How many times have you gone out for meal in your classic, with a specific establishment in mind, only to drive on to next one because there wasn’t a suitable parking space.
And I don’t mean a space that might not be big enough, I mean a space that doesn’t happen to be right outside where you plan to eat. So you can keep an eye on it of course.
People don’t bond with their modern machinery in the way someone does with a classic car. Discounting the blood sweat and tears in getting the car from rust to riches. It’s more the way there is a greater skill in mastering older cars. The way todays car will assist you when you’re braking, cornering, even cruising so that you become more and more distant from the helm.
I hired a Mazda3 a little while ago and I have to say I was very impressed with it. It drove, braked, steered faultlessly, it was comfortable, quiet and no doubt economical, but after about an hour it quickly became just a utility, a kitchen appliance. You don’t have to think about how to use a fridge and the same way as you don’t have to think about how to drive a modern car.
Vinyl LPs are making a comeback and it’s not just because the badger fraternity (old grey men) have a yearning for the analogue sound. Young dudes are embracing the ‘old technology’ as they just ‘get it’.
They appreciate the time and process before playing a song or track, removing the LP from the sleeve, removing the static before carefully placing it on the turntable.
It re-introduces the bond between the player and the receiver. The skill involved in creating the music is related to the skill involved in the making of the vinyl, which in turn is related to person preparing the platter. The enjoyment of the song is heightened, although the absolute quality of the sound is less.
It is the same with classic cars. In absolute terms they don’t drive as well as a modern car, even our C1 will happily trundle up to Birmingham at 70mph (at 3000 rpm – a 1 litre engine geared the same as a 2.4 litre sports car). But, and here’s the point, it’s because of the extra effort required to drive an old car that enjoyment is more.
For some people driving an old car would frustrate them, the heavy steering, the slowish gear change, the way the car dips when you brake, oh, and the brakes, what brakes! Those people will never ‘get it’.
Classic car owners become one with their car in a way that most people don’t understand. True, after a winter locked away, it can take me a little while to ‘tune in’ to my Z, but that’s the point. If it was easy, straightforward, there would be nothing to think about, and nothing to appreciate.
My car is a little unwell at the moment, work is interfering a little too much and stopping me having a good go and finding what the problem is. When you turn the key of a classic car there is that nanosecond when you wonder if everything will connect and start, of course as soon as your hear the starter motor there is a tiny tiny bit of excitement because in a few seconds (when it’s been left for a while) you know it’s going to burst into action.
At the moment it feels like my car has a cold, it starts and goes but it ain’t happy.
Jay Leno has a great saying regarding modern cars, he calls it the Betty Crocker Theory. In the ‘50s Betty Crocker came out with with an instant cake mix. All you had to do was add a little water, mix and you had a cake. By rights it should have sold in the millions, but it bombed.
So they re-designed it so you had to add two eggs into the mix, then stir it to make your cake. It sold a million because people were more involved.
Modern cars got so good that the driver was just a passenger who steered. Now they are engineering in more ‘feel’, more ‘weight’, so the driver can feel more involved.
The great thing about a classic car and a Z in particular is that you have no option but to feel ‘involved’.
BMW have tried to address this by enabling you to spec your Mini so that it is unqiue to you. It’s no, it’s a pack here, an option there and a bit of paint on the roof.
When you have a car that needs you, like mine needs me at the moment you form a bond, similarly when you have repaired it or even washed it.
But the process of synthicising what you feel in a car in an effort to help make a bond could be the bounce of the dead cat. The thrill of driving a car is over, the manufacturers are trying to engineering in ‘feel, but maybe they are engineering the driver out of the process all together.
Maybe that is the plan, or it would appear that way if the likes of Google get their way with their driverless cars.
Another good reason to keep, and drive your classic.