-year changes were incremental and mostly cosmetic and mechanical. A 1979 car wasn’t that much different from a 1969 car – and the ’69 wasn’t that much different from a ’59, beyond the visuals.

If you knew how a ’59 worked you could easily work on a ’69 – and a ’79. 

With a small handful of specialty car exceptions, all of the cars made since the beginning of the car era more than 120 years ago had mechanical fuel delivery systems, without any electronic systems except the ignition system, which was as simple as a distributor turned by a mechanical gear that triggered spark summoned by a coil sent through four, six or eight (sometimes, twelve) wires – one for each cylinder – to the same number of spark plugs. 

And that was largely it. 

Over the decades, there were improvements. The ignition system went from 6 to 12 volts and mechanical points that had to be periodically gapped gave way to transistorized ignition that was maintenance-free. Brakes went from single to dual master cylinder and all drums to drums and discs (up front). Radials replaced bias-ply tires.

But all-in-all it was more-or-less the same. 

Thus, even though a car like my ’76 Pontiac Trans-Am was made years before I was old enough to legally drive it, when I bought it in the early ’90s, I knew how to work on it because it was still fundamentally the same as the cars I grew up fiddling with in the ’70s and ’80s.

But today, my Trans-Am has little in common with any car made after the ’90s, other than having four wheels and a windshield. Someone who grew up with the cars of the ’90s – with electronic fuel delivery systems and computers – is not likely to have had much experience with really old – and really different – cars like my now-almost-50-year-old Pontiac.

So what is important to know about these ancient cars? Herewith a list of some things:

Carburetors – which almost every car made since 120 years ago up to about 40 years ago came with – have to be cleaned and adjusted fairly regularly, in part because unlike electronic fuel injection, they cannot self-adjust. Which is necessary when – as an example – the Biden Thing causes what was once gasoline to be adulterated with ethanol alcohol. This leans out the air-fuel mix and will cause the engine to run hotter and probably not well – if you don’t make the necessary adjustments (viz, mechanically richening the air-fuel ratio by changing out the jets and metering rods).

You will want – you will need – to become familiar with how mechanical fuel delivery systems work, in part because many mechanics under 40 today haven’t ever worked on mechanical fuel delivery systems and don’t know how. Part of owning an “unconnected” old car is not being dependent on such “connections.” But once you know, then you are freed from just such “connections” and the empowerment that comes from that is among the most satisfying benefits of owning an “unconnected” old car.

Ignition systems – with points, which most cars came with through the early-mid 1970s – have to be gap-checked (and adjusted) about once every six months, assuming regular driving. The points wear because they are physical, like brake pads. This wear eventually alters the gap between the points – which affects the spark. Enter the adjusting and (eventually) the replacing. It is not a difficult thing to do because you can see the gap – and make the adjustment by hand. But – just like jetting a carb or setting a carb’s choke – it is an ancient skill that you may have no knowledge of, if you aren’t ancient.

Engines – in ancient American cars like my ’76 Pontiac – often require specialty oil (or additives) because almost all of the readily available oil you can find in auto parts stores is designed for modern car engines, which are designed to meet modern emissions control standards. These oils aren’t suitable for use in ancient car engines and may damage them. You will want to find out about “ZDDP” – and whether the ancient car you’re thinking about owning has an engine with a flat tappet camshaft that requires this additive – or specialty oil that already has it added to it.

You will also be changing oil much more regularly – because of the car’s mechanical fuel delivery system. It is not as precise as EFI and also flows wet – meaning, liquid gas – and some of that will inevitably seep into the engine, especially when it’s not running – and into the oil. The usual practice was once every six months or 3,000 miles.

There are also things to know about driving an ancient car, including the fact that the brakes will lock up the wheels – and you will skid, if you don’t ease off the brake pedal – because cars made before the ’80s didn’t have anti-lock brakes. If the car does go into a skid, it will be up to you to recover. The “traction control” is your right foot.

There are no air bags, either (with a handful of specialty car exceptions) which means you’ll have to rely on your driving to “keep you safe.”

But – aye! – there’s the point of the thing!

. . .

Got a question about cars, bikes or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in! Or email me directly at EPeters952@yahoo.com if the @!** “ask Eric” button doesn’t work!

If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos. 

We depend on you to keep the wheels turning! 

Our donate button is here.

 If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:

721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)

My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.  If that fails, email me at EPeters952@yahoo.com and I will send you a copy directly!


