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Were Old Cars more Fun Than Modern Ones?

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
edited November 2011 in General
Of the cars you've owned or known, which one(s) gave you the most pleasure? If it was an older model, was it because it wasn't so perfect? As odd as it may seem, for me if a car is too predictably perfect, as many modern ones are, they're not much fun.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the pleasure of owning a sports car in my youth, but I had a friend with an Austin Healey 3000 and another with a '61 Corvette. While these cars had unique quirks and drawbacks, they were blasts to drive. Another acquaintance had a '30s Ford with a hopped up Olds Rocket engine in it; dangerous, but a blast.

Modern cars, even budget models, tend to accelerate faster, and corner and stop better than yesteryear's models, but are less thrilling to drive. Sometimes they don't even feel faster, in part because they're quieter, vibrate less, and don't squat, dive and lean as much.

What are your thoughts on this?

Of the cars I've owned, a '65 Mustang V8 with 4-speed, heavy duty suspension and posi-traction was the most fun. Apparently someone else liked it too because it got stolen.


  • bryanbryan Northern VAPosts: 217
    Nice topic to reminscence about. Maybe because I was younger and everything was "more fun"? I don't know. I've had a number of cars over the past 40 years; I'm sure I did and didn't enjoy something about each; I'll have to think more about that.

    I do remember always liking convertibles, so I've owned a few. I wouldn't mind a '12 Camaro convertible.

    I do like all the improvements that we see in today's cars. So,if I could have today's modern car features on say, a 1972 Cutlass convertible--I wonder what color???
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,760
    Good question. My cars peaked with my '83 GTI. The earlier ones ('65 Mustang 170 cid and '72 Duster 198 cid) obviously weren't 'overpowered', and neither were they fun to drive. The GTI was a blast because I could drive it hard just about all the time and not get a ticket. Do that in a modern GTI and you'd be going 100 mph, easy.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,886
    I have to say my fintail is more fun to drive than my E55 - but I think some of that isn't because of its abilities , but because it is old, unusual, and gets some attention, while the E55, which can destroy most cars on the road in performance, never has to work hard and blends into the background.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,725
    I think the old cars were more fun, but not just because of nostalgia. You had different designs and model changes every year so you had Ford guys, Chevy guys, Mopar guys (and of course there are a few Studebaker guys still hanging around!). You'd recognize people on the road by their car. The old V8 babies would spin out and had that great engine rumble, maybe even almost kill yourself pushin' it (the thrill and drama of cheating death)! No computer controls inhibiting laying rubber either. VW Beetles were good for donuts in the snow. Cars were relatively cheap and easy to work on, so you could mod them or mess around trying to fine tune them. You could get a convertible in anything from a cheap compact Rambler American to a huge land yacht Caddy or Imperial. Having said all that, for a cross country trip I appreciate today's cars handling, quiet, reliability and economy - but its fun to think back to the days of Route 66 - oh, and don't forget the music!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    edited November 2011
    I think a Duster with the 340 would be fun.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    edited November 2011
    I once drove a fintail from near Chicago to Madison, WI. Can't remember much about the experience.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,725
    I once drove a fintail from near Chicago to Madison, WI.

    Had to be some beer involved in that trip - right?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    edited November 2011
    Well, probably not on that trip. However, you probably know that beer drinking is a popular elective at the U of WI, my alma mater.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    ...a very interesting topic in the Classic Cars forum called "Old Cars: What Were They REALLY Like?" back in the day.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,760
    edited November 2011
    "I think a Duster with the 340 would be fun. "

    Absolutely, a friend had a Dart 340, lots of fun. My 198 didn't have much power, but it did pull a small uhaul from Houston to the west coast!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    I like older cars because they *sound* and *smell* so mechanical. The driver is very involved in the process (for better or worse). Also, an old car NEEDS YOU---it relies on you, like a dog waiting to be fed. New cars are like cats--if you don't feed them on time, they don't care--they'll go to the neighbors or eat a bird.

    Favorite experiences with old cars:

    1. '68 Morgan -- what a wonderful primitive rattle-trap of a car. You could be doing 45 and it felt like 145. As the joke went, in a Morgan you could run over a dime and tell if it was heads or tails!

