If modern cars are so great, why do we enjoy classic cars so much?

Colin
By Colin Wood
May 26, 2021 | Ford, Shelby, Peter Brock, Columns, Classic Cars

Photography Courtesy Ford

Modern cars are often faster, safer, more reliable and more comfortable than classic cars, but why, then, do we often find ourselves pining for a drive in some old-school street machines?

Automotive legend Peter Brock has an idea why, and you can read his throughs on the subject over on Classic Motorsports now.

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calteg
calteg Dork
5/25/21 8:11 a.m.

Driver engagement, which has been greatly diminished by (among other things) eletric powered steering

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 8:17 a.m.

IT's because we enjoy different experiences and older cars offer that, not a better or worse experience, but a different one.  Yes a 60's car is awesome to drive, lighter controls, more effort and involvement, but I wouldn't want to drive one in stop and go traffic in rush hour in the middle of summer or winter.  We've domesticated horses, built bicycles and cars, but I still like to walk sometimes too.  

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
5/25/21 8:26 a.m.

In reply to Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) :

I think you've summed it up perfectly. I couldn't agree more.

pirate
pirate HalfDork
5/25/21 8:28 a.m.

Nostalgia everyone wants that car they day dreamed about in high school/college but couldn't afford or it wasn't practical to own at the time. Also the simplicity of the driving experience.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 8:41 a.m.

I know when I get in the 67 LeMans, it will start.  It will never fail because a throttle position sensor wire broke, a catalytic converter became plugged, or the ECM recorded a temporary lean condition on bank 1.

Air
Fuel
Spark.

Done.

On a side note, the gas that is in the tank is now 2.5 years old.  I go outside and start it a couple times a year and drive it around the block (didn't pass inspection so I just keep her legs limber until I can start the project) and it starts and runs every single time.  No jump start, no charger, no nothing.

When the tires get low, I put air in them all by myself without a warning light on the dash.  When the fuel gets low, I put gasoline in the tank even though the ECM doesn't audibly ding and estimate how many miles I have before the engine dies.  When I need my headlights, I turn them on manually.  When I need to slow down or stop, I use my foot on the brake pedal instead of radar/lidar sensors and AI algorithms making choices for me.

Newer cars seem like layers upon layers of NHTSA fixes, then performance fixes to counteract the weight added by the safety fixes, then convenience fixes to prevent a tire from being 2psi too low, then another performance fix because the other company has more performance fixes than you do.

We've made an entire generation of wicked powerful, wicked heavy, and wicked safe behemoths.  Some of the new cars have as much road feel as an Abrams tank.  They pump in engine sounds through the stereo on some cars... some to enhance, some to cancel.  WTF people?  Just how much technology (weight) do we really need.

For a long time I drove a 74 Maverick 302.  Why would I drive a heavy, wheezer-era pile like that?  Because it weighed the same as a WRX, had the same hp, and twice the torque.  People marvel at what we have today.  I've driven a Hellcat.  So disappointing.  Take nearly 4-figures of HP and drop it in a 4500-lb limp-noodle unibody car with nannies, traction control that you can't really defeat, and surround it with luxury and things that take away your feeling from the road, and it doesn't feel like 4-figure HP.  But 750hp from a blown big block in a 3200-lb Chevelle?  THAT is something I can get into.

I agree.  Something different.  I used to be able to tell a make, model, and year.  Now a lot of cars kinda looks the same, generation to generation.  Also, the ooh and aah factor.  Sometimes, they are just easier to work on. Classic by definition can mean traditional or enduring.

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 9:17 a.m.

I don't agree with the argument that old cars were simpler so they lasted longer.  That's been comprehensively disproved many times over the years.  We've more than doubled the age of cars on the road over the last few decades, heck even since 1995 the average age has risen from 8.4 to 11.8 years.  I seem to recall back in the 70's the average age of cars was only around 5 or 6 years.  

Fitzauto
Fitzauto Dork
5/25/21 9:27 a.m.

For me its because older cars have flaws that make them feel almost human. I love newer cars for the daily grind but taking one of the old ones out feels like hanging out with an old friend.

iansane
iansane HalfDork
5/25/21 9:40 a.m.

Deep down as much as I hide it, I'm a narcissist. I like to be noticed and expressing myself with a loud, weird piece of archaic iron that most others can't keep on the road satisfies that weird pit inside me.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
5/25/21 10:52 a.m.

Style. Very few new cars are distinctively recognizable and if they are, it is because they are based on a classic car from the same company. 

 

Truth is, most  classic car ownership experiences are akin to dating a coke-fueled supermodel. Worth every second of it.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
5/25/21 11:04 a.m.

Originally, in the human-car system, cars were the weak link. Over the years, cars improved faster and to a greater degree than humans. Beyond that, humans had a much more limited ability to improve. It was inevitable that humans would gradually become the weak link on more and more circuits of the system. We are beyond the point where humans are the weak link in most of the system, but the remaining ones are some of the most important... And we're quickly approaching the point at which we'll be the weak link at the remaining circuits as well. At which point, the human will no longer be necessary to the system.

The more our 'improvements' remove the human from the system, the less engaging the experience. The less engaging the experience, the less of an emotional connection we make with it. Right now cars have become so 'good' that most have to provide an unsustainable growth rate of performance extremes just to inject any real sense of drama or passion into the driving experience.

As intelligent lifeforms, improving life through the use of tools and technology, we tend to fall fall prey to the idea that moving closer to technical perfection is better... When the reality is that from an emotional standpoint, sometimes 'better' isn't.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/25/21 11:27 a.m.

So as someone who drives a lot of new cars at track days but races old cars I will say this:

New cars offer a level of precision no old car can; driving one is like being machinist, it's all about increments.

Old cars move around on the tires and tend to skate from one spot to the next; they are like wood carving, one works around any inherent flaws. 

 Or for a more basic analogy; it's Ballroom Dancing vs Slam Dancing................I like punk rock. 

Saron81
Saron81 HalfDork
5/25/21 11:27 a.m.

Nostalgia certainly plays a part in it as well. I have two much newer,  much nicer, and much more powerful everyday drivers, but 4 out of 5 days a week, I'm still driving my 97 Ranger to work. It drives just like the 93 I learned to drive stick on my when I was 13. If you have a similar car (or better yet the same car) to one you made memories around in your youth, it's pretty powerful. Remember riding in that MG with dad? I know I do. 

Wicked93gs
Wicked93gs Reader
5/25/21 11:33 a.m.

To me its about feel. I drive my '66 Mustang and I sit down in a vinyl seat, put my hands on a wooden steering wheel, shift a manual transmission, manually adjust my mirrors, turn my wheels and operate my windows on my own, the car gives real feedback. Everything I touch is wood, metal, or vinyl. and feels solid.

 

Then I go and drive my wife's 2012 Fiat 500. I sit in a seat that feel like a nerf football, everything I can see or touch in the interior is cheap feeling plastic, the dash lights up and yells at me about tire PSI being 1psi low, the steering is numb, the automatic transmission less-than-inspiring, the engine is anemic at anything less than 3500 RPM. I don't feel like I am driving a car at all, I feel like I am riding along as a passenger inside a plastic egg.

AaronT
AaronT Reader
5/25/21 11:33 a.m.

Lots and lots of words that fail to address the biggest point: 

We lust after the cars that were quick when we were kids or young drivers. Boomers like pre-oil-embargo muscle, gen x and elder millennials like import tuners and rally inspired cars. 
 

