Once, We Were Interested

55
2016
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Why is interest in cars waning – among the young, especially? The ones who used to be the most interested in cars?

There are many reasons. I have one memory that may help explain part of it.

In the early ’80s, when I was getting old enough to be able to drive, very few cars were fuel-injected. They had carburetors. Those with four barrels had secondaries. These would open under full throttle, allowing the engine to suck air – and pull gas – deep into its innards. If you were interested in cars back in those days – which was practically everyone that age – you quickly discovered that to really hear the action, all you had to do was flip the air cleaner lid upside down, which opened the whole apparatus up.

A moaning, keening sound then issued from under the hood whenever those secondaries opened up. It didn’t make the car any faster but it gave a 15-year-old with a learner’s permit the same feeling a Navy pilot probably feels every time the catapult fires his Hornet off the deck, afterburners lit and bound for glory.

There was more to it than that, of course. But it’s part of what got me started. Flipping the air cleaner lid was a kind of gateway drug. Next came fiddling with the carburetor, itself. A turn of the screwdriver caused the idle to go up – or down.

Eureka!

One read about jetting the carb to improve engine performance. We read all about it in mags such as Hot Rod and Car Craft, which were all some of us read. The gurus told us that if we removed these little screw-in plugs that had holes drilled in them with different screw-in plugs that had larger-diameter holes screwed in them, the engine would get more fuel and so – fingers crossed – would make more power. Sometimes, it did. Sometimes, the new screw-in plugs (these being the jets) were one size too big – and the engine didn’t run right.

We learned which size was right by trail and sometimes, error.

Same with float level and secondary metering rods, air door tension (if your carburetor was a Quadrajet, which moaned best of all) and lots of other things that could be adjusted or changed out by an interested 15-year-old kid with a Phillips head and flat blade screwdriver, a $20 socket set from PEP Boys and a Haynes manual.

From there, we dared deeper, delving into ignition curves and timing variations; a couple of hours on our backs, with the car up on jackstands, and we’d have a “bang plate” – a shift kit – installed in the parents’ grocery getter, which made it chirp the tires on a full-throttle upshift from first to second; sometimes even third – which was all the gears those old non-electronic automatics had.

But it was more than enough to be fun.

Part of that being the fun we had getting it done. It is hard to convey the feeling of satisfaction that swelled when the tires chirped on that first “race” (you could also go with “street”) 1-2 upshift, on the first test drive – after lowering the car off the jackstands and jumping in to see whether your work, worked.

We were just kids, after all – most of us just barely legal to drive. And we had just modified our car – maybe it was our mom’s car – and, by God, it worked! It gave us the confidence to try more – and harder. Camshaft swaps led to whole engine swaps – all of which we’d be prouder of than a mom tabby with her new clutch of kittens. There was a whole culture of Friday night cruising/hanging out at the local McDonald’s, to see who had what – and had done what to what they had. Hoods open, us peering within.

It was possible precisely because it was possible. It didn’t take a lot of money or special tools. It mostly took interest and determination, of which we had plenty.

Cars, after all, were not just empowering to work on, in those days. They were empowering as such. Actually – as well as psychologically.  At 16, we not only worked on them, we were free to drive them – the same as any 50-year-old.

Another memory I have is of driving myself – by myself- to meet up with friends in Ocean City, Maryland for Spring Break. They drove there, too. All of us, by ourselves – in our cars. Just as if we were 25 or 35.

None of us were older than 17.

This was normal, back then. A rite of passage. A kid became something more than a kid at 15-something, having acquired his learner’s permit. By 16, with full rights and privileges, he was a functional adult, even if the law said no beer (legally) until 18 – as it was, in those days, when childhood wasn’t extended into the 20s.

Cars were, in a literal way, the vehicles by which we became adults – and that made them very interesting to us. Hearing the secondaries moan let us know we were in for the ride of of our lives – and it was only just beginning.

. . .

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55 COMMENTS

  1. Cash for clunker was the death blow to cheap crappy cars for kids just getting their license. That market never came back.

