why are older cars re-emerging as popular now?
Reading through several questions and answers I found that personality in addition to reliability and cost have large parts to play in people’s decisions.
There is no truly American made car anymore, and by most people’s standards they don’t care if their car is made in America or not as long as it’s affordable. If you priced an American branded car over the price of a foreign branded one, I think you would find that people are more price sensitive than patriotic. This of course is the case in parts of the country like Colorado and Utah where there’s no “car culture”. Places like Michigan and midwest that were home of auto production for many decades still have the “American or nothing” mindset. Reason being is that if you bought an imported car, the impact would hit closer to home. Your next door neighbour might work or know someone who works at an assembly plant and the effects of you buying the imported car mean the company selling less and therefore not needing as many workers or cutting back working hours because of that.
Another part is that the economy that we’re in right now makes buying and affording a new car more difficult. An economy car is $ 17,000 for a nice one, and buying a classic model like 60’s or 70’s might cost $ 5,000 if you get a deal on it. The newer car will seem to be maintenance free for the first few years because everything is of course new on the car. Most parts on most cars new or old last about 7 years, just standard wear and tear on parts not because of low quality. Most people are now concerned with fuel economy (big thing now) and make the argument that newer cars get better economy, which they do. However even if you compare a car that gets 28mpg hwy and one that gets 19 hwy the cost difference in ownership is still higher in the newer car. Most people don’t think about the taxes they have to pay on that new car, nor higher insurance rates, nor car payments and interest for a period of several years. On a new $ 17,000 car you’ll probably pay around $ 3,000 in interest if you get a good (for today’s standards) loan. The price difference between $ 5,000 and $ 20,000 is of course $ 15,000. Just calculate at current fuel prices how long it would take to spend $ 15,000 in fuel.
Safety is another thing people are concerned with and of course they have every right to be. There are two things to this that I’m concerned with. Safety is great, but I also believe it’s much of the driver’s responsibility to learn how to drive their car(s). Newer cars have loads of safety features and are unarguably safer than a classic American car. Yet the converse of this is that the younger drivers of today don’t have the experience and skill to be able to get out of possible accidents that older more experienced drivers can have.
I’m choosing to drive my 67 Fairlane over my 03 WRX for a few reasons. The Subaru isn’t nearly as unique as the Ford and even though safer and possibly more reliable, the way it looks (how I bought it) sometimes gets the wrong kind of attention as in people want to race me. I can also fix many more possible issues that come up with the Ford without needing a code reader and code decypherer. It rarely needs to see a mechanic, and at one point out of owning 4 cars, “the old Ford” as I used to refer to it actually was the most dependable.
The 60’s and 70’s makes of American cars that are popular today were also race cars. The companies had to produce a car that the average consumer could buy in order to race the cars. This meant (from many documentaries, some that are a bit biased) the cars were going to be much more rigid and made to last in a grueling race. Economy cars are the opposite. Many of the parts in those cars aren’t made to last a long time because the company wants you to of course buy a car, but it’s not the companies that are evil. An econobox is made to be inexpensive and so the quality of parts (not labour) is usually lower than it’s more powerful relative. The production methods on both powerful and value based cars are equalising. Most companies for a long period had the same types of cars. Their racing line (challenger, charger, fairlane, nova, chevelle) were built to race, and the economy cars (tempo, escort, pinto, etc.) were mostly underengineered as the companies just didn’t care to put the focus (no pun) or energy into cars that weren’t selling well.
Another post to a question I was reading is the fallacy that older cars are not made as well. I would have to disagree with that on one part. Many of the more popular models as stated above were made for racing. However 1960’s and 1970’s engineering was nowhere as good as it is now. You can install modern things like engines and gearboxes and get the car just as dependable if not more in ways than a new car. 28mpg hwy is not unreasonable to ask from say a new direct injected 5.0 mustang engine and 6spd gearbox.