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OLD CARS -The truth .Owners tales.How they really were.



  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Remember, that 2100.00 was in 1955 dollars!

    Also, today's buyers demand EVERYTHING! Back in 1955, if the car had a radio and heater, it was pretty spiffy. This guy even had to pay extra for TURN SIGNALS!! I really thought they were standard equipment by 1955, but I guess not.

    Power steering and power windows were REALLY something to have, especially on a Chevy!

    You could even get factory A/C on a Chevy in 1955! I've seen two of them and one was, sadly, in a junkyard years ago.

    Today we "need" dual airbags, cupholders, cd players, rear spoilers, leather seats, etc...

    And we wonder why cars cost more....?
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    even adjusted for inflation? I just can't get used to the 35,000 dollar "bargain" pickup, and anything "under 30" being quite reasonable. is everyone really making 10-12 times what they would have made in 1955? Isell, whadya think?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Okay, let's do it this 1965, my first job out of college paid $7,800 a year, which was not a great but not a bad salary...I think equal to around $35K-$40K...and a new Mustang convertible cost, in 1965, about $2,650. so roughly 1/3 of my yearly salary.

    compare to a 1999 Mustang Convertible, at $26, I would be needing to make today about $78,000 a year right out of college to have the same buying power for that Mustang. (1/3 of yearly salary).

    Seems to me that's not realistic for most college grads unless they're working as entrepreneurs and hit it big or in dad's law firm.

    So I'd say, based on my own numbers, that for 1999 to be just like 1965 for a new college grad, a new Mustang convertible should cost around $10-12K.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Again, look at the options these new cars have!

    That 65 Mustang as pretty primitive compared the the 99. Probably a 289, AM radio, heater, perhaps an automatic, maybe power steering.

    No airbags, complicated emission systems, power windows, leather, cupholders, ad nauseum...

    It would be interesting to compare as stripped down Mustang as possible with the 1965.

    So, I do think that even inflation adjusted that cars probably cost more today. Much of these costs are due to government required emission and safety equipment.

    And, no, few college grads fresh out school are making anywhere near that number.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    That's what I thought, and thanks Shifty and Isell for your thoughts. I grew up in the days when almost any guy right out of highschool could go wrestle grocery sacks or some other entry level job and make payments on some new car if he really wanted to. Today, I think that's impossible. And you're right-alot of the increased cost is because of government mandated safety and pollution controls-but still-even if you subtract those costs, I think cars are more expensive. AND-seems like labor costs should be less, with all the robots snapping plastic panels in place instead of all the assembly that used to take place. Sooooo-why should a Lincoln Navigator cost what it does??? [Not that I'd want one at any price]
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Because there is a lot of profit in SUVs--that's why they're building them and pushing them.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    I'm old enough to remember when a truck was simply a truck! They were used as workhorses and had the most basic of equipment.

    Oh, but not now...! I just can't believe how posh our everyday pickup has become!

    And expensive!
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    My dad worked for GM in the old South Gate plant.
    It was BOP (Buick, Olds, Pontiac) but the Chevy assembly was probably the same. He worked the AC shop in the mid 50's era, and has told me that they could install AC in about 2 cars per shift, so about 4 cars a day! Besides the high cost of the option, they couldn't possibly equip too many cars with it! I've only seen one with a "factory" unit, but several with aftermarket units. Here's a question for all you mid 50's buffs-could you order factory AC in a wagon? Since the evaporator was in the trunk in the cars, where would it go in a wagon, if you get it at all?
    I've seen quite a few Buicks & Oldsmobiles from this era with AC, but mostly the upscale lines (like Super and Roadmaster in Buicks) which were higher priced cars to start with.
  • lweisslweiss Posts: 342
    Another aspect of the cost of the car is maintenance. The new cars of today need a lot less of it with tune ups that come at 100K, tires, and all sorts of other things that last a lot longer.
    However, when maintenance or especially repair is needed, not only is it more complicated than years ago, but normal people can hardly do it anymore because they don't have the special equipment, etc. I see many vehicles running over 100K miles these days, years ago 100K was the practicle limit.
  • moparmadmoparmad Posts: 197
    Thanks for the stories. I was born in 1970 and can vividly remember sitting around with my father and uncles as a little boy listening to endless stories of cars, trucks, and days gone by. I am now 29 and have owned and done extensive work on both a 1975 Plymouth Duster,and currently a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda Gran Coupe. My Dad always says his greatest regret is parting with a 283 powered '57 Chevy convertible he once owned. It is my dream to someday give him the gift of a '57 chevy. I first need to satisfy my wife's passion for an in-violet '67 GTX. My father helped me build my first 360,and he overseen my building of the 343 dyno-proven horsepower 318 in my Cuda. I believe strongly that the passion my father instilled in me for anything automotive has kept me off the streets and out of trouble.
  • Even allowing for the tremendous improvement in the quality of cars and trucks plus the higher power output from a given displacement and much better fuel consumption, one cannot equate todays prices with those of the 50's and 60's.