  1. In a free market, people would be able to buy what they want such as cars that are easy to repair and maintain. The solution? Get the government out of transportation and everything else. Regarding the replacement of points with a transistor, as a former senior electronics tech, I can tell you that an electronic ignition is far, far superior to points. They require no maintenance and last forever. They also supply much more powerful spark, as powerful as needed. It is practically impossible to drown the spark. In the old days, many cars would not start in the winter in the northeast. Everything had to be in top condition, plugs, battery, points, etc. I worked for a used car dealer in the northeast in the 60’s and went out in the winter to start many cars. We had a powerful battery charger and routinely replaced the plugs which was usually very easy to do except for freezing hands. On my 72 chevy, I bought a modern distributor from a junkyard for 75$ to replace my old one. What a difference! My instinct was right. Even though I am not much of a mechanic, it was easy to do. My first car was a 200$ 52 ford, three on the column, that ran rough. I bought a rebuilt carb for 25$ and installed it, no problem. Two bolts plus the fuel line. I was only sixteen with very little mechanical knowledge. I love computers but not in cars.

  2. Another great article Eric. The only disagreement I have is about the points wear. The point gap would generally get narrower, not wider, due to wear on the rubbing block riding on the distributor cam lobes. If you wanted to, you could get more milage out of a set of points by filing the peaks off of them with a point file, but point sets were so cheap that it made more sense to just replace them.

  3. The points close to electrically charge the coil (a transformer) with 12vdc, and when the points open the coil’s magnetic field collapses rapidly, producing a very high voltage spike which is distributed by the cap and rotor to the correct cylinder to fire the spark plug. The points operate at 12vdc and they better not be sparkin’; that’s what the condenser is for.

  4. Great article Eric. I bought a 69′ Plymouth Satellite from an older couple back in the late 80’s, just a 4 dr sedan, 318ci, auto on the column, and that was my daily driver up here in the miserable MA weather year round for 4 years until the poor thing rusted away. Coldest day of the winter I could go out, pump the pedal a couple of times and it would start right up everytime. And the heat was better than the 99′ Jeep I have now. Super easy to fix and parts were cheap and easy to get. Still miss that car to this day.

  5. I go older school than that.

    In the spring of 1977 I was five months shy of getting my driver’s license when I bought a ’41 Ford pickup with a homemade flatbed from the neighbor kid 2 blocks away (he needed beer money). He had it mostly disassembled to a cab on the frame and wheels. The rest of the parts were in bushel baskets and cardboard boxes. I handed over $200 and pushed the wreck down the alley to Dad’s garage. I spent the next 2-1/2 years tearing that thing down, teaching myself to gas weld and used old washing machine sheet metal panels to fabricate the bottom 6″ of the cab as it was literally gone. Found the correct flathead V-8, had it professionally rebuilt, but otherwise did everything else myself. Found the correct pickup box and rebuilt the lower regions of that, too.

    In the meantime I got my license and needed something to drive, so for $400 I bought a ’47 Ford 1 Ton Express. I drove that thing with it’s original flathead six and square-cut gear 4-speed on the steep hills of Duluth, MN, double-clutching every shift. Single chamber master cylinder brakes, and, obviously, NO power steering. Took it on 380-mile round-trips several times to shuttle my girlfriend from college in Duluth to her home in western MN. It was my daily driver.

    Finally got the ’41 on the road and that became my daily driver with the same kind of usage. Proposed to that same girlfriend in it in the spring of ’81. She put up with – and enjoyed – all of those miles in OLD trucks so I knew she was a keeper, and she remains so.

    Fast-forward to the early 2000’s and I got the Model T bug, bad. Since then I’ve owned four of them. Now those are some old-school driving machines! The most fun you’ll ever have on four wheels (with all of your clothes on, that is!)

    Modern vehicles are over-the-top complicated, so I am continuing keep my ’89 F150 on the road as long as possible.

    • Hi RE,

      Great stuff! And: My old college buddy who lives down the road still has the ’89 F-150 he bought new, just after college. His 16-year-old son now drives it.

  6. I’m no mechanic, but in the 70s, 80s, and 90s I changed my own oil for less than $10. Generic oil and filters at NAPA Auto parts. Every 2,000 miles. The filter was easy to reach by just lying under the front of the car, and I was strong enough to torque the thing off sans wrench. When I bought a car towards the end of the 90s, I found the oil filter to be inaccessable. I took it to an oil change place and got down in the grease pit with the employee. After tearing up his forearm to get the filter off, he had to hand it to himself through the wheel well. I decided then and there to never change my own oil again. I Have more money now. I am glad I was young when I was and not today.

