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Thread: The death of the old car hobby?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The death of the old car hobby?

    Will it be economically impossible (or just too complicated) to maintain/restore late model cars 25-plus years down the road?

    Consider it:

    Pre-computer/pre-emissions cars are pretty basic machines. The entire engine in a '60s or '70s-era car, for example, can typically be rebuilt to as-new condition for about $2,000. Or less. And it's a task that can be handled by an Average Joe backyard mechanic type. No special skills or training are needed.

    The fuel system in a car of the '60s or '70s consists of a simple, easy-to-rebuild mechanical device - the carburetor - an equally simple fuel pump, some steel lines and a gas tank. Even if you were to replace every single component with a brand-new/reproduction part, the total cost would be in the neighborhood of $1,500 or so. And again, the work is fairly simple and can be handled by an Average Joe, given some patience and a shop manual.

    The transmission in an older car can be rebuilt/replaced for less than $1,000. It, too, is a basic device.

    The "electronics package" in a '60s or '70s-era car typically consists of an AM/FM radio (perhaps with a tape deck or CB and maybe four speakers) and a basic wiring harness - which can be easily and inexpensively replaced, if need be. There is no ECM, no ABS, ESP or TCS. No wheelspeed sensors, "drive by wire" throttle or microprocessor-controlled "climate control" AC.

    A backyard mechanic with some basic tools can can keep such a car running almost indefinitely. Necessary parts are generally easy to get and fairly cheap, too.

    A modern car, on the other hand, is a highly complex system of integrated components orders of magnitude more complex than the typical old classic. Anything beyond the most basic routine maintenance is already beyond the ken of most Average Joe, do-it-yourself types. The skill/knowledge and equipment necessary to competently diagnose and repair a modern OBD-equipped car is driving the "backyard mechanic" into the history books.

    What will it be like when such cars are 20 or 30 years old?

    Remember, most old car hobbyists are self-taught tinkerer types - not professionally trained "technicians" with several thousand dollars' worth of specialized tools and equipment at their disposal.

    It's one thing to figure out how a Holley four barrel works - and learn, using books and trial-and-error, to disassemble one and put it back together competently. It's a whole different ball game to tear into a modern car's digital multi-point EFI system. A few self-taught types might be able to get there; the average DIY hobbyists probably won't make the cut. Then he'll have to pay someone else - and that gets into money. And paying someone to fix your car defeats the point of being a car hobbyist.

    But complexity aside, it's the economics of it all that will likely be the nail in the coffin.

    Even today, it is not at all uncommon for a late-model car that has a sound body and a basically sound drivetrain to become uneconomic to repair. For example, replacing the driver/passenger-side SRS/air bag system on a 10-year-old, 150,000 mile Corolla - a car that's worth perhaps $3,500. Replacing the air bags is a $2,000 job. Hello, crusher.

    Imagine the cost of rehabbing/replacing just the fuel injection system and its related components, including the wiring harness, ECU and emissions gear, on a 2007 model vehicle (any 2007 model year vehicle) in the year 2037. The cost will likely be absolutely prohibitive - assuming parts are even available. (This gets into a Catch-22; if the parts are very expensive, few people will buy them. If few people buy them, there's little incentive for the aftermarket to produce them.)

    The problem is already manifesting itself. For example, owners of mid-'80s era Corvettes with Tuned Port Injection (TPI) are having difficulty locating parts - and the parts, when they're even available, are often massively expensive - on the order of $3,000 dollars for a complete TPI set-up (or aftermarket-equivalent replacement).

    And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What about new/replacement catalytic converters? (The Corvette and many late-model cars need at least two - sometimes as many as four, depending on the model of car.) The EGR system and its related hardware and plumbing? The MAP/MAF/TPS, wheel speed and coolant temperature sensor(s) and their related plumbing? The multiple O2 sensors? Then there's the ABS system, including its sensors and controller, plus the ABS pump. The electronic traction control, the stability control system, the computer-controlled "lock-up" transmission, the electronically controlled climate control, the GPS, the onboard "entertainment system," ECU itself - and the hydra of multiplexed wiring that connects it all together?

    Who wants to even think about messing with that - today? Just imagine wading into a worn out "modern" car a quarter-century down the road. Would you wish that job on your worst enemy?

    Modern cars are wonderful machines that run better, longer and with less fuss than any of their forbears. But they are disposable machines that will likely not be feasible for the average person to keep running or restore once they've reached the outer limits of their service life and begin to require comprehensive replacement/restoration of their major parts and systems.

