It Ain’t That

The Car God opines:

Jeremy Clarkson blames “idiot” climate change activist Greta Thunberg for killing the car show.
The former Top Gear presenter, who is returning with another series of Amazon Prime motor series The Grand Tour, claimed young people have been turned against cars by the 16-year-old environmental campaigner.
Clarkson, 59, told The Sun: “Everyone I know under 25 isn’t the slightest bit interested in cars – Greta Thunberg has killed the car show.”

Most of the time, I agree with Clarkson, but I’m not so sure about this one.

My opinion is that young people aren’t interested in cars for two reasons:

  • They all look the same.  (I’ve ranted and raved about this situation so many times, I’m starting to bore myself.)
  • New cars cost too much, and youngins don’t have the cash to buy them — hence the popularity of the “no-car” ownership and Uber.

Much as I detest her and her ilk, neither of the above is the fault of that little bint Thunberg.  The real fault lies with government — our government, European governments, all governments — who have mandated expensive changes to cars in the name of SAFETY and CLIMATE.  The first is arguably a good thing, but the second a lot more questionable.

But when an “entry-level” (i.e. modest) secondhand car like this one costs nearly 20 grand…

I’m not sure that many under-25s are going to want to spend this much even if they have it.  College loan repayments, ObamaCare medical insurance, under-25 auto insurance rates… even if they’re filling the stereotype and living with Mom and Dad, money is going to be tight, assuming they’re pulling in the typical youngin annual salary of $24k – $36k.

(Yeah, I know  you can get cheaper cars — the Son&Heir scrimped and saved out of his paltry waiter’s income until he could afford to buy a twelve-year-old Oldsmobile Beater from a friend for $1,500, but his maintenance costs almost killed him.  If he’d had more money, it would have saved him money to buy a Honda like the above;  but he didn’t have the money.  I don’t think today’s kids are any better off — they may even be worse  off, come to think of it.)

Of course, adding the Blame Game onto all that via Thunberg and the other EarthFirsters doesn’t help — nor does it help that the under-25 group are malleable and vulnerable thanks to their crap secondary education and foul neo-socialist tertiary education, so they’ll believe anything and hope that Mommy and Daddy (or Big Brother Gummint) will bail them out.  But that’s not the primary reason for their lassitude in matters automotive.

In my day, boys had wall posters on their bedroom walls which featured supercars (and supermodels).  Nowadays?  They can’t afford the fucking posters.  They can’t even afford the ticket price for the car show.

And that’s because their priorities have changed.  Why spend money on a four-wheeled money pit when they can spend as much or more each month on a money pit which can fit in the hand?

And why drag-race your buddy down Main Street (à la American Graffiti ) when you can play Grand Theft Auto?  Or pick up your girlfriend and take her to the movies, when she can catch a Lyft over to your place and the two of you can “Netflix and chill”?

It’s not just the money.  Times and priorities have changed.  And as with all this stuff, it’s not just one thing (like Greta Thunberg) that has caused the change;  it’s everything.  Our kids live in a different world;  and in that world, the car isn’t important anymore.  Too bad.  Here’s a pic of my teenage dream car:

In today’s dollars, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT  would have cost about $14,000 — brand new.

Here’s #2 Son’s dream car:

Brand new, the Honda Fit costs about $17,000.  He has less chance of getting this econobox than I did the Alfa Romeo.

17 comments

  1. A red 1969 Mustang Mach I with the 429.
    It was my dream car then and still, and I still can’t afford one.
    But I did have a 6 year old 1966 Mustang in 1972 my graduation year.
    New vehicles? I’ll prolly never own one.

  2. Almost to be new driver daughter was offered the use of my 1980 MGB, but doesn’t want it. Doesn’t want a stick. Doesn’t know or care what car she gets, so, she’ll only get what Scotty Kilmer says to get. A used Toyota. Nearly every other car brand is an endless money pit….