  2. Gen Z opinion:

    Cars are just ugly debt enslavement machines. They’ve also contributed to social atomization via car-centric American suburbs.

    That isn’t freedom.

    • Hi Anon,

      Thanks for your Gen Z input on this. “Ugly debt enslavement machines” is spot on. They weren’t, once. For my generation – Gen X – and those before, they were many other things. There were almost-free ones, for one. My first couple – old Beetles, a ratty Camaro – could be picked up by a kid working a fast-food job. Insurance was optional – in that you could easily “get away” with not having it. They were easy to keep running cheaply, because they were easy to understand and repair. They had personality and were fun, even if they were often not “reliable.”

      As far as social atomization: I found the opposite growing up because a car was the means by which we then-teens and young adults connected. In person. Not via text. We had hangouts and meet-up places; we drove to one another’s (parents’) houses. Went on adventures, etc.

      You missed out. I hope it all comes back, someday.

    • Gen X opinion – you’re wrong.

      Cars did not start out as ugly debt enslavement machines that contributed to social atomization. Cars have been around for 100 years. The real social atomization in our culture can be traced to the 1930s to creation of social security when it became convenient to ship grandmaw and grandpa out of the house instead of staying with the kids. The youth culture and the subsequent hippy movement enabled further negative social change. It accelerated in the 1980s when the development debt boom began creating large supermalls and shopping strips on future money.

      From 1930 to the late 1970’s cars hardly changed at all. Add in government regulations on emmissions, safety and fuel economy and the essential design began to change. Thank the ecologists, the hippys and the safety nags. The changes have made cars largely unaffordable since the middle 2000’s. The current trend has its roots in the CAA of 1990 and the Energy conservation policy act of 2007, as well as massive changes to FMVSS 204 and 208. That is why cars are unaffordable debt slave machines as you term it.

      Whatever it is, the device, a 4 wheeled conveyance that enabled people to travel long distances, with the help of states building highway networks, is just a car. The car itself is not to blame for societies ills that we have today.

      The problems of sprawl, unnecessary development, social atomization are the result of an apathetic public that is incapable of managing its own issues, not the desire of people to enjoy the car hobby, fixing and driving their own vehicles where, when and how fast they want to go.

  3. My dad bought my brother a 1953 Studebaker coupe when brother was fourteen. He worked on it and it eventually at his age fifteen getting a learner permit which sort of made his driving somewhat legal. It went to an Offy head and all of the trick parts from Midget racing, topped off with a Paxton supercharger. The sound was something never heard again. Later it evolved to a 427 all aluminum race engine of 580 HP at the rear through a B+M turbo hydro. Scared the crap out of me.
    I was happier going around corners with a Datsun 1600 MGB killer. My paycheck went toward gasoline and oil. I put more miles on that car than any other on a pr month basis.

  4. I’ve not stopped modifying my trucks, jeeps, ect since I was 16. For me it’s always to improve or add to the capability. I have a 2018 4Runner, lifted, winch, running Toyo pizza cutter tires.

    I can go where others can’t follow and can get out of most issues either concrete or trail.

    • YES! I think it’s a reflection of our times that is truly unfortunate. It’s amazing how the few brightly colored cars stand out…like the girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List.

      The boring “designed to GovCo’s ‘safety’ standard look” is half the problem as well. I long to see a dayglo yellow Miata.

  5. I was a good kid…but where I rebelled was on the road, alone late at night with 120mph runs home on back country Ohio roads in my 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo. (Wish I still had that now!) This was in the mid to late 1970’s. There was something liberating about being able to “get away with something”. Fortunately I survived my wild driving years unscathed. I feel for my son and daughter, who know or understand little of the much freer time I lived.

    • Excellent work, Bill. I once executed about 107 in my parents’ Eagle Vision. But that road was highly questionable at that speed, and I slowed the fuck down. I was 16. I had stolen the car alone, with no one to know what had happened if I ate shit into the side of a mountain. Those were the days. 😉

  6. I don’t know what it is about my head but I just can’t get over how retarded most cars look these days. And that’s not just because they more/less look very similar. The topsy-turvy, driving an SUV way up high like driving a bus, with bulbous body panels and stupid-looking lights, etc, etc, are just awful.

