I love old cars. I want it to be known that I love old cars. The feel, the smell, the idea that if this car could talk it would have lots of stories. But I believe, wholeheartedly, that we’re in the best time for cars. Never has a car been cheaper, better equipped, or at the very least, better looking. Sure, some may argue that cars like the Juke, the new Cherokee, the new Civic, are butt-ugly. I don’t mind them. I think we’re getting to the point where they’re at least making the cars interesting.
I’d rather see Jukes and Civics on the road than say, the bubble Taurus. They’re not making the designs as safe as they once were. The average car is getting to be something you could actually talk about, as opposed to just 16ft of “car.” You know what’s a really gorgeous new car? the Toyota Camry. and I never thought I’d utter those words. But holy shizuoka, the new Camry is a great looking car. I’m not a fan of all the little nanny things that really modern cars have, but it’s incredible that we’ve made them. If I recall, something like the new Fusion has a sensor that detects if it’s hitting a pothole and doesn’t let the suspension collapse all the way? That’s crazy. We talk about the smooth ride of old cars but modern stuff irons out the bumps in ways that we couldn’t have even fathomed.
Do I think we need nanny stuff all around at all times? no. but my uncle was asking me about a car to get for his daughter when she turns 18, and he asked me about a few cars and said he had to make sure he was getting her something safe. and I thought about it. You can’t buy an unsafe “nearly new” car anymore. He was looking at stuff in the mid 2000s. I mean sure, the U-body didn’t do very well in crash tests, but in his mind, he was thinking of Pintos and Gremlins and later on CRXs and stuff. We don’t have that level of unsafe anymore. He asked me about reliability, and I thought again. We don’t accept cars as unreliable as they once were. I’m sure there’s a ton of cars people can quote at me to deter this thought, but so long as you’re getting something that’s had the bare minimum level of maintenance, 250k miles is pretty normal!
Sure, cars aren’t as light as they once were, but they’re not as heavy as they once were, either. And the actual weight figure matters less and less with the march of technology. Modern cars making tons and tons of tons of horsemeat and returning good mileage. My 1992 Volvo 240 wagon gets 27-30mpg highway, and is honestly, a buzzbox at 70mph and not that comfortable there. My 2006 G35 Coupe, with nearly triple the tons of horsemeat, (and about the same weight, let’s be honest), gets about the same mileage. You don’t have to worry about buying a Monday car or a Friday car anymore. I mean, plants still make mistakes, but nowadays the car you get at the dealer will have its panel gaps all lined up in ways no one really gave a shit about before. Older Mercedes might have, but that’s about it. We’ve got the ability to make cars better and better, and we do! A great uncle of mine has said that the best car he ever owned was his 1951 Hudson Hornet...Until he bought his 1992 Lexus LS400. and that’s an old car these days! Hell, in the G35 I can set the temperature to 70 degrees and no matter what the weather is outside, that car will do its damndest to keep me there! And that car is 11 minutes old! and nowadays, it’s like $5000 if I want a decent one.
New cars are better in every single objective way. Do they look better? well, that’s up to you. Do they handle better? yes. Are they more comfortable? Honestly, yes. That road trip of yore needed to be broken up by bathroom breaks and gas stations so that mom and dad could stretch their legs, get off the bench seat for a moment. Nowadays? I’ve done 500 miles in the G35 without stopping, and I got out in a good mood. Even in the Volvo that gets a little old after a while, now, it has kinda probably 200k+ on it, so the seats are worn, but my point stands. Are they more powerful? Hell yeah! Today’s Honda Odyssey and Toyota Camry and a few other cars we think of as boring griefboxes can do the things that muscle cars of the 70s and supercars of the 80s can and more, without requiring expensive maintenance and specialized stuff. Cars are harder to work on? Not really? packaging makes them annoying for sure, but the tools have just changed. You can plug into a car and get an idea of what’s wrong without having to dig in beforehand.
For the record, the G35 sits on the wayside and I drive the stick shift Volvo wagon every day. Am I sad that the era of the V12, of the really light everyday cars, of the rotary, is gone? Sure. but the cars don’t cease to exist. Doesn’t the GT350 rev over 8000? That’s more than your RX-7 was originally supposed to. We don’t have that V12 smoothness, because we just don’t need it anymore. Modern technology has made some of that obsolete. Not *bad*, not still *LOVED*, but just obsolete.
I just think of all the times that someone has said “they don’t make em like this anymore.” and I think: “Good.” Cars aren’t like they once were. They’re better. Better in every conceivable way. Do I love my older cars? of course. But I love their flaws, too. Not nearly as much compromise required today. Want a truck that can basically tow my house, rides like a car, and gets 20+MPG? you got it. Want a family sedan with over 700 hp and a full factory warranty, with heated seats and cruise control? You got that, too.
In the end, this is a nearly disjointed rant that was sparked seeing some of the responses to “which automotive golden age are we living in?” QOTD. I’m sure there’s more I could have put in, but it got very long very quickly. It’s the first time I’ve had the urge to write in a while, (the package from China actually came months and months ago, I just never submitted it) and I felt I needed to do so.