If this were not true we would all be driving 32 Fords or some car that makes most 'classic' cars look modern and feature-laden.

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 11:34 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) said:

I don't agree with the argument that old cars were simpler so they lasted longer.  That's been comprehensively disproved many times over the years.  We've more than doubled the age of cars on the road over the last few decades, heck even since 1995 the average age has risen from 8.4 to 11.8 years.  I seem to recall back in the 70's the average age of cars was only around 5 or 6 years.  

Financial experts and leading economists have predicted 18 of the last 5 great economic downturns. The worst thing

Those facts are all true. I'm not convinced they prove your point.

Yes, cars on the road have doubled in age.  That's not necessarily because they last longer. It could also be because cars are so expensive now that now one can afford to replace them. 
 

Purchase price as a percentage of average income has also risen astronomically. 

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 11:43 a.m.

In reply to SVreX (Forum Supporter) :

Agree to disagree.  It wasn't that long ago that 100k miles was considered a good long life for a car.  These days a car that doesn't easily last 100k miles is considered a POS.  Cars just need less maintinance these days are are absolutly more reliable and easier to keep running.  

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa UberDork
5/25/21 11:50 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) said:

I don't agree with the argument that old cars were simpler so they lasted longer.  That's been comprehensively disproved many times over the years.  We've more than doubled the age of cars on the road over the last few decades, heck even since 1995 the average age has risen from 8.4 to 11.8 years.  I seem to recall back in the 70's the average age of cars was only around 5 or 6 years.  

I kind of wonder if that is an economic thing as well as an engineering thing.  Even possibly a political thing, considering what the oil shortage did to redirect engineering muscle to different areas of the vehicles.

c0rbin9
c0rbin9 Reader
5/25/21 11:57 a.m.

There was a point in the 90s where cars reached their pinnacle, at least in terms of the things that make cars fun, such as engagement, on-road performance, refinement, packaging, durability, styling, etc. All the improvements since then have been in boring things like efficiency and safety. Look at a 992 911 next to a 993. The 992 is the same basic shape as the 993, just with 500 pounds of bloat.

Manufacturer's try to regain some excitement by adding things like piped-in cabin noise or artificially pointy steering, but these are just cheap gimmicks. I want a car to feel and sound the way it does because that happens to be the way it is after the engineers designed it the best they could, not because some committee decided that's what consumers like and artificially engineered it in.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
5/25/21 12:03 p.m.
SVreX (Forum Supporter) said:

Purchase price as a percentage of average income has also risen astronomically. 

Correlation does not imply causation.

AaronT
AaronT Reader
5/25/21 12:18 p.m.

Another point: lots of people will compare their weekend toy to their DD when extolling the virtues of the old. The better comparison is sports car to sports car or commuter to commuter. A fiat 500 and a Ford pinto is the more apt comparison.

OldGray320i
OldGray320i GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/25/21 12:26 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to SVreX (Forum Supporter) :

Agree to disagree.  It wasn't that long ago that 100k miles was considered a good long life for a car.  These days a car that doesn't easily last 100k miles is considered a POS.  Cars just need less maintinance these days are are absolutly more reliable and easier to keep running.  

When they operate as intended - when something does go wrong, it can be harder to diagnose and fix when the code it throws can be several different things.   I think of the guy with a Camaro on here that had fits, or machinblau's (sp?) travails with that 124.

The engineering is better in terms of what it can offer, and cars today  require less involvement from "the general populace" keep them running well, to your point. 

But, there was the 250-300k mile Chevy wagon that went from family to friends "and wouldn't die",  my 275k mile e30 that ran and drove as well as my 88k mile 2012 Ford, the anecdotal evidence on here that some Cavaliers were unkillable even with neglect. 

As to why we "prefer" the classics, imo it gets down to the "feel" of the car.   A lot of feel has been engineered out because the vast majority of the driving public finds that "better". 

The E30, the Miata, the E36, my third gen Focus, my friend's 2011 Mustang, the ex wife's CRV are all better cars than the E21.

But there's something about the feel that the E21 gives in connection with the driving environment that none of the other cars can match. 

I can't put my finger on it except to say it connects well with it's environment. 

It's why for all the inactivity over the years with that thing and the self inflicted nits that make it inactive at times that I've never sold it.  

OldGray320i
OldGray320i GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/25/21 12:36 p.m.

In fact, they could engineer in BETTER feel and liveliness in cool cars, but all the cheap bastages on here won't buy them new, and the general populace would rate such as "inferior" and not buy them, which means they aren't available so that we could buy them when they depreciated.   Talk about catch 22....

RevRico
RevRico UltimaDork
5/25/21 1:34 p.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Didn't pass inspection? It's a 67, put classic or antique plates on it, no more inspections.

 

To the original question? I think it's simple: old cars look better. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 1:47 p.m.

I have a classic Mini and a fuel injected Honda CRX that were made one year apart, but the Mini is basically 25 years older in terms of design and technology. And it requires far more work and attention to keep it running. Fuel, great. As long as the carb hasn't gummed up again and I haven't screwed up the choke setting and the diaphragm in the mechanical pump is okay. Spark, let's hope the points are good and the plugs don't foul as it tries to start. Air, that's easy. The CRX has far more miles on it and the only thing I need to do is make sure the battery has electrons in it. The Jeep WJ that's 15 years newer than both of them is the same, you can neglect it for as long as you want.

I agree 100% that we want the cars we wanted in high school. If you'd asked me what new car I wanted for my 16th birthday, I would have pointed to that CRX.

Classic cars are just modern cars viewed from the future. We'll be pining after the 2020s in 15-20 years because they're so much more...something...than the new stuff.

Error404
Error404 Reader
5/25/21 1:50 p.m.

Older cars have what I want in a car. Newer cars have an bunch of extra things that do not add value but do add cost. I don't want or need a giant touchscreen but if I bought new I couldn't really avoid it. If I don't like the radio in an old square body I go to Crutchfield and get a new one. If I don't like the radio in a new car I just have to suck it up because that sucker is tied into everything. 2 of my coworkers put in new head units, one lost all radio and the other lost his backup camera. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/25/21 1:50 p.m.
AaronT said:

Lots and lots of words that fail to address the biggest point: 

We lust after the cars that were quick when we were kids or young drivers. Boomers like pre-oil-embargo muscle, gen x and elder millennials like import tuners and rally inspired cars. 
 

If this were not true we would all be driving 32 Fords or some car that makes most 'classic' cars look modern and feature-laden.

So keeping with my contrary nature: I'm 58, I lust after prewar single seaters (Bugatti, Alfa and Dirt Cars). I loathe muscle cars; I started on motorcycles first so I find muscle cars to be slow and ill handling.

I like to drive cars that you must 4 wheel drift everywhere to be fast.  

I do like 80s Formula cars, and I currently race one but that's because I got it cheap not strictly because I wanted one in my youth.

The other aspect I like about older cars is there was the ease of mix and match; you could bolt on junkyard parts to make them go faster. My Datsun 1200 has 280ZX front suspension and brakes, 240Z rear brakes, a 510 rear axle with a roadster diff, a 210 engine and trans etc.  All of that stuff bolted in and anything that didn't directly bolt up just needed a hole redrilled. 

Junkers
Junkers New Reader
5/25/21 2:02 p.m.

"If someone were to ask me for a short cut to sensuality, I would suggest he go shopping for a used 427 Shelby-Cobra. But it is only fair to warn you that of the 300 guys who switched to them in 1966, only two went back to women."

