Before Chips

Inspired by the post above, let’s assume that you could get your hands on three mint-condition (as-new, restored or even resto-modded) cars which were made without an onboard computer (say, for the sake of argument, before 1986), which three vehicles would you choose?  (Ignore price and maintenance costs for the sake of the exercise.)

You can have a truck, car, SUV, or any combination (two cars, one truck;  truck, car and SUV;  three trucks, etc.).


1.)  1984 Mercedes 300 D Geländewagen W460

With a towbar and a/c, that’s my go-to truck/SUV combination.

2.)  1962 Jaguar E-type 3.8 Fixed Head Coupé

‘Nuff said.  And for a luxury, effortless drive:

3.)  1975 Mercedes 350SE W116

All day, baby.

Your choices (with reasons, if wanted) in Comments.


  1. A 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser, a 1966 Chevy C10 pickup, and a 1972 coupe deville.

    The trucks have internals as simple as a butter churn.

  2. Being of little imagination, I have to go with vehicles that I have owned and loved (and, yes, been loved in)
    1. Jeep YJ.. 6 CYL, Lifted, because it was a damn fine ride(but slow, hot, and sometimes cranky)
    2. Chevy Nova.. It killed me when I rolled that baby.. Well, actually I walked away without a scratch.. But damn it hurt to lose it
    3. Ford Fairlane – my first car, literally inherited from my grandma from Texas where it was only used to go back and forth to church.. As a teenager I used those bench seats for other purposes

  3. I was in college in 1962, and I was in love with the E-series, so no contest, I take the Jag.

    1. Love E’s, but got to go with a 4.2 for the extra grunt, and improved gearbox and cooling.

  4. I am lucky guy because I have owned a couple of the cars above, not in those exact years and the 62 Jag was probably the prettiest while mine was a 69. I had a 1980 300D which was not the fastest but a strong running car and then my 1984 380SEL was heavy not so fast because of emissions stuff but it was a quiet great car for running down the interstate roads. I also had a nice mid 1980 turbo Audi 5000 that was bible to drive. All of my experiences with Brit cars and Kraut cars involved a lot of maintenance. In the good old days 1970-1984 when you had your own company the accelerated depreciation made it a lot of fun to purchase a new car every year or two and write it off then trade again. Uncle Sam paid for a lot of it. Regan’s tax reform laws in the mid 80’s there a wrench into that nice way to own nice cars.

    I had a lot of US cars between 1970 and 1980 and those up to 1975 with big V-8s were a lot of fun, a Nova hatchback that was light with a 350 engine and the silly 1975 Chevy Monza 2+2 tiny fastback coupe with a V-8 was a decent ride but it looked a lot better than it was, that was my wife’s car and the quality of the build was kind of screwy, we replaced her with a 1976 Buick Regal Turbo that was kind of nice, and then I started buying later 1970’s GM cars with all of the emissions and crap and they were mostly junk, led me to start buying Kraut cars at that time just as I discover Jap cars in the 1990’s which would just keep on running.

    For a non computer-electrical crap car I would not mind having the 1958 VW Bug I drove when I lived in Europe in the 1960’s, that was an easy car to repair and keep running, not the most comfortable ride but it would get you there and bring you back.

  5. Well, everyone should have a pick up, so I’d take a 60s Ford F100. You need a fun car, so I’d take a ’71 – ’73 Mercury Capri, and though I loath the idea of giving anything to the gay Kenyan’s stolen Government Motors, I wouldn’t mind having my ’67 Chevy Impala. Nice, powerful engine, plenty of storage space, plenty of passenger space, and the a/c was always ice cold. Got it so cold one summer I could see my breath in it. Of course it would have to have the vinyl top and raised white letter tires so the vatos would know it was a white guy’s car. If not that, then an original IH Scout or Bronco.

  6. Simple reliable cars – – – mostly – – -.
    1, A ’71 VW super beetle. Simple, reliable, easily maintained with plentiful spare parts.
    2, Any mid 60’s Ford F100, 6 cylinder, 3 speed on the tree. Simple, reliable and useful.
    3, Alfa Romeo 1600cc Gilulietta Spyder Veloce. Not so reliable, (But FAR better than a Jag. Magneti Marelli is better than the prince of darkness, Joe Lucas) Alfa Giulietta Spyders are true delights to drive and pretty enough to draw stares.

    1. Velocette,

      Your list almost matches mine.