    In my head, outside of an actual *work* truck, there is nothing cool about a car that is not low to the ground. Where I sit in my sedan or wagons, my eyeballs are most often below most peoples’ shoulders in their “soccer mom” SUVs trying to pretend that they’re cool.

    They look stupid, they drive stupid, they don’t perform the way I want them to. Greater than 90% of cars out there, I would just absolutely loathe having to drive on a daily basis. Even when I get an SUV loaner from Audi, I just hate every second it.

    If someone were to give me a new SUV for free, I would immediately sell it and buy something that wasn’t stupid. There are a few left that I can stomach… mostly used though.

    That combined with that fact that you can’t work on them yourselves and good luck trying to modify them to be cool. Not possible as far as I know — at least not legally. And more often than not, even physically. I mean, you can only lower the damn things so far and, outside of more money than they’re worth, you can’t modify the body to not look stupid.

    I just hate most cars that most people drive and don’t know how anyone likes ’em. Must be my crazy head.

    • Amen on that! I see crap on the road that I don’t know if I want to laugh or gag. The new Japanese crap looks like they were drawn by a 22 year old anime cartoonist on crack. The domestic stuff is not much better.
      I do think the German stuff is at least adult looking and I rather like my ’14 Cayenne. Its a diesel and I bought it for towing a camper which it does hardly noticing it is back there. My grandkids tell me it looks like a tree-frog but I think it looks better that way than a UFO.
      I would challenge your assertion though, if you ever tried a Cayenne or Macan, they are tall with 4 doors but their abilities are definitely not what you might expect from an SUV.
      If you ever wanted a 911 but have kids and need room, a Macan would not disappoint and doesn’t look like a prop from video game. They are quite beautiful and Eric would attest to their driveability.
      Assuming Audi provides Q5’s in their loaner fleet, yes mass market, drives like a school bus, but you are not taking about a Q8. If you didn’t know you weren’t in an A8 you could not tell. My only beer with them is every Fk’ing control is touch screen.

    • EM –

      The designs of cars today are directly attributed to the effects of the following legislation and federal rulemaking.

      Side impact, roof crush, pedestrian and rollover rules stem from FMVSS 204 and 208 which force strength requirements on different parts of cars. They result in high beltlines, smaller windows with poor outward visibility and ridiculous frontal overhangs. As a result cars look like… shit. These designs have also resulted in a higher accident and fatality rate.

      The energy conservation act of 2007 which pushed fuel economy requrements to a minimum of 35 mpg and allowed the administration to pile on more requirments, has made it necessary to do 10 speed transmissions or CVTs, direct injection, and made diesel engines unattainable. As a result, we pay 5k more for cars than we otherwise would (even before COVID).

      Government is the cause

  7. GreatArticle Eric, It brought back many, many fond memories.

    To Doug who thought the 80s sucked, maybe…When compared to the seventies.

    I remember late 70s being about 15 and driving to California with three friends to see a concert. The oldest among us had just got his license. We were responsible enough not to damage anyone or anything. As we spent all of the money we had, my friend, who’s car it was had stashed just enough cash for gas to get us home. There was never a thought of being saved by mom or dad.

    Back then in California you could park next to the beach, build a fire, and sleep overnight. All without any hassle by occifer Friendly. With no money left and being hungry I remember buying a couple loaves of wonder bread and gripping avocados by the side of the road. Those white bread and avocado sandwiches were some of the best I’ve ever had.

    It is such a shame our kids and grandkids didn’t experience this level of freedom. I feel blessed to have grown up in that era. Looking back through the lens of time, the worst thing about the 80s, was that the physic wars, being waged on us now, had already begun, and we didn’t even realize it.