 - A quote from commedian Mort Sahl

rustomatic
rustomatic Reader
5/25/21 2:08 p.m.

It's potential, not kinetic.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
5/25/21 2:27 p.m.

I wanted a GTi when I was in high school.  I was lucky and able to buy one when I graduated college.  Even though high school for me was the mid to late '80's, most of the cars that I like and want span from the mid '90's to mid '00's.  They still have old school feel but enough computers for them to run properly. 

Hence the 996 Turbo and incoming '93 Corrado VR6.  Turn the key and go, AC works but they have a soul still.  I've driven my friends 997 turbo and it's definitely a better car than my 996.  Faster, nicer interior, better looking but it feels much more clinical than mine. 

Yourself
Yourself New Reader
5/25/21 2:47 p.m.

I am lucky - I have had a Lotus Elan for the last 30+ years. I call it the Ratty Elan, because it is.

What else it is, is just an absolute blast to drive. Webers burbling, exhaust rasping, tires singing, no power assist dulling the response on anything. Just you, the car, and the road. It just doesn’t get any better than that. 1550 lbs and around 130 HP.  Not necessarily fast, but it is quick.

I also have had an FD RX7 for the last 10 years. Absolutely wonderful car! Fast, composed, beautiful, and only 2600 lbs. Fantastic fun to drive! Except - compared to the Ratty Elan it feels bloated, sluggish, and you are not as directly connected to the road and the environment around you. The Ratty Elan is fun at 30 mph, the FD is fun when breaking the speed limit.

I drive the Elan whenever the weather allows. Oh, and I think I just lost an apex seal on the FD, but haven't had time to check it out yet. Not looking forward to fixing that. But I am looking forward to putting a clutch in the Elan because it is so much easier to work on.

So, why old cars? Driver engagement, simpler to troubleshoot, easier to work on, and you end up more emotionally attached to them because they are imperfect and you need to understand and work around their flaws. I have never needed to do anything on my 2017 Colorado except gas and oil. And it is a good appliance, but I won't think twice if I have to get rid of it.

BA5
BA5 GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/25/21 2:57 p.m.

I think it's because good cars always remain good cars, even if something better comes along afterwards.  

Sure, a modern Accord is faster, more reliable, more comfortable, more everything than my 99 Prelude.  But that doesn't mean the Prelude is a bad car.  It retains all the features and traits that I like about it, and it'll never really lose them.  So it'll always be a good car to drive.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
5/25/21 3:00 p.m.

Novelty and nostalgia seem to be two recurring themes for most people.

And while I agree with both, with few exceptions though I do not find myself particularly drawn to owning the objects of my desire from my teens. Those few exception are because they represented what I still truly desire. A modern interpretation of a considerably older experience. Blending classic ideas with largely hidden modernity to create something that combines the attributes of the past that we romanticize in a way that lacks the unattractive realities that were lurking behind the romanticization.

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/25/21 5:26 p.m.

New cars are great as appliances to me. They're all pretty fuel efficient for how much power they have, they're quiet inside and ride smoothly but the thing that bothers me even about my 2017 JCW Mini is the fact that it still feels a bit disconnected. I blame that on electric power steering. I also don't like modern automated systems, although my Mini doesn't have them are things I've experienced in other modern cars) or modern driving aids (traction control that can't be turned off). I view driving as a pure experience which is why I'm tempted to switch to motorcycles if I get rid of the Mini.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 5:53 p.m.
SVreX (Forum Supporter) said:
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) said:

I don't agree with the argument that old cars were simpler so they lasted longer.  That's been comprehensively disproved many times over the years.  We've more than doubled the age of cars on the road over the last few decades, heck even since 1995 the average age has risen from 8.4 to 11.8 years.  I seem to recall back in the 70's the average age of cars was only around 5 or 6 years.  

Financial experts and leading economists have predicted 18 of the last 5 great economic downturns. The worst thing

Those facts are all true. I'm not convinced they prove your point.

Yes, cars on the road have doubled in age.  That's not necessarily because they last longer. It could also be because cars are so expensive now that now one can afford to replace them. 

Agreed.

My point was not "how many miles can you squeak out of an old car," my point was what it takes to KEEP a car running.

If I go out in the morning and the 67 LeMans cranks but doesn't start, I can pull the air cleaner off and check for fuel with an accelerator pump squirt.  In the process of checking that I can verify that a mouse hasn't built a nest.  I can pull a plug wire and kinda wedge it under the brake M/C bail and crank to watch for spark.  In all honesty, though, it has never failed to fire, and 9 times out of 10 an older car will give you about three months warning about something going bad; timing chain, cap/rotor/plugs/wires, fuel pump, whatever.  I can replace the entire ignition system in that car in under 20 minutes for less than $80.  I can do a fuel pump for $35, and I recently put an alternator on a buddy's 73 Camaro for $28 with nothing more than two wrenches and 10 minutes.

If I go out in the morning and the 06 F250 cranks but doesn't start, I can't check fuel without either getting bathed in it or using a gauge.  I can't check air supply without removing four 6mm screws, two flathead clamps, and two torx bolts being removed first.  I can't check spark without a step ladder and losing skin from 4 knuckles, and even then it won't tell me anything because C-O-P ignition really requires an osciliscope to diagnose.  I can't check for codes because none have set.  I could check all the sensors with about 4 hours and a factory shop manual.  I can check all the fuses to verify that the 30 or so different sensors for a few systems are all in good shape.  I can kinda stare at the 6 miles of wiring and see if anything has been chewed or melted.

Newer cars are great until they break down, then they can be a nightmare.  Anyone looking forward to their new 8-speed, electronically-controlled automatic transmission needing a rebuild?  I can have a pro do a TH400 in 4 hours with parts already on the shelf for $600.

Old cars may fail more frequently, but you can usually drive them just as long and fix them with a flathead and a 1/2" spanner in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot.  Newer cars just make you wait.  Then, surprise!  $8000 transmission, $1900 A/C compressor job, or $700 water pump.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 6:11 p.m.

Ah, the "sure it breaks all the time but it's easy to fix" solution :)

The fact that you can actually talk to the modern car makes things much easier. You want to check air supply by taking things apart, but you can just plug a real time scanner into the port and look at the MAF reading. Checking fuel pressure with a gauge on the end of the fuel rail is no more difficult than pulling off an air filter, and you can do it without the risk of dropping a wing nut into the carb. If something has been struggling (those three months of warning) there will be stored codes. And it takes a fairly fundamental failure to prevent a start, and something that fundamental will usually throw a code right away.

For old cars that use the massive GM common parts bin from 1960 to 1990, there's no question that replacement parts are cheap. Gotta pick the right old car, though.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 6:15 p.m.

I have trained my wife as to what to expect on old cars. We took the Mini out to dinner to celebrate the fact that it was self-propelled once again, and when I went to start it the thing just went THUNK. 

Went into the trunk and the positive cable had come off the battery while it sat. There's no clamp, it just kinda smooshes on there. And there was nothing in the trunk. I'm guessing somehow the surge of power demanded by the starter summoned Thor and he pulled the cable off. Whatever. Smooshed it back into place and the car fired right up happily.

Meanwhile, Janel sat calmly in the passenger seat. Old cars have trained her that failures you fix in the parking lot are completely normal. Modern cars don't do that :)

parker
parker Reader
5/25/21 6:33 p.m.

Old cars are fun like horses.  It's a throwback to an earlier time.   The smell of gas (and exhaust), the different feel, the uncertainty of whether you'll make it to your destination.  It's an adventure!

