I hesitate to say this on forum like DriveTribe. This isn’t, I suspect, going to be a very popular view, although that isn’t a problem because the point of DriveTribe is to start a fight. And being unpopular isn’t the same as being wrong.
We’re going to have to accept that old cars are rubbish, even the E-Type Jag. Sorry about this, but few subjects occupy such a lofty position in the bollocksphere as cars, and largely because so many people think they were better in the olden days.
They weren’t, and we can arrive at this conclusion through simple and unassailable logic, without the hindrance of emotion or any subjective nonsense. Allow me.
Back in the 90s, my dad complained that cars were better in the 70s. But now I meet people, often on here, who think cars were better in the 90s, which comes as a bit of a surprise, because I thought they were supposed to be boring and all looked the same.
So at any point in time there is a disturbingly large number of people who believe cars were better 20 or 30 years ago. But that would mean cars have been in decline ever since Bertha Benz complained that this new Model T isn’t half as good as her old man’s Motorwagen was. It can’t possibly be true.
It’s a bit like the argument that the world is going to the dogs. Every generation says it, but if it were true we’d have arrived at the dogs many centuries ago. We haven’t.
New cars are obviously better made and better equipped. They are also safer, cleaner, and more dependable. They are more affordable to more people in real terms. They are a better expression of the state of new technology than they’ve ever been. Most importantly – and this is the bit that will annoy everyone – they’re better to drive.
They just are. I recently drove a basic MkI Golf, and what a dismal Soviet-spec experience that was, with its pig-iron suspension, biscuit-tin build, and single banal instrument mocking me from the facia for the feeble ambition of its age. If you honestly think this is better then you must think a twin-tub top-loading washing machine is better than one that allows you to simply throw your pants through the door and then go to the pub. Do you?
Look, I get it. Old cars are fascinating, and nothing reveals the conceits of nations and individual people quite like the history of the car. I’ve made two series on the subject for TV. It’s gripping stuff, but the cars themselves are no longer any good.
I’d like to sign off, before you’ve finished building the gallows, by saying that I’m glad other people are interested in old cars and drive around in them. I’ve always maintained that the best car museum in the world is the one out on the road, because it’s all very well going to stare at car history at Beaulieu but not half as exciting as coming across something interesting out on the street. It’s why car spotting is one of the most popular things on this site.
I mean, a few weeks ago, driving through town in my thoroughly modern BMW, I saw a man parking up a mint 70s Cadillac Seville, a car I remember reading about when I was a lad. It looked amazing, and very, very cool.
I bet it was shit, though.