New cars do have some advantages

Sometimes I find myself complaining here about what I think are unnecessary complications with newer cars. But I was reading an article in a magazine about old trucks the other day and got a new perspective. The truck was a 1950 Ford F1 as I recall. This is how the basic model came equipped from the Ford factory:

1950 Ford F1 Pickup Truck, Basic Model

  • Warranty: 90 days. Parts only.
  • One windshield wiper on the drivers side, none on the passenger side.
  • One tail light. I’m not sure which side it was on.
  • Only one of the two doors was equipped with a key operated lock, and that only on the passenger side.
  • Only one sun visor, on the driver’s side.

I have love hate relationship with new cars. I can’t imagine how I survived without AC up to 2000. But then when the ABS light or CEL starts flashing, I remember my 1940’s Jeep Willy’s with a total of less than 20 ft of wiring, 5 of which was the radio I had installed/added to the car.

There are still a few of us around who have driven cars and trucks without signal lights, radios, AC or even heat and certainly no power windows or door locks. I owned several cars that had no locks on the doors at all and required reaching through the window to pull a chain on the inside to open the door.

And for sure a great many conveniences on cars these days are appreciated but quite a few are just gizmos to fail at an incovenient time. And I feel sure that the cars overloaded with gizmos won’t be treasured classics in 50 years like old VW Beetles and vans are today. A Lexus will be as disposable as a Yugo.

Look at all the advantages of that 1950 Ford truck over vehicles of today. That truck wasn’t designed and built around the heater core. In fact, the heater was an option and was a box under the dashboard and was easy to service if the heater core sprung a leak. Of course, only wimps wanted heat in the cab. With only one wiper, the cost of blade replacement was half. Besides, why does the passenger need to see anyway? The truck didn’t have directional signals so there was no multifunctional switch to give problems. My late uncle had a,1951 Ford F-1. His truck had the optional V-8. It was probably the fastest half ton on the road at the time. I think 1951 was the first year a column shift was available on the Ford pickup. An automatic transmission option didn’t come along until 1953. Today you can’t get a manual transmission in a half ton.

I am a wimp

I want heat

We returned home today from a 350 mile drive after visiting our son and his family. Since the weather forecast was uncertain we took our 2003 4Runner instead of the 2011 Sienna we would normally drive. The 4runner has automatic temperature control which our Sienna does not have. It is a nice feature. Comparing the automatic with manual control is like comparing a thermostat controlled furnace with the coal furnace where we had a damper control in the main floor that had a chain to open the damper on the furnace to get .more air to the fire and get more heat.

The modern high tech gadgets are kind of nice and very reliable all things considered. When you factor in electronics being exposed to extremes of heat, cold, and constant vibration it’s amazing that anything survives more than a week.

Of course the modern cars with longer warranty periods as to miles and time are also nice but I’m sure most people don’t realize that they’re the ones paying for that longer warranty.
It’s factored into the higher MSRP of the car and also in parts pricing. In a nutshell, no free lunch.

Yes, I liked driving my bros 1929 Nash. But the wooden floorboards that allowed fumes to wafe through the passenger compartment along with very cold air and the “let’s get out and walk” on a steep hill strategy when taking a full load of passengers, gets wearing after a while.

I prefer new cars. The most advance cars of 20 years ago are not as advanced as many of the least expensive cars today.

The tail light would have been on the left side. It was still ok in MN to have one tail light for a long time as long as it was on the left-maybe still is. When my dad managed to get the left 1/4 panel smashed on our 57 Ford, the garage fixed it on priority because it was the left side. If it was on the right, it would have been ok to drive so he’d have to wait his turn.

Yep I remember back in 57, radios, heaters, back up lights, etc. were all optional equipment. It was a big deal to have tinted glass. Loved that Ford though.

I prefer new cars. The most advance cars of 20 years ago are not as advanced as many of the least expensive cars today.
While you are entirely correct about levels of advancement, not everybody equates "advanced" with "good." AFAIC, being able to competently accomplish a goal with proven tech is a more desirable thing than accomplishing the goal with high-zoot technology. Dunno why I feel that way; maybe it's my Mennonite ancestry. Never much cared for luxury, either.

@Triedaq: Automated climate control never appealed to me. I generally enter a car somewhere between “very hot” and “very cold,” and I want to modulate the temperature of the vent air, NOT the temperature of the cabin! What seems to inevitably happen, is that the vent air varies between “lukewarm” and “cool” as it brackets the set teperature…and I have to try to “reverse-engineer” the system to get the vent to output the temperature of air I desire.

Cars today are undeniably technologically sophisticated well beyond anything ever dreamed about in the early part of the last century, but cars then had much more style. IMHO the old wings and chrome were much more beautiful than monochromatic streamlined bodies with matching plastic bumper covers. Maybe I like them so much because I grew up dreaming about owning them, but they were beautiful in ways that modern cars aren’t. They had style, and flash, and trim that was there for no other reason than style and flash. The arrows on the hoods of '57 Chevys, for example, had absolutely no function, but they sure looked nice.

I like all my modern conveniences. Our cheapish Elantra has all the goodies my Grandpa’s sixties Lincoln, plus a few (satellite radio).