  8. Cars today are stupifyingly boring and uninteresting.
    When I was in high school a busboy/dishwasher could afford a 340 Duster or in my case an Opel GT or a Fiat Spyder, even a BMW 2002. Say what you like, but those cars has character and were fun.
    Imagine the only you can afford today for a young kid is a Scion, a Corolla, or a used Sentra. Plus they all look alike, and you can’t work on them, no 4 barrel carb adapters, header or intake kits, free flow manifolds, hell you can’t even monkey with the suspensions.
    Today’s card are boring and generic. You can barely tell one from the other from 50 feet away.
    The cars that are not are unaffordable to the youngsters.
    My current toy is exciting and interesting, but it cost three times what my first house cost. I am 68, kids grown, no mortgage, no debt, I can splurge on a new 718, but a 17-20 something guy, no chance. A Versa for you.
    Its sad, but we know the guilty party here.
    Praying for a bus sized meteor right at 38’53” North, 77′ 2″ West. Please hurry.

  9. It’s weird, loved cars as a kid, then lost interest around 10-16 and then thanks to Video Games (Midnight Club 3: DUB Remix), got right back into them.

    What helps is something that can be modded, even if the kids start small as you mentioned. If 17yo me had a manual tuner, I’d be in a better place today, although I still do whatever I can (Just installed a weighed shift knob earlier on my Bronco, still waiting for the same company to replace a short shifter kit).

    Next nephew to get a car is 15 atm, next time I see him, taking him to the local HS for manual lessons, so he’d wanna get something fun. I’ll be damned if Mini-Me gets a generic automatic for his first car

  10. Slowest vehicle I ever owned was my first, a worn out ’51 Ford pickup with a flathead six and a four-speed crashbox. Fastest is my current BMW X3-M.

    Guess which one is boring to drive.

  11. Re: Cover photo

    This pair are either at the drags or a parking lot, a drive-in theater would have the streetlights out. I also cannot tell the genders of either, which could be either, or both.

  12. There’s more to it than just the technology in the cars, Eric. Today’s teens of driving age are very good with computers and cell phones, and there are tools like the COBB AccessPort which let you tune ECU’s in cars, though they are expensive (but still 1/2 the cost of a teenager’s fancy phone).

    The problem is, that cars are now inspected regularly, and you can’t get away with making ANY changes in lefty states.

    I have two nieces who want to learn how to drive, and being under 18, their state (MA) requires professional lessons – $1500 minimum, I can’t teach them, illegal. Assuming they get the license, insurance goes up astronomically, easily $2000/kid additional per year. Even if I buy them an old Corolla or something, without anything other than minimum liability coverage, it’s still a fortune.

    I would put the blame here much more on Uncle than on the car companies (since many of their cars are also basically designed by Uncle).

    • True OL, I will add that the kids that are interested in ‘tuning’, while less in numbers, are very good at what they do with computers, turbo’s, etc… and yes they blow them up too and then have to learn the mech part too, but yes rare.
      I was fortunate to avoid the mandated $lesson BS, cause we got our kids ‘farmer’ licenses which did not require such and then not required when they got their full license later. A nice loophole in some states. It helped that my kids actually drove tractors and side x sides from a very young age, so driving was easy for them. The only hard part is our state required a parellel parking test which is pretty hard and takes out many, and our kids were required to pass it in the long beater farm truck, which was even hard for me not to hit the cones. My daughter passed it first attempt, my son 2nd time.
      Fun story, the gestapo testers tried hard to fail the ‘farmer’ kids, and when we were waiting in line for our turn, a young woman had her dad’s even longer pickup and no way was it going to make it and the gestapo guy was grinning. So I told her she could use our slightly shorter truck to give her a fighting chance. Her and her dad were very thankful and the gestapo guy said “you can’t loan your truck to them!” Ohhhh yes we can, no where does it say the truck has to be licensed to the user, it just have to have ‘farmer plates’ and she passed.

    • Put the blame for the $$$ and difficulty where it belongs….

      Politicians, primarily at the State level, and secondarily the federal level.

      Business will only do what they are allowed, and politicians are being bribed and permitting business to rape the public pocketbooks at will.