    2. '66 Toronado -- blasting through snow drifts in Colorado with 4 studded snow tires. The car was virtually unstoppable.

    3. Jaguar XK140 -- the engine note was wonderful

    4. Mercedes 220 Sb -- compared to domestic cars of that day, it had a feeling of clockwork precision about it--an almost feminine car in the controls, yet looking out over the rounded hood and the gunsight, you got a sense of solidity and determination. Great old car with the best windshield view I ever had.

    5. Mini Cooper S -- engine is on cam, on boost, and you floor it---the supercharger wails like a siren and you're pushed back in the seat. Way fun.

    6. '63 Buick Riviera -- cockpit of a spaceship...floaty boaty in outer space, the world outside a mere noiseless distraction. Big leather buckets coddling you. Hood rising up when you floor it. Massive feeling, as in "get out of my way peasant".

    7. Porsche 928 -- a German Corvette, with all that implies. Go as fast as you dare, it doesn't mind.

    8. Honda 600 coupe -- a motorcycle with a roof...tinny, noisy, tiny...the ladies just loved it.

    9. Triumph TR250 --- a man's sports car through and through. The good looks of the TR4 body mated to the big 6 engine of the TR 250. I miss that car still.

    10. Volvo 544 Sport -- Sweden's idea of a '48 Ford...that long gearshift lever, peppy little 1.8L engine. Fun to drive, good heater, vent windows...ah. The car was indestructible and dead reliable, and so easy to work on. I miss that car a lot, too.

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  • au1994au1994 GAPosts: 1,146
    edited November 2011
    Good anecdotes!

    My experience was with my 66 Mustang convertible.


    I mentioned it was a convertible, right?

    289 V-8 checked the box on the butt o meter, even if it really wasn't that fast.

    Driving it was a visceral experience, yet it was tame compared to some of the other brute muscle cars or imports of the same vintage.

    Minor foibles taught a young, poor driver to turn a wrench or 2.

    Lord was it pretty. (in my mind at least, truthfully it was a 'driver')


    Sometimes there, sometimes not feeling from the 4 drum brakes.

    Minor foibles mentioned above kept me from keeping it as my college car. 250 miles from door step to campus and mom said no way was her precious little boy driving that 'death trap'

    Wallowy steering that I never could quite solve despite new shocks and bushings.

    Useless heater and the cold naturedness of Fords. I placed a pizza box over my radiator from about November to March to heat the engine up quicker.

    So, was it more fun than anything 'modern' I have had since? Probably, although I had a Wrangler for a while that scratched the convertible itch and was pretty fun as well. Ladies were pretty fond of it as well. ;)

    Would I like to drive it every day? No, don't think so.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,886
    I like your reasoning and your anecdotes - whenever the fintail acts a little temperamental, I tell it (not a good sign) something alone the lines of "you'd probably be in a junkyard right now if not for me, so don't be so pissy".

    I've only had a lot of personal experience with 2 old cars - my first car, a 66 Galaxie 2 door HT, 390 4bbl, and the fintail. The first car had pinkie finger power steering, drank gas like Niagara Falls drinks water, could burn rubber for an entire block, and generally didn't like corners or braking. Where the fintail has an engine like an electric sewing machine, loads of body lean but actually some handling at the same time, and as you mention, it is as precisely built as a Swiss watch. There have been other old cars in the family, including an unpleasant to drive stripped down 68 Fairlane, a fun barge of a 60 Ford Country Sedan, and my dad's tin can Datsun 710 bought out of an estate for $100 about 7 years ago that for some reason he liked, but the first two will always be in my head.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,725
    I like the roof line on the 66 big Ford's. Didn't realize they were still making them as Galaxie's back them. I guess I thought the hardtops were all LTD's by then.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    People never believe me when I tell them the amount of gasoline a 390 V8 could gobble. Maybe the one I briefly owned wasn't in the best of tune, but I swear it got like 6 mpg. It ran well, though. It was a '64 Galaxie 500XL convertible...a very nice out of control ride.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,886
    Sounds right. I remember my car averaged around 8 city/12 highway....driving with a slightly heavy foot but not usually too bad. Just a pig. I always thought my parents were crazy for letting a 16 year old have such a beast, now I understand their strategy - drinks so much gas you can never afford to drive very far :shades:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,886
    I think the Galaxie 2 door HT lived through 68 or 69 as a fastback.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    My dad had a couple of Galaxies, I think a 66 then a 70. Pinky power steering indeed. I thought I really hated that until he got a Custom with no power steering!
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,886
    At around the same time, one of my dad's old cars was that 68 Fairlane, manual steering and brakes, and to top it off, a 3 on the tree! I thought it was unpleasant to drive, but he liked it - I think it was closer to a 1950 technology, which was good to him.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    ...I remember my 1968 Buick Special Deluxe being rather fuel-efficient. I swore it got at least 20 MPG on leaded regular. It had a 350 V-8 with a 2bbl carb.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    A considerably lighter car than a '64 Galaxie convertible I'd imagine, and with a much more efficient engine.