My experience with old cars is that sure they're simpler and generally easier to fix, but you have to fix them all the time!  My newer cars have been trouble free.  I drove two 1998 Neons (not generally thought of as a paragon of reliability) to 450,000 and 350,000 miles.  Only stranded once when a timing belt idler roller bearing seized.  My 2009 Cobalt SS turbo was sold with 250,000 miles on it.  Never had a single problem.  2015 FR-S with 102,000 miles and not one single failure.  Not even the throwout bearing.  1998 4Runner with 397,000 miles and it just runs.

Old cars just don't do that.  They may be fun, they may be involving, but don't try to tell me that they last longer or are cheaper to run.  My air cooled Beetles seemed to need something every other week.  My MG Midgets made going to the grocery store a thrilling adventure.  

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 6:50 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Ah, the "sure it breaks all the time but it's easy to fix" solution :)

The fact that you can actually talk to the modern car makes things much easier. You want to check air supply by taking things apart, but you can just plug a real time scanner into the port and look at the MAF reading.

If the car has anything to say, and if you have the equipment to read it.  I can usually find a $0-250 car and get it running for less than $500 all in.  That's less than some real time scanners cost.

It's like your grandpa telling you all about how his back hurts vs. trying to figure out what's wrong with a Gen Z emo kid.  The former will tell you what's wrong and make it obvious.  The second one sometimes prefers a certain aroma and yoga position before they can write a poem that may or may not be about anything related to back pain, so it's up to you to decipher it.

Not picking on old guys or Gen Z kids.  During the course of any given week I'm teaching both of them (sometimes in the same class), just a metaphor.  In the cars, they both have benefits and drawbacks.  I just prefer the straight-forward answer. 

It's neat to be able to logic through why a partially clogged catalyst and a hidden corroded connector set an EGR code before it threw a catalyst code.  It's also neat to not have an EGR, extra connectors to corrode, or a Catalyst sometimes.  

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 7:18 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to SVreX (Forum Supporter) :

Agree to disagree.  It wasn't that long ago that 100k miles was considered a good long life for a car.  These days a car that doesn't easily last 100k miles is considered a POS.  Cars just need less maintinance these days are are absolutly more reliable and easier to keep running.  

That's true. 
 

I have a 70 year old car that still runs fine.  I also have one that is nearly 100 years old and is completely original, and still operates exactly as it was designed to.

I don't expect many 2000 vintage automobiles to still be functioning as they were designed to in 2100.  I don't even expect them to last 50 years.  
 

I just don't think the link specifically between when a car was made and what it's longevity is likely to be is completely black and white.  There is a whole lot of gray in there. 
 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 7:27 p.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:
Keith Tanner said:

Ah, the "sure it breaks all the time but it's easy to fix" solution :)

The fact that you can actually talk to the modern car makes things much easier. You want to check air supply by taking things apart, but you can just plug a real time scanner into the port and look at the MAF reading.

If the car has anything to say, and if you have the equipment to read it.  I can usually find a $0-250 car and get it running for less than $500 all in.  That's less than some real time scanners cost.

It's like your grandpa telling you all about how his back hurts vs. trying to figure out what's wrong with a Gen Z emo kid.  The former will tell you what's wrong and make it obvious.  The second one sometimes prefers a certain aroma and yoga position before they can write a poem that may or may not be about anything related to back pain, so it's up to you to decipher it.

Not picking on old guys or Gen Z kids.  During the course of any given week I'm teaching both of them (sometimes in the same class), just a metaphor.  In the cars, they both have benefits and drawbacks.  I just prefer the straight-forward answer. 

It's neat to be able to logic through why a partially clogged catalyst and a hidden corroded connector set an EGR code before it threw a catalyst code.  It's also neat to not have an EGR, extra connectors to corrode, or a Catalyst sometimes.  

To help with the math, my real time scanner is a $15 dongle and an app :) Came in handy when I was trying to fire up the new engine on my Vanagon and the coolant gauge wasn't telling me anything useful. I just plugged in and read the temp right off the ECU. The old school way would have been...well, I would have had to determine if it was the sender or the gauge or the wiring, and that sender is inaccessible so it would have been a real challenge when all I needed to know was the coolant temp.

It's not that one is harder than the other. It's where your skill set lives. I can read a data log but I'm crap at reading plugs, so I find it far easier to get a modern car working properly than an old mute one.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 7:27 p.m.
SVreX (Forum Supporter) said:
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to SVreX (Forum Supporter) :

Agree to disagree.  It wasn't that long ago that 100k miles was considered a good long life for a car.  These days a car that doesn't easily last 100k miles is considered a POS.  Cars just need less maintinance these days are are absolutly more reliable and easier to keep running.  

That's true. 
 

I have a 70 year old car that still runs fine.  I also have one that is nearly 100 years old and is completely original, and still operates exactly as it was designed to.

I don't expect many 2000 vintage automobiles to still be functioning as they were designed to in 2100.  I don't even expect them to last 50 years.  
 

I just don't think the link specifically between when a car was made and what it's longevity is likely to be is completely black and white.  There is a whole lot of gray in there. 
 

 

How many miles on that 100 year old all original car? 

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 7:32 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

That's not relevant to the question of purely if newer cars last more years. That's in the gray area. 

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 7:33 p.m.

A 300,000 mile car that has not been maintained is a turd no matter how new or old it is. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 8:04 p.m.
SVreX (Forum Supporter) said:

A 300,000 mile car that has not been maintained is a turd no matter how new or old it is. 

Agreed, but it's more likely to be mileage (ie, actual use) that takes a car out than simple time. Unless it's stored poorly. So asking how many miles are on the old car is reasonable. Would a newer car survive just as long with the same level of care and use? We'll have to wait to find out :) I do have an original 38 year old car here, I'll get back to you...

Its kind of pointless, really. We don't gravitate towards older cars just because they're cheap to fix or we understand carburetors better than engine management. We gravitate towards them because they interest us in some way, and more often than not it's because of something that grabbed us when we were young. 

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/25/21 8:11 p.m.

It could be just distinctive styling...

Interesting that in most the big auctions "resto-mods" and "pro-touring" cars are now out-pricing regular hot rods.

Folks want modern engines, drivetrains, brakes, etc. in old styled cars.   e.g.  LS engines are rapidily replacing old carbed engines in so many hot rods.

YMMV

a picture to make my point....

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/25/21 8:11 p.m.

Hmmm I seem to recall a certain old Volvo having the highest recorded mileage ever. 

The drivetrain in my Datsun will go just as far as any new car. Of course the only thing left will be the drivetrain becuase the shell will have rusted away to nothing if you drive it anywhere other than the Mojave Desert.

I don't race old cars becuase of the whole analog thing; in my case it's purely a case of 4 wheel drifting them everywhere is fast. I like to slide cars around, in a new car this is slower and wears out the tires. 

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 8:27 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
SVreX (Forum Supporter) said:

A 300,000 mile car that has not been maintained is a turd no matter how new or old it is. 

Agreed, but it's more likely to be mileage (ie, actual use) that takes a car out than simple time. Unless it's stored poorly. So asking how many miles are on the old car is reasonable. Would a newer car survive just as long with the same level of care and use? We'll have to wait to find out :) I do have an original 38 year old car here, I'll get back to you...

Its kind of pointless, really. We don't gravitate towards older cars just because they're cheap to fix or we understand carburetors better than engine management. We gravitate towards them because they interest us in some way, and more often than not it's because of something that grabbed us when we were young. 