  7. Remember the book “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive”?
    You didn’t need to be rich or be a master mechanic to have wheels.

  8. I have zero interest in any new car or in any computerized appliance. Can’t compare with things mechanical which are simple, reliable and repairable. In 1996 I purchased a 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche Fixed Head Coupe owned by a Rolls-Royce mechanic that was in reasonably good condition. I should add that at that time a used vintage Rolls could be acquired relatively cheap. The car’s engineering is quite complex – I think needlessly so. But the car is eminently repairable. Parts are still available (often from the UK) and are not terribly expensive. I downloaded a complete shop manual for the car which included all of the electrical diagrams. A tool kit came with the car (for the chauffeur’s use of course). I find that with a lot of help I am able to do many of the repairs myself. I was also able to research and find most of the car’s previous owners and to access the original warranty repair records. So I have a pretty good idea of the car’s history. It wasn’t my intention but I may have made a pretty good investment as the car is now worth about twice what I paid for it. Forget about gas mileage. The car has the aerodynamics of a brick and when asked I tell people I measure my mileage by the yard. The car is now a mostly reliable daily driver and I get a thumbs-up pretty much wherever I go. My other car is a 1982 Fiat 2000 Spider and it is by far my favorite. IMHO no modern car can compare with either the Rolls of the Fiat.

  9. I have a few of the old school cars/trucks. I like C-3 Corvettes and old pick up trucks. The trucks if they are Fords end up with Chevy motors because I want to put in R/P steering and power disc brakes. The Ford oil pans are an issue. Hot days in Texas are no big deal because of wing windows, they really do work. I like standard transmissions. But over all the proven old stuff works well and hang out with some hot rod clubs and you will have a source of businesses that have parts and rewind armatures for example. There is a warning to this, Brandon is wanting to raise the Ethanol fuels and for now that spells issues and of course a big drop in mpg of fuel.

    • I am very irritated with my state, because they are not necessarily required to disclose the ethanol content at the pump, and very few stations do.

      The legislature passed a bill requiring that but the governor vetoed it.


      • Eric
        Great article. Much truth and fact. My problem is that I’m already old. 82 and counting.
        I bought an 80 Scottsdale Custom 10 in 1991 for 2500 bucks. 350. FWD. 273 10 bolt rear.
        350 turbo tran. Lock-outs. Just over 100,000 miles. I’ve still got it. I’ve replaced several
        engines. 400 Bob Mc C sb. (Wooster, Ohio). 454bb. Back to 350 napa crate. I believe that
        if I had to, I could pull the engine with a blindfold on. Yeah, it might take a while but I know
        every bolt, and nut and their wrench size.
        I know that I’ve put over 200,000 on it myself. Took her to the Yukon in 92. Probably hauled
        a small mountain of firewood in it, often 5 ricks at a time. Still doing that when I have the
        time and energy to cut it. I can see the road through the pass side floor. The original bed is now a home-made flat bed. I spent about a grand to buy the steel and wood. When I hit the starter it sometimes doesn’t even turn a whole rev before its running. It has hookers, a high-rise edelbrock with a Carter 4. After market 16″ ralleys.
        If someone offered me 10 grand for this truck today I would laugh at them. Not on your life bud.
        A few years ago I found an 87 half ton on a message board here. They wanted $500. It had been sitting in a field for ten years with a warped intake in No.7. It had 60,000 on it and a 305 with a 4 on the floor. When I got it home I pulled the heads and found the valve and
        replace it. Re-ground them all and put it back together. It runs great. Now has a little over 70,000. Put new calipers and pads on. New lines. New exhaust. New rubber. When I was done I had about 1,400 total in it. Yeah it does have a PC but as far as I can tell it only does two things and one is with the oxy sensor which it no-longer has. Don’t even know what the other function is. Don’t care.
        These two trucks are two of the best things I own. I would not sell them for anything. They just get more valuable by the day. I don’t mind the injection of the 305. It’s really simple and doesn’t involve a lot of tech. But the beauty of this truck is how it drives and handles. It has
        such a solid feel to it and handles beautifully. Hardly any rust since it sat for so long. Paint is bad but I’m just not into a lot of glitter.
        If I could have any car from my past it would be the 54 Merc two door hardtop. It was maroon with an ivory top. What a classic ride that was. I also had a 64 Catalina that was a real gem. These are what memories are made of.
        Oh, I also have a 69 GMC 1 ton with a big camper built onto it. Would like to get rid of the camper but don’t know if I am up to it. Would make a great hay truck. 90,000 miles and runs great. It has the old automatic tranny with no Park gear. The parking brake is a brake that actually locks the drive-line. Clamps around the drive shaft.
        Thanks for such a great site and hope you stay safe and free as possible. No jabs and no diapers here either.

