Why People Love Classic Cars
- Author Robert Bobo
- Published April 19, 2023
- Word count 1,069
If you go by today’s standards (and according to some people), classic cars are bad for the environment and shouldn’t be on the road anymore for a variety of reasons. Afterall, modern cars are faster, more reliable, handle better and are more economical. Basically, they are better in all respects otherwise they would just make the same models today, right? Nope. Not only do these cars and trucks still exist but the market for them continues to thrive in nearly every way.
Well first, there’s the design of the car itself. Classic cars were created very much in a world where designers used pencil and paper to create elegant shapes and flowing lines. There were no rules to stop them part way through when software told them it would just not be possible to build or be safe to drive. Many times, those were attempted and fixed more as an afterthought to go with the design and not the other way around. The point being older designs (for nearly everything) are really beautiful in many unique ways and in shapes that modern designers don’t seem to create anymore, let alone that can actually be built. They were imagined in the mind and were not stifled by overbearing laws constraining what they saw in their head and drew. Sometimes over and over until it was just right and not with just a mouse movement and click.
One of my favorite cars, the 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa, would never even exist. According to the human Twitter troll of the time, Ralph Nader, it never should have been built, but it was. Having had several in the shop over the years, I can honestly say that I have never felt “unsafe at any speed” in one any more than I have on any ride at a local carnival. Actually, if the choice was given of the two, I would go with the Corvair. Ironically, bumper cars that went half the speed of sound with just a one size fits all lap belt and a padded steering wheel back in the day were fine.
The ways things are made today removes a lot of the character from what could have been. That is because they are all built with mass production “systems” using computers and robots on the production lines that are soulless. The machines pump out identical parts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with the goal of doing one thing: hitting the quotas set by the manufacturer to blindly maximize efficiency and shareholder profit.
On the other hand, in days gone by it was a largely manual process performed by craftsmen using simple tools and decades of experience that were learned and/or passed down. They had to create and fit body panels by hand and eye. They adjusted little things here and there from the aesthetics to mechanical workings and the results are creations that have withstood the hardships of daily usage and the passage of time.
Speaking of mechanical, don’t even get me started! All cars now are essentially a sealed unit made up of various components that are basically unserviceable by the average person. This was introduced gradually over time to remove the aspect of repairing something yourself and needing to either hire a manufacturer-trained expert to do it or have to take it back to the dealership.
This ultimately has evolved into the local mechanic and their shop disappearing more and more each day. Everything now is controlled by a computer that relies on chips and must mainly be serviced with expensive tools and yes, more computers. Things like drive-by-wire throttle system, traction control, electric steering/electronic clutch, and an ABS braking system, etc. did not exist back in the day. What did exist was something you could probably fix with anything in your toolbox (or your mechanics set-up that you dreamed on having) and a trip to the local auto parts store. I still miss the sounds and smells of both. Everything is so sterile now and God Forbid you walk into any service bay.
Now, all vehicles are designed to improve efficiency and safety which undoubtedly has saved many lives. However, they often rob a car or truck of its character and feel. Older machines are the real deal. They are all tuned to work together in harmony with ever so delicately balanced mechanical systems comprising of hundreds or thousands of individual regular parts moving (or staying put) together.
The driver is a direct extension to the machine. There is nothing like manually providing input and getting direct, unfiltered and immediate feedback through the limited controls and gauges available. You really feel in control whether it is adjusting the fuel/air mixture manually with a choke, choosing the right gear, letting out the clutch or simply having to turn on and off a wiper motor in just the right spot. It is an amazingly authentic experience that we don’t get from modern vehicles.
Classic cars are not about efficiency and speed, although many attain plenty of the latter. They are about the feeling, style, craftsmanship and the pride you can’t help but feel owning one. These are the things that make them timeless. These machines not only appeal to car lovers, but also to those who appreciate the design, engineering, design, and history. Mostly, we all have memories with at least one attached. Pulling into a real service station with the dinging bell, your dad or brother working on one in the driveway…even riding to a wedding or a funeral.
It makes me so happy to see the eyes light up in a younger person the first time they are behind the wheel stunned how what they are driving even exists, or someone more towards the end of their life getting a rush of flashbacks all at once. Besides the fact that they are generally a practical and enjoyable investment, these are all reason enough to keep these “relics” around. Each time is like an adventure and not just a solution to get from Point A to Point B. It will be a sad day when that is all there is, and the biggest thrill possible is maybe getting a shock plugging in your car at night.
Classic car owners don’t go on a journey to reach a destination, but instead the journey is the destination.
For the past seven years Mr. Bobo has managed and expanded Bobo’s Rods & Customs in Seattle and is now in the process of relocating to Sarasota now. He is a well-respected ASCCA certified inspector, appraiser and custom designer in the industry producing many cars through Bobo’s Body Shop with several being shown and sold on national television.
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