  13. A major thing that got me interested in cars was curiosity and self-sufficiency. Being able to figure out how they worked, and being able to fix them myself. Modern cars are so overly complex, computerized, and proprietary, good luck diagnosing even a relatively simple problem, even if you have a good scanner…even if the manufucturer makes the data available. When cars were mechanical/electro-mechanical, once you understood basic mechanical and electrical principles….you could figure anything out, and weren’t held hostage by the manufucturer or gooberment, and didn’t have to spend 70% of your time checking sensors, wires, connectors, and modules….or worrying about one part not playing with another because the computer doesn’t recognize it or needs to be reprogrammed to accept it (Which only a dealer or person with a subscription to a high-level data service may be able to do)…you could go to an auto parts store and get an dusty box off of the shelf, or to a junkyard…and if the part fit…you were good to go. Cars were “accessible” -and such also meant that for a young (or poor) person, one could buy a cheap old hoopty and keep it going on the cheap…unlike today, when most teens are driving cars that require them to go into debt AND carry comprehensive- thus cars, which once were one of the greatest representations of personal freedom, have become yet another encumbrance.

  14. Back in the late 1960’s the biggest hero in a small town owned a Corvette, or a Z28 Camaro, now nobody cares, they might even be judged as polluting the planet.

    People now seem to be in love with their stupid sail fawn or maybe a huge SUV or even worse a soulless EV with a huge lithium fire bomb battery powered by a coal power plant, they imagine is green…lol…..

  15. My best summer was between 11 and 12th grade. Part time job, my own car. Friends with a cabin on a lake about two hours drive. Their parents were great – no smoking indoors and clean up the place before you leave Sunday, have fun! Ski boat, dirt bikes. No one was rich, just mainstream middle class early ‘70s.

    We had a blast but weren’t idiots all of use realized the privilege his parents provided us. Wreck the bikes or boat, damage the cabin and it would end. We didn’t need to discuss this, even at 17 we just knew better.

    We all worked on our cars, no way we could afford a repair shop! You learn real quick not to abuse the car when your wallet will be emptied to fix it. My parents were not about to foot any car related expense either, Dad: “you want a car you figure out how to pay for it, don’t come to me”.

  16. Why are young not interested in cars anymore? They are addicted to iphones. My brother is a high school teacher in US History and Econ. Prior to 2008 he would have 1-2 kids blatantly fail his class. After 2008 he has had 30-40% of his kids fail. Don’t do homework, fail to show, have 501c program diagnosis for whatever disorder they claim and cause disruption in the class. He can’t do anything other than escort the little snots to the principal’s office and or fail them, to which he gets pressure from the administration to pass little Jonny because the patents complain. (Little Jonny to be next on national news for a school shooting my brother for failing him)
    What happened after 2008 was the explosion of smart phones. My brother attended a seminar where someone actually showed the data nationally where scholastic achievement dropped significantly after 2008. The Researcher is convinced there is a direct tie to social media and these devices are killing our kids.
    Instead of working on cars and obtaining freedom to move and socially interact with peers, these kids are isolating themselves and the whole world and all that is evil comes right to their little screens every minute. These kids are being manipulated and indoctrinated right under our eyes by these devices. As good parents, these devices should not be allowed anywhere near our kids. Buy them a flip phone if they need one.

    • If I had kids, they would not have phones (hell, I don’t even have a smart phone) nor TV, and would be homeschooled.

      I thank God that the internet didn’t exist when I was a kid. Going out exploring new places sure beats looking it up on street view…… Not to mention all the exercise of walking/biking many miles.

  17. Every time I’d fool with the carb on the Vega station wagon, I’d make it worse, not better –and I’d have to beg my father to fix it.

    If interested, go on YT and look for the channel “Smarter Every Day”. He & his father take a tour of the Holley carburetor plant in Bowling Green, KY. He also has a video of a see-through carb in action.

    • **”Every time I’d fool with the carb on the Vega station wagon, I’d make it worse, not better “**

      No, that was just ow fast those cars deteriorated! (Your father was faster, so could stay one step ahead of the car!)