  3. Back in the day (here I go again) a guy could buy a $500 beater and if he knew what end of a screwdriver did the damage, he could throw in a tune up for less than fifty bucks, change the oil, and get to school and work. You didn’t trust the car too far out of town and if it suffered irreparable damage like a blown transmission you towed it off to the junker and started the process again.

    I enjoy watching videos of guys bringing old school cars and trucks back to life. A new battery, some fresh gas, maybe a carb kit, and those old cars run. Try that twenty or thirty years from now with the Hondas shown above. Yes I know that newer cars don’t need the intense maintenance that we had to do when I was in school (late 1960’s – the last century!) but we could keep those old cars running and learn some of the secrets of things mechanical in the process.

    I spent my adult life turning wrenches and teaching other people how to do the same. It put a nice roof over our heads, good food on the table, decent clothes on our back, and allowed us to enjoy vacations and hobbies. I’m getting a little philosophical for a Monday morning but I learned at an early age that my route to success – or whatever you want to call it – was to take a different path and find things that other people wouldn’t or couldn’t do and try to get very good at those things. Worked for me.

    Anyway getting back to your original points I agree that the interest in cars is falling off because they’re way too expensive and can’t be maintained or repaired by people who have no mechanical skills anyway. Since they all look alike cars have become generic appliances and nobody, not even the most enthusiastic gearhead, gets excited about a washing machine.

    1. +1 to ltdavel. A point I was going to make. In high school my car as a then 8 year old 68 Dodge Charger. Even as mechanically inept as I am I could do the basic maintenance and some non-basic (changing wheel bearings) myself. Anything I couldn’t do because of lack of skill or tools, well at least one of my classmates could (sometimes costing as much as a case of cheap beer). Everyone else in my age group had something similar going. Today’s vehicles, not so much.

      The other problem, in the US at least, is that Da One’s Cash For Clunkers payoff to the auto workers unions destroyed the supply of older vehicles that you could afford and (usually) work on yourself. Which, IIRC, was hyped as another way of combating Globull Warming by removing “less efficient” cars from the planet.

    2. I enjoy these “Will it run?” Shows myself. Some of my favorites are the following YouTube channels:
      Mustie1
      A group of four guys who work together:
      Dylan McCool
      Classicmustangs429
      Junkyard Digs
      ThunderHead289
      One of the most droll guys on the internet:
      Vice Grip Garage
      Just a guy working in his garage up in Wisconsin:
      A21bravo
      Some guys from down under:
      The Skid Factory
      Mighty Car Mods – been around for a decade or more
      Peter Anderson
      A guy up in Canada:
      Nick’s Garage – almost 100% Mopar
      A couple of guys from Florida:
      Cleetus McFarland – a high buck, get it for free and push it.
      Fasterproms
      Another guy whose tag line is: “Best day at work ever!”:
      Mike Finnegan of Finnegan’s Garage
      Motor Trend Channel – subscription $4.99 per month:
      Roadkill – of course
      Roadkill Garage – lowbrow hacking
      Hot Rod Garage – higher brow hacking.
      Engine Masters

      That should get you started in wasting large amounts of time, and I need to get a life.

  4. I’m in the residential rental business and specialize in renting units to younger renters, usually in their twenties and early thirties. The specialization is accidental and happened because my units fill from word of mouth. My young tenants are almost all broke and always for the same reason – they cannot resist any temptation.

    When I offer them a work-saving extra, such as housekeeping, landscaping or snow removal, they nearly always take it, even though those are my highest markup and profit items. They smoke and drink a lot, including plenty of the now legal in Canada marijuana. They rarely cook, it’s restaurants and take-out. They’re usually too lazy even to pick up their fast food, Skip The Dishes does it. They spend all of their income, and more, week after week after week.

    90% of people are idiots.

  5. Over the weekend, a local Sunday news (?) show did a “puff piece” on a 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser. Skipping the merits or annoyances of this particular vehicle, they closed the piece with the “as shown” price of nearly $90,000.

    There are people out there who will drop a serious pile of money as a deposit, and sign their lives to a seven year payment contract, knowing that they will trade this purchase long before it’s paid off for yet another money draining status symbol.

