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BangShift Question Of The Day: What Things About Older Cars Do You Miss The Most?

BangShift Question Of The Day: What Things About Older Cars Do You Miss The Most?

The generational gaps between model years of cars kills me. If that sentence doesn’t make sense, let me explain it like this: Go sit in a 1957 anything. Then a 1967, 1977, 1987, and so on and so forth until you wind up at a new car dealership, sitting in what would’ve qualified as both a racing bucket and a Lay-z-boy recliner, staring down an infotainment system that you need another 40 I.Q. points to properly come to grips with. Do you find yourself pining for the older cars? I’ll admit it, I do. Ever since I got the Great Pumpkin Mustang on the road, I’ve been driving it exclusively, only taking the Chrysler out when I need to make a journey out of Bowling Green proper…and only doing that because I don’t trust the tires on the Mustang that well. I grew up in older cars…my parents didn’t get anything close to 1990s era until I was 14, and the 1989 Toyota Celica GT was still pleasantly old-school in feel compared to what was available. Even now, I can pull up to a dealership in the Angry Grandpa Chrysler, slip into a Dodge Charger that is more or less the same platform, but it’s a whole world away in feel.

I can thank the crowd at Malaise Motors for kicking this thought into my head, because right now there is an ongoing discussion on what is missed the most from that era. I’ll promise you that I’m not missing 1980s sound systems, fake wood paneling, or sweep-analog speedometers anytime soon, but there are some really good things that could make a comeback. For an example, let’s use this 1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Holiday coupe for our experiment. Say what you will about the chromed railroad ties at each end of this B-body, but what it will take to royally mess up a bumper cover won’t do shit to those beauties. There is the realistic wheel size that MANY of you crow about. There is visibility inside the car thanks to low beltlines and judicial use of glass. There is room for adults in the backseat, and not in the “cram in there” kind of room, either. The gauges might be lacking a bit, but they are neat, legible and don’t have any gimmick to them. Basic controls, including a simple HVAC and an easy-to-use stereo system. And colors inside that aren’t black, gray, vomit sweep tan or whatever shade of red is supposed to be equivalent to “race-ready” this week.

What is it about cars from the past that you miss the most?

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30 thoughts on “BangShift Question Of The Day: What Things About Older Cars Do You Miss The Most?

  1. Joe

    The cars of the 60’s and early 70’s (with which I am familiar ) had character. No they weren’t great cars but they each had their own style. Cars of the last 20 years seem to be very much the same. As a teen I could identify almost any car or truck a 1/4 mile away and as it passed I could tell you the year. I drove a 62 Ford 406/4spd/bench seat car and it made me think, who wouldn’t like Taurus SHO with a bench and a six speed today? Am I the only person left that thinks some cars should have chrome bumpers? LOL!

  2. AndyB

    Servicability. 15 minutes to change a thermostat on my 67 chevy. 8 hours to do the same job on an 08 VW.

  3. KCR

    LESS ELECTRONICS ,vent windows ,bearings that last the life of the car,sheet metal that is not like paper,NOTHING METRIC !!!.V 8 everything .Rear wheel drive, 14″ and 15″ tires.And having bone yards full of them to pick off of

    1. Jason P

      Frankly, I\’m fine with Metric as long as it is consistent throughout the car. It is a bit aggravating working on one when half of the fasteners are Mertric, the rest are Standard, and you are having to haul around two sets of wrenches and socket rails playing guesswork the whole time.

    2. Jason P

      Frankly, I’m fine with Metric as long as it is consistent throughout the car. It is a bit aggravating working on one when half of the fasteners are Mertric, the rest are Standard, and you are having to haul around two sets of wrenches and socket rails playing guesswork the whole time.

  4. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    The total lack of electronics and the ability to fix anything with a couple of spanners.

