Ok, fine. So new cars have that new car smell, all the latest technology, epic design tweaks (for the most part, anyway), and more standard options than the Space Shuttle. Like everyone else, I was agog at the shiny toys vying for attention at the L.A. Auto Show.
I’m not immune to the charms of brand-new sheet metal.
Even with that, there is something about an older car that tugs at my heartstrings, if not my wallet (I personally put my Volvo tech’s kid through college, I’m sure of it). Here are five reasons why I think old cars rule:
They have stories to tell: Ask a fresh off the line vehicle “what’s up?” and the most it would muster is “Meep.” Why? Because it hasn’t lived yet. An old car has stories to tell of weddings, babies brought home from the hospital, sick kids (and dogs), road trips, parking lot mishaps, midnight food runs, ER runs, and of hearts won and hearts broken.
Every little ding, dent, and upholstery mark has a story behind it. You just have to be still and listen. Old cars love to tell stories.
They’re cranky: They’re hard to get going in the morning, hate weather extremes, and protest each time you fill them with cheap gas. Nothing says “Get off my lawn!” quite like a grizzled old car, and I love them for it.
Once my car reached the vehicular equivalent of blindness and arthritis, I was much more tender with it than I would have been with a newer car.
The eventual outcome of my day was determined soley by my car’s “mood” each morning. A great day was had when I managed to stay on my car’s good side.
There was hell (and towing fees) to pay if I failed to let it warm properly on cold mornings or if I asked too much of its cold engine by accelerating quickly.
I’d pat myself on the back for each “good day” and question my sanity on “bad days.”
We live in a throwaway society. An old car defies that trend and dares us to think otherwise.
They’ve got style: Cruise a classic car show and you’ll see what I mean. ‘Nuff said.
They’re satisfying: There is something inherently satisfying about keeping an older car on the road. I loved doing routine care on my car: oil, fluids, visual inspections, and brakes. I’d go to my buddy Frank’s shop, he’d put the car in the air, and we’d go to work.
I got to see firsthand how my car was doing based on the condition of the brake pads, and the color of the various fluids. I was able to nurse my old car to over 277,000 on the odometer with a combination of tender loving care and sheer will.
Try tinkering with a 2016 model and you will incur the wrath of the onboard software, and possibly not be able to start the damn thing when you’re through. Feh.
They’re paid for: Have you seen the 60-72 month loan terms for a new car? Have you seen the prices? Pretty close to what our parents paid for a house back in the day. Let that sink in.
Still, I’d love a newer car as much as the next person. I want Bluetooth connectivity, an engine that will start without elaborate rituals, and the ability to get through a year without exhausting my AAA 4- tow allowance in two months.
At the same time I will never regret the years I spent with an old car. I learned to never take the good days for granted, and to shake off the bad days. I also learned to appreciate a good story. God knows my car had plenty of them.