It’s really a matter of knowing what the car can and can’t do and respecting that. I drive them. I enjoy them. Why own vintage cars if you don’t get out and drive them? That said, when I’m driving one of my classics, I switch to “Defense” mode…drive it with eyes in back of your head. Too many bad and distracted drivers out there.
In a crash, sure, a classic car isn’t going to protect you as well as the much more advanced cars on the road today, but there’s a reason why classic car insurance costs so much less than a standard policy. We just get in fewer accidents when we’re driving our older car, plain and simple. We are more engaged in the experience of driving it because it’s a treat rather than a chore. We drive it more defensively because we naturally distrust the other people on the road and the multitude of distractions in their vehicle. We also drive it when there’s less traffic on the road and long before anyone who’s tipped a few too many back starts to drive home from the bar. So yes, I feel safer driving my classic, but it’s always in the back of my mind that a crash would be pretty ugly.
I live in Texas but drive mostly tiny, low sports cars, so my main concern is people in lifted pickups who can’t see anything shorter than 5 feet tall on the road. I just approach the situation like I would riding a motorcycle. Just assume nobody can see you, keep your distance, and pass carefully.
When going to car shows in my 1965 Corvette, I actually have friends drive another car either behind me, or in the lane next to me – almost like a “blocker” because of exactly what you’re saying. I think the rate that people pay attention to what they’re doing on the road has diminished drastically
Excellent points! I agree with you. The same goes for track driving / racing-- everyone you are racing with are 100% focused on driving and driving only: not their cell phone, their kids, things on their minds like work, marriage, existentialism, politics, the meaning of life, etc… So I feel safer driving 110mph on the back straight of my favorite track than I do commuting to work.
Also, less miles driven = less likelihood of being in a collision or something happening. Although, you have to factor in the statistical fact that most accidents occur close to home. I also drive like no one can see me-- in fact, that’s exactly what happens-- you see the big trucks and SUVs come into your lane and jerk back when they realize (if they do) that you are there. I install air horn or aftermarket horns on my sports cars for that purpose.
A few years ago my 1980 Chevy Van got rear ended by a Honda Piolet, while parked. Big and red didn’t seam to matter he hit it anyway. The Honda exploded into parts and the driver was injured.
I had to replace the rear bumper and one rear door as the spare tire crushed the door. I drove the truck the next day and up until the truck was repaired at the body shop. Thank goodness it did not break the tail lights as they are hard to get.
I had a woman back into my 71 corvette - I didn’t think the front bumper was anything but decoration. It pushed in her trunk lid and left a nice V. No damage to the Vette…
I actually think the older cars are safer to drive as you are more connected to actually driving, not trying to select something on the infotainment system… with no feeling of the road or surroundings .
In a bad crash the new cars will probably help the driver survive better.
H. Payne the pompous is strong with you. Real Classics”? What is “classic” is in the eye and heart of the beholder. I like Cords. But I like old Studebakers, Fords and Chevrolet’s too and consider them every bit as classic as your Cord…maybe more so since folks tend to have way more emotional attachment and nostalgia for the less snobby models.
And no, I don’t really feel safe in my old “classic”. Metal dash, pot-metal fittings, lack of restraints, energy absorbing construction, drum brakes, slow steering, dim lighting etc. I love to drive it but chose times and places and routes carefully.
I always struggle with situations like the Corvette example you shared. Crumple zones are design to spread the energy of a collision throughout the vehicle rather than making our bodies absorb energy from the impact.
Sometimes no damage to the car can mean more damage to us.
I agree totally with that last statement. Too bad more people do not drive in defense mode no matter which vehicle that they drive. Accidents happen to everyone, no matter what you drive. You can be killed or injured in a split second, even in a new car! Afterwards, you might not be able to enjoy your antique or classic.
What about the unsecured stuff on top of cars or in the boxes of pick up trucks? I have often seen drivers with unsafe and or unsecured loads that fly out or fall off of the vehicle and into the path of the poor sap who happens to be behind them. Usually, the donor vehicle does not stop to try to help, and usually if they are aware that they have lost something, they speed up to eliminate the legal side of their stupidity. Police should be stepping up and stopping these idiots and writing fines to help relieve them of their cash and points which might help keep them off the roads.