      1) VW Thing, painted in Afrika Korps colors but with stars painted over the DAK emblems so it looks like a Kübelwagen that was captured and repurposed some time after Operation Torch. I’ll need an MG-42 or MP-40 to go with it, of course. 🙂

      2) Ford F-100 or F-150, 300 straight 6, I could live with the 3-speed but would prefer a 4 or 5-speed.

      And, since our gracious host stated that money and maintenance don’t matter…

      3) Doble Model E. Classic good looks and 1,000 foot-pounds of pure steam powered performance. If it’s good enough for Howard Hughes and Jay Leno, it’s good enough for me.

  7. Morgan Plus 8 for driving pleasure. Actually, the modern Plus 6 is remarkably electronic-free.

    Toyota Land Cruiser for utility.

    And a Ford Transit for cargo.

  8. The MBZ is OK but I’d prefer a V123 Lang (stretched) with the 300 turbo diesel.

    An 1986 Chevy Suburban with the diesel engine, 4×4, Banks aftermarket, all-wheel steering aftermarket.

    And a Ford F350 4×4 Dually crew cab, 8′ bed, 7.3 diesel with all the Banks aftermarket accessories, and the interior upgraded to modern standards.

  9. 1. 1980’s TOYOTA T100 Pickup
    3. 1980’s JEEP CHEROKEE XJ

    These 3 vehicles would last FOREVER if they were not in a NEW ENGLAND state. ROT AND RUST is the enemy of all great metal items, like cars and firearms.

  10. My first car was a 1964 Chevy Impala 4-door, no post with the 425 horsepower Turbo-Fire 409 V8. What a sleeper that car was. I got it in 1972 with 18K miles on the clock and stocked it with a Panasonic 4-channel 8-track player (sadly, I could only ever get my hands on about half dozen 4-channel tapes). Super smooth ride and, once I put a pair of Walker Continental glass packs on it, sounded like a threat every time I put my foot in it.

    Went off to Navy boot camp in 1975, then Hospital Corps School, then Fleet Marine Training. By the time I got back home 8 months later, my dad had sold it because he was tired of moving it out of the driveway. Best cruising car I ever owned. Replaced it with a 1967 Chevy Nova SS, which was promptly stolen in when I got stationed in Great Lakes (Chicago) Il. No cars since have compared.

    My current project car is a 1964 Buick Riviera GS, which I’ve owned for 12 years but just started working on last year. Arizona car, interior gutted and paint worse, but the body, trans, and engine are tight.

  11. 1968 Chevelle SS 396. I think the best-looking one of the crop. Looks mean just standing still. But I would do some work on the front suspension. Those little cars would move in a straight line but they handled like a hog on ice skates.

    1964 Impala SS 2-door hardtop. First new car my folks ever owned, tons of interior and trunk space and that sucker would flat giddyup.

    1959 Chevy (cultural insensitivity alert) Apache 3-quarter-ton Fleetside pickup. I have one now, it’s a project truck.

  12. 2003, we converted a 1997 Ford CF8000 commercial truck to our concept of an ExpeditionVehicle.
    Cummins 505ci mechanical (no computer(s)).
    Our daily is a 1996 Dodge 2500 with a Cummins 359ci (no computer(s)).
    My 1996 BMW motorcycle has 137,000 miles, and I am slowly adapting it to no computer(s).
    On these august pages, I mentioned stuffing a Chevrolet V-8 small block into a 1953 Austin Healey.
    That was enjoyable.
    I stuffed a Chevrolet V-8 big block into a 1958 Bentley.
    That, shortly, required major frame reinforcements.
    As I think about it, I avoided computers like the… work with me here, I am trying to think of a fresh way to say ‘plague’… how about ‘I avoid vehicle computers like the latest chinesium influenza inoculations’.
    One of my fiendish delights is reading forums dedicated to new RecreationVehicle owners.
    Did you know:
    * new RecreationVehicles with diesel exhaust-fluid injectors often fail ON THE WAY HOME FROM THE DEALER.
    Then, replacement parts are ordered… and back-ordered… as the brand-new pig sits in the back-lot at the dealer… in perpetuity.
    Parts are simply not available.

  13. 1)Mercedes E500/500E 1991-1995 factory tuned by Porsche. Renntech in FL will go thru these and replace any dodgy bits. They will also provide a 6L replacement engine probably good for 400hp. Drawback is it does have electronics but nothing that could communicate with the IoT. A nice one recently went for $60K on, a worthwhile auctioning site featuring interesting old (and new) cars. Eclectic selections ranging from humble old cars to new Bugattis and a GT40.

