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Thread: Nostalgia for the basic car

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Nostalgia for the basic car


    If you could, would you buy a "back to basics" new car? By that I mean a car without the comfort and safety features we take for granted today -- things like, for instance, air conditioning and power steering. And power brakes.

    Back in the 1970s (and even into the 1980s) those amenities were often optional -- still considered "big ticket" (especially AC) on even medium-priced cars. Of course, things like GPS navigation, ABS brakes, multiple air bags and factory-installed stereos with CD players were unheard of. ABS brakes were rarely found on ordinary, family-type cars -- let alone economy cars -- until rather recently (mid-1990s).

    We now take many of these features for granted -- or at least, we expect them. I doubt many buyers today (especially younger ones, who have never been near a genuinely "basic" car) would consider buying one, even if it were possible for the automakers to build one. (Which it isn't, due to myriad federal regulations and mandates having to do with things like occupant safety and emissions controls, among other things.)

    Things like air conditioning have become essential, mainly because of traffic and ever-longer commutes. In the '60s, one could live with a non-air-conditioned vehicle because they were built with lots of vents and so long as you were moving, there was enough airflow to keep the occupants comfortable. But when you're inching along on I-95 and it's 95 degrees outside, the situation is unendurable without AC.

    This is the main reason why AC has become like heaters once were; that is to say, it is now standard equipment on virtually all new cars, even "economy" models. There are a handful of passenger cars left that still can be purchased without AC -- but with each passing year, their numbers decline. And the AC is almost always on the options list anyhow. (It's put there as an "option" mainly so that the automaker can advertise a lower base price for the vehicle -- even though most buyers will end up ordering the AC for the reasons just explained.)

    Ditto ABS. Most new cars come with it as standard equipment -- and those few that don't usually offer it as optional equipment. Like AC, it has become a feature that few of us could imagine not having in our next new vehicle.

    And we have no choice about things like air bags (and soon, perhaps, electronic stability control), which the federal government requires be installed in all new vehicles sold. At first, the mandate was probably necessary -- if the object was to put these features into widespread use. Today, however, it's probably true that few, if any, buyers would want a vehicle that didn't at least offer air bags -- whether required by Uncle Sam or not.

    Think about all this in terms of cell phones and the Internet. Go back less than 20 years and neither existed outside of very rarified circles (cell phones) or academia (the Internet). Today both are so integral to our lives that doing without is almost unimaginable.

    It's the same with the features and amenities that have made new cars more expensive and complicated -- but at the same time, given us things we've embraced and which we would have trouble giving up.

    The price we pay for this is a bit more hassle -- and a bit more of a bite whenever we buy a new vehicle or take it in for service (and of course, we do take it in for service -- because most f us are not capable of servicing a modern car ourselves).

    It's an inexorable process that's impossible to resist. Change happens -- and we are carried along with the flow. Some of us (myself included) would love nothing more than to toss a wrench into the works -- the whole enchilada, not just the ever-increasing complexity of new cars but of the societal and economic trends that have pushed everything in that direction -- but we are in the minority. Most people seem to love their cell phones -- and their ABS-equipped, air bag-laden, air conditioned, GPS-navigated new cars, too.

    It's perfectly understandably -- even if it's a bit lamentable.

    Such is life.


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  2. #2
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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    You would think there would be some market for the basic car, I thinhk it its about 5 percent of the car market. Yes, we are in the minority, although in Florda, I would not live without A/C. If I was in NY, definitely.

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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    Several years ago a friend of mine wanted to buy a new van without A/C. He got one, but they made him sign a document advising that the vehicle could be difficult to resell.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    You would think there would be some market for the basic car, I thinhk it its about 5 percent of the car market. Yes, we are in the minority, although in Florda, I would not live without A/C. If I was in NY, definitely.
    I could get away without it here in the mountains of rural SW Va.; but in or near any major city, I think it's a must-have....

    PS - Thanks for the tip in re my ticket and "prayer before judgment." I will look into it!

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong
    Several years ago a friend of mine wanted to buy a new van without A/C. He got one, but they made him sign a document advising that the vehicle could be difficult to resell.
    Wow - that's a new one for me!

    I guess it's another case of pre-emptive lawyering....

  6. #6
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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    If you could, would you buy a "back to basics" new car? By that I mean a car without the comfort and safety features we take for granted today -- things like, for instance, air conditioning and power steering. And power brakes.


    END
    Hell no, I wouldn't. Been there done that.

    My first car was a new 1954 Chevrolet basic model, the kind bought by fleets, which had nothing on it but the then optional bypass oil filter. "Nothing" means exactly that, no radio, heater, ashtray, lighter, outside mirrors, nuffin.

    I did install a heater but nothing else; a summer in Phoenix taught me the value of AC. The "good stuff" is almost mandatory for me except the navigation and sun roof.

  7. #7
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    I'd buy a 'less dense' or 'less layered' car.

    By which I mean, in order to remove/ inspect/ repair/ replace some part, you shouldn't have to remove some _other_ part.

    Example: 02 Explorer V8. The crankshaft position sensor is retained by one bolt. Great for serviceability, right? By itself, yes. But in order to actually extract the sensor from its socket in the block, you have to move the A/C compressor, which involves removing two nuts and one bolt/stud, and shifting the compressor away from the block and against the crossmember.

    More egregious example: Same vehicle. Because the A/C compressor is retained by two long radial studs and a long stud/bolt, and is located between the outside of the right cylinder bank and the crossmember, it appears that you have to lift, and perhaps remove, the engine in order to replace it. The recommended procedure involves working through the wheelwell and removing the studs with the compressor, but when's the last time you had an easy time removing a stud?

    The problem is not limited to Fords of course.

    I don't seriously expect it to change, because government pressure tends to shrink the vehicle for aerodynamic reasons, and consumer pressure resists shrinkage of the passenger compartment, so the engine compartment gets squeezed.

    I wouldn't give up the A/C.







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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    You would think there would be some market for the basic car, I thinhk it its about 5 percent of the car market. Yes, we are in the minority, although in Florda, I would not live without A/C. If I was in NY, definitely.
    I could get away without it here in the mountains of rural SW Va.; but in or near any major city, I think it's a must-have....

    PS - Thanks for the tip in re my ticket and "prayer before judgment." I will look into it!
    Eric:

    Keep in mind that it may require a $300 lawyer to get you that PBJ. It is no doubt worth it.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Nostalgia for the basic car

    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat
    You would think there would be some market for the basic car, I thinhk it its about 5 percent of the car market. Yes, we are in the minority, although in Florda, I would not live without A/C. If I was in NY, definitely.
    I could get away without it here in the mountains of rural SW Va.; but in or near any major city, I think it's a must-have....

    PS - Thanks for the tip in re my ticket and "prayer before judgment." I will look into it!
    Eric:

    Keep in mind that it may require a $300 lawyer to get you that PBJ. It is no doubt worth it.
    Yeah; I agree.. am shopping for one right now, actually...

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