Friends are looking for a car to replace the one they have now. Theirs is a much used, much repair requiring vehicle that has seen its better day. Now, the search is on for a low mileage used cars and barring that, perhaps, a new one depending on what is available. There is no envy on my part for their situation since buying a car today is an exercise in futility and it seems no matter how hard you work at buying one there is always a fly in the ointment.
It brings back memories of my Dad, how much he loved his cars and how much pride he took in them. Although he once owned a Model A Ford which years later he was still being teased about, my first distinct memory is of a medium green Oldsmobile sedan. We took many trips to Tennessee in that car to visit his parents. Now that I think of it, I suppose the fact that our house had a carport was no accident. In fact, that one item probably sold him on the house. At that time, most cars were just parked in the yard or on a driveway leaving it unprotected from the elements. But that would never have satisfied him. His would have to be protected. We only rarely ate or had a drink in the car nor was there anything ever left in it to create clutter. It stayed pin neat inside and out in a day when there were no car washes.
Those were the days when any self respecting man could usually diagnose whatever problem arose with a car and many repaired their own. The engines were simple with no need for a computer diagnosis since there were no computers. You could easily change the oil and without thinking about it pour the old oil down the storm drain. If memory serves, there were only a couple of types of oil and the norm was to use 10/40w type oil. Of course, in those days gasoline averaged about eighteen cents per gallon and a reliable used car could be purchased for around five hundred dollars; however, wages were only around $3200 annually.* Even in those days, the purchase of a car was a major commitment.
Today, it is a little harder to do the same thing. Four wheel drive or two wheel, fuel cell, electric or gas powered, built-in GPS or not, and the video capabilities are all the most important issues for the day. That’s a big change from the day when your biggest decisions were the color and brand desired. Even if you want to change your own oil, you have to find a user friendly place to dispose of the used oil. Computers now tell you what is wrong with your car, but how do you know if you can trust their computer. It’s impossible to look a computer in the eye and determine if it’s telling you the truth. Labor charges have increased tremendously and there is all types of classes on how to use the equipment to repair the vehicle. Plus, it is illegal in most cities to do car work at your residence particularly if it isn’t your vehicle. I suppose all this is progress, but somehow, we seem to ruled out the car do-it-yourselfer.