Agreed. 
 

Which takes me directly back to my initial comment- that I didn't necessarily agree that newer cars last longer. There is more to it. It's NOT just about age. 

Wicked93gs
Wicked93gs Reader
5/25/21 8:36 p.m.
AaronT said:

Lots and lots of words that fail to address the biggest point: 

We lust after the cars that were quick when we were kids or young drivers. Boomers like pre-oil-embargo muscle, gen x and elder millennials like import tuners and rally inspired cars. 
 

If this were not true we would all be driving 32 Fords or some car that makes most 'classic' cars look modern and feature-laden.

I don't think this is true. I have never once particularly cared about 90s cars(which would have been my teenage years), This isn't to say I didnt build a 90s car or two...but I am constantly drawn to older and older cars. After I finish the '66 mustang I think I am going to look at 30s-50s Ford truck as my next project. Old cars have personality, new ones do not(90s cars included as "new"). The only new cars that are intriguing to me are the oddballs...things like a Subaru SVX, etc that look like they were designed by a person instead of a committee

hunter47
hunter47 New Reader
5/25/21 8:42 p.m.

I want what I don't have. 

My desire to own a Shelby Cobra is rivaled by my desire to own a Cayman GT4. They both are appealing to me in separate but equal ways. 

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/25/21 8:55 p.m.

I know most guys here lusted after something that was fast when they were teenagers. 
 

I didn't. I had almost no interest at all in cars when I was a teenager. I still can't actually tell you what was cool when I was in High School. I don't actually know. I was 40 years old when I first started having any interest in cars.

I love great engineering, but for me it's a design aesthetic. And I can't even explain it. It's like looking at a pretty girl, and your buddy doesn't even notice her. Tastes vary, and I don't necessarily notice the same things you do. 
 

I think the body lines of my Model A are gorgeous. I was also lusting after a new Supra yesterday. 
 

There are lots of cars I notice that I find aesthetically pleasing. From many, many decades. They are a rolling art exhibit, and history lesson all rolled into 1.

For me, there definitely seems to be a much higher percentage of great looking classic cars than modern ones.  We've got lots of cars that drive well, but are boring as crap. I can't even tell a lot of them apart. 
 

Show me a cleanly executed modern drivetrain in a fabulous classic form and I am deeply in lust. It will always be hard for me to notice a Kia, no matter what's under the hood. 

QuasiMofo (John Brown)
QuasiMofo (John Brown) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/25/21 9:08 p.m.

I don't like old cars. I THINK I LIKE them and every time I get one I hate it for not being new. 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
5/25/21 11:24 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

So as someone who drives a lot of new cars at track days but races old cars I will say this:

New cars offer a level of precision no old car can; driving one is like being machinist, it's all about increments.

Old cars move around on the tires and tend to skate from one spot to the next; they are like wood carving, one works around any inherent flaws. 

 Or for a more basic analogy; it's Ballroom Dancing vs Slam Dancing................I like punk rock. 

Tom.  
  I'd call your car modern.  Certainly better than my MGTD with it's hand crank and 54 horsepower. Oh and knock off wire wheels plus a fold down windshield. 
  The cut away doors mean I can reach down and touch the track.  But Yeh!! 75mph is about my top speed. 
   Now that's a powerhouse compared to  some of my friends Model A race cars with their 40 horsepower and mechanical brakes.  Top speed around 50 mph. 

AaronT
AaronT Reader
5/25/21 11:27 p.m.
Wicked93gs said:
AaronT said:

Lots and lots of words that fail to address the biggest point: 

We lust after the cars that were quick when we were kids or young drivers. Boomers like pre-oil-embargo muscle, gen x and elder millennials like import tuners and rally inspired cars. 
 

If this were not true we would all be driving 32 Fords or some car that makes most 'classic' cars look modern and feature-laden.

I don't think this is true. I have never once particularly cared about 90s cars(which would have been my teenage years), This isn't to say I didnt build a 90s car or two...but I am constantly drawn to older and older cars. After I finish the '66 mustang I think I am going to look at 30s-50s Ford truck as my next project. Old cars have personality, new ones do not(90s cars included as "new"). The only new cars that are intriguing to me are the oddballs...things like a Subaru SVX, etc that look like they were designed by a person instead of a committee

It may not be true for you and it is not an infallible, universal truth. It is statistically true, though. The explosion in price of Integras, E30 M3, Supras, etc is part of the proof. The demo that owns classic muscle: Boomers. Who's going to buy those cars as boomers age out or die? The car enthusiast outliers like yourself don't make enough of a market to meaningfully impact buying trend.

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a15112517/baby-boomers-created-the-classic-car-marketand-could-crash-it-feature/

c0rbin9
c0rbin9 Reader
5/26/21 12:23 a.m.

In reply to Yourself :

FD RX-7 and a Lotus Elan? What a garage! You have good taste.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
5/26/21 6:45 a.m.

I did not notice that, as I moved toward newer and 'better' cars and bikes, my interest in them was waning. I had zero interest in working on my E36 M3, hardly a 'modern' car today. But, it was no fun at all to tinker with. It was always a chore. My wife's ten year old Jetta was worse.

When I picked up a Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle as a project I rediscovered the joy of working on machinery. Simple and easy to understand. Everything accessible. No Fluke meter necessary.

I also realized I was watching a lot of YouTube content from guys like Uncle Tony and Derek Bieri that dealt with cars from the 60s-70s. Simple cars a guy could diagnose in mere minutes.

Couple that with modern cars being wholly unappealing cosmetically and I no longer pay attention to the latest and greatest. Sure, they are better in every way technically from the old stuff but...meh. Fine if you regard a car as an appliance. Not great if you view it as an interactive entity.

My next project (and it will likely be my last in this lifetime) will be a 1960s car. I'll put up with some of the archaic-ness to get something visually appealing, easy to work on and without the worry of a sensor or module becoming discontinued.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/26/21 11:11 a.m.
frenchyd said:

Tom.  
  I'd call your car modern.  Certainly better than my MGTD with it's hand crank and 54 horsepower. Oh and knock off wire wheels plus a fold down windshield. 
  The cut away doors mean I can reach down and touch the track.  But Yeh!! 75mph is about my top speed. 
   Now that's a powerhouse compared to  some of my friends Model A race cars with their 40 horsepower and mechanical brakes.  Top speed around 50 mph. 

I'd agree with that statement. I happen to think the 70s & 80s are a sweet spot, especially for the Japanese cars that I love. Cars of this era have most of the new car convenience but still drive the way I like.

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
5/26/21 3:35 p.m.

In reply to ddavidv :

A big part is empowerment.  The ability to know how to repair the car yourself without resorting  to electronic diagnostics. 
    I mean you can set pints with a feeler gauge   or confirm electricity by touching a lead to ground.  Skills that go back to the invention of cars.   
      80's 90's and beyond that's just not possible. 
    Aside from that as regulations resulted in safety as a priority over appearance cars got bigger and heavier. 
     Mind you, I'm glad the air is cleaner and people are safer.  It's just fun to go back to your roots. 

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/26/21 7:02 p.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to ddavidv :

A big part is empowerment.  The ability to know how to repair the car yourself without resorting  to electronic diagnostics. 
    I mean you can set pints with a feeler gauge   or confirm electricity by touching a lead to ground.  Skills that go back to the invention of cars.   
      80's 90's and beyond that's just not possible. 
    Aside from that as regulations resulted in safety as a priority over appearance cars got bigger and heavier. 
     Mind you, I'm glad the air is cleaner and people are safer.  It's just fun to go back to your roots. 

