Enjoy the old, but embrace the new


I’m one of those people who think engineers will save the world. I think it was Thomas Malthus who said the population will die out because you can only feed ten people on an acre of land, and as the population grows, people will starve to death. Well, now you can feed something like a thousand people on an acre of land. The air is cleaner than when I was a kid, the water is cleaner, things are safer. When I came to Los Angeles, there were 160 days a year when they told people not to go outside. Obviously, it’s not perfect yet, but we must have 10 times as many cars as we had 50 years ago, with maybe a tenth of the pollution.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/22/jay-leno-on-engineers


I think Jay has a valid point. My 2012 Honda Pilot is an excellent vehicle and I’ll keep it for many years. We bought a 2018 Honda CR-V for my wife 12/28. It has an amazing number of safety and convenience features. She loves the car. In looking at the features, and MSRP of the former 1995 Volvo 850 Turbo, $31,000+, we replaced with the CR-V, it is amazing what we got for the money with the CR-V. She may not keep the CR-V for 23 years like we did the Volvo, but she’ll surely keep it for many, many years to come, knowing it will be a reliable and safe car. It has won accolades from many sources and has a history of quality and reliability.

When we take my 1957 Pontiac Chieftain out for a spin about every two weeks, it brings back many memories and we get lots of comments and thumbs up on it. Having it reminds us what progress auto makers have made. That being said, it sure is a fun car to cruise around in. However, I had forgotten how poor the new car warranties were back then: 90 days or 4,000 miles.

So, we can appreciate the new technology and quality while at the same time appreciating ‘how it used to be.’


Thanks Jay.
As a recently retired product design engineer, I can tell you that my 40 years as an engineer in product development was always about making the new product better, faster, quieter, cheaper, more environmentally appropriate. I do believe that each new product incarnation was superior to the previous one. But I am also a student of history. I love my '41 Plymouth Coupe (I know you have one too). I love my ancient Connecticut made clocks from the 1800s-1900s… I love my antique sewing machines and typewriters. We can celebrate the brilliance of the old designs while still embracing the idea of continuous improvement. Lets not be all old angry guys that think it was always better to be in the past!


I definitely agree that cars are better now. We have this romantic notion that cars were so great in the 60’s (or 30’s, 40’s 50’s) - even to the point of saying they were better back then. I drive a 1966 Mustang nearly every day right now and I can say that even my 17-year-old Ranger is a better daily vehicle. Cars today are faster, more comfortable, stop better, handle better and even have better sound systems. Just look at the horsepower ratings for the old cars, my Mustang had 210 hp in stock form at the old ratings which is about 160-170 now, or about what a four-cylinder engine puts out. It’s not even close to what is the better car. However, I still like driving my Mustang just for the thumbs-up and comments from others on the road.


I will have to agree, that I love cars…Old and new…My first car was a 1969 Pontiac Lemans, that my parents bought new, and then it became my car as I turned 15…It was a great car, and I wish I had never sold it, but it was not nearly as well built as new cars…back in those days, an engine or transmission rarely went more than 120,000 miles without an overhaul, and for that matter, the whole car would be in need of significant reconditioning by that time…Of course now, with the proper maintenance, we get 300,000 miles out of a vehicle all the time…and spend much less time working on them…
I will have to say, that the creative architecture of cars, especially through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, was just a sight to behold, but it came with a price, and lots of tonnage !
Right now, I own a 1963 Ford Falcon, a 1986 Corvette, and a 1992 Jeep Cherokee…and I love my cars, but I am chomping at the bit for a 2020 Ford Bronco !! CARS ARE FUN ! ALL OF THEM !
Mike Curtiss


OK, Jay–today’s cars drive themselves and are technological marvels but, for my money, most of them all look the same. The cars I grew up with in the 50’s, 60’s and somewhat into the 70’s had style and personality which today’s cars lack unless one thinks a jelly bean is stylish.

Even the car manufacturers inadvertently admit (through their advertising) that their styling is nothing special. In a recent Buick TV ad, a woman thinks an old Ford Taurus is a new Buick. In a Chevy TV ad, the spokesperson tells a panel of people that the badges have been removed from the cars in front of them so the panel can’t tell who made the cars which to me means that once you remove all identifying marks, you can’t tell one car make from another. Well, when I was growing up, we didn’t have to see any stupid badges to differentiate a Chevy from a Ford from a Buick from a Chrysler. Back then, you could usually identify a car just from the tail lights as it was pulling away from you at night.


I agree as well that new cars are much more dependable and safer overall but except for supercars and the modern musclecars like the mustang, Camaro, and Challenger it is hard to tell most cars apart. I happen to be a Ford fanatic so I have a 68 Cougar, 08 Sport Trac Adrenaline and a 14 Mustang GT convertible. I also recently came across a red 96 Taurus SHO with only 2800 miles that still looks much more stylish than vehicles even after 2000. For example, it seems now on more common vehicles that all manufacturers might use the same headlight assembly manufacturer and maybe the car designers are more limited on design, might not be true but just a guess. Of course my 14 Mustang GT is the fastest best handling car I have ever had but for some reason I still enjoy driving the old 68 cougar even more! Not sure if I can this on here but anyone interested in a brand new 96 V8 SHO?