    When I graduated with an engineering degree in 62 the selling price of an E-Type was equal to my annual salary. An engineering grad today with a starting salary of say $50K wanting to buy the equivalent, an XK8, is off the mark by 80%.

    I think today's economics of automobile manufacturing which includes the requirement for large research and development staffs needed to find solutions to the emissions limits and fuel consumption requirements and smarter marketing are the major contributors to that 80% price differential. Do you think there is a 50% difference in manufacturing and distribution cost between the Lincoln LS and the Jaguar S type. I don't. I think Ford is just plain smart and understands the marketing business better today than 40 years ago.

    I couln't afford an E-Type in '62 nor an XK8 today, so I guess I had better settle for finding a good MGB and that Mini Cooper and just to satisfy the lust, the Morgan +4 you hate. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that my wife (the HMC) loves her outrageously priced Navigator which she uses to tow her horse trailer - gag!

    I enjoy your encyclopedic knowledge and the entertaining stories from Isell and carnut4 -thanks guys.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh, I don't really hate Morgans....they are very classic British sports cars...I think what bugs me is that they are priced so much higher than the MGTC, when in fact they are very much the same car, and in many ways less charming. Not fair!

    Yes, we are getting spoiled rotten by new cars. We are turning into decadent Romans, demanding every little pleasure.

    Now we have cars with voice's getting really silly. Even 747 pilots seem to manage without that.
  • pat84pat84 Posts: 817
    I remember cars from the '50's on. I distinctly remember my parents had a '51 Chevy station wagon, which was metal painted to look like a woody. I also remember their '55 Pontiac station wagon. As I recall, tires then lasted maybe a max of 12-15K miles. That was back when snow tires added some of the miles between new sets of tires. I remember the long lines of cars at gas stations getting snow tires put on as the first snow of the year was falling.
  • johnedodjohnedod Posts: 4
    How do you guys feel about using modern technology on classics? On my '65 Sport Fury (manual drum brakes and steering)the only thing I'm considering right now is, maybe,a disc brake upgrade. The main reason for this is to get away from the single reservoir master cylinder, so you don't lose it all in case of a busted line or something. Of course keeping all of the original stuff should the need ever arise for it. If I put a lot of miles on it, I would even consider electronic ignition and fuel injection, having the best of both worlds,modern reliability and classic looks. But for now, no more than I drive it, the points and carburetor are just fine. I'm sure there are lots of pro and cons on this issue, because I feel that's part of the classic car "experience", driving them the way they were built. Like it was said back on response #12, hitting the brakes and wondering which way the car would dart! So how do you guys feel? Any of you upgrade your own (driven, not show) cars or do you like them completely original?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think upgrades are a great idea as long as a) you don't modify the car so much it can't easily be brought back to original(welding, etc) and b) as long as you keep all the original parts in a box to go with the car.

