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7 of the worst automotive myths, according to you

The automotive world is full of information, but not all of it is fact. From urban legends to outright lies, myths of the car world have long lives. We asked Hagerty Forums readers to tell us about the myths they wish would just go away, and we pulled the top seven responses. Then we put them under a microscope to potentially dispel them. Next time you hear one of these popular anecdotes while walking your local car show, be sure to spread the truth.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/09/23/worst-automotive-myths-according-to-you
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Ralph Nader was an - sshole! He shot off his mouth with few if any facts to back him up. I hope that he was sued until he had nothing. He deserves it!!
Nothijng but the facts!

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At the time, Nader had never owned a car nor had a drivers license. Nobody bothered to ask what his automotive knowledge level was, they just believed he knew what he was talking about. Want to ruin a good thing, get a lawyer involved.

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And just as an aside: a vehicle WILL NOT EXPLODE when the fuel tank is shot with a rifle ! I hate seeing this time and again in movies.

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The Pinto myth is ongoing but the crash statistics prove the Pinto was no more prone and actually less prone to fire than many of its competitors. My favorite was the criminal trial against FoMoCo when the Pinto driver in Elkhart, IN had stopped on the side of the highway to replace the gas cap she had forgotten to put back on when she just refilled and was rear ended by a van. He lost.
The MPG carburetor myth had been ongoing to. A friend had a great uncle who knew a guy who had a 3rd cousin who bought a new Chrysler that got 50mpg. At the 1000 mile check up the dealer removed the experimental carburetor and now the car only gets 9 mpg. The dealer denies all knowledge of the experimental carburetor.
My favorite was the unknown used car lot in some big city nearby with a 1 yr old Corvette for $100. The previous owner was an old man who died in the car, his body was not found for a month and now they can’t get the stink out of the fiberglass. Of course the driveline was removed and only a body on rolling chassis was left.

  • I once spoke personally with Nader about his Corvair discussion. The only year mentioned in the book was the 1960. GM/Chevrolet improved the suspension thereafter. He told me the 61-64 versions were better, and the late models were no problem.
  • The Corvair story was the first chapter in the book. That’s as far as most reporters at the time ever bothered to read. That’s where 99+ percent of the discussion went. Few remember the other cars mentionend
  • The book had nothing to do with the Corvair cancellation. The decision was taken in early 1965 that the 1966 Would be the last model year, and the Camaro would come out in 1967.The book hit the shelves 11/30/65 - about 8 months later. It continues in production more as a legal defense tactic than a serious attempt to build and sell cars.
  • GM screwed its own pooch by turning PI’s loose on Nader in an attempt to smear him personally, rather than deal with the facts of the matter. When that effort was discovered, it gave Nader more credibility than he would have had otherwise.
    And I’m a genuine Corvair guy.
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Speaking of popular myths…
I believe Nader had a license to drive, and owned a 1949 Studebaker which he sold soon after arriving at Princeton.

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Funny thing. The original video that portrayed the Corvair as a dangerous vehicle was filmed at the Ford Dearborn proving grounds. That seems evident from the undulating brick wall and buildings in the background. Also, the Corvair is shown chasing a Ford Falcon through a series of turns. The original Corvair did indeed do some curious things when pushed hard in unusual circumstances. That was mitigated in later years but the Corvair never recovered. Too bad. It was innovative and actually ended up being nice handling little car.

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My dad got a 1964 Corvair coupe his senior year of H.S. He had his heart on a Mustang he saw at the World’s Fair to be released in April. In small town Georgia, the wait list was way too long. So off to the Chevrolet dealership they went. But it was the quirkiness and being different he grew to love. He told me about he and friends were doing doughnuts one night, then the next day his dad asked what he did in the car. With the swing axle (as you can see in the video), the outside tire lays on its side. My dad had ate the white walls off the rear tires…lol

He still has the car although, it is in pieces at his house. We started restoring it over 25 years ago, with body work and engine tuning. But never finished and most the trim parts are in the shop and I don’t even know if the engine will turn over. Hard to justify putting $10,000 or more to restore a car that probably will never be worth more than $5,000. But I would like to finish it one day.

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Correct as to the source of the photos. FMC tried very hard to discredit the 1960 Corvair when it first came out.
But the thing that did the Corvair in was never because it was discredited. That occurred only after the book came out and the story got going.
What did the Corvair in was a combination of two factors:

  • The Mustang just ate its lunch, and the Corvair was never going to be able to compete with it.
  • The Corvair was a low-margin, high production cost car with little/no parts intechangeability with any other GM car. Those are the two big reasons why GM decided to cancel it as of 1966 and market the Camaro instead – which had neither of those two issues at the time.
    There was a third factor – the Chevrolet dealer network, especially the mechanics, just plain hated the thing. It was informally known as “the only US-built foreign car” at the time.
    On more than one occasion, I’d pull into a Chevrolet dealer to have something adjusted, only to have the service manager say “We don’t work on those.”
    The dealer network couldn’t make any money on them, and were more than pleased to be rid of them. They didn’t much like it when construction continued into 1969, and many sold their parts inventory cheap just to get the shelf space back soon thereafter.
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My favorite is that only the 70-1/2 Camaro came with the “Split Bumper”, or that there even was a 70-1/2. Yet, hundreds of people “used to” have one.