  18. Another factor, which I see in my grandchildren. A lack of interest in anything mechanical, or how it works. If it ain’t digital, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been trying, and have inspired some interest. When I was their age, I routinely took stuff apart to see how it worked. Sometimes they never worked again after my inquiry. Which, shall we say, occasionally displeased my parents. But never any rebuke from my father, who was a car mechanic for nearly his entire working life, and recognized my mechanical interest was similar to his own at my age. As a teenager, he installed a washing machine motor, some were gasoline powered then, on his bicycle. And promptly wrecked it when someone opened their parked car door in front of him.

    • Agree John, however I had a secret weapon to force the mechanical aptitude on my son. He loves racing dirtbikes, and I wrenched it for him up until around 14-16, and then I dropped the hammer, literally, on purpose. His bike would stay broken for a week or more, him waiting for me to fix it, but I already dropped the hammer. He figured it out, eventually, after many disasters, and even many DNF’s at the races, which really pissed him off. Such a bad father I am/was. haha….. The best part was I would eventually catch him on the track, stop to see if he was OK (basically not dead), him screaming cause of the mech. failure, and me laughing my ass off as I took off with my well prepped bike.
      I guess you wouldn’t be surprised that I got chastised by many of me peers for allowing these DNF’s, etc… the happen. “you need to help him fix it!!!” No I don’t.
      He’s become quite the mechanic. I even have him going over mine some times now. It’s his rental fee for using my barn/shop and tools.
      The next hammer to drop is paying for the oil heat in the barn that him and his buds use all through winter rebuilding their bikes.

        • Thanks helot but I don’t feel heroic. I just really believe and have learned that no one learns unless they go through hard things, or in other words nothing good in life is ever easy. I’ve been burned by many over my antics but I stand strong and shrug it off. It’s working though, my kids, now 22-24 are shaping up to be quite good and very well rounded young men/women. I am becoming a proud papa and glad I went through my hard efforts and took my lumps from my peers.
          One avenue for me was the racing thing with my son. efforts vs results, pretty simple. It was an awesome time/event when I saw him sitting on the side of the track (many times), and I knew why he was cause he didn’t prep his bike like I knew he should.
          One avenue with my daughter was the disaster social media is with young women and the woke college BS. I really couldn;t believe that she stood strong through it and came out on top of it all (they’re just keyboard warriors honey, confront them and they will back down, they did and she became emboldened). Her peers now ask her to help them through the woke BS, and she enjoys her emboldeness (is that a word?).

      • I like that, ChrisN!
        In my case, it was a similar thing…though not on purpose or by design- but having to push a 250cc dirt bike home several miles when it was over 100* put me on the fast-track to make sure THAT would never happen again!

  19. Another factor is likely the homogeneity of cars. They have no individual character. You can barely tell them apart without looking at the badge. In the era you speak of, you could tell a Chevy from a Ford a block away. And either from a Dodge. I’m a bit over a decade ahead of you, and I remember in the late ’60s going into the Dodge dealer with my father, who worked there, and marveling at a Dodge Daytona. A nearly race ready NASCAR car. Or a Super Bee Six Pack”, a “compact” car with a big block V8, and three two barrel carburetors. I dare you to tell an Accord from a Camry in profile at more than 100′. Well, you might, since cars are your business, but most can’t.

  20. I think a lot of the kids these days are disinterested in cars because they never grew up in a world where owning one was liberating. Now they’re seen just like overpriced single family homes, a financial and legal ball and chain that just pulls you closer to the event horizon of modern career slavery. The kids see the trap and they’d rather just skate by than put their hand in that particular garbage disposal.

    • Maybe so, CS. Or, it has more to do with increasing regulatory capture & the expanding controls and the cultural(?) mindset which that creates?

      Doug says the 80’s sucked. I wonder, “compared to what?” the 1960’s?

      Everything seems all tied into a quote I saw on Zerohedge this morning and which Eric touched on in his article, “the “globalist” world order is “totalitarian” and is “holding back creative pursuit.”

      Creative pursuit was greater in the 80’s than it is today, imho. So, too, resistance to barriers to that pursuit.