    These old American collectibles should be driven and enjoyed. They aren't Bugattis or Duesenbergs, they were built to be used in everyday life by "ordinary" citizens.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    I think if it's a #1 show car, like a true classic or something that goes to concours-fine, keep it all stock original. And all OEM parts are fine for things like 55-57 Chevies, whre new original parts are widely available.
    I must say, though, an old, original looking street rod or completely stock bodied car from the 30's, 40's, or 50's with modern, upgraded mechanicals is certainly appealing. Just drive around on a rutted two-lane with old bias-ply, slightly worn tires with old, slow, manual steering and you'll see what I mean. Some old cars are worse than others that way, of course.
    With all these upgrade kits out there [rack-and-pinion steering, brakes, suspension upgrades, rear ends, etc, etc] one almost has to consider some of these if he wants to drive his old car regularly in modern driving conditons, and be safe! Just think back to some of those panic stops in the old days, with those old brakes, and tires that blew out on you too!
    I remember coming to a high speed stop at a freeway offramp once in my old '66 Dart. Just minutes later, I pulled into a parking lot, applied the brakes, and they went to the floor. The front brake hoses were weathered and cracked, and let go as they flexed, pulling up over the curb. Scary! Luckily, there was a Dodge dealer across the street, and I was on my way again in 2 hours, for 48 bucks. Sure could have been a lot worse!! Just think...
  • johnedodjohnedod Posts: 4
    I appreciate your opinions. I agree with you. As long as you just use "bolt on" parts and keep all of the original parts, I don't see anything wrong with upgrading classics that are going to be driven regularly, especially for the sake of safety. Thanks again.
  • wilcoxwilcox Posts: 584
    Well of course there are the new SUV's , but they have to take a back seat to some of those large back seated autos from yesteryear. The back seats in some of those can be compared to...a..."heaven".? There are some tales to tell in these old classics. Know what I mean?
  • sgaines1sgaines1 Posts: 44
    My first car was a '78 Grand Marquis I got for $1,700 off some old guy. I could lie down on the back seat with my feet touching one door, and my head coming up just short of the other. I'm only 5' 10" max, but still. Unfortunately, that's as far as the testing got.
  • Let's be honest.Those of us who were there are still trying to forget:
    They burned oil like a furnace at 70,000 miles
    You had pound on the starters to get contact
    They rusted like banchees
    Winter starting was a crap-shoot
    The upholstery lasted about 3-4 years
    The "automatic" chokes were anything but
    The front end shimmy was a constant
    The automatic trans. automatically died @ 85,000mi
    Air conditioning was the whistling vent windows
    The heater cores flooded the car only at 20 below

    The good old days were formerly know as these trying times.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You know, it's all relative. Most other '55 cars were WORSE, so the Chev looked good in comparison. Besides that, it had V-8 power and good looks, all at a value price. The car had its faults (ones we would certainly not tolerate in a new car today!), but it was more than good enough for 1955.
  • Your are right,we can also recall that we paid $275 for a good used one in 1964. Seemed like any kid working a min. wage part time job in high school could buy an almost-nice 10 yr old example of whatever model he yearned for. Put blue bulbs in the dome lights and you just knew the girls would just die to ride with you(never worked,but we all tried it)>
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    Sorry I'm late replying to this post, but I just stumbled across the topic. I'm only 30, so obviously I wasn't there when those cars were new, and I'm a mopar man, so I probably would've been driving a 1955 Plymouth, anyway.

    But, first, I think a few things should be considered. Back then, people didn't maintain their cars like they do today. I know this just from talking to older people and hearing about how they maintained their cars. Now my grandfather changed his oil every 2000 miles and never had a engine problems with a car, except a 1972 Impala that had to get a valve job around 70K miles. But he also knew a lot about cars. I have a friend who's father had a 1972 Dodge Dart, and I don't think they ever changed the oil...just added more whenever it got low.

    Further, there were far fewer homes with garages back then than there are today, so more cars had to sit outside and face the elements.

    And as much as we gripe about the condition of the roads today...well, in 1955 the Interstate highway system was still a dream (albeit a close one). Today it's easy to put 30K miles a year on a car. I know, I do it. But 40-50 years ago, 60-70K miles was a lot of miles on a car, and probably represented a good 6-8 years of driving on poor roads in all weather conditions.