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  • My first car when I was 16 was a '67 Camaro (and the car was already 20-ish years old). Boy does reading this thread bring back memories. Not only could you actually work on your own car back in the day, but the cars themselves had lots of character and many seemed to have personalities all their own...

    Sure it's nice having a car that pretty much never breaks down and is quiet and doesn't smell like unburnt fuel when it's sitting there idling, but where's the fun in that?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    It was indeed '50s technology, with a '60s body. First gear may have been synchronized, though, but I'm not sure. If it was, that would have been an improvement over what was available in the '50s.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,886
    I don't remember, it was a nice enough car and very well preserved, but it wasn't my driving style, I am lazy :shades: . The few times I drove it I took my dad's advice and left it in 2nd a lot - it was a V8 so it had enough torque to move itself along.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,599
    If you think that 390 Galaxie used a lot of gas, try owing a 65 Riviera Gran Sport with the 425-360 HP engine!

    Those had TWO 4bbls and if I really nursed it, it MIGHT have been good for 10 MPG.

    When that second carb opened up, I could literally watch the gas guage drop!

    And, of course, it required the super premimum 100 plus octane stuff.

    But, what a car! It could lay a two strips of rubber for as long as I wanted to hold the gas pedel down. I think I tried that trick once!

    You mentioned 544 Volvos. I owned a couple of them in my youth and I wish I could find another. They were tougher than a box of rocks and so much fun to drive. For just a few hundred dollars more than a VW beetle, they were SO MUCH more car!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    The 544 mgiht be the most indestructible automobile ever made...there were a few weaknesses, but easily overcome. Simple to work on, so you could keep them going forever; fun to drive, and yes, the heaters really worked!

    Were it not for the lack of AC, I am often tempted to ditch all my modern cars and just drive one of those (restored, of course).

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,599
    edited November 2011
    Some of my former classmates got together last summer and we had a great time telling tales of our mispent youth.

    " Do you remember the time we....?"

    We once spotted a much despised math teacher at a bus stop huddled in the rain as he waited for a bus. I forget which of my beaters I was driving at the time but as soon as I spotted him I
    switched off my ignition.

    When we were right along side of him, I turned it back on.

    Of course, this resulted in a LOUD explosion! He jumped and screamed like a woman!

    We were all laughing so hard I nearly ran into a parked car.

    Can't do that with a modern, fuel injected car!

    So, yeah...old cars could certainly be more fun even if we did have to replace a muffler now and then!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,599
    The one I should have kept was a black 1962 with the B-18 engine. I loved that car!

    I was working in a gas station and I bought it from a customer cheap because it had a bad clutch.

    Replacing the clutch was a simple job. I did that, and waxed it up and it was like a new car!

    Two weeks later I guy pulled me over while was driving it and offered to buy it.

    I really was becoming attached to it but when he offered me twice what I had in it, I jumped at it.

    The weak spot seems to be rust even around here where it doesn't snow much and they don't salt the streets.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    However, I bet when that second carb opened up, it threw you back into the seat! I miss that thrilling rush of power from those old cars!
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