There's a very different component, though- the fact that modern cars don't even need to be worked on.  The only thing my Miata has ever needed were timing belts (once every 60k), brakes, and tires.  In the same time period on my Alfa, the head gasket has been changed, the trans rebuild, the engine completely rebuilt, etc.

Newer cars just don't need the same attention.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/26/21 7:08 p.m.

For me, I'm not all that fond of the sameness of all cars.

When I went to look at the new Alfa sedan, other than the nose, it's identical to every other sedan on the market- from BMW to Toyota.  I even told the dealer that.  Compare that to even the 164- which was similar to other cars, but far from the same.  Back to my GTV- it looks like nothing else, and the sedans of that era are very different from each other.

I've posted this before, I very much know that my Miata is a better car than my Alfa- faster, better handling, easier to keep going, etc, etc  But for some reason, I enjoy the experience racing my Alfa. There are just more things being told to me by the car.

Would I want to DD the Alfa?  No, not really.  Sometimes it is better to not be that engaged.  

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
5/26/21 7:33 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

That's great for those who need a transportation module. Which admittedly is most people.  
   There is a different group though.  Car enthusiasts.  We care beyond specifications in a sales brochure.  We like to get our hands dirty. We actually find it fun to work on our cars.  

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/26/21 7:50 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

We also have multiple cars.  One that doesn't wear on you as you go to and from work- which is also a car that you don't really mind if it gets dirty, paint chips, won't rust, etc.  I would never DD my Alfa, because they are hard to find in good condition.

And there are even enthusiast cars that you can DD.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
5/26/21 9:49 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

Valid point.  I DD my pickup, and did with its predecessor.  I like the fact that it worked well and needed little.  
      But for fun?   Give me something  more than 50 years old.   

"the classic-car market operates in the ventricles of the heart, where logic does not apply."   A quote from Jack Baruth of Hagerty Media

  This quote pretty much sums it up for me.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/27/21 8:36 a.m.

I've had old cars (some of them were merely used cars back when I got them in the '80s). In fact I've had over a hundred cars. I've decided that I don't LIKE working on cars, especially when you HAVE to in order to get to work or to some event that you wanted to go to, that the car has decided it didn't want to run for. I worked on cars because I HAD to, because I was too poor at the time to buy a car that actually always worked. For example, Miatas are just better than MGBs. They give a similar, but better driving experience and you know that you're going to make it home from whatever driving event your doing that day. Even my MINI Cooper Roadster, with it's undeserved reputation for unreliability, only needs routine maintenance and optional fun upgrades when you want to do that, rather then constant needed tinkering just to make sure it runs.

And there are plenty of new/er cars that look great, too.

People complain about the "sameness" of new cars, but seriously, cars of EVERY ERA have looked similar to other cars of their era and category. Shared design cues have always been there and you can instantly recognize what era a car is from by those shared cues, even if you don't know what exact make and model it is. And then again, cars really don't look alike now, it's just that many of the older folks on here simply don't pay attention to them. Does a MINI Cooper really look like a CRV? Do either of them look like a Fusion or a Challenger? Of course not. Are there shared design cues today? Yes, there are. Just like in every era.

Saying that only old cars had style is forgetting the huge numbers of basic sedans of the '50s and '60s that were frumpy and boring and had no style other than the shared design cues of their era. I mean, when you have to tell '50s cars apart by only their grille and taillights and a few bits of side trim, you KNOW that they all looked basically alike, because modern cars are definitely more diverse than just grilles and taillights. Yes, there are standouts of every era, but that's still true today.

I'll give you a part of a car and you can determine what car and era it's from.

You may not know the car, but you can instantly tell the era. Why?

Yeah, modern cars have no style AND they all look the same frown:

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
5/27/21 8:57 a.m.

In reply to Chris_V :

I've always had the luxury of a DD and a classic.  Well, once past my teen years.  
     You are absolutely correct about how nice it is to have reliable transportation. 
  Plus you make a valid point about every era had dull boring cars.  But they also had hidden gems.  A Jaguar XKE  from the 60's.  A MGTC from the 40's. Etc. 

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/27/21 9:30 a.m.

I've been thinking about this question since this past weekend.  I spent the weekend at the track instructing and as part of that experience I got to drive several really cool cars one of which was an original Mini.

By any objective measure the Mini is a horrible car and a stupid choice for a race car.  It somehow manages to have both no torque and torque steer, in fourth gear the throttle is more of a volume control than anything else, the seating position, steering wheel angle and gear shifter reminded me of an old Allis-Chalmers tractor that I spent some time on as a kid and I'm sure I've run faster lap times in my RAM 3500 while picking up and dropping off corner workers.  But, the thing was an absolute hoot to drive and I had just as much fun running that around the track as the 911 Turbo that I also drove.

Both cars elicited a positive emotional response from me.  Certainly the fact that they both have character is a big part of that but the character of each is very different.  Is it just that we're drawn to the different?

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/27/21 10:27 a.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to Chris_V :

 Plus you make a valid point about every era had dull boring cars.  But they also had hidden gems.  A Jaguar XKE  from the 60's.  A MGTC from the 40's. Etc. 

They are the exceptions that prove the rule, like that Aston I posted. The point was I was responding to ddavidv who complained about the sameness of new cars, when that's just blatantly untrue, AND ignores the basic sameness of every era. I did mention every era had it's standouts, but the vast bulk of cars in every era looked the same as other cars. Here's an example from 1939:

And most cars in, say, the '60s were not '65 Rivieras (as beautiful as they are) but cars like this:

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 10:27 a.m.

 

See the source image

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/27/21 10:31 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

 

See the source image

See my post on the '39 sedans. As I said, cars of the same category have ALWAYS looked similar to other cars of that category in their respective eras. But, can you tell me with a straight face that a CRV or Telluride looks like  a Fusion or a Volt or an Aston or a Challenger or a MINI Cooper? Please. BTW, I can tell those crossovers apart at a glance, much like you might be able to tell apart all '50s cars at a glance. Why? Because I pay attention.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 10:42 a.m.

Why Do All New Cars Look Alike? | 5th Color

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 10:49 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) said:

I don't agree with the argument that old cars were simpler so they lasted longer.  That's been comprehensively disproved many times over the years.  We've more than doubled the age of cars on the road over the last few decades, heck even since 1995 the average age has risen from 8.4 to 11.8 years.  I seem to recall back in the 70's the average age of cars was only around 5 or 6 years.  

I can attest to that.  My two daily drivers.  the 2003 Landy is 18 years old and the 2012 Fiat is now 9.  My mother has a 2013 Buick as well

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/27/21 10:56 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

Why Do All New Cars Look Alike? | 5th Color

I'm a gonna ask you again, can you tell me with a straight face that a CRV or Telluride looks like an Aston, Malibu, Golf, MINI Cooper, Volt or Miata? Answer that instead of your bullE36 M3. I already said CARS OF EACH CATEGORY IN EACH ERA SHARE STYLING CUES. But none of those sedans are the same any more than any '50s or '60s sedan is identical to each other. BUT there are more differences between the sedans you posted than between a '50s Dodge, Chevy, and Ford sedan, where you have to look at and KNOW the grilles and taillights to make the identification.

Oh and from top to bottom: Altima, Camry, Fusion, Genesis, Accord, Cruze, Audi A4, Lexus LS

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 10:59 a.m.

