Whose going to fix it?

Oh my God … do you realize where automotive is going? Well, maybe you do, because it’s got current advertising and new cars developing left and right. So a better question may be do you realize where it was? Huh … what the hell does that mean?

I have a vehicle inspection business. I’m also of the age where I am trimming the fleet and especially the projects because they don’t get done as fast and really … I don’t want to do it, I want to enjoy it.

That said I’m not sure I can just enjoy it. We need young car guys/girls. Yes, both are into mechanics as Techs (don’t use the term mechanic anymore), But the new stuff does not help us keep up with the old stuff. How so you ask? Take for instance a person now called a “tuner”. I had to figure out was a tuner is today. It’s a person with a laptop and software. I was called a tuner once. I was/am able to teardown a carburetor and set it up for maximum performance. My six pack had 50cc accelerator pumps on each float bowl and power valve differently in each carburetor with the mechanical linkage staggered to not flood the engine but provide incrementally increasing fuel to support the RMP and keep it increasing to optimum performance.

It’s not done like that anymore. It’s all computerized, which isn’t bad, but who is going to replace my Prest-O-Lite points when I am too old to bend over the fender. A sun machine now adays is to lie down in and get a tan. Set-up a distributor! What’s a distributor?

That’s what worries me. I was on a vehicle inspection last week for a well know warranty company and during the test drive I mentioned I notice the tech was the go to man when people didn’t know what to do in the shop (This is a big dealership), he nodded and said yeah he is the man they seem to ask because he is the most experienced. So I thought I would ask him … does the parts department have points for older cars? He said what are points. As I explained to him they are the vehicle that sends the optimum spark to the plug when you have set your dwell angle set right. He looked at me like I was speaking Latin to him.

So we need to get people interested not only in being a car enthusiast, but also to do maintenance. I am willing to do about anything I can to facilitate that because it’s scary. Seriously, ask your service advisor how they set the dwell angle in cars now and tell him you used the match book cover method in an emergency. O Geese … do they still have match books?


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Dealerships rarely deal with classic (vintage, or old depending on the adjective of choice) cars, they mainly function on warrantee work which means cars that are just 3-5 years old. With the last cars that received points rolling out of factories in the mid-1970s it is not suprising that dealers might not understand the tech. They have to keep up on the latest and greatest, like how to repair air-conditioned seats (seriously.)

Don’t fear the future. You aren’t the only one concerned about the skills needed to keep the art that is classic cars rolling. Programs have been around for decades, like McPherson College or the relatively new Pennsylvania College of Technology which both have degrees for students to major in restoration (McPherson a Bachelors and Penn Tech an Associates.)

The kids are alright. Keep looking and you will find those passionate about classic cars. Hagerty is on the forefront of getting youth involved with our great hobby. From driving experiences to teach those with a license how to drive a manual, to guiding a group through a car show and teaching the basic of judging, we are here to make sure the cars we love (read: all of them) are going to be in safe hands, even if those hands aren’t ours.

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First off, you cannot fault the guy you talked to know what points are. They haven’t been installed on a car form the factory since the early 1970s. You are talking to someone who is selling parts day in and day out for cars that do not need them. Since most of us online order our parts for old cars, because parts stores do not stock parts for classics (because there is little demand and they can make more money using shelf space for parts that will not sit there for months unsold) you cannot reasonably expect everyone to know. I see that as making up excuses to make a point.

Of course there is a “tuning” culture with software and computers. Newer collector cars can easily be tuned using software, and I’d argue that it is more difficult to do than setting dwell or getting your idle screws just right. Trained technicians don’t need to be trained in working on classic cars since when is your local dealership or shop actually going to see one.

That said, I am of the Millennial age group. I own a muscle car, I have points and know how to use a dewll meter and I still love my Q-Jet. I know a lot of people my age who do as well. Those that don’t are willing to learn, provided someone is willing to teach them.

From my perspective, there is a narrow minded outlook towards younger enthusiasts about not knowing what they’re doing. That is absolutely false. That is a mindset that needs to be changed. Sure, experiences may vary, but I also find that seasoned enthusiasts and younger ones rarely mix. They congregate in different places. We like experience based meets such as cars and coffee, traditional car shows are boring because you rarely have meaningful integrations with other owners. If there is a rift between the two, it is generally because younger enthusiasts are not fully accepted, especially if they like different or newer cars and don’t conform to what YOUR idea of the hobby is. That’s the beauty of our hobby. We all have the freedom to enjoy what we like and express ourselves in what we drive. If you want the passion and knowledge to survive, it is the responsibility of every knowledgeable enthusiast to make themselves available to get out there and do something about it like teach.

I’m just saying withhold judgement. Things are not nearly as bad as they look.

Your right I have been teaching my grandson who is 14 and Love’s the 57 how to work on her he is already good with a computer hopefully he will continue with this after I’m gone

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@MisterTorgue I’m sorry to admit it, but there’s some truth in what you say about the mixing of millennials and boomers…like myself. But know that the lack of understanding…that narrow minded outlook”, is a two-way street. I’m in my mid-sixties but one of my fun cars is an EFI turbocharged rotary with a programmable stand-alone ECU. Sometimes I felt VERY alone at “Tuner” meets. Happily it’s not as often as it used to be.

Not exactly what the OP was talking about, but a nice discussion anyway.:sunglasses:

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I realize
what the mission of the dealerships are … well short term mission because I
do not believe that dealerships will be around long and that they will be
massaged into just service facilities, but that’s a another story.

As an example the closest Mercedes dealership to me (I am a
Mercedes aficionado), has one tech that does all the old stuff … One!
It makes me wonder why they always offer to buy my '72. But as a retired
vehicle engineer and present vehicle inspector I see many dealership with old
cars there owned by the dealership owners and often they are not in very good
shape. Or even worse, one of the largest dealership private car
collections I had ever seen was owned by Rank & Son Buick I myself counted
240 cars there with Wally Ranks name on them. He had what I recall was
billed as the largest FREE outdoor car show in the country; I show both my '48
Plymouth and 75 Mercedes there, ceased to happen after Mr. Rank’s death.

After Mr. Rank’s death, the cars disappeared, I was told by a
former employee that the Son part of Rank and Son did not have the same passion
and sold them off. Geeze … I 2006 the dealership was sold. I
think it was there since 1914 and you can find pictures of it now on the
internet. I hope what you have said is true. But I do not see the
numbers with auto enthusiast’s interest the way it was. I have been to
places like Al’s in American Graffiti (Or was Al’s in Happy Days).
Do those still exist?

Is there some
way to get involved in getting the passion I have passed along to others? What can I do to to help? I have no faith in the last 2 generations and this
latest one or “gimme” generation of entitlement members don’t give me a warm fuzzy
feeling that the old and classic car youth supporters are there. I hope I am wrong!

Ha ha ha … try this one. I asked techs
at the last 3 dealerships I was at if they knew what a dwell angle was. Guess what the answer was.