Had an '81 Fiat 124 Spyder, the car that made me fall in love with convertibles. It had a peppy four banger, a nice manual, a nicer than expected leather/wood interior, yet also had an interesting rawness about it. Cowl shake be damned, I loved driving it. But yes, always felt overly exposed and small in traffic. As I got into my 40s, married with children, I knew the responsible thing to do was sell it. Newer, stiffer convertibles with ABS, airbags, better brakes feel and are substantially safer.
I have a 67 Camaro and yes I feel safe driving in it. I generally expect people to be idiots in front of me and therefore am not caught by surprise when they are. People in modern cars have too much trust in their technology - at least in an older car you KNOW your safety depends on your judgment.
I own a 1973 Coupe deVille. When I bought it at 16 in 1988, ABS, crumple zones etc were just coming out. At that point, “the bigger, the safer”. Now, I understand the physics involved in a crash and realize if I did get into a bad one, the car would come out fine but I’d come out like creamed soup. Although I do think its sheer weight and size and full steel frame might work to my advantage in a low-speed fender bender, and maybe even a T-bone, I don’t relish the thought of a head-on. But, I don’t drive it much, usually just to car shows, and I am about as defensive a driver as you can get. Nothing will stop me from driving my metal baby!
I am also very surprised by the majority of these responses. I would have expected most vintage car owners to be knowledgeable, skilled and confident about driving their vintage cars, and as such, I would have expected them to feel less threatened by driving their classic cars.
In addition to my vintage cars, I also ride vintage motorcycles, and most motorcyclists will tell you that as a group, motorcyclists are confident riding their machines despite the inherent danger of having minimal structure around to protect them. This is primarily because most mototrcyclists accept responsibility for their own safety, by wearing protective gear and helmets and by participating in skills and safety training courses to learn how to handle any threatening situation on the road, even if it is caused by someone else.
A rider who I really respect and admire once told me that if you are on the bike, ALL accidents are YOUR responsibility, because your life depends on you accepting responsibility for the other person’s actions. You have to anticipate the other idiots who will not see you or who will run the stop signs or red lights, because your survival actually depends on anticipating those situations.
If you ride a motorcycle (or drive a vintage car) with the mindset that it is your responsibility to anticipate the other idiots, you will be a much safer rider or driver.
I have (2) classics…a 1965 Coronet 500 'vert and a 1921 Model T truck. I don’t feel unsafe in the Coronet as I’ve rebuilt the brakes, suspension, and driveline. It will never be as safe as a modern vehicle, but it’s very capable at any speed. The biggest issue (stated multiple times above) having to keep tabs on everyone else that can’t put their %$#@ing phones down and drive. The Model T however makes me nervous as hell! ~40 mph, constantly pulling on the shoulder, brakes are $#!t, but it gets tons of looks and thumbs up’s!
I drive a 1969 Plymouth GTX it draws so much attention until sometimes I am concerned with people taking pictures as I drive. I drove it on a 300 mile road trip last fall nearly all the 18 wheelers honked their horn as they passed even two state troopers pulled along side and flashed their blue light and gave a thumbs up. When I go for gas there is always people coming over to look and ask questions.
I have seen a driver on the interstate doing 75, taking a video of my car as we cruised along. How safe is that. When I noticed, I got off the gas pedal. These fools have a bad way of coming into your lane as their eyes are not on the road.
I do feel safe driving in my 63 Split Window even thiugh it is fiberglass. There are a lot of distracted, idiotic drivers on the roads today. So because of that I am constantly being vigilant, doing a 360 scan all around me so that I can respond to errant drivers that are around me. Most of the time people will keep a safe distance away from my vehicle. They will wave, or smile and give me an enthusastic thumbs up or they honk their horn and wave. Sometimes a moronic millenial will tail gate me but I will accelerate away from that.
Reminds me of that old joke “ I want to die in my sleep like Grampa did…not screaming in terror like everyone else in his car”.
yes, it handles better and stops better than most new cars. I also know how to drive which helps…