I don't know what kind of car shows you go to, but I've been to many where folks display their late 70's and even mid 80's luxury liner Caddys and Lincolns, and even mid-size cars such as the Grand Prix, Cutlass and T-bird etc., and no they do not get laughed at, and others don't wonder why they are there. More or less, they get compliments.
And once again, we have owned many cars from the 70's (no, not Vegas) that had no sign whatsoever of corner cutting or atrociousness. I find it hard to believe, because I speak from experienced ownership, just like you do with your Yotas.
Insurance companies (crooks) usually classify any auto over 25 years a classic; yes, Escorts and Yugos. It doesn't mean they are collectable.
Sure - there's a couple of guys that show up at our local shows with their late 70's and even early 80's Caddys and Lincolns. People aren't exactly ooohing and aaahhing over them either, because they aren't really old enough to be that remarkable. They're just there and they typically get ignored. A 80's Caddy? Big deal. I'll be over looking at the Corvette Stingray.
When you talk about modern cars being more powerful, you're thinking about power in the wrong terms. The big 70s Lincolns with a 460 V8 produced about 200 HP and 356 ft-lb of torque at a mere 2,000 RPM. Modern cars produce a similar amount of HP (but not torque) at a much higher RPM. So I think it's more impressive that the older cars can produce such power with so little effort.
Besides your comment about handling is sort of cliche (sounds like Jeremy Clarkson and his followers) because these cars didn't have the fancy dancy rack and pinion steering of today's cars. Besides, would you really want a 4,900-5,500 lb hunk of American steel zipping around the roads and accelerating quickly? Just asking for people to be killed in horrific accidents.
And I wouldn't necessarily say that quality control in today's vehicles has improved very much. It's pretty much the same as back then in most ways. But yeah, most modern cars don't last as long as older cars because that's not what they're built to do anymore. I can't imagine seeing a Hyundai still kicking after 25-40 years of anything. Even seeing a Toyota Camry still around after all that time would be ridiculous. V8 powered cars last infinitely longer than most 6 cylinder cars (I don't even want to talk about 4 cylinder cars) and can take much more punishment. That's what really separates older vehicles from newer ones; the heavy duty transmissions and engines, etc. Modern cars have almost no heavy duty parts in them at all and all the engines are high revving (which hurts engine life). Not only that, but they always have more complicated electronics that tend to crap out after a few years and requires costly maintenance.
And the thing about the high gas prices. I don't mind blah cars for the average commoner. But the luxury cars like Mercedes and BMW are all starting to embrace the same boring concepts as Toyota and Honda. Their designs all look similar, and they too care more about fuel efficiency than real luxury. If you can afford a $100,000 Mercedes, shouldn't you be able to afford the fuel? Why does Rolls-Royce still make low revving cruisers that don't care about performance? Because that's true luxury; a concept abandoned by most other "luxury" vehicle makers.
And the high gas prices can be fought, but people today don't stick together anymore, allowing the government and corporations to trample on them. The government doesn't care about most of us; they are laughing at our powerlessness and gullibility. Everybody just looks out for themselves, and that is what the people in power want, because it gives them more power without the threat of resistance.
Look up how many 4 cylinder cars have gone past 200k miles before assuming that "Bigger is better".
As far as handling goes, I'm not asking for Lotus Elise turning ability here, just something that can avoid a tree or drive in the rain without slipping. It is a cliche comment, but handling does matter you know.
It's very easy to say that modern cars "don't last" when it hasn't been 20-40 years; you're making an assumption that would require a time machine to accurately predict.
I don't even know what makes you think that your car's so tough; you've barely driven it, and you've yet to mention any real experiences with modern machines. You base everything off of face value and size, as opposed to actual research and facts.
@4th Nov 2012, 11:10 That was really, really well said! Few today would understand what you said. I'm 24 and am blessed with an excellent condition Crown Victoria. I love having basically a truck with a car body on it.
As for the gas prices, that's all a numbers game brainwashed on the public as false scarcity.
The comments about horsepower and torque: We're talking about small 4 cylinder engined cars producing more horsepower than a 70's era massive V8 engine. The point is that it's by far way less impressive that some monster-sized car with a monster-sized engine would produce XXX horsepower and torque, versus a small compact car with an engine less than half that size producing more. That, and the econo car gets 35-40MPG while delivering that power.
Now, putting that aside, this is like comparing a 1950's era computer - a HUGE machine using many thousands of vacuum tubes, miles and miles of wiring, and consuming 10's of thousands of watts of power, versus a modern PC that fits in the palm of your hand and does all of the things that huge computer did and more, using a fraction of the electricity. Is it fair to compare the two from a technological standpoint? No, not really. They two are from different eras, and the knowledge that existed back then was based on current abilities. Just because something is huge and heavy, doesn't mean it's superior.
I would also totally disagree that today's cars are less reliable or that quality hasn't gone up significantly. Sure, the hardware and construction on older cars is typically heavier. But that's not because they had different intentions than today's engineers: They had to because metallurgical engineering and materials usage were very different back then. I can without a doubt say that things wear out a LOT quicker on my 50's classic than my newer cars.
I can also totally imagine that many of the cars from the 80's and 90's will be with us a long time from now. Come to think of it, I still see a LOT of cars from the 80's on the roads every single day. Many of these are now well past their 30th year. My Wife in fact still had a 1990 Honda Civic until recently. It still even looked like new. That's a 22 year old car. Many an old car would have long rusted out by that time. As mentioned, it's not that uncommon for most any modern vehicle to easily go 250,000-300,000 or more without any serious issues. Even when I was a kid in the 80's, if a car made it past 100,000 miles, that was considered worth bragging about. Now it's more or less expected.