        • Hi Anon,

          I agree. A circa ’80s-90s 305 or 350 with a TBI (and a five speed manual) is – as the saying goes- the duck’s guts! Simple, low maintenance and runs practically forever…

  10. So I want to agree with this article because I am somewhat old but…

    New engines will easily go 250,000 miles before needing to be rebuilt…mic drop.

    Have a 75 Corvette waiting to be rebuilt. It will get a LS3 engine when that happens…love old small blocks but they don’t compare to LS series of engines.

    • I say the same thing. the older car engines were junk with points and plugs not lasting 10K miles. they handled like shit and a carb was the worst invention put onto a motor. fuel injection is a godsend. they were easy to work on and I was always doing something to the engine. it really brings back memories of youth and the cars are tied in with the vigor and joys of being young

      • Prior to the 1990s you were hard pressed to get more than 100k miles out of a typical car, before it started to fall apart as fast as you could fix it.

        Now you can usually get 250000, maybe 300000 out of it, although my 03 Corolla fell apart sooner than that (used pretty hard by the time I got it).

        More reliable, better gas mileage, less fiddling day-to-day, lasts longer before starting to rust.

        The price is higher sticker price, more difficult to work on yourself, more complexity, and less ability to keep going with baking wire and twine.

  11. I had a 1980 oldsmobile a few years ago and never had to adjust the carb. It started up in 5 degree weather no problem, ran rain or shine without a problem. I had it for 2 years. With a super bouncy ride and and a 120 HP 350 cu in v8, 3 spd auto, I had to push its limits commuting to and from seattle. But id say that anyone could drive that car, even zoomers. MPG was pretty bad too

    I replaced that car with a 5 speed elantra which felt quite sporty, and vastly superior in every way. Strange that in 20 years, economy cars would have more hp out of their 2.0L engines than a v8.

    • that is hard to believe about your carb. maybe by 1980 they got better. my chevys would not idle in cold rainy weather without turning up the idle. the automatic choke was the worst single item put onto the worst single item on a car the carb

      • I think my olds had an eldebrock carb. Probably had some crap removed before I got it. Was over 10 years ago now.

  12. The last car I had I truly understood, could run unself consciously & maintain easily was a 1980 Ford Fiesta I sold in August 1988 just before buying a 1988 Ford Festiva, next most highly esteemed car. What they had in common most people today eschew: no air conditioning; manual transmission, steering & brakes; carburetor & simple ignition. My Fiesta even had the added merit of no seat belt nannying. This was at an of course earlier time in my life when I think I benefited from being constrained to practice the self responsibility of old right libertarianism I preached. Today were I as impecunious & just plain economically marginal as I was then I could keep none of the cars I have had since 1999 on the road. I am more than conspiracist enough to believe that is intentional.

  13. I think that a lot of folks are viewing these old cars through rose colored glasses and nostalgia. Owning one of these is almost a full time job, especially if you’re going to daily drive it. Plugs, points, carburetor, choke, fan belts, air filters, greasing the suspension. Constant maintenance and repair. On top of that, on anything that old, something is going to break all the time. Even when new, most cars from the 60’s and 70’s ate up starters, water pumps, and alternators like a fat kid kid going through a bag of Kit Kats. On top of that, when’s the last time you guys drove a car with 4 wheel drum brakes and no power steering? Lotsa fun. And you’ll need all your concentration to keep it in a straight line, because the suspension and handling are shit. Don’t get me wrong, I love old cars too. They have character, some are beautiful, and yes they are easy to fix. But they were also unreliable shitboxes. Hobby or weekend toy? Great. Something I need to depend on and use every day? No thanks.

    • Hi Floriduh,

      Not necessarily. I drove a ’74 Beetle daily – back in the ’90s, when it was more than 20 years old – and it was generally very reliable. In some ways, more so than a modern car – in that when it did have an issue, it was almost always something that could be fixed right there – by the side of the road and with basic tools. I changed its oil (and cleaned the screen) once every four months, cleaned the carb once a year and checked/set the points every six months. The four wheel drum brakes needed attention very rarely, being very simple. And the car was easy to drive, notwithstanding it didn’t have power steering. My ’64 Corvair was similar.

