Hammer Time: Honor, Duty, Love

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

No car is perfect. Regardless of the myth of brands, a Toyota can get engine sludge. A Honda transmission can go south for eternity. Even the vault that is an old Mercedes will need to be lined with the insulation of greenbacks from time to tomb. There are definitely tendencies when it comes to cars. But no absolutes. Nada. Like the game of baseball, the winners are threshed out through experience. What makes the real difference in all that time?

The owner. He or she (or it) dictates the long-term goodness of a vehicle … and nowhere is this more evident than at the auctions. At the sales I’ve even seen twenty year old shitboxes that ran like tops. The quality of construction was wanting. In a paper mache kind of way. But even when the door panels and roof could be redesigned with one good punch, the owner thought otherwise. Here’s a question for today. What is the crappiest old car you have ever seen in great shape?

Steven Lang
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  • YotaCarFan YotaCarFan on Sep 26, 2009

    Simca 1000. Back in the early '70s when people had less disposable income, there were quite a few of these flimsy cars putt-putting along the streets of VA where I grew up. My parents also drove them - bought used, and although prone to not starting on rainy days, having black vinyl flooring and seats, a gas tank shape that caused stalling when driving up steep hills, and a ~40 hp engine, they were reliable (if not embarrassing) transportation. Many of them lasted 10+ years, which was impressive for cars made in the '60s and early '70s. Years later, I ironically had a coworker with a Dodge Omni that was 20+ years old. The owner was a thrifty lady in her 50s who kept it looking like it just rolled off the dealer's lot. Every time I rode in it something seemed vaguely familiar about it. It wasn't until several years later I learned the Omni was actually based on a Simca design. Also, my grandfather was very meticulous about maintaining vehicles, and had a pristine Rambler station wagon and a Mercedes 250SEL that both looked new inside & out and ran like a top, as he'd say, 25 years after he'd bought them.

  • Cnyguy Cnyguy on Sep 26, 2009

    Here in Upsalt New York, I saw a factory-fresh Pontiac T1000 last week. With NY tags. Thought I was hallucinating.

  • Roberto Esponja Roberto Esponja on Sep 27, 2009

    There's someone in my neighborhood that owns what must be an 81-83 Ford LTD (the one that was based upon the Fairmont). It is a daily driver yet looks as if it came out of the factory less than two years ago. And he's had it for as long as I can remember, probably since new. Why someone would bestow such love upon such an unremarkable car is beyond me but hey, as long as he ain't bothering nobody...

  • Rudiger Rudiger on Sep 27, 2009
    Roberto Esponja: "Why someone would bestow such love upon such an unremarkable car is beyond me but hey, as long as he ain’t bothering nobody…"Beauty is in the eye of beholder. It really is a testament to one's tenacity to maintain a car that's not only mediocre in apppearance, but engineering, as well, to the same standards as an exotic automotive object d'art. I mean, it's one thing to expend the effort and resources to keep and maintain a Ferrari or Jaguar to showroom new condition. It's quite another to expend the same effort and resources to keep and maintain something like a Yugo to the same level. Frankly, I'm looking for someone who has an immaculate Austin Marina. Now that would be misplaced devotion.