    I will not be one of them. Though I still dream of someday regaining my Dad’s ’65 VW Micro Bus.

  6. Back in our day, cars represented freedom. We wanted cars because we wanted to be free, to come and go as we pleased, to pack up and leave if desired, to be in control of our lives. Of course that came with responsibilities, like paying for the car itself, gas, repairs, insurance, etc. And that meant getting a job. And that meant working, but that was the trade-off and we gladly took it.

    Today, most kids don’t want responsibility and most kids don’t even understand freedom. No wonder they don’t care about cars.

  7. My understanding is that most people today lease their new vehicles.
    Leasing reduces the upfront cost, the monthly payments, and the maintenance costs.
    After 4 years they turn it in and get another one.

    They have committed themselves to a lifetime of constant debt and view their current vehicle as disposable. This method works as long as the income continues but if it stops or fluctuates greatly nerves are shattered. Debt is not your friend but rather that leering criminal right outside the gate, biding his time.

  8. I love cars, and just about all things mechanical, including guns, airplanes, and bicycles. I think my son was at least ten before he realized there was something called a plumber or electrician that could be summoned by a phone call, everything was done by me. Even with all the exposure possible, he just doesn’t really care about cars. Sure he drives, and appreciates his car, but no real enthusiasm. I get that, everyone is different, but over the years I have been around lots of kids and almost none of them show any interest. When i drive one of my unique cars, the dads and even a few moms love them, but the kids dont even notice. My sons car has a manual transmission, he jokes that it is an anti theft device. He has friends that have got in and asked why it has three pedals. Not only can they not drive a manual, they have never been in a car with a manual transmission.
    Times change. I have never driven a horse drawn carriage, and some time in the future, most people will have never driven an automobile.

  9. IIRC, it was Michael Reagan who used to refer to TV as that “28-inch portal into paradise”. Indeed. As noted, now in the palm of your hand. A portal to the deadly sin of your choice, at the touch of a button and the speed of the internet. I refer to the Millennials as the “Reset Button” generation.

    My truck in a 2001 Chevy Silverado. Bought it new, paid cash. Last week I was headed out and turned the key. Rrruh–rrruh–vroom!. Hmm. Time for a new battery. Wonder, what is a good brand these days? And how old is this one? So I pull my manila folder (remember those?) and dig out the old receipt. Hmm, is that right? Next morning pop the hood and check the date code. Yup, installed it June of 2013. Yeah, I think we’ll just get another one of these. NAPA Legend. Picked up new battery on Saturday and did the R&R, returned the core on Sunday. To quote Yakov Smirnoff, “Was piece of pie”.

  10. Once again, Kim, we find a shared experience:
    In my first tour in college, I drove an 850 Mini (Dad bought it new to get me off the 175 MV that I rode the 2-1/2 years of HS with a license), but I lusted for a Giulietta Sprint. What wasn’t there to like: twin cam, Webers, 5-spd.
    Then, into the service, and a bombshell dropped: The Road&Track cover of the new XK-E at the NY Auto Show!!!!
    Never did get that E-Type, but have never forgotten it either, even after making a living fixing the darn things – and bought a V-12 Ferrari (which turned out to be one hell of an investment).

  11. In 2018, I bought a 7 year old Hyundai from a dealer for around $5000. I know, too much, but they have a 150 point checklist to sell a used car, it had new tires and the engine was spotless. Since, I have put in a new battery and gas cap. It’s no beauty but it was what I could afford, it is a gas miser, and so far so good. Something to consider if you are poor like me.

  12. Holly crap, times they do change, in the 50’s & 60’s kid who worked after school and on weekends could buy their own car. Those cars were not too good and not too bad but they cold run and keep on running a few hundred bucks and you had wheels. 60 years before that you rode a horse to school, like my dear old dad born in 1903 and he was 14 years old before he ever rode in a car, one time.