      Now, for sure, these kinds of cars are less comfortable and they have definite weaknesses, such as terrible defrosters (and no AC). But if you can live with that, they are not hard to live with. I speak from serial personal experience here.

      • I speak from a lot of experience too, as I got my driver’s license in 1966. I was there when these cars were new. One thing I will give you is that beetles were an exception. Had a lot of friends who had those things, and they were pretty bulletproof. Otherwise, most American cars sucked. And I didn’t even mention the never ending battle against rust. Now, I get your point. Todays cars are over the top in terms of complexity, and they will be throwaways when something breaks. My answer would be to buy something from the time I consider the pinnacle of automotive engineering, late 90’s to early 2000’s. They had perfected reliability, durability, comfort, handling etc. They just couldn’t leave well enough alone. If I needed reliable long lasting daily transportation, I’ll take a 99 mustang over a 69 every day of the week

    • I say exactly the same thing. if we went down to the jersey shore we brought heater hoses and belts and the tools in the trunk

  14. I just recently noticed a mechanic selling a mid 70’s Datsun B-210 station wagon in almost mint condition with 40k miles. Those old cars get somewhere around 45 mpg. He was asking $5k which seems like a steal to me, but this article got me to thinking maybe it wouldn’t be so great now with the crappy gas, and I have kinda gotten a bit spoiled with these self adjusting ignition systems, self adjusting valve systems, etc.

    • Hi Schnarkle,

      In re the Datsun B-210:

      Easy enough to make the necessary adjustments for ethanol-laced “gas.” Rebuild the carb with ethanol-compatible gaskets and so on. Re-jet the carb to compensate for the leaned-out “gas.” Replace the fuel pump, if original, with a new one which will have ethanol-compliant rubber within. Replace all original soft rubber lines with new ones, which will be ethanol-tolerant. Consider replacing the steel lines/tank with stainless. All of that can be done for less than $1,000 and now you could likely run E85…

      • Hey Eric, the more I look at this, the better it looks. I don’t do all that much driving anymore, but when gas gets to be $15 or $20 a gallon, it might be nice to have an older more reliable car with no confusing computer modules or electronic error codes popping off. I can’t think of a better deal than an affordable car that gets 40 to 50 mpg.

  15. When I was around 22, I bought a 77 Nova, but being mechanically stupid I was afraid of every click and knock I thought I heard coming from the engine. To get over my fear, I found a worn out ’62 Chevy II rotting in a field, paid the guy $100 bucks for it, and spent a year tearing it down to it’s basic nuts and bolts, then putting it back together. I remember the wonder of lifting the caps off the crank, splitting the 3 speed manual transmission and manipulating the gears, fiddling with all the bits and pieces of a carburator (never did get every piece back into it), examining the hydraulic lifters, etc. I learned how to spot my type of engine (194 straight 6) in the junkyard and how to pull off the parts I needed. I always said I put the car together 3 times…the first two times were wrong. But in the end, I had a functioning second car, a whole new set of skills, and lots of confidence. Ironically, the aftermarket manual I used covered exactly 1962-1977 Chevy II – Nova. There wasn’t all that much difference between them.
    I sold the ’77 and drove the ’62 for about 3 years and 30,000 miles until I graduated from college, then I had to give up the old girl and she eventually rusted out and went to the junkyard/graveyard.
    Today I drive a 1998 Tahoe. I’ve been driving it as my only vehicle for 21 years. As long as it can be fixed, I see no point in getting something else.

  16. Old cars are green

    The lowest carbon footprint car? Get a five year old or older ice car and drive it till it dies, save the planet.

    EV’s are the highest carbon footprint cars.

      • My first car was a 67 Tempest. I dropped a 400something motor in it from a Grand Prix. I never could find the right motor mount/frame mount combination so I wrapped heavy duty chains around the frame. Took my future wife out on our first date in that car. Her dad chased me down the driveway because her brother told him about the motor and he thought it was unsafe. Good times.

  17. It is really sad that younger folks don’t understand how simple stuff works. Or even how to use simple math and reasoning. Time and again, today for instance, bought an energy drink on the way to work. Total came to $2.87. Gave the girl $3.07 and she became all befuddled wondering what change to give back. Happens too often now, fer cry sakes.

