Suddenly Classic Cars Are Just ‘Meh’ To Me
I know it sounds crazy, but I just don’t love classic cars anymore. I know that as a baby boomer, loving classic cars is practically a requirement, along with listening to classic rock, pining for Route 66, and remembering the good old days. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate any quality restoration or resto-mod. I just don’t love them anymore, nor do I dream about having one some day. I even stopped going to classic car shows. I think I know when I turned the corner too.
A Very Brief Car History
I’ve always loved cars and still do. I can spend two hours on a Saturday morning cleaning, tweaking, doting, and in general just wasting a lot of time fiddling with whatever my current vehicle might be. I’ve had all manner of vehicles over the past 40 years or so. Sedans, wagons, vans, minivans, and SUVs…and in variety of brands and manufacturers as well. The only car I really restored more or less from scratch was a 1969 VW Beetle. For every one car my wife had, I had four. For a while I swapped out every two years or so, usually handing one down to the next kid in line ready to get their license and hit the road.
All during this time I dreamed about classic cars. I watched untold hours of Barrett-Jackson classic car auctions, and a myriad of car-related fix it shows. I learned much during this time. I was building on a strong base…I took Auto Shop in high school and took it seriously. Many of the skills and techniques I applied to that ’69 Bug, but I still dreamed of doing my own Overhaulin’ show in my own garage.
My Classic Car Influence
In my dreamiest of dreams, for whatever reason, I coveted cars from 1960-1964. These cars had mostly dropped the tail fins of the 50’s and hadn’t quite moved into some of the land yachts we start to see in the early 70’s. There’s just something about the family-car styling of those years that I like. I have no idea why.
The cars my parents drove during my most impressionable years were the crappy malaise-era Pontiacs. Certainly nothing to write home about, buy, restore, or frankly even speak of ever again. They were terribly made cars made worse by the new emission laws of the time.
No kid every dreams of restoring a 1977 Bonneville.
My first car was a 1969 Chevrolet Impala….4-Door, in Grandma Gold. In 1980 when I got my drivers license, a 4-door ’69 Impala, an automatic no less, wasn’t a classic car…it was an old Chevy. My friends and I nicknamed it The Boat, and it did in fact have that ocean-going handling big old Chevy’s were known for. I didn’t do a ton of work on that car, because it really never broke. I was fortunate to have a car ready to drive the day I turned 16. I paid $650 in hard earned bus-boy money for that car, and sold it when I graduated high school for $250.
Dreaming of Classic Cars
All of that to say, I had yet to own the car of my dreams, and dreaming about classic cars was a regular occurrence. Of the cars I did own, I took good care of them, learned to wrench, and always personalized them in some way. I enjoyed every car I ever owned…some less than others.
I once owned a seemingly rare Mazda Tribute SUV with a 4-speed manual that my wife surprised me with. In fact this was the vehicle that got me back into cars again, after a hiatus of a several years when cars were nothing more than transportation and working and raising kids consumed every waking moment.
When It All Changed
I’m almost certain my dreams ended and indifference to classic cars all began when I leased a brand new 2016 Ford Escape in Titanium trim. Having driven low-end trim vehicles for quite awhile, this thing was a marvel of technology, power, speed, and handling. It looked good, it was practical, it was safe, and did I mention it was fast? A turbo 4-cylinder at 240 horsepower and only 3500 lbs or so, it was a marvel to drive.
Did it lack the soul of a classic GTO, or an early Vette? Of course it did…but that’s about all it lacked. I went through a phase where I compared horsepower-per-pound on any car I saw. Not only did this thing beat most classic cars, it did so with air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, touch-screen navigation, and amazing handling. It was the turning point that caused my obsession with old cars to just be…meh, it’s nice.
The Future, and Present
I rarely watch Barrett-Jackson anymore, but do appreciate classic cars, and I am still very interested in cars. Having recently ridden in a Tesla…which is basically an electric rocket fitted with a giant iPad and a steering wheel, the term horsepower isn’t even relevant anymore. Electric cars are a marvel to behold and are clearly the future. Us baby boomers were promised flying cars and electric cars when we were kids; we got the latter for now…and they are amazing.
My current vehicle is a far less practical lifted Jeep with terrible gas mileage, but it’s FUN, and that counts for something. Classic cars can also be fun, and if they are your thing, do it! Enjoy them, go to shows and be proud of them. Life’s too short to drive a crappy car. What makes a car great is different for everyone.