Mr. Leno,
You are right! I can’t tell my a Honda Fit from several other cars in that class!

While electric cars do not pollute while you are using them, producing the electricity they use does contribute. The real key truly clean driving could go two ways.
First, something lighter than the current batteries for storing electricity.
Second, a better way of storing hydrogen.
Bill O’Riley has been touting alcohol fuel like Brazil has mandated, but we can’t grow sugar cane like they can on the equator.
If the wiz kids can figure out how termites turn cellulose into sugar, we may be on to something in that direction.
Perhaps Google and whomever should be looking at that instead of self driving cars.
Regards, Ray


Yep Jay…couldn’t agree more…the cars in the last 15 years are better than anything done the previous 15 years and so on. The marvel of continuous improvement - cars need less of everything and the performance is better. Still like my MGB & MGC - fun to drive but honestly pretty happy jumping into my wife’s Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix) with 300000+ KM’s on it and it will likely go another 100000 or two (we keep our cars a long time!) as for performance I was looking at a Chevy Bolt at the Detroit Auto Show - funny - it’s 0 - 60 time is about the same as 1969 Z28!! :slight_smile:

Drive On and Enjoy


Time and technology march on! The 1969 SC/Rambler was phenomenal at 14.3 seconds in a quarter mile (on a par with most muscle cars of the time) right off the showroom floor. Bias ply tires and all! Today a run of the mill 2018 Camry can do the quarter in 14.3 with a 213 inch (3.5L) V-6 of 301 hp and auto trans compared to the 390 inch/315 hp V-8 manual four speed of the SC/Rambler. Smaller turbo four cylinder cars (like the Honda Accord 2.0T Touring w/10 speed auto) can actually run a bit quicker! No premium priced special edition vehicle required. That’s technology!

I was thinking the battery pack in a modern electric car would need replacing after a while, but apparently not. Toyota says Prius batteries are “life of the car” and have an 8 year/100K warranty (10 year/150K in CA). Consumer Reports recently tested a 215K mile 2003 Prius and noted that the battery pack had barely diminished in capacity (don’t know how they tested it… probably range?). I’d think an all electric would pull the battery pack down more than a hybrid, but with electronic controls and being careful with charging (don’t run down real low often) I suppose you’re still looking at over 100K miles before it starts to see diminished range due to age.


I’m 70 - just like Jay. I worked for GM, attended GMI and saw muscle cars come and go. I worked on muscle cars from all three of the big three. They were junk to work on then and they are still junk. Too many old people need memories to keep hope alive. I’ll take a hybrid Corvette ZR7 any time - oh, wait it hasn’t come out - yet. Until then I will rely on Callaway Engineering to provide the optimal GT driving experience. I hate taking a modern Mercedes to the shop - the bill makes my hair hurt - yes I still have some hair at 70 - but not like Jay’s.


Have a real dilemma.I have a friend who has a true “BarnFind” consisting of pristine Packard,Cadillacs,plus many many more.Owner getting up in age without any plan to liquidate.When he passes the car collection will flood the market.I tried getting Carini interested,but?Hyperoble aside I truly have the ultimate barn find can I be heard.website:”stevestours.net
I would appreciate getting word out.
Best Regards,Steve SACRE (541)400-1469


I’ll be a little more excited by electric vehicles and hybrids when electricity is primarily sourced with renewable non-polluting sources rather than petroleum and other polluting sources. Until then, gasoline powered personal vehicles are only what? 6% of our overall problem? Or is it 16%? Whatever, point being there’s a much larger portion from industry, airplanes, and the transportation of goods but how much do ppl talk about getting control of those? Why are we so preoccupied as a nation with such a small slice of the pollution issue? And, not that Al did this, but so many ppl do ignore the sources of that electricity that runs our electric cars.


I’m all for “green” cars, but the manufacturers today are deliberately making cars too complicated
for the simple job of transportation. One reason is they want to keep their consumer from fixing their own car, or even indie shops, by proprietary software and unnecessary electronic controls and sensors for mechanical systems. Another is so they can charge more for the car if it comes loaded with technology whether the customer needs it or not.
I wish they could invent a car that requires the driver to pay attention to driving it! That would be heaven for me. The roads would be safer, but that car might not sell to well…


I think it all depends on your age and health. At 78, I’m still enamored with a four speed, and carburetors. My cars range from 1953 to 2009. All but the new one have stick shifts. I only drive the new car when it rains, and here in So. Cal. not often. I have my retirement dream, man cave with a lift, and Marilyn Monroe on the walls… Do most of the work myself.

                           ...................................Liv'n the dream...............Jim.