    Had a used Firebird also way back in 1984, senior in high school. It was my first car, a straight-six 250. Bought it from a mechanic neighbor. Raced around the country roads with it and could even beat a buddy’s V-8 Malibu with it for the first maybe eighth mile, ha.

    Burning too much rubber forced me to go to a junk yard for a $5 replacement clutch plate, which I put in myself. Stick shifts are rare now and, well anyways, took it easy from then on until flown to boot camp a few months later.

    Everybody had an idea how to fix basic stuff back then. And there was respect for work, firearms and your neighbors. Oh, the nostalgia…

    • “ Everybody had an idea how to fix basic stuff back then “

      My grandfather taught me tool basics, gardening, some carpentry. He passed on when I was 8 but that short time of hanging out with him gave me a lifetime of basic skills.

      Also most everyone had a dad with tools, a garage and/or basement workshop and summers of tinkering full time. A chunk of plywood, some two by fours and old wagon wheels yielded a Flintstone grade coasting go-cart.

  18. If I ever bought one of these old cars, I think I’d convert it to aftermarket EFI. It’s so nice just to turn the key and have it start on hot days, cold days, humid days, etc 🙂 I’ve had enough carburetors, and even 2-stroke cars for a lifetime. When I was young, living under commies, we used old cars because new cars were simply not available, and everybody with a car had to know how to deal with this stuff (as well as making your own brake pads, etc. Imagine permanent supply issues). The nice thing about old cars is that you can put in a reliable, tunable, open-source EFI system, since they don’t have any emissions requirements to run a certified system. There are truly excellent systems available.

  19. Has anyone ever heard of Geo Jeff? He has a business which completely restores old Geo Metros to like new condition. For a fee.

    • One night after the movie I was missing ours as well. The Commander’s ‘71 Nova had the Rallye Wheel Package, the nice chrome hub covers snapped on no locks. All four gone, they did leave the chrome trim rings.

      Should have never sold that car. Had special order factory paint, “- -“ on the Identiplate. Camaro Hugger Orange from the ‘60s, lady we bought it from had a relative working at the local dealer that ordered it for her.

  20. Amerikans would still be driving 1960’s cars if fuel prices had stay low. But the idea of the personal auto was exported to the rest of the world, and now gas is up 10-20x. No surprise.

    In Venezuela they still do drive old cars, and gas is still only 10 cents a gallon:

    Venezuela Caracas $0.12

    Such low prices in our hemisphere make that nation the enemy of Big Oil and Big Government who have manipulated political policies forcing prices high. O’Biden is openly killing supply to do this to force us into electric ripoff cars.

    Not very many people know why the USGov has been attacking Middle East oil supplies and trying to shut Iran and Russia out of the world market – to cut supply and make prices high.

    If you doubt this then look at this chart of Iran oil production when Iran made the mortal since of ousting our dictator the Shah of Iran in 1979:




    The real politik of Iran nuclear energy is to disallow Iran from selling crude – so ZOG governments are claiming Iran is in violation of the NNPT and then ban Iran crude from world markets.

    The game is to bomb nations which produce oil that we do not control, that keeps oil and profits high.

    You will not see that hag Amy Goodman on Democrazy Now! tell you than tidbit.

  21. I grew up in the west side of WA, due to rain except for 6 weeks in summer, damp and low temps guaranteed carb icing in the 71 Nova every morning from about October till April. I even pulled the cast iron intake manifold to clear out the cross over passages still did it.
    Went through lots of Iso Heat gas additive to prevent it. No heat riser in that year.

    What a great car, 307 two barrel very economical easy to get 21 mpg on the road. It had a higher ratio rear end was a rocket off the line but still got decent mileage.

    I’ll let the youngins figure out what carb icing, a cast iron manifold and heat riser valve are all about.

    Somewhere I’ve stowed my Acton combo volt/dwell/amp meter, with 4, 6, 8 cyl. dwell setting.

    Alternators from that era were rebuildable at home too. The GM integrated was my favorite, so easy. That faint glow of the ALT light in the dash usually meant the diode trio was faulty. Six bucks and less than an hour all well again. I still have my brush retainer pin for reassembly. You can renew the alternator rear bearing grease with a nip of Teflon oil.

  22. I hate carburetors. They’re a huge PIA. The advent of EFI was the biggest thing that helped most cars to become “good starters.”

