The classic car as we know it is dead. We’re not scaremongering. We’re certainly not welcoming its death. We’re simply stating a fact. Classic cars have peaked. But sometime in the last 20 years there has been a turn, a switch in the way cars are constructed that has seen to it that none will progress to the status of classic.
Some may survive, and be recognised as such. But none will linger in barns for years and then be restored in the same way a Capri or old Mercedes might be. And why? Because they’re just too damn complicated to work on, that’s why.
The lifeblood of the classic car world is the fact the cars themselves are approachable. They are nuts and bolts that any man with a set of tools can take apart. Metal that has rusted is easy to understand and as such, repair. And classic cars generally only have three wires running through them. Modern cars don’t. Modern cars are a mess of sensors, OBD2 ports and other complicated things.
And therein lies the problem. Fixing wiring or diagnosing electrical faults is not a satisfying task. Fitting a new wing, or new mechanical parts is. You can derive a real sense of pride and satisfaction from the latter, while the former will just result in frustration or the unfortunate, accidental burning down of your garage.
There’s also the fact that old cars, properly old ones, are somewhat hardier in their construction. Modern stuff isn’t. It’s built to both a cost and to ultimate be disposable and recycled. They’re also build by machines with levels of dexterity a greased weasel couldn’t achieve. They’re not built by men and women with hands. As such, they not going to be fixed on a driveway in Basingstoke by your, or your greased weasel’s hands. This is why, when you go to a modern day scrap yard, everything looks new. Almost too good to be in there. It’s because they’re beyond economical repair. Parts are often cheap, but the work and skill required to fit them negates the fact. Modern cars just aren’t designed to survive.
And the ‘designed to be replaced’ approach taken by modern cars brings with it another problem. They’re very hard to bond with. Any old car, as you fight it and battle it through a restoration on your driveway gets under your skin, in both a literal and figurative sense. More modern cars can’t. We’re too detached from them because when something goes wrong, it invariably involves a garage and a diagnostic tool. Not advice from your dad and a few spanners. Someone might actively want to work on a Ford Cortina. But would they have the same enthusiasm for a Ford Mondeo? Probably not.
But does that mean it’s all doom and gloom? Of course not. but it does mean we have work to do. There’s an entire generation out there that is being brought up on touch-screen this and intelligent that. Too many young faces blankly walking past Halfords in favour of Currys. And as the last true generation of car fixing types, it’s our job to bring them into the fold. And in an ironic twist, modern cars can help us.
Okay, so nobody is ever going to carry out a nut-and-bolt restoration on a 2009 Kia pro_cee’d, but for what the modern metals may lack in approachable mechanicals, they more than make up for it by being cheap. Not 2 Grand exists to show you all what you can buy for your budget, and there is some fun, exciting, fast stuff out there. And it’s all so cheap. So disposable, if you will. And that means it’s not hard on the wallet to experience as many of these cars as possible. And with that, you can build a person’s passion for cars, for driving, for motoring. It’s a lost sentiment in today’s entitled world, but driving is privilege, not a right. And the brilliant cars you can get for under two grand serve to demonstrate how special driving is.
And maybe, by getting the young’uns into these cars, maybe something could be sparked? A light under the fires of automotive intrigue. Something that would encourage generation iPhone to save one of the many, many true classics that are still out there waiting for some love. Cars now may never reach true classic status, but they could be a gateway into the classic world. Something to ponder, there.