    I'm sure that if the factory could build a 1955 Chevy today, to 1955 standards, it would be a lot more reliable than it was in 1955. Better roads, better care, even the oils and fluids of today have been engineered to be better.

    Likewise, I'm sure if I could take my 2000 Intrepid back to 1955, and it would be treated as any other car was back then, people would complain about what a piece of junk it was and how they'd never buy a Chrysler product again (you know, just how they complain now!)

    just my thoughts...Andre
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Hi Andre--I agree completely with your premise that a 1955 Chevy built today would be more reliable for the very reasons you stated. But I don't agree they'd reject your intrepid, at least not'd be rich selling it! What they couldn't do is fix it if it broke.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    It was a pain in the a__ on older cars! I changed it on my '57 DeSoto last night after having let the car sit for awhile. The last time I changed the oil was 1998, but I didn't change the filter that time. I forgot what a pain those old drop-in cartridge filters could be!

    My oil filter sits at about a 45 degree angle tucked nice and tight under the huge hemi head, and partly blocked by the heater fan. Taking it apart is no big deal...just messy. But getting it back together, hoping that the gasket between the cap and the base of the filter housing doesn't slip, is another story. And every RWD Mopar I've ever had always dumps oil on the exhaust pipe when I change the filter, so it smells like I'm burning oil for a few minutes after I start it up.

    It's interesting to see how drain plugs have changed over the years, too. The one on my DeSoto is 1 1/8 inches...the one on my Intrepid is (I think) 1/2 inch. Also, as complicated as cars have become over the years, at least the manufacturers have made it easier to change the oil on most of them. Nowadays is seems like most of them are up front, real easy to get to.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    There was a long bolt that went through the canister. There was a large o ring between the can and the block and two or three fiber washers that had to be lined up just right.

    They were a ROYAL PITA!!

    Then you had to snake the whole slipperly thing between the huge hemi engine and the frame rail.

    The bolt would just barely fit if you cocked it just right. finally you were done...

    Oh, but then you started the car and checked for leaks! Of course it leaked and you had to start the whole filthy process all over again!

    As a kid working in a gas station there were a couple of those old Dodges and De Sotos around.

    We hated to see them come it! What a PITA!!!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    Hi Isell,

    Sure enough, I didn't have the whole thing lined up quite right. The big gasket between the cannister and the base had slipped, and the thing dumped some oil on the garage floor. The big gasket is a real pain, too, because it usually comes folded slightly and doesn't want to stay flush when you lay it on the base.

    I'm just curious, when did the other manufacturers switch to the spin on filters? I know when DeSoto went to the corporate 350 and 361 for 1958, they used a spin-on filter. I guess after Chrysler ditched the Hemi after '58, they did, too.

    What about Ford and Chevy, though? I just snagged a box with 10 of these oil filters from a local auto parts store, and they were made by AC-Delco. I guess this filter was pretty generic at one time.
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Posts: 219
    I know the Chevy 283 had that cannister through '67 and it was always a royal pain to change. There was that rubber O-ring/gasket, and occasionally you would get someone who would shortcut it and not replace it or just add the new one up next to the old one. The gas station that I worked at had a lady bring her car back in because it was spewing oil after an oil change. Got it up on the rack and found three of them crammed up there and there was oil dripping from every low spot on the undercarriage.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    Wow, Chevy had those things through 1967?? That's incredible...I had no idea the old cannisters were so recent. I also have a 1967 Pontiac Catalina with a Pontiac 400, and it has a spin-on. I can't remember right off-hand, but I think it also has a drain plug that faces forward, so you don't have to get as far under the car to change the oil.
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Posts: 219
    They were a whole lot of fun to do in a driveway, especially trying to hold the canister up tight and turn a wrench while it was about 2 inches away from your face. Luckily it was an easy change over to the spin on.
This discussion has been closed.