The Lure of Nostalgia

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

Latest posts by Charles D. Schultz (see all)

I love old cars but have no desire to drive one on a daily basis.

The appeal of a powerful muscle car or winged 1950s convertible is understandable, but the hassles of ownership outweigh it for me. Sometimes it seems like half the content on cable TV is related to finding, restoring, and reselling old cars and other memorabilia. It is amazing how much some things are worth and how much people will pay to have them “restored.”

Perhaps my opinion is influenced by the cars I could afford as a young driver. There was no tricked out GTO in the driveway when I finally got my license. Instead, my father won a 1953 Pontiac straight-eight in a VFW Post card game. The 55,000 mile “creampuff” was valued at $25 and required a battery of equal cost to get it running.

A 17-year-old car with only 55,000 miles on it would be worth much more than $50 today — and this is at the heart of my opinion on old cars. Frankly, they were not very reliable, cost a lot to operate, lacked safety equipment, handled like farm wagons, and rusted while you watched.

It is easy at my age to remember just the excitement of having your own wheels and being able to go where you wanted. Deeper reflection brings the breakdowns, clouds of blue smoke, and the constant need for gas/oil/tires/exhaust pipes/shocks to mind. Maybe it was a different experience for other guys; in my working class high school the parking lot had plenty of oil spots. (I remember a friend having to put his always-at-the-ready roasting pan under his 1955 Chevy while he picked up his prom date, lest it leave a quart on her father’s pristine driveway.)

So I will confine my appreciation for old cars to watching TV shows and reading enthusiast magazines. For me, the good memories cannot be separated from the not-so-good ones. When guys say “They don’t make them like that anymore,” I for one say, “Thankfully.”

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