While the 1971-1976 Cadillacs were great in most respects, they were somewhat dumbed down compared to the later 1960s models. Usually they don't age well, unless they were well cared for in a garage.
By the way, your Continental is a great deal for $1,000. Even though it has that somewhat gutless 400 cid V8 engine, it is still a stylish and incredible driving experience that can't be matched. Despite its cheaper feeling dashboard, 1978 was still a great year for the big Lincolns, although I do miss that thermometer showing you how fast you're going. Still, ergonomically, the 1978 dashboards were an improvement, despite the cheaper materials involved.
My father liked his so much that he had his detailed. Then he changed the vinyl top to dark blue. The interior leather was professionally dyed to match. Looked great with the white exterior.
Glad to see we are talking about Lincolns instead of Toyotas again. Or the ozone level and particulates on the LA freeways.
Yes - if you own a classic, you really have to be very careful about the coolant. On mine, I always make sure that the coolant is at minimum 50-60% actual antifreeze. I also add in an additional corrosion inhibitor. I too have had to replace a couple of freeze plugs, but these were fairly easy to do.
As far as working on new versus old cars, well I can work on either. What's key is to buy a set of actual factory-spec shop manuals. I also find that trouble lights are also in many ways more helpful. I bought a diagnostic tool, that when plugged in tells me what general issue the car has.
In regards to quality materials, the interior quality of my 17 year old Tacoma was far better than the same cars from GM at the time. The fact that they have held up extremely well for almost 20 years with no rips, tears, or discoloration on a truck with over 250,000 miles is a good testament this assertion.
I suppose in the end money talks. Had the Big 3 continued making vehicles the way they had been making them, the conversation we would be having now would likely be about 3 defunct and out of business companies. If the argument is that somehow the large floaty, plasticy cars they made 15-20 years ago were better, then the question would be would it have been better if that meant those companies went out of business as a result?
"The 78-79's use dummy lights, which I hate so much! You don't know what the heck is going on with the car until it's too late."
I own a '79. After the car warms up, the engine light stays on. Perhaps the 400 is starting to lose oil-pressure? There haven't been any funny noises or changes in driving performance.
My retired neighbor has a mint 70s Mark. It's used going out with family or for a few trips. It's a great Sunday car. No shows, no cruises. It will be a one owner estate car someday. What gauges do you need to observe, other than the speedometer and nice clock?
Comparing commuter late model econo cars is not applicable. We have high mileage all highway work vehicles that look new. I drove one with no cruise control 6 hours on a business trip. Doesn't mean I like it or want it. Great cars to me are ones that cruise effortlessly, whisper quiet, and no appreciable bumps and skipping over lane expansion strips. Ride for a few hours without a chiropractor visit. These type of cars are made for the great holiday vacation trip. Not for the bumper to bumper daily grind. Carry a couple of passengers and split the fuel costs. And luggage in the trunk, vs poking you in the ribs!
Once again the reason that full-size cars (or what you like to refer as plasticy floaty) faded away was do to the fact that large SUV's made their mark as more versatile vehicles. This is why the Suburban, Expedition etc. are still made today, and you see millions of them on the road. Makes sense, right? Even in the 90's when big SUV's were starting to take over, the Mercury Grand Marquis and Buick LeSabres were still America's best selling sedans.
I have worked on and driven many Tacomas in the past, and the interior quality is NO better than an S-10 or Ranger of that era.
As far as working on modern cars, anybody can purchase a scanner, plug it into the car's computer and get the code results; that's the easy part. Ever try to replace a knock sensor in a Nissan Altima from the early 2000's? Or how about a simple head light bulb in a Volkswagen GTI? Today's cars have direct coils instead of spark plug wires; big deal, the coils are so expensive when they fail, one coil costs more than the average spark plug wire set for a typical push rod V6.
I think this thread alone and many others on this site prove that there is still a high demand for a full-size luxury car that is built the old fashioned way. A boring ugly Toyota Prius? No thanks, I'll stick with my "Floaty" Lincoln where I don't hear or feel every imperfection on the road.
There not enough money in the world to make me deal with commuting like this and working in any of these cities.
Look at the cities and lost personal time annually. I actually took a pay cut to work 10 minutes away. Better for my health and peace of mind. I can drive any size vehicle I want with any MPG. Drive home for lunch. And be with my family an added hour after work. Your vehicle has less wear, tear and depreciation. And no doubt lasts just as long or even longer. And my spouse did the same. I have a nice tree lined back road with only 2 traffic lights. It's actually fun to drive now.
The 400 (like all the Cleveland engines) uses large main-bearing caps, allowing 4-bolt attachment on some engines. The oiling sequence does not route the oil supply to the main bearings first. Many people still think the bearings were too small, and sometimes they would spurt a leak as a result. It's not a huge deal, but it can be annoying.
Interestingly enough I was watching the morning news, and lo and behold, a new Lincoln commercial came on. It literally shows the stereotypical, huge, mid-90's Lincoln cruising across the desert landscape, only to 'poof' into a new Lincoln MKZ. If that doesn't lend itself to the conversation at hand - that those cars were clearly outdated and were also more or less the image consumers had of the brand - that they only made big bulbous floaty cars - then I don't know what does.
As far as comparing an S-10 to a Tacoma? You'd be lucky to make it 100,000 miles in an S-10 back then before they blew their head gaskets or the coolant passages gunked up. Those trucks were crap. The Ranger wasn't bad, but my brother had one, and the 4-bangers they stuck in those were barely sewing machine engines. Absolutely gutless.
As far as Americans going from big cars to big SUVs, well I'd hardly call large SUVs practical. They are huge, guzzle fuel, are too heavy, and ridiculously large. Luckily that trend is changing, and more and more people are switching to more sensible vehicles.
Oh - and about the outdated argument that today's commuter cars are cramped: Many of them actually have more interior space and leg room than the full sized cars of the 80's and 90's. So perhaps the statement should be more about switching to today's commuter cars with more space, than some big boat with less.