It’s easy for us to look back at retro rides of the 60’s and 70’s with dreamy nostalgia, imaging a simpler time of motoring where driver and car were one with the road, not separated by technical tomfoolery.
Here are 7 reasons why I don’t always miss the good old days:
No servo assistance brakes
We weren’t just missing ABS back in the day. Many cars had no servo assistance. This meant it was just your foot against the DOT4. Worse still you might have drums upfront. Under heavy braking, these loved to pull one way, well at least until they got too hot. Then it was hello brake fade, goodbye no claims discount.
No Synchromesh on 1st gear
With the audible whine you could pretend you were driving a touring car until you put it in 2nd but this was not without its disadvantages. See when you approach a roundabout or junction you’re left with a dilemma. Come to a complete stop to change down or limp away slowly in 2nd. Any attempt to change into 1st while in motion and you were going to hear very bad noises.
Now we’re used to just starting a car cold and driving off, but back when you had to manually adjust your fuel mixture it could be a delicate art on a cold day. Too much fuel and it would flood the engine, too little and it would conk out at idle.
No Power Steering
We forget but power steering was a luxury reserved for larger executive cars. The rest of us had to make do with large steering wheels and lots of turn lock to lock. Combine this with a tired rack and you really did drive like the old movies with constant corrections just to go straight.
Electronic ignition is a miracle compared to these temperamental spark makers. Points didn’t like it when it was too damp, or cold or hot or Tuesday. And keep your feeler blades handy because they will want regular adjustment.
We’re spoilt today with our low profile radial tires. Back then though we had crossply tires. You could forget the body roll from your agricultural suspension, these tires had roll enough on the rim to see you understeer into a hedge when you hadn’t got on your woeful brakes early enough.
Car heaters now are excellent, with climate control and air conditioning on even budget vehicles. But back then with inadequate heater matrixes and feeble fans, every cold day could be a battle with the elements. Windows constantly misted up and sometimes you would need de-icer inside the car as the condensation began to freeze.
Of course if you really love your classic all these issues are just part of the fun, a labour of love we’re only too happy to endure.