I completely agree. I have owned over 40 cars in my time, and by far the most reliable have been the full size, V-8, RWD domestics from the mid 70's to late 80's.
These run ridiculous high mileage unheard of these days.
How many new cars reach the half million mile mark on the original drivetrain? NONE!
Believe me, I have owned a lot of 90's and 2000's cars as well, and I prefer the 80's ones by far.
I avoid fuel injection if possible, as carburetors are much simpler to repair; the less computers the better.
If I want to fix a computer, I will fix a computer, but I like to do tuneups on my cars myself, so I prefer the older cars.
Computers in cars are an awful idea, just a way for the dealers to make even more money servicing it.
Say what you want about the new cars, that they are better, but how can you tell the long term reliability when the car is only a few years old? Wait until 20 years later, and see how many are still on the road, that is the true test.
OK, now you are getting off topic, we are talking about full size and mid size from the 70's to mid 80's that sold well and everybody adored, not compact Vegas, Futuras, Pintos etc.
Chrysler? They are a joke, and always have been, that's why I don't mention them. Go ahead and consider yourself an enthusiast; they have opinions too.
Bottom line is these cars that you are criticizing such as the Caprice sold good and were well built, that would be why they had minimum changes from 1977 - 1990, same goes for the Grand Marquis and Town Car, and it wasn't just old folks who bought them. Also you keep mentioning Toyota, who in 70's and 80's had no style at all.
"But if we're talking about cars like the early 90s Caprice - that big, ugly looking bulbous car"
Oh really? a Caprice was long and thin. Park it next to a 2011 Lacrosse, and you'll see that the new Buick is the one that's a fat bulbous pig.
Adding computers to cars was probably the single biggest improvement in regards to overall reliability. Sure - I have an old car too. A 60 year old car to be exact. I can easily tune it up. But with an on board computer, most of the actual tuning is done by the computer. There are oxygen sensors, EGR valves, TPS sensors, knock sensors, and many others all working in unison. What these do is monitor almost every aspect of the engine's performance. Fuel, air, speed, and ventilation are all controlled automatically and adjusted constantly. This is superior to mechanical systems like carburetors that are usually out of whack due to human error.
My brother's car has around 300,000 miles. My Dad's truck has 256,000 miles. My truck has 243,000 miles. These are all vehicles from the 90's and early 2000's. The eldest is now going on 16 years old. My Wife had a 90' Honda Civic we sold last year. In other words, the car was already 20 years old. Thus that more or less proves that cars with on board computers are absolutely fine. I have yet to see a computers fail. Just because something has new technology, doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Lack of knowledge of how something works doesn't mean it's bad or harder to maintain. Get a book, get a code reader and learn how to work on it. I do, and so far I find it easy.
20:44 is right... up to a point. Yes, modern cars have all sorts of sensors that monitor engine functions. The problem is, all these sensors tend to be very short-lived and very expensive. Replaced a mass air flow sensor lately? This tiny little piece of metal is nearly $300 at auto parts stores. And that's just the beginning. You can spend more on a few sensors than a total engine costs. We own a 57-year-old GM car. In its entire life we have spent less in repairs on it than on one late model import. There is a huge trade-off with modern technology. I have actually been looking for a good pre-1973 domestic car to buy, because you can basically keep them running forever for pennies.
I have had exactly one $50 sensor (the throttle position sensor) go out on my 16 year old Toyota truck since I've owned it, since new. On the other hand, the '55 Ford I own has the original electrical system in it, and it routinely likes to blow through the mechanical voltage regulators. These are like $25-$30 each time. Oh - and the cap and rotor needs replacement fairly regularly. Don't forget about the points and condenser. It's also key to point out that these older cars are way worse at dirtying up the oil. I change the oil on my '55 every 1,000 miles, and the oil looks a lot dirtier than the oil that comes out of the Toyota. I have to rebuild the carburetor every 45,000-50,000 miles.
Technology is just that. Technology. Horses and buggies were the standard of the day 100+ years ago. Then came automobiles, which at first were seen as hindrances. Then cam fuel injection, computer controls, hybrid drive trains, clean diesels and direct gas injection. All in the march towards progress. As mentioned before, if one knows how to work on these cars, then it's not an issue. I have owned or own 4 different modern cars. None have had any issues, save for the one TPS sensor with their electronics systems. All have to date lasted 200,000+ miles, and of those miles they've seldom needed any major repairs. In fact, all of these, including my brother's car with 300,000 miles, are in excellent condition.
Anyway, we can agree to disagree.
You are right as well... to a point.
Sensors are actually long lasting pieces. However, they can be thrown off by dirt, corrosion on the contacts, voltage drops in the wiring etc.
I think about 75% of sensors are replaced that could have kept in working order by an appropriate cleaning.
The dealers don't make much money cleaning sensors, though.
We have 3 cars with 100K, 140K, 161K miles, and all original sensors, except for 1 O2-sensor. Replacing this sensor was my mistake, because the problem was caused by a vacuum leak.
I cleaned 4 or 5 MAF sensors and one crank position sensor.
Most sensors don't have surfaces that can be cleaned. They're mostly solid state devices.
Adding computers to cars was the best thing ever done?
Not in my experience, all my newer cars have been expensive and hard to fix, disposable, planned obsolescence junk with a short shelf life.
I stay away from newer cars now if possible, have lost a lot of money on unreliable, cheap junk.
Here are some examples :
2001 Toyota Rav-4, check engine light came on, needed to change sensors, fuel injectors, etc, about $2000 of work to make the damn thing pass an emissions test, only to have check engine light come back on 2 weeks later...
1999 Chevrolet Silverado Z-71 - ABS problems from day one, electrical gremlins, tons of bugs and electrical / computer problems never resolved, sold it like that as is at a loss...
2003 Hyundai Elantra - Check engine light on, problems with emissions test, replaced all injectors, sensors, MAF,etc, about $1200 to make this heap pass emissions.
2004 Honda Accord - My girlfriend's car, transmission went at only 65000 k, just out of warranty. Piece of junk that should have been recalled, could never get the alignment adjusted right, tons of problems I'm not even going to get into, my girlfriend hates the car too :(
1999 Dodge Caravan - Inherited from a relative, was in good shape, but had that crap 3.0 Mitsubishi engine that did nothing but burn oil, stall, and cause problems. Had to send it to the wreckers once it needed 02 sensors, injectors, etc, etc, what a piece...
1996 Mercury Villager - JUNK, JUNK, JUNK! I cannot even remember what didn't break on this van, pretty much everything. Went to the wreckers in 2006..
Anyways, those are the newer cars I have owned, all with numerous, expensive problems.
Got rid of all of these (except for my girlfriends Accord as we have too much invested in it) and got myself some REAL cars and trucks, some maintenance free, reliable as heck, cheap to operate and fix ones.
I now have a 1979 Chevrolet Pickup with a carburated 305, an absolute tank that will never die. As well a 1986 Ford Crown Victoria with a police issue 351 4 barrel. Also tough and reliable. As a project I have a 1982 Chevy Monte Carlo with a 305 as well. Very easy and even fun to work on. All of these " old, unreliable cars " have been problem free, low maintenance, and very reliable.
I cannot say the same about my newer cars!
I just wished they kept cars simple without any of that computer, sensor junk that is designed to cause problems.
Everything is made to be disposable these days.