      There’s simply No Way signs posted on the entrance to a store would have caused the majority of Americans (and probably worldwide pop) to put on a face diaper… it. just. wouldn’t. happen.

      What’s the difference between then & now?

    • Or because they don’t grow up watching their dad/uncle do it. Which their dad/uncle/etc. doesn’t do, because he doesn’t know how to, because most people don’t have & can’t afford the (always changing) tools and to fiddle with the electronics.

      You CAN do it…but it’s not easy or feasible for most people, beyond maybe getting a read on the code with a cheap scanner (which tells you what the code is, but not why it’s throwing one).

      A good socket set is affordable, and works as well 30 years later as it does now (unless you break one…but that’s usually infrequent, covered under warranty, and a cheap fix if not).

      Most people are honestly better off taking it to a shop.

  21. Sorry Eric but the 80’s sucked. The US was 6+ years into that Dick Nixon’s 55 MPH Speed Limit. States were increasingly sharing Driver’s information, Insurance Companies were finding ways new ways to fleece their “Customers” and those entities with a Vested Financial Interest were bribing those in charge to pass Rules and Regulations so they could use drivers as Cash Cows.
    Just like in the former Soviet Union, when someone is forced or coerced into doing or acting a certain way and he has no choices, he loses interest.

    • Hi Doug,

      Not for me – especially relative to now. Yes, I agree – things began to slide into worse back then. But it was still overall pretty good. Especially in that one could “get away” with far more then than now. I know. I remember. I was there.

      • Hi Eric

        Some of the younger people that are still into cars are people working in the auto trades, techs, parts sales, car sales, automotive journalists.

        The cars the young people are still interested in are Asian cars like the GR86, Hondas, Subaru’s, new American muscle cars, cheaper Euro cars, VW has a huge cult following, cars that have a huge after market support for tuning.

        The other young people not so much, maybe partly because of the cost or the government regulations taking the fun out of car ownership.

        Just go to a car show or a cars and coffee and check out the demographics, at cars and coffee it is mostly younger people, at car shows for euro cars or muscle cars a lot of the owners are older, at VW car shows, a younger crowd. At Porsche club meetings there is very few young people, mostly older men with money..

        Almost all the cars have been bastardized, ruined now, they are all computer driven, over weight whales, they all look the same, they have a totally isolated driving experience, all sound the same, nothing to like, the EV’s are even worse, no wonder people have lost interest in cars.

        Most of the newer cars are so boring now nobody looks at them, but if you drive a Porsche or Ferrari, nobody will look at it because they think it is some old rich guy, they are probably right.

        If you drive something old that looks really different people will look at it, show interest in , if you want a car people are curious about, will photograph, ask you questions about, give thumbs up to everywhere 24/7, buy a Super 7, it is one of the most loved cars for some reason, (maybe because it is totally anti nanny state, anti government, it is a race car/track car with zero nanny state safety crap and driver’s aids)

    • I thought the 80’s sucked, too- at the time- compared to the 60’s and 70’s. The cars of the 80’s certainly sucked, and tyranny was REALLY starting to increase (Felt more so in some locales than others)…..but the 80’s seemed like a nice dream compared to TODAY!!!! What I wouldn’t give to be able to go back.

    • Doug and Nunzio.

      The 80’s did suck big league. It was the beginning of a lot of things including a major cultural and poltical unraveling. My first presidential election that I could vote in was 1984. I remember it being an issueless election compared to what preceded it. People were actively engaged in the process in 1980 versus 1984 where a collective apathy was exploding on the landscape. Ronald Reagan won 49 of 50 states, the balance of power remained the same and the Republipukes gained like 16 house seats.

      We were 4 years into a major cultural shift in terms of cop worship, where they were to be worshipped as heros or you were some kind of miscreant, scofflaw or outlaw.

      What Doug said was spot on about the rabid enforcement of the 55 mph speed limit and insurance company profiteering off the backs of drivers. The 1980’s marked the beginning of the senseless elevation of “children” in the form of “baby on board” signs that blanketed almost every car from a Cavalier to a Caravan.

