Things wore out; got replaced, again and again, decade after decade.
On the third engine, third gear box, second set of front seats, couple of doors, several front quarter panels, a radiator or two; just the usual stuff.
Now have four keys for four different barrels: ignition, two front doors and boot. Great conversation-starter at parties... No problems sufficient to scrap the car and replace it; just stuff that wore out and got fixed.
My original car was bought by my dad when I was 11. It’s been brought back from the brink twice now, rescued via major transplants of parts from other cars, not to mention ongoing repairs and replacements. I think there are probably less than a dozen original parts left, but they include the speedo and number-plates that were on her when I learned to drive.
Also the disk brake front end – I hate drum brakes.
I’ve seen her age over the years, but she’s still the same car to me, and still drives like she did in the mid-seventies; not perfect, but just fine, thanks. She's on her fourth time round that old clock now, but still sits on 75mph like she’s on rails, and my wife can hear the engine from three miles away when I’m coming home from work, and knows to put the kettle on ready for a cup of tea when I arrive.
I see modern cars, and drive them from time to time. They're nice, they're comfortable, they're frugal on petrol, they go well and handle well. And they're unsurpassingly boring.
Automatics don't have enough pedals in the first place, and what's the point of having an engine in a car if you can't hear it? If I want a lounge room, I go to the lounge room. If I want to travel, I want a car - a proper one, that goes vroom and doesn't try to make you think you're still at home wondering what to cook for tea.
If I ever reach the point where I need something to beep at me to remind me that I'm getting close to the kerb, or it's raining and haven't turned the wipers on, or I'm going backwards, or I've opened the damn door with the keys still in the damn ignition, or the headlights are on and I've turned the engine off, or I've left one of the doors unlocked or whatever, it'll be time to pack it in altogether. If you need your car to tell you these things, you belong in a nursery and shouldn't be driving one.
I asked my mechanic once whether it was getting to the point, cost-wise, where the old girl should be retired. He pointed to a Japanese car that he had up on the hoist and said, "This car is here because of one fault - the owner brought it in because the left front blinker doesn't work. In your car that would be $10 for a new flasher switch, or $5 for an old one from a wrecker. The guy who owns this car is up for $1300, because you can't just replace the switch any more. Everything is sealed up in the black box, and you have to replace the whole computer, even though it's only one bit of it that's broken."
And honestly, how good is it that 2000 or so of these machines are still going – maybe 800 or a thousand of them without major surgery, out of a quarter million that were built – after almost half a century?