We were driving a friend’s Jetta for a couple of years that had dual auto climate control. Before that I didn’t really see the value, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It was perfectly wonderful, especially since my partner doesn’t like it as cool as I do on a hot day. With manual climate control I’m constantly fiddling with the vents and temp control. With auto our preferred temp was already set.

Satellite radio I can’t imagine doing with out. We like to take long road trips now and then and used to only get Spanish country stations for hundreds of miles. Or we could listen to our music from home. With XM I can always find a channel that suits my mood.

I like classic cars but I do prefer the newer models. I was down on TPMS until I bought my 2008 HHR (new enough for me). I now enjoy checking all my tire pressure readings before I head out on the road. I still check the tires periodically with a dial gauge and the pencil type gauge just to check it’s accuracy. So far…they all match tire pressure readings.

Today’s basic cars are a good compromise in comfort and safety. My first car, a 1948 Chevrolet lacked:

  1. Turn signals; part of the standard driving test was the proper hand signals for making a turn
  2. Seat belts and shoulder harness
  3. Heater with fresh air intake; the inside heater, like a miniature garage heater hung from under the dash and reheated the same stale air.
  4. Intermittent wipers and WW washers.
  5. Disk brakes, power brakes
  6. Rear window defroster
  7. Any form of crash protection
  8. Dual cylinder brakes; one leak and all braking was lost
  9. No radio; this was an expensive and unreliable option; radios still had tubes
  10. Ball joint front suspension; those nasty king pins developed the shakes after a while
  11. Power steering

Plus too many small items to mention. Engine durability was short; 100,000 miles between overhauls was considered good performance.

My Chevy used 1 quart of oil very 1000 miles, considered normal.

To Docnick’s list of the equipment that was not available (or was available only as an extra-cost option) on cars of only a few decades ago, I would add back-up lights. And, who can forget the non-padded dashboards, replete with pointy knobs and other objects that caused severe injury to any head that impacted the dashboard area.

And, in my recollections, engine durability was even shorter than 100k miles. When I was a kid (in the '50s), it seemed that everyone had–at the very least–a valve job done on their engines by 50k miles, and many of those folks had the rings replaced at the same time.

My first car, a 1964 model, had power nothing, an AM radio and heater. It also had optional seat belts (front lap belts only) and an auto transmission (with 2, count 'em 2 speeds!) and 4 wheel - good for nothing - drum brakes. I had to replace points every 6000 miles and rebuild the carb if it backfired. It was rusted through at 8 years old and ran like a top IF maintained.

I like disk brakes, AC, fuel injection, electronic ignitions and good stereos. I like not spewing noxious fumes out the tailpipe. (sit in traffic behind a pre 80’s car and tell me what you smell!) I like cars that handle, stop and can take a serious impact without killing me. I LOVE 50’s and 60’s vintage iron but with all the modern amenities.

Although I enjoy most of the features incorporated into the newer cars and would prefer to keep most on the list that everyone has listed here.
Yet I feel the complicity of these options…especially tying them together will be a cost prohibitive repair for many people when these cars get resold and an 8 year old car will be too costly for many to repair.
It’s one thing to have to fork out $1000 on ball joints or struts, on a used vehicle.

Wasn’t there someone here a few months back, who had a vehicle where the “Information Center” is tied into the Radio and the security system…the radio went out and the cost of the parts, labor and reflashing was over $2000. The OP couldn’t just slap in an aftermarket radio for $200.

I too remember vehicles without heaters from the factory and I saw a few home made heaters that people installed. All you needed was a heater core, a squirrel cage fan and a valve to control the flow through the heater hoses.

But I’d never want to give up the crash safety features, power steering and brakes, or the sound deadening that is in the vehicles of today.


Re. XM: I’d like XM a lot more if the data stream wasn’t compressed to death, giving less fidelity than a broadcast FM station. That and it’s silly that when I buy an XM membership, that I can’t use it on as many XM devices as I want, or at least on more than one without paying for another subscription. XM keeps offering me a “deal” where they will sell me a portable XM receiver for what they consider to be cheap (it’s not), and I would of course need another subscription to use it. My home receiver, computers, and smart devices are already capable of receiving XM’s programming over the Internet, with no additional cost to XM for me to do so, but naturally they want me to re-buy my subscription to listen. It would be trivial to allow me to register an additional device or two, and it would give them a lot more exposure if I listened more than just in my car. They also offer a cheap initial sign-up, then an automatic renewal with a ridiculously high price, unless you pay careful attention and opt out in time. Eventually, if you have a life, you will lose track and forget to cancel and renew at the better rate. This is how they make their money–similar to the old, shady, deal-with-the-devil Columbia House Records and Tapes (and later CDs) subscription service. And finally, it’s reprehensible to me that some XM channels have advertising when I’m paying for the service. (I understand that some networks like CNN will have negotiated a contract with XM that requires advertising to be streamed)

With cheap broadband data plans on cell phones and Pandora and related services, I’d say XM’s days are numbered if they don’t become a bit more flexible, perhaps by offering a “family pack” membership that lets you use 3 or 5 devices, or at least a Netflix-like service where you can use it on as many devices as you want, just not concurrently.

You can stream XM and Sirius on your computer or smart phone if you like. Programming is not identical, but most of the stations on air are available over the Internet.