In our quest to show off interesting cars and driving experiences we sometimes wind up in cars far older than the 25 year “classic” designation. In the past six months alone I’ve driven a fifty year old Datsun, a thirty year old BMW, and the infamous “Pink Jag”. We enjoy sharing the history of these cars and broadening our own knowledge alongside the audience, but we aren’t a classic car show. And there is the problem.
Any time we post a review of a truly old car it stirs the same types of comments from the classic car community. Owners of old cars appreciate them and overlook flaws with a blind passion that rivals the greatest love affairs in history. In most cases, these aren’t daily driven or primary transport for their owners. They are four-wheel hobby projects and objects of obsession.
Pick any classic car and wade into the internet. You are one search away from men and women (okay… mostly men) who know the thread pitches of the screws used on their classic car. Every car has its own underground of disciples and the older a car gets the smaller and more entrenched the group becomes. There is a wealth of information and camaraderie in these communities. There’s also a low tolerance of outsiders with different perspectives.
So here we are, two guys with a car show dedicated to helping people compare car options and find the perfect car for their needs. In most cases this also means a car that will do all of the mundane things in life as well as the fun backroad blasts. Rarely do we get asked to help someone find a car they can park, tinker with, or drive on occasional slow cruises. We speak to those trying to combine a daily driver with a weekend fun car.
When driving a classic car, we have to question its viability compared to more modern vehicles available for the same price. Classic car fans find this abhorrent. The most common insistence is to compare classic cars with other classic cars, but that’s as relevant to most people as comparing the portability of two vinyl records.
Unless someone has other transport and disposable income for a classic, our cars have to work whenever called upon and offer some level of modern convenience. I know a 19 year old with a gorgeous Chevy Chevelle that’s older than I am. But he drives a Chevy Tahoe almost every day. We want your daily transport, your “Everyday Driver”, to be the best possible blending of fun and usable. Additionally, much of our audience doesn’t have classic car experience to draw upon so everything we drive must be put in a modern context.
I can’t honestly recommend anyone buy a classic car as their primary transport. A 1969 Datsun roadster makes far less sense than a 2009 Miata. Classics are things you buy to love first, and use second. In these real-world considerations, the classic will always lose, but the experience might be worth the sacrifice.
Modern cars work better than classics. Yet the same technologies that make them more reliable and smart-phone capable, also distance us from the driving experience. Every classic I drive only increases my love of cars. Even models that don’t run well or need more love tell a story of their time and prove that with cars, like people, there’s something for everyone. I respect the guys that know more about their old car than I do about all subjects combined. But like everything from films to refrigerators, old must be compared to new.
And just like falling in love, you might ignore the facts and go with your heart.
If that happens, I applaud you. But arrange some backup transportation.