    There may and probably will be a few well-preserved "originals" in the hands of collectors. But the hobby of working on and restoring cars will become one of working on and restoring older, pre-emissions/pre-computers cars.

    At least, for the average person.

    Late model "classics" will either be too expensive - or just too much hassle.


  2. #2
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    25-yr plus cars are still very complex and will in my opinion never be popular.

    A 1908 'Silver Ghost' can still be got across Asia, but a 1984 Camaro?

    There will be a big industry built around old cars in the US., but it will be middle-aged men mostly. I see fat middle-aged men in [mostly] Ford muscle cars every Sunday. Sometimes they are Chevrolets. They don't drive fast, and never come out if it looks like rain.
    I feel rather sorry for them... and the older bikers on Britbikes.

    I like my V8 mechanic friend. He races carb cars and breaks things and fixes them.
    I don't like restored machines of any style, including steam.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    25-yr plus cars are still very complex and will in my opinion never be popular.

    A 1908 'Silver Ghost' can still be got across Asia, but a 1984 Camaro?

    There will be a big industry built around old cars in the US., but it will be middle-aged men mostly. I see fat middle-aged men in [mostly] Ford muscle cars every Sunday. Sometimes they are Chevrolets. They don't drive fast, and never come out if it looks like rain.
    I feel rather sorry for them... and the older bikers on Britbikes.
    That's my prediction also.

    I may be missing it entirely, but I just don't see how the average guy will get around the cost or the complexity of keeping one of these modern cars alive when it's 25-30 years old... .

    Another issue that may be a further nail in the coffin is emissions compliance. Older cars are either exempt, or when they stil must pass, easy to get into shape to make the cut. But getting a 2007 year car to remain emissions compliant, under current standards (which are massively more strict than they are for cars built before the early '80s) will likely be a killer....

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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Another issue that may be a further nail in the coffin is emissions compliance. Older cars are either exempt, or when they stil must pass, easy to get into shape to make the cut. But getting a 2007 year car to remain emissions compliant, under current standards (which are massively more strict than they are for cars built before the early '80s) will likely be a killer....
    I guess that a few cars will be kept running, even if they have, say, 1979 BMW 635 CSI injection, the computer for that mutha requires an entire university of techno-archeoligists to keep going right. Of course you can now custom build computers to read common engine signals but it wouldn't be genuine, eh?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    I wouldn't know where to start with electronic injection etc.
    And do I really want to?

    Carbs were much more fun to pull apart and repair.
    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg

    I don't like restored machines of any style, including steam.
    Then the question is, what is "restored?" How does the idea differ to, say, "repaired?"

    That is a seriouis question which puts me in mind of a quote from a US Supreme Court justice: "I can't define pornogrophy but I know it when I see it."


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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg

    I don't like restored machines of any style, including steam.
    Then the question is, what is "restored?" How does the idea differ to, say, "repaired?"

    That is a seriouis question which puts me in mind of a quote from a US Supreme Court justice: "I can't define pornogrophy but I know it when I see it."
    'Restored' is polished molly-coddled shiny stuff.
    'Un-restored' is everyday work condition.

    I prefer everyday work condition. 'Repaired' is everyday work condition.
    A vehicle can be shiny and polished and un-restored. Even after a lot of repairs.

    I hope this has cleared things up for you.

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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    >>I may be missing it entirely, but I just don't see how the average guy will get around the cost or the complexity of keeping one of these modern cars alive when it's 25-30 years old... . <<

    With technology running as fast as it is, who the hell would want to drive and maintain a 25 year old car? They should keep one and put it in a museum, take all the others and scrap them.
    Nothing beats NEW! ;D

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1
    I wouldn't know where to start with electronic injection etc.
    And do I really want to?

    Carbs were much more fun to pull apart and repair.
    A-men! Hallelujah! A fellow hater of ECMs and electronics!

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    "With technology running as fast as it is, who the hell would want to drive and maintain a 25 year old car? They should keep one and put it in a museum, take all the others and scrap them.
    Nothing beats NEW! ;D"

    Well, I suppose the same motive that causes people to be interested (today) in cars of the '60s and '70s... only those cars can be kept up and even fully restored within the boundaries of the average hobbyist's ability and budget!


  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    "Then the question is, what is "restored?" How does the idea differ to, say, "repaired?"

