Here we are again arguing about a different "debate". Gee whiz, I wonder how that happened.
Well, here's my comment, I was born in the mid 70's, but yet have a lot of experience with cars from that era and post that era, and in my opinion (just like 95% of the others on this thread), they were better than today's bland, overpriced, smaller, computer infested, complex cars.
Even the full-size body on frame Buicks in our family from the 80's were more stylish and much stronger. For example I owned 3 Pontiac Grand Prix's; my first car was an '84 model, and it topped out at 210,000 miles. Sure, it had a couple of repairs, but nothing I could not handle.
I also had a '77 model that I bought 10 years ago, as a classic for about 4 years. It had low miles, but in that time it never broke down, left me stranded, or needed any type of non maintenance repair.
Some years back I had a '98 Wide Track model. It was junk at 78,000 miles with many uncalled for repairs.
As far as they 90's go, I would stick with GM B bodies and Ford Panther platforms; that's why I have been driving a high mileage '96 Town Car for the past 6 years.
I find it rather interesting how people romanticize about the vehicles from the "Glory Days" of the 70's & 80's; a time when cars were built poorly (horrible paint, fit & finish), were strangled by emissions equipment (leaving a 1974 GM 5.7 liter (350 cu.inch) 2 barrel engine putting out a grand total of 145hp for example), got horrible gas mileage, and rusted out quickly (some like the Aspen & Volare seemed to almost rust out in the showroom) ;)
I've been driving for over 40 years, and worked in the auto industry from 1974 - 2007, and can tell you that yes - many of the vehicles from the 50's thru the 70's had great styling, were certainly simpler to work on, but in no way were the cars of the 70's & 80's made better or made to last longer than today's vehicles. Yes, so many of today's cars have little style, many seem to look alike, it's difficult to tell one year from another, and yes they have styrofoam (yuck) covering plastic bumpers. But the fact is today's engines are far more efficient, much more powerful for their size, they require much less maintenance, and the bodies hold up much better than the cars of the earlier era I speak of.
I own one 2001 model vehicle as well as a 2007, my wife owns a 2006 model. We live in New England where the roads are covered with salt in the winter, and back in the 70's in was common to see 5-7 year old vehicle rusting and 10 year old vehicles rotted out (and not just imports).
I admit to being a maintenance freak, and keep a good coat of wax on my vehicles, I spray down the undersides regularly to get the salt off, but I did that back in the 1970's as well, and I have to say, even my 2001 model is rust-free.
40 years ago you would be hard-pressed to find a 12 year old vehicle with nearly 100,000 miles on the clock that still looked nearly new and wasn't rusting out.
Yes, there were some great cars back then - in fact I owned a V8 Camaro that I purchased new for 29 years (it had rust issues within the first few years, but I kept up with them). The styling of some of these cars were absolutely gorgeous, and there were many great cars made during that era, but again, in no way did they last the way today's cars are built to last.
One other thing - I agree far too many vehicles look alike nowadays, but if you look around you will also see some gorgeous styles. Even the much & often criticized 2001 - 2006 Chrysler Sebring Convertible has drop-dead gorgeous styling (I think they took some styling cues from Jaguar). Look at the 2013 Ford Fusion - that's about as nicely styled a sedan (Aston Martin look) as I've seen in a long time & I'm really not a Ford fan.
Anyway didn't mean to ramble - but I guess what I'm trying to say, as you can't look at this "debate" as black & white, there plenty of good points on both sides.
I drive new cars and have classics. It seems that most new cars are designed inside out using a wind tunnel. Thus the potato shape. Then efforts to make them as light as possible to save gas. Aluminum engines, thin sheet metal and a lot of plastic.
Back in the early 70s, you bought a new car and took at max a 3 year car loan. I was making 12k a year and bought new mid size cars at 3500 average. Take a mid size today at 5 percent interest and pay 650 month payment as a guide. Easily remedied, right? Now take a 5 or 6 year new car loan. Seems less expensive. If you drive a lot in 3 or 4 years, is it worth spending 4-5k for a new engine or trans? The car may be only worth that running with over 100k on it. In the past with well kept full frame cars, it was typically well worth buying another engine in coupes and convertibles.
I have a friend with a salvage yard. It is interesting to hear his comments. It also seems it doesn't take as much to total a car today. I have seen some that looked fine, but were not. Labor and repairs can easily send a car to the bone yard today.
Front wheel drive cars are also extremely hard to work on. There's no room.
The cars I buy from the past are worth saving. I wish I could have bought more classics if possible. They were simple, less to repair, and especially engines like the 350 V8, extremely durable. I have electronic ignition upgrades and disc brakes from drum in mine today.
I don't really see this "argument" as an argument. I see people saying that older cars were big, luxurious and uniquely styled to define themselves as representative of their individual manufacturer, and that they came in bright, vibrant and exciting colors. All this, is of course 100 percent true.
I also see others pointing out that modern cars have become totally bland turtle-shaped appliances, with no soul or individuality, that only come in muted shades of gray. That is also 100 percent true, with a few very rare exceptions.
Having grown up in an era of bright colors and distinctive styling, I prefer cars that do not vanish into the herd. I do, however, insist on the latest safety equipment and efficiency. I could care less about what people think of my choice of vehicles. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I currently drive a Grabber orange Mustang. My wife and I were discussing a possible future car purchase last night over dinner, and agreed we'd both like a bright yellow Dodge Challenger.