  5. Loren

    A really cool, brilliant idea: A round knob that sticks out for the radio volume control. You could reach it in the dark without having to look and all cars could have it in the same place and do the same thing. You could turn the radio off if you wished without consulting a manual first. And this: Another one for the station. You could be changing stations and hit a bump at the same time and not have to pull off the highway to figure out how to put all the settings back to where they were. Ultra-brilliant would be secondary knobs for basic treble-bass and balance, then any additional features if you cared could be in little buttons with their tiny labels.

    A Honda I borrowed changed the station every time I put it into “park” ’cause a button was where right where your knuckle would hit it, at first it took five minutes to work out how to put it back until I learned the routine. The new aftermarket radio that came in my truck I don’t even bother to use sometimes because of all it’s little tricks and problems, f- it.

  6. gary351C

    Style and simplicity. To me new cars are are over-complicated disposable junk, even if they do have 700 horsepower. And 90% of them are just plain ugly to me.

  7. oldguy

    ROOM !!! – used to take an 84 CV camping for 2 weeks w/twins and wife .
    ALL the crap fit in the trunk – tent, big cooler, and the other stuff .
    Kids were small I put fire wood in the back seat foot wells cause their feet
    didn’t reach the floor . Wanted a ’91 CV wagon to go through but couldn’t find
    a nice one in NE . The 84 died when the frame rotted….

  8. RK - no relation

    Yes, all those things: bench seat, chrome bumpers, dimmer switch on the floor, three-on-the tree…

    Sometimes you just want a big domestic car with big comfort, but yes, mostly:
    Servicability! When I started driving and owning cars, any ordinary person could reach in, remove, repair, replace any external engine component with ordinary tools. I believe Andy when he says 8 hours for a thermostat, everything is in the friggin’ way!

    Hey oldguy, what’s an 84 CV?

    1. Guitardrumr

      I assume he means Crown Victoria, since he also mentions a Station Wagon, and I can confirm the cavernous trunk on my 87 will eat a 2 weeks worth of camping gear.

  9. Jeff

    Vent windows, drip rails, and just the size. i.e. a 73 4 door Malibu could hold you and 6 of your buddies with room for a mini-keg. Full size spare and a huuuuge trunk.

  10. Roger

    Vent windows… Radios and HVAC systems with easy to read knobs-not g**damned touchscreens… interiors that are real colors like red or blue or green, not “stone” or “mocha” or “taupe” or “graphite”…

  11. geo815

    Chrome, cavernous cockpit, analog everything, and that all too pleasing, king-of-the- road- land yacht float. I also miss the “challenge” of having to actually drive a car if I wanted to something other than drive in a straight line.

  12. 3nine6

    The problem as I see it is not with today’s cars, it’s with today’s trucks. I currently own a 1970 Chevelle SS ragtop, a 2001 Ford F-150 and a 2003 Ford F-150. All have non-power, roll up windows. Two of them have manual transmissions. One has a CD player. I do not need or want all the complicated gadgetry of the new trucks. Where can I buy a basic, non gadget laden, work truck nowadays? Yeah, I’m old…

  13. Dick Sappington

    I enjoy not having my dash stuffed right up my nose, and actual space between the front seats instead of layers of cabinetry.

    Oh yeah, my daily’s a ’62 Valiant wagon. 😀

  14. Gazoo

    Space. Elbow room. Not knocking your elbows on the door panels. And great big windows with good visibility.

  15. Larry

    All of the above plus a seat that sets high enough you can comfortably rest your arm on the door with the window down! Tired of setting in a hole looking up over the dash and trying to see out. (I’m 6’2″).

  16. BeaverMartin

    Thin steering wheels and A-pillars. Actual style. Engine character (say the difference in feel between a Pontiac 400 and a Chevy 400). Pillow top seats, can’t even get them in a Buick anymore! Nice looking steel wheels.

  17. nada

    The looks and sound of some old cars (FAR from all) – besides that, not much. Modern cars have better handling, better performance, get better mileage and are safer, so I have no problems with a modern car as a daily driver.

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