Find me one (non turbo) 4 banger from today that has more horses, torque, acceleration than let's say a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30.
Fuel economy doesn't matter, simply because that is not the reason people buy those muscle cars.
Here's the issue I have with the 200000 mile imports. I live in the top half of the country. Even with a large garage, my imports rusted out far before any high mileage. I don't know if it was thinner steel or lack of rustproofing.
In addition, I had very high repairs and parts costs after 100000 miles and beyond. Timing belts, undersized disc brakes, clutches, trans issues, and front end work.
You can knock the full frame cars, but rust out a unibody and it's very unsafe. I had quarters popping rust on one car in 5 years! I also car washed and garaged mine. I did not buy low end imports either. I have had Toyotas, Hondas, Nissan Z cars, and even a couple of Mercedes. If you want to hear some really big repairs, even higher than mine from Japan, I can give some major insight.
So what I am getting at, is mileage means nothing; it's the repair costs to get there. I remember the worst was a small Toyota truck that rotted out. Maybe if you live in Arizona, you may have a different experience. Even with a garage, we had rust as the biggest concern. If you want a disposable car and commute, that's a priority for some. Others want a nice experience as far as ride, handling, and styling are concerned, and are not so budget restrained. That's why there are different vehicles for everyone.
I own BOTH a classic and modern cars for commuting. My classic is from the 50's, and also gets rather horrible fuel economy. You don't own these for economy anyway. I've had it for years. It's not worth much, but I like it anyway.
But if comparing the average modern car to classics as far as safety, there's no comparison. The knee-jerk assumption is that old cars are big, bulky, and solid, and thus surely they're safer. That assumption is wrong for a number of basic reasons.
The commuter cars we own have solid unibody frames with integrated crumple zones, purposely engineered safety cages that protect the occupants within the cab, shoulder harnesses, air bags, and of course modern ABS brakes and air bags.
The classic I own on the other hand has none of those things. The car sits on a frame and the body parts themselves have hardly any safety structures. The entire interior is made of steel, including the dash. Mine has lap belts, which would do no good because I'd hit the dash with my head. Since there are no crumple zones, my body would receive the full impact. If I were in a head-on collision, there would be a pretty good chance the steering column would get shoved right through the cab. Its simple rail frame would also likely shear right in half.
There are a few demonstration videos out there showing modern cars getting into a head-on collision with a car from the 50's, and the one from the 50's almost disintegrated on contact. A lot of people totally take for granted the engineering that goes into modern cars to make them safer. It's actually surprising to see the weight comparison between older and newer cars: In many cases today's medium sized cars are heavier than older full sized cars. The reason of course is due to the average modern car's additional structural frame reinforcement and safety equipment, versus older cars were sheet metal bodies were simply bolted on top of a frame. Those panels were essentially hollow shells. I know because when I removed the interior door panels on my old car to re-paint the insides, they were indeed empty cavities: Absolutely nothing inside to prevent them from totally caving in on impact.
Again it's not very useful in any sort of conversation to use broad sweeping comments that lose their meaning from lack of meaningful relevance. Stating that imports rust and fall apart because they're imports, is like saying that all imported T-shirts get rips in them because they're imported. It's also wrong to make the same sweeping statements about older cars with frames being superior. Not necessarily so. Some were good. Some were horrible. Some rusted out immediately.
Either way, there seems to be a lot of old-fashioned and outdated notions floating around in regards to even basic automotive technology and function. These aren't even debates. They're simply generalizations made about things some obviously know little about.
My first car was a used '71 Corolla 1600 (2-TC engine), and I ran that car through the ringer and it kept going. It went through tires until the alignment shop (after four alignment jobs) finally told me the frame was bent. Once that was straightened, then I could keep the car aligned.
The engine needed a head gasket and a clutch, but other than that, was trouble-free. I used it on a morning paper route (back when people still read newspapers) with a lot of stopping and starting, and the car just kept going. The alternator wore a hole in the lower radiator hose when I was 20 miles from home, so it ran without water until I discovered the problem, then got me home as I hopscotched my way from filling station to filling station, topping off the water as I went. After that incident, it just kept running.
Yes, it was a basic car with basic amenities, but it was a great first car, and one I'll always remember fondly.
My classics have shoulder belts as well as lap belts. You could also go with full race belts, a roll cage etc. if you wish. I added disc brakes, electronic ignition, and all my mods are bolt on and reversible for the purist.
As far as safety; I feel safer in my classics. For whatever reason, the other drivers are very attentive to seeing any older, great restored classic on the road. People slow down and really check it out. Maybe they put their phones down or quit texting too. I also am very attentive while driving, as I am driving a considerable investment.
Here's one to ponder as well. Most of the ones I know are in clubs. Any long trips, including one we did to Bowling Green, was in a large group. We have one at the moment going to Carlisle Pa; one of the biggest gatherings in the world, with up to 5000 Corvettes caravaning in this weekend. The entire city is Corvettes. Most come in as clubs. It's very safe that way. I also have a classic Chevelle; different club. I even have a Harley Davidson Night Train that gets out with a group of friends, numbering anywhere from 12 on up. People from all walks of life. The bike obviously has the most exposure on the roadways, but with large groups on trips, they are definitely seen.
Any vehicle on the highway is exposed to dangers from the moment you leave the dealership. If you want to dwell on safety, consider that just because you have a newer car, it's possible it was simply not as well maintained as a classic out there. Bad tires, worn brakes have come into my parent's shop that should never be out on the road. And many are those buying economy cars that are on a tight budget. The vehicles could have 4 or 5 year new tags on them, and lots of miles could occur in the interim. The inspection is so far out that a new car could pose more danger to the older vehicles allotted 2 year max tags in my state. A guy willing to spend 5-10k plus for just a show quality paint job on a classic, likely has great brakes and new tires on their vehicle. The classic car insurers that I have are inexpensive and full value. I suspect they realize the classic vehicle's safety and exposure, however limited, is worth their while. I can max out at 2500 miles per vehicle annually. Most guys I know have a late model SUV as their main vehicle. That's my take on it. This is an old vehicle on this review; I would restore it and take it out and enjoy it. And not drive it unsafe like a fool!