In reply to Chris_V :

I think the fact that you can tell them apart at a glance is great, but not the common opinion.  I think you'll find that you're in a very small minority of people who think the "sameness" is equivalent when comparing old to new.

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Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 11:05 a.m.
Chris_V said:

I'm a gonna ask you again, can you tell me with a straight face that a CRV or Telluride looks like an Aston, Malibu, Golf, MINI Cooper, Volt or Miata? Answer that instead of your bullE36 M3. I already said CARS OF EACH CATEGORY IN EACH ERA SHARE STYLING CUES. But none of those sedans are the same any more than any '50s or '60s sedan is identical to each other. BUT there are more differences between the sedans you posted than between a '50s Dodge, Chevy, and Ford sedan, where you have to look at and KNOW the grilles and taillights to make the identification.

 

No, I'm not going to tell you that a Telluride looks like a CRV.

You're dealing in absolutes.  We're talking generally.  No one here is saying that a Kia Rio looks exactly like a Chevy Silverado.

As a designer myself, I don't find any propriety or greatness in a vehicle design if I have to memorize the grille to tell the difference at a glance between a Honda and a Toyota.  In the 50s and 60s, you could tell the difference between different option packages of the same exact model by looking at the grille.

My gripe is that they are all looking the same.  Not just styling cues like fins or a rounded fender, you have to actually LOOK to tell the difference.  In the 50s/60s/70s, classic car buffs can ID a car before they actually focus on it.

Manufacturers had individuality and flair.  They took chances.  Now they all make jellybeans that look a lot more alike than they are different.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/27/21 11:08 a.m.

I'm a gonna ask you again, can you tell me with a straight face that a CRV or Telluride looks like an Aston, Malibu, Golf, MINI Cooper, Volt or Miata?

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 11:09 a.m.
Chris_V said:

I'm a gonna ask you again, can you tell me with a straight face that a CRV or Telluride looks like an Aston, Malibu, Golf, MINI Cooper, Volt or Miata?

Holy carp dude... I just DID.  NO.

Re read my last post.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 11:14 a.m.

Edited to expand on my point:

I'm not talking about Astons, minis, and miatas.  I'm talking about (as you pointed out) "most cars of an era."  I don't think you're being fair.  You pointed out the Biscayne and the Custom from the 60s as being "most cars" but then your list of modern cars includes cars that cost twice as much as my house.  Apples to apples.  If you're going to compare a cheap chevy to a cheap ford, at least compare the same appliances today.

Newer cars have little but a badge to differentiate them from a design perspective.  I find it to be egregiously uninspiring to the point of plagarism.  When I buy a car, I buy it partly because of it's style.  If I had to choose one of the cars below (which I wouldn't) I would be basing it solely on things like reliability, options, interior comfort... but not style, because all three of them are the same basic design.

Can you tell me with a straight face that these three don't look ridiculously similar?

Camry

2015 Toyota Camry Specs, Price, MPG & Reviews | Cars.com

Accord

2015 Honda Accord Sedan 4D EX-L V6 Pictures, Pricing and Information -  NADAguides.com

Legacy

Wheels for 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/27/21 11:29 a.m.

In reply to APEowner :

Yes, we are drawn to different but it goes a bit deeper than that. When I take the Datsun to PCA track days people who've never seen the car on track before are gobsmacked by how much the car moves around on the tires.

I always go back to Moss driving an Audi touring car and Brundle taking about Moss wanting to drift the car but that didn't work. Again the driving style is completely different from old cars to new cars. 

I too enjoy new cars, just not as much as old ones. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 11:33 a.m.

These two (to me) have thousands of things unique to each one.  The newer appliances like Camrys and Accords have thousands more things in COMMON than they do unique.  These two cars are vastly different from a design perspective.  Design CUES? yes.  But instantly identifiable by nothing more than a glance.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
5/27/21 12:32 p.m.

It's pretty simple. Classic cars have character and nostalgia. They also have sentimental value to some of us and can be quite simple to work on. 

Modern cars are numb, complicated, and tend to have expiration dates. 

Boost_Crazy
Boost_Crazy Dork
5/27/21 3:59 p.m.

I think a lot of the difference in feel between an old car and new boils down to weight and sight lines. Weight can be mostly offset with bigger, better tires and brakes, better suspensions, stiffer chassis, and more power. But sight lines can't really be fixed. I love the feel of 80's and 90's cars that had large greenhouses that have gone away. It lends a very different driving feel. It also lends a very different feel in an accident or when one hits you in a crosswalk, so probably not coming back. 
 

As for cars looking similar, cars have always looked similar from era to eta as pointed out. When one manufacturer starts a trend, others jump on, whether Caddy fins in the 50's or Audi grills in the '2000's. The difference now is that there are a lot less car models in each line, and each model has much fewer versions. In the 60's to 80's, a manufacturers had their bread and butter cars and their crapshoot odd balls, that we now look back on affectionately. You rarely see those now that lines are pared down. And the few cars that manufacturers do make now often share common design languages, further reducing the chance of a standout design. That said, there are still some really good looking "boring" cars. I don't see how anyone could confuse a new Camry or Malibu with an Accord or Mazda 6. 

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/27/21 4:45 p.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:
Chris_V said:

I'm a gonna ask you again, can you tell me with a straight face that a CRV or Telluride looks like an Aston, Malibu, Golf, MINI Cooper, Volt or Miata?

Holy carp dude... I just DID.  NO.

Re read my last post.

Holy crap dude, your response hadn't posted when I was typing mine. Re read MY posts..

My gripe is that they are all looking the same.  Not just styling cues like fins or a rounded fender, you have to actually LOOK to tell the difference.  In the 50s/60s/70s, classic car buffs can ID a car before they actually focus on it.

your key phrase is "classic car buffs." You know the difference in cars you are INTERESTED in, but fail to see the similarities. Modern car fans (and I see a lot of them on the web) can't tell the difference between classic cars at a glance or even when focusing on them. I see a lot of people on, say V.I.S.I.T. that post a pic of an old car and say things like "some old American car, I can't tell the difference" or just "can you id this car for me?" I grew up identifying old cars when I was young in the '60s and '70s. BUT I can ALSO tell the difference between the cars you posted at a glance. Why? Because there are MORE differences than even the old cars had.

The problem I have is when people like you say "they are STARTING to look the same." I've been hearing that same crap from people stuck in the past for the last 20 years! The truth is, they've ALWAYS looked that similar given a similar role/category in EVERY era. Look at that picture of the sedans from 1939. Again, the small pictures I posted of a small area of a car would be INSTANTLY recognized by you as to the era each was from, even if you couldn't ID the actual car. Shared styling cues from their eras.

That Camry and Accord and Legacy you posted are similar, yes, due to all being 4 door sedans with 4 wheels and white. But if you saw them in the flesh you could NOT mistake them for each other unless you were legally blind. I know what they all are without even having the names posted. Why? Because there are a LOT of differences. And as an industrial designer and graphic artist, it's EASY to tell the difference.

As to the Malibu and Galaxie I posted, the reason was to counter the idea that all the cars of the 50s and '60s were somehow these beautiful exciting cars. MOST were just boring staid sedans. And I stand by that statement. Yes, there were beautiful cars in the '50s and '60s (my favorite car of all time is the '63-64 250 Berlinetta Lusso) just like there are beautiful cars NOW. And cars like my MINI do NOT cost more than a house and yet it's completely different than a Camry.

 

Here's a better example of '60s cars that looked ridiculously similar (that no one but fans of the era could tell apart at a glance):

To a non classic car buff, these three share more than they differ. Yes the details are different, like modern cars, but the basics are all the same.