    That is a seriouis question which puts me in mind of a quote from a US Supreme Court justice: "I can't define pornogrophy but I know it when I see it."


    I consider "restored" to mean brought back to "as new" condition, cosmetically and functionally. "Repaired" means just that; it works but is very obviously not in "as new" condition, either.

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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    >>Well, I suppose the same motive that causes people to be interested (today) in cars of the '60s and '70s... only those cars can be kept up and even fully restored within the boundaries of the average hobbyist's ability and budget!<<

    As a hobby-- but not for everyday use-- The simple fact that the current crop of cars will outlast 2 to 3 of the 25 year old variety will make it easier for the hobbyist--

  13. #13
    DonTom
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    "A fellow hater of ECMs and electronics!"

    I bet you're glad to find out that you're not the only hightechphobic person in the forum!

    "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
    --Marie Curie


    -Don Quoteman

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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric

    I consider "restored" to mean brought back to "as new" condition, cosmetically and functionally. "Repaired" means just that; it works but is very obviously not in "as new" condition, either.
    I think along those lines, too.

    But I'm waiting for Robbie to answer so I can start an argument.

  15. #15
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose
    >>Well, I suppose the same motive that causes people to be interested (today) in cars of the '60s and '70s... only those cars can be kept up and even fully restored within the boundaries of the average hobbyist's ability and budget!<<

    As a hobby-- but not for everyday use-- The simple fact that the current crop of cars will outlast 2 to 3 of the 25 year old variety will make it easier for the hobbyist--
    I doubt it - because the "old cars" still left are already mostly well-cared-for/properly stored and only occasionally used "pleasure cars."

    Probably 99 percent of them have been out of service as daily drivers for at least a decade or two - if not several decades. Having made it through the first 25 years, they're now likely to last virtually forever. My Trans-Am, for example. It sees maybe 2,000 miles annually and the rest of the time is tucked away under cover in a heated garage. Barring a house fire or other such accident, it is likely to be in the same basic condition it's in now in 10 or 15 years. And to be around another quarter century after that. No one's going to throw away a well-cared-for/restored vintage vehicle.

    The new cars, on the other hand, are constantly being attrited; they reach the end of their service life at about 15 years or so - and are recycled. Few will be kept beyond 20 years, let alone restored - at least, that am mah predication!

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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    >>The new cars, on the other hand, are constantly being attrited; they reach the end of their service life at about 15 years or so - and are recycled. Few will be kept beyond 20 years, let alone restored - at least, that am mah predication! <<

    I don't think anything will change. Old cars will still be old cars-- Someone's first car will be restored-- and someone who always wanted a xxxx Superfire turbo 2 will finally have enough money to buy and restore one!

  17. #17
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose
    >>The new cars, on the other hand, are constantly being attrited; they reach the end of their service life at about 15 years or so - and are recycled. Few will be kept beyond 20 years, let alone restored - at least, that am mah predication! <<

    I don't think anything will change. Old cars will still be old cars-- Someone's first car will be restored-- and someone who always wanted a xxxx Superfire turbo 2 will finally have enough money to buy and restore one!
    I thinkmaybe the interest will be there, but per my original post, I also think the cost/complexity issues (which don't affect cars built before the early '80s) will put the kibosh on it.

    Just imagine trying to restore, say, a 2007 Z06 Corvette in 2037.... no thanks!

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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    >>Just imagine trying to restore, say, a 2007 Z06 Corvette in 2037.... no thanks! <<

    So say you now, but what about that rich young fellow then who has all the necessary resources and time?


  19. #19
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rose
    >>Just imagine trying to restore, say, a 2007 Z06 Corvette in 2037.... no thanks! <<

    So say you now, but what about that rich young fellow then who has all the necessary resources and time?

    Sure - but again (and per my original post) most people - that is, most car hobbyists - are not rich and don't have such resources!

    This is a key difference between "then" (when the old car hobby was an Average Joe hobby) and "the future" (when it almost certainly will be the exclusive indulgence of the very affluent - and the highly skilled - due to the massively greater complexity and thus cost of doing so)

  20. #20
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    Re: The death of the old car hobby?

    >>This is a key difference between "then" (when the old car hobby was an Average Joe hobby) and "the future" (when it almost certainly will be the exclusive indulgence of the very affluent - and the highly skilled - due to the massively greater complexity and thus cost of doing so) <<

    They'll grow up with the new high tech stuff and have to do some real research to find out about the antiques we were saddled with!

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