Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Flaws of classic cars

In moments of honesty, we older folks will admit the cars of our youth are better in memory than they were in reality.

I knew a man who lovingly restored an early Mustang but sold it soon after completion. I asked why. His answer, "Because, it's a pig to drive."

Look at this video from Consumer Reports and wonder how you survived the good old days.


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13 comments:

  1. Absolutely, but I love reading about and seeing the classics! Woyldn't want to own or maintain one though.

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    1. Look for the TV program 'Chasing Classic Cars' with Wayne Carini. Unlike most car shows, the focus is on the cars. I watch it on the Velocity Channel.

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  2. I'd like to try a restored 66 Mustang with a 289 and 4-speed manual. That's what I had and I loved it. The sound coming out of the pipes was golden.

    But yeah: compared to a new Mustang, there'd be lots of rattles and minimal creature comforts — and pathetic suspension, brakes and handling.

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    1. I remember when my oldest brother's 1949 Austin, then about 8 years old, got a rebuilt engine. The 1.2 litre 4-cylinder monster was rated at 40 horsepower and could push that vehicle to 60 mph in about 40 seconds, as long as the road was flat. There was a small hill near home and I remember my teenage brother being thrilled that he could top that hill with only one shift from 4th to 3rd.

      The Mazda5 I now drive has 157 horsepower and I've seen complaints by car reviewers that it's underpowered. To someone who learned to drive in a car with 40, the Mazda engine seems quite adequate.

      My own first car was a 1956 Ford Consul. It allegedly had a 60 hp engine and I remember it was so noisy at 60 mph that conversation was near impossible with the person sitting beside. Had it painted British Racing Green and with a shiny chrome tailpipe and four new whitewall tires, I thought it was about as nice a car as any boy could have.

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    2. Ha....my buddy had an A40, in perfect shape as it used to be a Penticton car so no rust. We both downsized a lot and only have one old car each now, he a '37 Chev and myself a '57. Time was, a trip to the Portland vintage swap meet could get you anything you needed, alas not like that anymore for the older stuff though a lot of very well made reproduction parts are on the market. The beauty of CAD and CNC machining makes small part runs possible...even the machinery is affordable. Our local area has some of the continents most skilled tradesman doing high end restorations. Hey Norm, how about the brakes on that A40? Its all good that you had that hill climbing performance but just try and slow that baby down! Yeah, maybe I've had one of those moments of honesty all right...but...sure goes away quick when a classic drives up beside you. I have to say I really wonder if it is more of a waste of the Earth's resources building a lightweight, efficient vehicle that lasts only 8 years (full of rare earth metal batteries and electronics and petroleum based plastics)....or a vehicle that lasts 68 years with every component rebuildable and not throwaway should it fail...not to mention fully recyclable once the end comes. Yeah, I know....that's just trying to rationalize!

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    3. Wonder how many vehicles are sitting around waiting for restoration. My garage has most of a 1940-something Studebaker pick-up truck that was converted for service as a tow truck. It's been there for a few years, waiting for its owner, one of my sons, to find space and time to work on it. When he starts, I'll know where to send him for any metal fabrication.

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  3. That's an eye-opener, Norm. Here in Parksville a lot of guys set about restoring cars of this vintage as they enter their 'golden years.' There definitely is a perception that the 'heavy metal' would simply overwhelm smaller, lighter modern cars. I think a lot of them would be shocked to see this video.

    Thanks, Norm.

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  4. Well, it's true, of course, that new cars are safer than old and drive better. I drive a '14 Dodge and also have a '72 Chrysler and have no doubt which I'd rather be in in the case of an accident! This video isn't entirely fair, however, because if you look carefully, the 59 has had its engine removed so this shows a solid vehicle hitting an empty shell.

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    1. The claim that the old Chev had no engine was raised by people who didn't like the results but the claim is denied. The Chev had a 6-cylinder engine and I see no evidence on the video it is not there. Unlike today's vehicles which use nearly every available bit of engine space, old 6-cyl Chevs had plenty of engine compartment room left over. The picture here demonstrates:

      http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2015/04/22/the-rare-factor-rare-doesnt-always-equal-valuable/comment-page-1/

      I've seen experts say the death rate from car crashes is 1/5 of what it was 50 years ago, undoubtedly because of many factors: more effective work of paramedics and emergency services, improved cars, better roads, less drunk driving, etc. The fatality count in NASCAR provides an example of recent crash safety improvements: from 1950 to 2009, the average annual death toll among drivers was well more than one per year. They've now had no fatalities for 6 1/2 years. Watching drivers walk away from crashes of cars travelling up to 300 km/hr amazes me.

      We may be starting an era of still better auto safety. Collision avoidance systems are just beginning to enter our fleet of vehicles. As the technology improves and is more widely used, we'll probably see further drops in deaths and injuries. Here's an example of what's on the horizon:

      http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/safety-regulatory-devices/crumple-zone.htm

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  5. Geez, I'm still driving what you guys call restoration projects. Must be doing something wrong.

    BTW, link which is supposed to be a picture is to an interesting article on CBC response to criticism.

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    1. Thanks Lew. The link is now corrected.

      Maybe it's time you were thinking about trading up to something like a '53 Nash Metropolitan.

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    2. Well, I've owned an Austin A40, a Morris Minor convertible, an Anglia, and a Hillman in the small car bracket. Never went for a Metropolitan, but did have a Rambler Ambassador (with water bumpers), a Rambler station wagon, and a Gremlin out of the AMC camp. Interesting sometimes to sit and try to list all the vehicles one has owned over the years. My favourite was a 1953 Chrysler coupe with fluid drive and a 331 engine. Took it a while to get moving, but used to leave the 289 Mustangs behind heading up the cut on the Upper Levels in the late 60's.

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  6. loved my mini Austin 1000. thing really moved. went through a radar trap. took the RCMP officer eons to give chase, he just didn't think a mini could do 96 mph.

    Gremlins. loved them. drove mine for 10 yrs with no problems. In winter on the Hope Princeton highway, just put on spiked tires, with 80 lbs over each rear wheel. Kept it on the road.

    Both of those cars were "strong arm" steering with no power breaks. Gremlins were great because some of them had V-8 engines. and went like stink. The power to weight ratio was amazing and drove others crazy. The V-6 moved along nicely also. On the Hope Princeton, you just had to keep using the gear shift to keep it on the road in the corners.

    and now I drive a mini van. oh, oh, oh.

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