15:55 summed things up well. What a lot of people fail to realize in conversations like these, is that despite their large size, older cars didn't really make good use of that space. In fact if you look at how many square feet of space of interior room is present in even some of the smaller cars of today, it's not uncommon for some small cars to have close to as much space as some of the medium and full sized cars from the 70's.
I restored my '55 Mercury 10 years ago. This meant disassembling the body and interior. So I am keenly aware of the structural composition of this car. The body simply bolts onto the frame. The door shells have little to no internal reinforcement. The B-pillar is not really structurally sound enough to withstand any sort of side impact. It's simply there to keep the doors closed - not provide protection for the occupants. The frame is a simple rail frame. But the cross members are far too flimsy to really stop any sort of frontal impact from shoving the engine right through the firewall. The entire dash is made of steel with no padding. The steering wheel is enormous, and has an inner horn and medallion that is also made of solid steel. So as one could imagine, this car - though seemingly "indestructible", would fair very badly in any sort of serious collision. So yes - I too agree that these old large cars are far from being the tanks many assume they are.
As far as the ease of fixing old versus new cars, I've worked on both. I'd say it's probably a tie. While old cars had points, distributors, grease zerks (mine has over 20 of them), and carburetors that need adjusting or timed (I use a timing light) modern cars don't have those things, but rather use a lot of sensors and an ECU that displays whatever problems you have, at which point you simply often replace that module, which I've done many a time. It's simply different technology with different means to service. Anyone can learn, and I encourage people to do so. It's not rocket science, you just need the right tools and some patience.
I seriously doubt that a modern rinky-dink Sonic with a whopping 138 horse power (on the turbo engine) will "blow the doors" off of a Cadillac 500 or Ford 460 V8, or even the superior Pontiac 400 from the 70's.
As far as a car that you need a calender to measure 0-60 time; try a "modern" Prius.
A Sonic? It's really sad to see GM put the Chevy name on that Daewoo.
Some of us would rather buy a Crown Vic or Caprice for $1000-$2000 cash, than pay $400/month on a base model Mazda or some other boring car. You save a ton on taxes, insurance and ownership costs, not to mention are debt free and have a reliable machine.
Older Crown Vics can get 26-28 MPG highway with a V-8 engine, which is pretty good. A lot of 2000 era midsize cars get comparable highway mileage with smaller engines and less cargo space.
I always buy my cars with cash, and don't care about impressing neighbors etc with the newest chunk of plastic Kia is offering.
Some of us appreciate quality, reliability, safety, and comfort, not to mention buying something American instead of sending $400/month overseas.
New cars are not as great as people cut them out to be. My uncle's brand new Lexus 4 cylinder SUV only gets 28 MPG. A friend bought a brand new Kia Rio, and it went back to the dealership 6 times in a month. Another friend bought a new Tundra that was recalled 3 times.
Give me an old Crown Vic that can make it to 400k on the original drivetrain any day, please and thank you.
What those of you that think the new cars are all that and a bag of chips fail to see, is that the 60s-80s cars had a presence and comfort level that no modern car will ever match again. A large car is now considered to be around 200 inches long; 35 years ago that was compact. A car of that size, regardless of how aggressive the styling is (which most modern cars have none of), just does not have a presence of a large car that is 220+ inches long, or even 210 inches for that matter. It is much easier to make a large car attractive than a compact; just go back and compare the full-size 60s models to the compacts. In my opinion, the bigger cars almost always look better.
Plus many of you keep mentioning the speed and handling of modern cars, well all I can say is that true luxury cars, unless they are from Europe, don't give any thought to the above, especially handling. To me the only pluses modern cars have is their fuel efficiency, reliability, and slight ease of maneuvering. None of those things add to the enjoyment of owning and driving the car though!
Interesting side note; inflation adjusted we pay about the same for a 2013 Toyota Camry as one would for a 1976 Buick Electra; pretty sad what we get for our money today!
My old Bonneville with the big V-8, 4-barrel carb and 4-speed automatic had exactly the same 0-60 time as a 2012 Chevy Sonic.
"A Sonic? It's really sad to see GM put the Chevy name on that Daewoo."
Daewoo's have poor build quality.
I'm the owner of the 78 Continental review that seemed to have a million comments. This thread is becoming eerily similar to mine.
I want to make one thing clear, nothing, I mean nothing today maybe besides for a RR Phantom or some other ultra uber expensive luxury car, can compare to the ride and comfort that you could expect out of a 70's full size Cadillac or Lincoln Continental.
I rented a 2012 Chrysler 300C Hemi V8 for a week; that car was awesome. It was perfect in almost every sense besides for its rather stiff leather seats, and some plasticky material that you wouldn't find in a higher end Lexus or a Benz. The car rode ultra smooth, was completely silent and had power for days, plus I love the styling of the beast. But I will tell you what, for being a new car, even with all its modern technology, the 300 still isn't nearly as comfortable as my 78 Conti. It doesn't have the buttery smooth, softly sprung suspension like the Lincoln, nor does it have the overly soft seats like the Lincoln, nor does it absorb bumps and road shock as well as the Linc. It's proof that even though the 300 is considered "full size" luxury today, it's a far cry from the past. You can't compare a huge 233 inch, 127 inch wheelbase luxury car, with one half of its size.
When driving such huge 70's lux boats, the first thing you will notice is its utter isolation from the outside world that is unbelievable. You cannot compare it to a modern luxury car. But it goes even further. The interior space is unmatched. You can try to fit 5 five real size adults in a BMW 7 series, but I bet you would have a hard time doing so, and if you could, those adults will really be uncomfortable, especially when their shoulders are touching each other. In a 78 Mercury or a Continental, there will be loads of room for 5 and 6 people to move around in without feeling claustrophobic.
We will never see days like this again in the automotive world. Modern vehicles might be more reliable, fuel efficient, smoother running and operating, and have loads features, but you can't compare them to the old land yachts of yore, it's almost unfair and I feel sad for the modern makes, since they will never stand a chance at the prestige, styling and class of the older American luxury cars of the past.
I am not saying the older was better in every category, because they weren't. Crappy running smog motors that were severely underpowered, too much tinkering with the carb and other parts, some cheap interior materials that were pretty bad, bodies that rusted easily; these were all things that sucked about all older cars from the 70's-80's. But the best category of all that they got right was comfort, styling, presence, and generous amounts of interior room. Too bad the Town Car is no longer with us, and the fact that you would have to spend lots of money today in order to buy a car with great amount of interior space when back in the day a cheap Ford LTD fit that bill.
You just don't get as much "Car" for your money like you used to.