    On the other hand, if you want an old car that’s immune to EMP, you want to get a pre-EFI car.
    EMP damage is hard to completely predict. But if your car has EFI, there’s a possibility, if not outright probability, that it is vulnerable to EFI.

    • Hi Mike,

      It really depends on the carb! Some – such as the Rochester Quadrajet – performed nearly as well as EFI, without the electronics. Carbs have a reputation for being balky for two main reasons: People who have no clue what they are doing “tuning” them and people not maintaining them. The latter doesn’t involve much. It is chiefly a matter of keeping them clean. One doesn’t need to be an ace mechanic to do that, either.

      • Hi Eric

        One of my cars (Super 7 clone), has a Weber 40 dfi 5 carburetor, Lampredi 4 cyl. engine, after sitting for 5 months last winter it started up first crank, it is better then my other fuel injected cars, it is fully analog, points and condenser, no computer.

      • Old British Car saying…”Most SU Carburetter problems are Electrical!” There is a lot of truth in that saying. Lucas point-type distributors, with old flaky HT wiring and/or slightly worn plugs can cause symptoms that point straight to mixture issues. I had a bad plug wire that gave me fits for a year on the MGB, until I used my ignition scope on it. Then, I saw #1’s HT side acting funny, but only #1. Changed the wires, cap, rotor, and plugs (again), and that did it. Sweet, tractible power again.

        Best thing I did for the B is to adapt a ’79 Honda Civic Hitachi electronic distributor and coil to it. Now, even on damp days, perfect starting. No need for computer controls, just a magnetic trigger and solid state amp to fire the coil, and you’ve got the best of both worlds (minus the EMP-proofing, of course).

  23. My neighbor inherited his FIL’s Dodge Dart. He’s having to make friends with old timers at car shows to get help with the carburetor. Most of them are happy to help.

    • Hi Mike,

      That Dart is a gem. With the inline six, its main enemy is rust. Otherwise, those rigs would go 300,000 miles. And – more tragedy – this “compact” of the ’70s would be measured mid-size by today’s size standards.

      • I had ‘75 Dart, loved the slant six – everything that needed maintenance was easily accessible. Sadly didn’t even last ten years with the frame rusting out.

  24. Someone just told me he sees more quite new looking cars getting scrapped, they are so expensive to diagnose/fix that people just give up and scrap the vehicle, with real estate crashing they can’t refinance their house or use a heloc to get more cash to fix their defective car so just scrap it…lol.

    EV’s will be way worse scrapped after ten years because the very expensive battery is dead.

    Buy an old simple analog car, computers ruined everything, a curse.

  25. When the points got burnt or out of adjustment it could be fixed on the side of the road easily or the engine might not run perfectly but you could get home.
    On the new computerized cars with a crank sensor, the sensor will go eventually and the car is then dead, you are stranded, call a tow truck. camshaft angle sensor, the same problem, when it goes the engine won’t start.
    On a carburetor you can adjust it by hand on the side of the road, simple, easy, quick. On a new computerized car you have to connect a computer with special software just to adjust the idle, if the battery was disconnected now you need that computer/software to align the steering and the throttle pedal….lol…

    On an EV it is worse, when it is dead where do you start looking?

    A friend sold his tesla because it broke down three times and they had to replace whole electronic boards, he replaced it with a Taycan which is better engineered, now he has replaced it with a Cayman, he went back to gas…lol…


    Electric cars depreciate over two times faster than their internal combustion engine counterparts, a serious black mark when it comes to tallying up your actual yearly cost to run your vehicle!

    Service Advantage Goes to Gas

    Service visits – those that involve diagnosing and repairing a problem – were a different story.

    During the first three months of ownership, EVs were 2.3 times as expensive to service as gasoline-powered cars. At the 12-month mark, repair costs were about 1.6 times what owners of gas-powered cars paid.
    It’s Not Parts. It’s Labor

    Why the extra expense?

    Because EV problems took longer to diagnose and repair. Technicians spent 1.5 times as many hours working on EVs as they did on gasoline-powered cars. And those technicians cost more, to begin with. Working on EVs requires additional certifications most mechanics don’t have. Those that do charge about 1.3 times the average hourly rate.


    Repairing Ev’s is a big problem now, nobody knows how to fix them, they are very dangerous to work on because of the very high voltage (lots of places won’t work on them for that reason), they are very complex compared to an internal combustion engine, they are new technology so people don’t understand them, so very difficult to diagnose. If you break down in L.A. there probably will be a repair place that can fix your EV, if you are in a small town somewhere good luck getting it fixed.