Hell, let's add the same era Japanese car into the mix:

All these cars are from 1962 and all share design cues. Even compact cars aped the styling of the intermediates and full size. Quad headlamps, large grilles that spanned the headlights (we talk about large grilles now, but cars used to have such large grillework that the headlights could be fully contained IN the grilles and still be at the outer edge), similar door frames and side window graphics, chrome bumpers, etc. You know what they are from the details, not from the ridiculously similar forms.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 6:52 p.m.

In reply to Chris_V :

Were there cars that have always copied other cars?  Sure.  

But one maker that wasn't was Alfa.  Even though the Spider, GT and sedan all were the same platform, they were distinct from other cars in the same class.  That was true for the Alfettas, the Milanos, and even with 164s- although the latter was getting pretty close to other cars.

Now though- from the front wheels back, the Giulias are the same sedans as everything else.  I expect more from them.

Funny side story- we were in a big all hands meeting for all of Research, and they were showing us the new Fusion and MKC.  I was sitting in the back row, and honestly could not tell them apart, as I could not see the nose.  This was after being promised that the Lincolns were going to be different than Fords.  I was honest with the VP's after the meeting of my observation, and they were not happy.

Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong.  I'm ok with that- but for the brand of cars that I keep an eye on, between the Stelvio and Giulia- there's nothing really unique about either relative to the rest of the market.  

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/27/21 8:07 p.m.

In reply to Chris_V :

I don't specifically disagree with the fact that some older cars had some similarities, but what I'm talking about with the Camry/Accord/Legacy is the specific similarities, especially in the headlights, taillights, and even the body creases.  I still contend that if you fed the pictures of the Cam-cord-acy into a computer it would show a far higher percentage of similarity than plugging in similar photos of a Dodge 880, a Ford Galaxie, and a Chevy BelAir.

We're approaching it from two different viewpoints so I doubt we'll agree (which is cool, still love ya), but I'm speaking not from a platform of car buff or vehicular encyclopedia, I'm talking empirical, data-based, factual differences in sheet metal, trim, bumpers, glass, etc.  I would wager a lot of nickels that if you plugged into a computer the front/rear/profile drawings that compared 60s cars, and did the same thing for the 2015 Cam-cord-acy trio I posted above, the computer would show far greater differences between the 60s cars.

GCrites80s
GCrites80s HalfDork
5/27/21 8:29 p.m.

 

GCrites80s
GCrites80s HalfDork
5/27/21 8:34 p.m.

You've probably noticed one vehicle that changes it's looks almost every year: New Silverados. It's like the muscle car days where even if the whole platform didn't change the cars still looked different each year. That's getting the target demo for the Silverado that remembers when the looks of the Old Muscle changed yearly all worked up just like back then.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/28/21 3:59 p.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to Chris_V :

I don't specifically disagree with the fact that some older cars had some similarities, but what I'm talking about with the Camry/Accord/Legacy is the specific similarities, especially in the headlights, taillights, and even the body creases.  I still contend that if you fed the pictures of the Cam-cord-acy into a computer it would show a far higher percentage of similarity than plugging in similar photos of a Dodge 880, a Ford Galaxie, and a Chevy BelAir.

We're approaching it from two different viewpoints so I doubt we'll agree (which is cool, still love ya), but I'm speaking not from a platform of car buff or vehicular encyclopedia, I'm talking empirical, data-based, factual differences in sheet metal, trim, bumpers, glass, etc.  I would wager a lot of nickels that if you plugged into a computer the front/rear/profile drawings that compared 60s cars, and did the same thing for the 2015 Cam-cord-acy trio I posted above, the computer would show far greater differences between the 60s cars.

Ok, Im going back to a random pairing of two of the white sedans you posted earlier. Say, the Cruze and Lexus.

If you can confuse those two just because they are 4 door sedans in white, then I question your ability as a designer. wink

Let's go to the SUVs:

There are vastly more differences there than similarities. These are all current model versions, and there are MORE differences than in those '60s cars I posted. if you think they look the same because they are 2 box 4 door SUVs with 4 wheels, then you're just being hypocritical.

I say most of you are being hypocritical about this. You say that '50s and '60s cars differ in the details and you focus on those (grilles, side trim, taillights) to tell them apart, ignoring the myriad of similarities (like the fact that they used the same round headlights, had similar side window graphics, rooflines, overhangs, the basic 3 box form, etc) and then turn around and ignore the differences in modern cars to say that it's the overall form that makes them the same.

Even if we discuss JUST modern 2 box vehicles, a MINI is different looking than a Golf, which is different looking than a Veloster, which is different looking than a Soul, which is different looking than a Renegade, which is different looking than a Evoque, etc. This crap about them all being computer generated to be the same is crap. Could you make a generic modern car doing that? Of course. But you could make a generic '50s, '60s, or '70s car doing that, too. Like the wagon from Paranorman:

Late '70s to early '80s generic wagon. How do we know it's not a modern car or a '50s/60s car? Shared styling cues of that era.

The basic thing is, most of you simply stopped paying attention to the cars at a certain point, so only have the basic layout of new cars to go by: a sedan is a sedan, and SUV is an SUV, etc. Everything else is beyond your comprehension. Yet at the same time, you'd say a '53 Buick sedan and '53 Chevy sedan are COMPLETELY different, even though it's really only grille, side trim and taillights that are different.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/28/21 4:16 p.m.
alfadriver said:

In reply to Chris_V :

Funny side story- we were in a big all hands meeting for all of Research, and they were showing us the new Fusion and MKC.  I was sitting in the back row, and honestly could not tell them apart, as I could not see the nose.  This was after being promised that the Lincolns were going to be different than Fords.  I was honest with the VP's after the meeting of my observation, and they were not happy.

Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong.  I'm ok with that- but for the brand of cars that I keep an eye on, between the Stelvio and Giulia- there's nothing really unique about either relative to the rest of the market.  

Fusion and MKC?

 

I think you've already stopped paying attention. What you probably meant to say is the MKZ. Yes, the first gen of each was very much slightly similar because it was in fact the same car.

Platform sharing is a completely different issue, however, than saying that a 2011 Cruze and a 2011 Lexus LS are the same car because your graphic scaled them to the same size, painted them the same color, and turned them sideways. cheeky

 

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/28/21 6:08 p.m.

In reply to Chris_V :

MK whatever.  I've always hated those names.  And it was the second gen of both, after we were told the cars would look different- sort of like the Flex and MKT (I think).  I saw some early pictures of the T and it was identical to the Flex other than the nose- so the solution to separate them is the uuber ugly MKT.  They went back to copying more.

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
5/29/21 12:32 p.m.

Hmm - wonder what this was a copy of.....(there are still some cars that don't look like cookie cutter jobs)

 

OTOH, unless you are a fan of Predator movies, some modern cars go too far trying to stand out!

 

eastpark
eastpark HalfDork
5/29/21 1:57 p.m.

Yes, I often say that Lexus is trying too hard to be a '61 Plymouth Fury. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/29/21 2:30 p.m.

Styling debate aside I like older things in general. Steam locomotives, Bi-planes and two stroke motorcycles. So it's not  A shock I.like older cars as well.

gearheadmb
gearheadmb SuperDork
5/30/21 12:10 a.m.

They make you feel cool. My 65 mustang didn't do anything as well as a new accord, and if I test drove a new car that drove like a 60s car I would call it a POS. But I felt cool when I drove the mustang. It's that simple.

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