The automobile industry is evolving. Technology is taking cars to levels that mankind wouldn’t have even dreamed of a mere thirty years ago. You can not buy a new car today without some sort of electronic driver aid or enormous infotainment screen. Many cars use electricity to help power the wheels in efforts to improve gas mileage. Others simply cut internal combustion out of the picture and use only batteries. Hell, some cars even cut the driver out of the picture and do the brunt of the work themselves. This is simple evolution, a change that can not be interrupted. Cars are safer, smarter, faster, and cleaner than they have ever been before, and this change will not let up anytime soon.
The modernization of cars has resulted in some of the most amazing enthusiast cars the world has ever seen. The hybrid craze that took the industry by storm when the Prius was born eventually led to a three way battle between Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche to build the world’s most advanced hypercar. None of this would have happened had Toyota not shown the world that hybrid systems can serve practical use in the real world. The LaFerrari, P1, and 918 are now on the walls of enthusiasts all over the world. But sadly, these cars are only part of a small exception that still puts driving first. A large majority of technological advances in the industry leave enthusiasts like me worried.
Today, you can almost count the amount of cars offered with a manual transmission on your hands. The world used to appreciate real, mechanical automotive engineering. Now, an increasingly large majority of people only care whether or not they can pair their iPhone to their car, or that their car can keep them in their lane for them. Appreciation for the automobile is slowly fading away. Most people my age couldn’t care less about how the internal combustion engine works. They are blind to the sheer pleasure of getting behind the wheel of a real car, built to be driven. Sure, they’ll race their friends in their mom’s mini vans and SUV’s, but that is not automotive appreciation. That’s just a dangerous, highschool dick measuring contest waiting to go wrong.
There’s a certain ecstasy that driving a classic car at its limits can bring to a person. You don’t just get in and go. Patience is important. These machines require ritual. You sit down in a worn in chair, slide the key into the ignition, press the clutch in with your left foot, throw the shifter in neutral and wiggle it around to make sure it’s free of any gears. If it’s cold, you pull out the choke, giving the engine a little gasoline flavored incentive to fire up. Once you’re ready, you turn the key. You can hear, feel, smell, almost taste the motor spring to life. At this point you don’t just throw it into gear and go. Give it some time to wake up. Let the oil become warm enough to flow through the passages and keep everything running how it was meant to be. These machines are alive in this moment, and they demand to be treated that way.
A lot of time, money, patience and attention to detail goes into keeping an old car alive. It is an art in a way, and I’m afraid it is an art that is dying with the evolution of the auto industry. Recently I bought a 1977 Honda Civic off a guy down the street for three hundred dollars. I’ll be honest, it isn’t in the best condition, but I have been slowly accumulating parts and doing my best to get the car running. People ask me why I pour my money into my cars. “You know it’s just going to break down again right?” “The thing is going to die soon anyways why don’t you just get it scrapped?” The answer is that I feel like this car is something good I can do for myself and for the people I can share it with. I’m preserving a piece of history that was never intended to be preserved. I’m keeping the art of the classic car alive, and sharing the stories and knowledge I gain along the way with the people I meet.
I’m doing the automotive world a favor if you ask me.
It’s a bit dramatized for effect, but I was going for a good grade if you feel