When progress means a lot less fun

Progress is a wonderful thing. Mostly – and in terms of car development almost certainly – there are no longer spectacularly bad cars, well not mechanically anyway. They are all fairly reliable and pretty well specified, even at the lowest level. Even the so called ‘budget’ manufacturers are snapping at the heels of the big boys such is their confidence that they can one day produce modern, good looking, aspirational cars which will take a nice slice of the global market.

There are those that think that the cars of today are somewhat sterile and that not many will be looked back on in 20 years’ time with any particular fondness or nostalgia, but that might just be a generational thing.

One thing is certain however and that is that no one will be tinkering with them on a Sunday morning like they have in the past. Gone are the days of father and son working in the driveway with an old washing up basin under the sump plug.

I was reminded recently, when talking with an old mate how we used to play around with our old cars and not just by the roadside. He used to live in a road where all the garages were designed with a pit in the floor where you could actually work underneath the car and we used to pretend to be real car mechanics all day on a Sunday whilst his mum brought us tea and sandwiches and we “race tuned” our XR2’s.

I feel sorry that today’s boy racers will not experience that pleasure and instead have to make do with how they can hook up the biggest bass bin in the boot and at the same time ensure that the car is lary enough to still turn the heads.

We used to spend hours cleaning and polishing our little hot hatches once we had changed the plugs and points and coated everything else with WD40! (the “race tuning” I alluded to earlier). Well todays teen car nuts will not experience those little pleasures because the modern day cars are not really designed to be fixed at home and anyone attempting to do so will need to obtain a fairly decent amount of hardware, including expensive computer equipment and software.

If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself this question; when was the last time you saw a car mechanic with greasy overalls? Answer – you won’t because todays ‘technician’ doesn’t have to fix anything, he just needs an expensive computer to diagnose the problem and then replace the faulty component, so no need to take things apart fix them and put them back together.

Progress? Surely yes.

As much fun as the satisfaction of you and your mates fixing your car up so that it can again be the scourge of the neighbourhood? Probably not.

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3 Responses to When progress means a lot less fun

  1. maximile March 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    top article couldnt have put it better myself,no fun anymore which is why people buying cars all look so miserable,because there is no longer an emotional attachment it is all functional and practial,bring back my Capri 2.8 injection grrrrr what a lump!

  2. Mark R March 27, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Except back then when a part failed you knew exactly what is was, you bought the part and fitted it, and in many cases your mechanic could fix it himself, now with all the diagnostic equipment in the world they are consistently wrong, four or five different codes that may or may not be the problem? progress? as far as emissions, fuel economy, and reliability is concerned absolutely, for actual correct diagnosis? a huge step backwards, how many times do we hear “Even the Main Agent can’t fix it” now that’s something that never used to happen………

  3. Mark R March 28, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    That is so true Max, we often ask why the customers seem so miserable nowadays, it is a rare thing when you get an excited person with todays product, especially when buying second hand, ( New is a different concept altogether i admit )

    Now they nearly all ask about parts availability, reliability, fuel and tax costs, and “are there any lights on the dashboard? truly can’t remember the last time i discussed performance, the looks of the car, extras and options etc: such a shame, it did used to be fun, now it’s ALL damage limitation, worst of all, mechanics of old who used to be able to fix them no longer can, or worse still, don’t want too !…………………

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