Depends on the model. Of the early ones, the 64 is the best, but depends on which model and how it’s equipped.
A really good restored Corvair is worth more than $5 just about anywhere.
The big deal is more that if you have that actual car, the value doesn’t dollarize all that easy.
I have the very Corvair I first bought in 1/68 the night before I went to Viet Nam the second time. Found it in 2014 and am putting far more than $10k into it.
I don’t care. I’m rebuilding a memory of coming home from 20 months in Viet Nam and having my convertible waiting for me.
I want to revisit that one more time.

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Yes, “the American Porsche”, six cylinders in the back and a 3/4 speed manual transmission was a truly inspiring feat of American Technology. I drove a late production Monza Convertible with a manual transmission belonging to a high school classmate. Was so enthralled by its’ pick-up, cornering, and “hold” on the road. The experience was unique except for a few 356 Cabs owned by my brother-in-law I had ridden in previously. Classmate shared “hairy” instances related to Winter Driving in New England, only to state how solid everything felt despite the dangers present. It’s too bad that Nader went around and ruined the Corvair’s reputation before the car could really take its’ place as close to Americanna as apple pie, hot dogs and baseball. Hmmm, think that last part was used by Chevrolet Marketing for many autos in their car line back in the ‘60’s/‘70’s.

It’s value to you is far more important than what you might receive in financial reward. Besides if it was your dad’s car it is more likely that you will pass it down to your children. The cars value will eventually rise as I’m sure you won’t sell it the day that it is completed. The number one rule in car collecting is to buy what you like, even more so if it has personal meaning to you.

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Ralph Nader only proved in court that GM had tried set him up with a woman. How was GM to know he was gay.

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More on point, how did it matter when discussing the car?
Nader’s defamation lawsuit had plausible grounds.

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Regarding the “Lucas, Prince of Darkness” myth. I know this “English” subject is outside the interest of many readers, but it is not a myth. UK auto manufacturers typically had unsoldered ground (earth) connections. Ground connections were typically held fast by a screw imbedded into the Underhood sheet metal. Unsoldered= No permanent ground. Corrosion eventually won. Like back in the day when we carelessly installed our own radios, lights etc and they eventually failed.
At least this has been my experience with several MGs, and a couple of Jaguars.
But Lucas did take the rap!

My ex worked as a warranty clerk at the local Cad/Pontiac dealership in the mid to late 70’s. I would hang out there after my construction day ended at 3:30 pm. GM had a string of engineering disasters during the 70’s and early 80’s.I recall seeing a line off brand new diesel Sevilles in the service department with hoods sitting on their roofs waiting for replacement engines. Failed head gaskets were the main culprit. At 22:1 compression, a tablespoon of water in a cylinder was all it took to separate the crankshaft assembly from the bottom of the block. Once one came in barely running. Upon tear down it was discovered the crankshaft had broken into two separate pieces. The jagged edge of one journal catching the edge of the neighboring piece is all that kept the unit turning as one piece. Yikes! It was soon discovered a Olds 350 gas motor was an exact fit. Being registered as a diesel, no smog test was reqired and you could hot rod those motors. (In California) The State soon closed that loop hole and many gas powered diesels left the state for greener(?) pastures. After the diesel debacle (the 260 diesel would slow down on the slightest freeway grade) came the 1978 Turbo 200 trans. Cast in one solid piece to save production costs there was no removable tail shaft. The plastic clip holding the speedo drive gear in place would fail and the speedo would stop. Vehicle values would be cut in half having to be sold with “true mileage unknown” attached to their titles. The fix? Remove the transmission and disassemble it all the way to the tail shaft to fix the 79 cent clip. An improved metal clip soon appeared but upon failure it would do internal damage to the transmission. Trans failure soon followed. The repairs did not erase the title issue however. The “Iron Duke” 4 cylinder with no cooling ports in the middle of the cylinder head. Ouch! Finding one not cracked was difficult. The Cadillac “4100” V-8. Yikes Again! There’s more but I am getting long winded.

Ford put Lucas Electrics on notice when they acquired Jaguar and Lucas failed to meet Fords requirements. Many Jags from 96 on utilize Hitachi electrics. The stigma attached to reliability issues persisted for quite sometime.

Interestingly enough Ford did do a recall on the Pinto for the fuel tank issue. A skid plate was installed to direct the fuel tank down and away from the rear axle. This condition only existed on the two door coupes. The hatchback and wagon incorporated a different design not requiring the upgrade. Few remember the early Pinto had the 1600 four cylinder out of the Mercury Capri before going to the overhead cam engine.