    Sixty years later than 1960 cars are different, much better in many ways but expensive as hell and that is why my wife drives a 2000 4-runner we bought new, paid cash for and I drive a 2008 F-150 I had a two year loan on and paid off. You take care of the cars that are being built now and they will last a long, long time. They don’t build cars like they used to and I say thank goodness because the neat cars of the 50’s and 60′ were good for about 100,000 miles and then they were shit, rusty and leaking oil and falling apart.

    I hate the prices of new vehicles, especially the lower end stuff because they are, as you say too expensive, but they should be good for at least 3 to 4k miles with decent care. Shit, in the late 1950’s I wanted to have my bubble, hover-mobile going into 2020 but they let us down.

  13. The new cars, and I include everything for about the last 25 years, look all the same, and have things made of plastic in places you wouldn’t think plastic could go, like under the hood and bolted to the block. This has happened for the same reason all the cars have been looking the same except for a badge or two, or tail lights, or possibly the grille. Every car designed since CAFE became a law and not just a place to enjoy some basic food has had two designers in the room and with its hands in the process. The designers from the various auto companies want something distinctive, but the Feds want something that looks like a Lada or a Wartburg. Designed by a committee of faceless, talentless, tone-deaf government bureaucrats.
    Plastic is the downfall of any car made in the last forty years and the thing that prevents it from becoming a long-lived car like the 60’s muscle cars or any other classic car. Eventually the dealer stops stocking parts and accepting the car for repairs, and your corner mechanic is left with searching for used parts to replace your plastic gas tank or the fiberglass hood, or the funny plastic tube that sticks out of your engine block to clamp the radiator hose onto. Your lamp housings for the tail lights and the marker lights are all likewise made of plastic, and eventually your rubber boot around the light bulb housing welds itself to the plastic lamp housing and you can’t get them loose without sacrificing one or the other. You have to cruise the junkyards and basically twin your car in your garage, except you can put them into boxes. you don’t need to have the donor car on blocks in your yard. My brother has a 1978 Scirocco, and even with collecting every spare part he could think of, there’s a square piece of plastic with five four mm rubber hoses coming out of it, and without it the car won’t pass smog in this wonderful state of Californicated.

  14. “Plastic is the downfall of any car made in the last forty years and the thing that prevents it from becoming a long-lived car like the 60’s muscle cars or any other classic car.”
    BINGO!!!

    I’m thinking the 3-D printers need to get good enough to make replacement parts, especially interior pieces. I suspect that the longevity of some of the plastics that were chosen was not as good as expected (being charitable here). I was combing junkyards for interior panels for my ’86 Turbo Colt by the early ’00s. Getting brittle and faded.
    Now, there is a whole swath of vehicles that have disappeared due to that “Clunkers” idiocy. I was seeing multiple rows of 1st gen DSM cars in all the junkyards then. Now they are so rare that a buyer in TX looked for a year for an AWD Talon, and had my ’91 shipped to him when I put it on ebay. The previous one he bought got destroyed while being shipped to him.
    The steering wheels in my ’88, ’96, and ’00 Ford Rangers have turned to gummy bears. The internal wiring harness in the ’00s transmission has self-destructed. The insulation on the wires has gotten brittle and shattered, leaving exposed wiring. I was wondering why there were so many listings for that harness on ebay. Powers the 6 solenoids on the valvebody.

    In ’68, I was buying ’57 Chevy’s for $75. They needed work, of course. Brakes, clutches, that sort of thing. Engines were good for ~80k miles. I drove home every one of the cars I bought over the last two years of high school, except the first one (a Renault. The seats were really nice!) Lost my ’62 Alfa Spyder when I crashed my mother’s car on a parts hunt for the Alfa, since my ’57 Chevy Ragtop was in the process of getting a Big Block transplant. Got a ’65 Mustang 2+2 4spd in ’70, and it had to have the engine replaced already. I bought these cars by working part time jobs after school or weekends. I had ’60, ’61, ’62, ’63, ’64 Chevy’s, some ragtops, some SS models. I doubt you could do that today. Hell, there aren’t many jobs available to kids in school anymore. Then again, not many of them would be willing to swap transmissions in the back yard in a snowstorm!

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