    In ice vehicles most places would do no diagnosis, tech’s won’t do it because they aren’t paid to do it, so why should they. They would use the parts cannon….just keep replacing parts hoping it fixes it, instead of doing diagnostics properly, the customer got robbed.
    Using the parts cannon on an EV could get expensive in a hurry, like a $4000 non returnable circuit board, it would be hard to hide your screw up.

    There is an additional cost for the EV owner: the tesla $22,000 battery is used up, worn out in 100,000 miles. this works out to $22.00 per 100 miles it is costing you for the battery. So the EV owner has to pay another $22.00 per 100 miles to pay for the battery, the ice car owner doesn’t have that extra cost.

  26. I kept my daughters 94 Corolla around just as a spare care. I think at one time it may have been worth more as scrap metal than a running car. Now a reliable running affordable and fuel-efficient car is worth something again. I loaned to my son in law for his and his wife’s use as the fight the Bide-me president’s high prices on everything.

  27. Re: Ethanol in your gas

    This is bad news for any engine/fuel system, it draws attracts water into your fuel system, now how are you going to get it out lol……are you going to drain the tank regularly…lol….what a cluster fu kkk…water also damages sensors in the fuel system, more problems and costly repairs….
    they are going to ban ice powered cars, this just speeds it up…….pushing you into a more defective EV.

  28. ‘Ignition systems – with points, which most cars came with through the early-mid 1970s – have to be gap-checked (and adjusted) about once every six months.’ — eric

    Mechanical distributors had a pair of spring-loaded centrifugal weights (same design as a steam-engine governor) that advanced the timing only as a function of rpm.

    Whereas early Fords had a timing lever right on the steering wheel, leaving it up to the driver to advance or retard the spark.

    Now it’s assumed that requiring the driver to interact with gross mechanical functions such as choke, timing, and clutch is either (a) too complicated and difficult to understand or (b) way beneath her dignity.

    With microprocessor control, timing can be optimally mapped to torque, throttle opening, knock sensors, and the like. But at a price: now the engine can’t operate without its computer nanny.

    Once I put an aftermarket transistorized ignition on a Chevy straight six. It eliminated the exasperating tendency of ignition points to develop pitted surfaces, produced a hotter spark, and gained 3 mpg.

    Probably a computer-mapped ignition system could be made modular, if that were an objective. But apparently, opaque, proprietary chip-based systems confer competitive advantages.

    So the days when engines could operate (and be swapped) on a robust, standalone basis without being assimilated into the matrix are over. And there’s not enough of an aftermarket for digital steampunks to overthrow this electronic tyranny.

    After all [adopts Bob Haldeman voice], spoofing the OBD port would be wrong, that’s for sure!

    • You bring back a good memory…aftermarket transistorized ignition modules were available that took the electrical “load” off the points, and as a result points lasted much longer. These modules did the actual points-to-coil switching so the points did not have to carry the current.
      I still have one in the original packaging…

      • On my Chevy straight six, the aftermarket system had a small plastic control rotor which slipped over the hexagonal metallic cam (the one that opens the points) to index it.

        The new control rotor had six small peripheral notches, monitored by an ‘electric eye’ mounted on the distributor base plate where the points used to be, using the same screw.

        When a passing notch activated the electric eye, the externally mounted and heat-finned power transistor jolted the ignition coil, to fire the correct cylinder through the original rotor at the top of the distributor.

        1-5-3-6-2-4, brother … pass it on.

      • I remember seeing ads for those in every auto magazine back when I was a kid.

        I’d have to add an aftermarket transistorized ignition module & replace the carb with a bolt-on TBI to use cars as old as those discussed here.

        In the meantime I’ll stick with my 3rd generation Camry…still gets 25 mpg city.

    • Jim, I did something similar with an old shovelhead. I was using “Blue Streak” points and condensers from a Chevy straight six ($12.00) which were a fraction of what the local HD dealer was charging for their junk. The only problem was that once I got everything dialed in, it was still only a matter of time before those weights would reach their maximum extension and start rubbing on the inside of the cover. After enough material had been worn away, it would just completely self-destruct usually followed by a loud backfire. I always carried an extra set of timing weights which were also quite cheap. It was just a matter of sweeping out the shrapnel from inside the housing, and slapping the new set of weights in.

      After a while it got old so I swapped out the Blue Streaks for a pointless ignition, and never bought another set of weights again.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here