      It was a strange time. The auto companies were just beginning to bring horsepower back into the equation even as enforcement was growing more draconian by the day. A safety valave was on the way, though. Congress overrode Reagan’s veto of a “pork filled” highway bill (what isn’t?) and states were allowed to post higher limits as long as they didn’t exceed 65 mph on rural interstates only. The fight was pretty intense and the propoganda and the manipulations started in July 87 when the fatality numbers were released from New Mexico.

      The tickets were still issued and people began exceeding the new speed limit amid drops in the fatality rates, due to “safer” cars. It took until the mid 1990’s for us to get rid of the NMSL in total. By then, the driver sharing information was complete. 47 out of 50 states were in the Driver’s license compact by 2000. The horsepower wars were in full swing during the 1990s, a battle that would continue until the late 2000’s. Car horsepower was rising. The ricer phenemon was taking hold and it seemed that interest in cars had hit its second peak during the late 1990’s.

      The more contentious political and social environment of the 2000’s quickly extinguished it to the point we are here today.

      The 60’s to the mid 1970’s were fun.
      the 80’s sucked
      The 90’s were the last gasp of fun.
      and today is a nightmare.

  22. And it made actually dating girls possible. After all, it’s hard to take her out on the handle bars of your bike. Having your Mom drive you is like a play date.

    Eric, you also touch on a very critical aspect to modern, western society. The increasing juvenilization of of humanity.

    I’ll never forget 1984. We’d just move to North Carolina. Two news stories caught my ear. One was that schools would no longer have smoking lounge…for students. The age to buy tobacco back then was 14. The other was a law that would prohibit, in places that served alcohol, topless dancing…by anyone under 15.

    Without going into a long rant, suffice it to say, these increases in the age of majority are driven by the economic interests of bureaucrats, union officials and social do-gooders. They have, overall, caused more harm than good. Only humans are still considered “children” when they, themselves, can procreate.

    • Mark, my parents started dating when mom was in high school and dad was a freshman at Pitt. They’re 4 years apart in age. Do the math. Helps that they met in church and the families knew each other, but still. Today, not only would their relationship be frowned upon, it would be illegal.

    • Yeah, I was going to make that very same point. No doubt young guys were attracted to cars back in the day not just to hear the secondaries on the Quadrajet moan… but more importantly, to hear their girlfriend moan in the back seat.

      Kids these days are so different… they’re fat, sheltered, insecure, helicopter-parented, raised by single moms and live in an electronic fake reality. They don’t want sex in the back of the car when they can watch porn on their cell phones and eat themselves into obesity in their mom’s basement.

      The “good old days” weren’t always that great. Kids did a lot of stupid shit. Many of them paid for it — pregnant girlfriends, car wrecks, fights, drug addiction. But they were definitely freer and much less dystopian than today.

      • Hi X,

        I agree with you entirely. Hormones were a huge factor in wanting a car. Where else do two seventeen year old kids have fun except in the front seat of a pick up truck in some field? It was another reason that we all had to be skinny. One has to be very flexible to maneuver around the back seat of a Ford Escort. I speak from experience.

        I remember dragging my father to the DMV on my 16th birthday. A car was freedom to me. The biggest draw of a car…I didn’t have to ride the bus. Oh my gosh, the day I first drove to school in my own car (an 86 Accord) was one of the most awesome days of my life. You felt like a grown up and the other kids getting off the bus stared at you enviously.

        • Damn it, Raider. You don’t understand the future. We are also us and also many other things. Look, I might have a penis and you a vagina, but we’re headed in to so much unexplored territory. Hell, I might have 2 penises, you a penis and 2 vaginas… we’ll become boys, girls, birls, briflos, ganandorfs, fangirlbs, banfakls, etc..
          Jesus, don’t be so limited!

          Also, don’t be so goddamned racist about cars. They are for getting all of our penises, vaginas and the lack thereof, well… Everywhere they should be. And none of the places they shouldn’t be. DUH!

          • Quick! Help! BaDnOn’s account has been overtaken by Kamala and one of her many word salads! I feel betrayed sir, you told us you were a chemist, not her speech writer! 😜

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