    2)pre-war Packard 8, convertible or sedan, I’m not fussy.

    3)yeah, a truck too. Dodge flat fender PowerWagon from the 40’s or 50’s. A veritable brute dinosaur of a truck. Drawback is it’s probably uncomfortable as all get out,

  14. Having owned #3 after restoration, am here to confirm that you would not like it at our current ages. At 240 lbs 6′ tall in 1988, had to hunch over so as not to hit my head on the roof at every bump. It was also a contortion act to get in and out over the wide sill and I was much more limber back then. In fact, that photo could be my car right down to the paint and interior.

    As to #2, have owned a 1983 300D which I sold to a Polish fellow that shipped it back to the old country, all mechanical aside from power windows and usual era electricals. Am currently am restoring a 1964 220Sb purchased from an AF type that brought it back from Germany 50 years back. It has exactly zero electronics beyond an alternator, mechanical regulator, light bulbs, radio, points and a coil. The fuel pump is 100% mechanical like God intended.

    Never could afford a GW, almost bought a Landie 110 back in 1985 from a scrapyard in Scotland, wife talked me out of it (sniff!). Dollar was almost 1 to the pound and it was selling for 1000 (waaah!) Back them shipping to USA would have been under 1000 bucks (waaaah! x 2)

    For fun, am restoring a 1997 Jawa Babetta, all of 49CC two stroke power. Parts have to come from Hungary. The internet is grand in this respect (so far).

  15. 1) 1989 Toyota Stout/Hilux (carbureted, to fit the rules, not the EFI version.)

    2) 1987 Ford E-250 Club Wagon with the last carbed 351 Windsor

    3) Lotus Seven, modern kit build.

    I’m ignoring maintenance cost, but I AM including maintenance pain-in-the-ass of having to HAVE maintenance done (hence #1 — the damned thing will run forever.)

  16. I’d be surprised if the G-Wagen up above didn’t have a computer. While over in Germany in the mid-’80s, my parents had a domestic-market (would that be “GDM?”) ’79 250…probably what they’d now call an E-Class, or thereabouts. It had an engine-management computer that decided to shit itself the day we needed to go up to Frankfurt to pick up my grandparents at the airport. Turn the key…starter spins, but it doesn’t even try to start. They ended up taking the Chevette (a 1980 model…last year before GM started putting computers in everything) we’d brought over from the States on the drive from Kaiserslautern to Frankfurt and back, getting passed like they were standing still as it puttered up the Autobahn at 65 mph.

    DM 700 later, the Mercedes was back on the road with a new computer. Hardly anything on that car was ever cheap to fix, other than things like wiper blades and light bulbs.

  17. Travel Car: BMW M635CSi

    Sports car: Ferrari 308 GTS, the “Magnum PI” car

    SUV: 1984 Chevy Suburban, with a custom installation Cummins 5.9 turbo-diesel and Allison transmission

  18. hard to critique your choices Kim but I’d take a big loud powerful American muscle car over your second option. The Mercedes SUV is nice but I think a pickup might suit my needs better.


  19. Since price is no object (you get that impression when MB-GW’s are involved), I’d like a modern rendition of a Mini-Moke with modern propulsion/running gear with the electronics removed in favor of analog systems – perhaps in a Twin-Mini configuration.
    I’d keep my current F250SD-7.3 XLT, but send it to Gale Banks for a thorough going through; and, Yes, the previously mentioned 4.2 E-Type (w/3 Webers).

  20. 1970s FJ40 soft-top just like the one I used to own: lift kit, 400 Chevy, Hurst shifter on a TH350 tranny, Predator carb, twin exhaust system, shift kit, alloys …

    Suzuki LJ50 two-stroke — the “big” 550cc engine, not the little 350!

    VW 1500 “notchback” sedan

  21. While I would love a 12-valve Cummins Dodge Ram, they did have computers, they just didn’t control the engine; you still had a ‘body’ computer. Still, were it possible, that would be my truck choice. Sans computer I’d like a Ramcharger or Trailduster with the removable roof, mid to late ’70s, with the 440V8 (stock means no Cummins retrofit, again a preference that doesn’t match the selection criteria).

    1969 Plymouth GTX convertible, 440 Magnum (’cause I want A/C more than a hemi these days).

    My current 1971 Dodge Challenger but with a 340 Magnum engine and appropriate options. Small block for better handling.

    I might trade off the Challenger for a 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst edition convertible (I believe only one was made). I have a soft spot for vintage Land Yachts with big engines.

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