They don’t make them like they used to!Published 9:02am Thursday, October 25, 2012
The talk is often of cars among us older guys at the oval table in McDonald’s on a Saturday morning. After some comment about the newer cars, and all manner of other things coming from China and the third world countries, there comes the lament that, “They don’t make them like they used to.”
The cars of the 30s and even the late 40s, when production resumed after WWII, were heavy, boxy vehicles with tall seats, running boards, heavy-duty bumpers that would ward off small trees and other cars with equal aplomb, and heavy doors that closed like a bank vault with a couple of small clicks. All of the above signified quality, as did the fine wood dash boards, soft leather seats and suspension, and lots of insulation for sound proofing.
Fast forward about a half century and we find lighter cars, bodies shaped for low aerodynamic drag, radial tires with less rolling resistance, fuel injection, and all the amenities of a five-star hotel. They are also carefully designed to make collisions survivable, usually with few injuries. The rollover accident that killed my father in 1938 probably would not have injured him seriously had he been riding in one of today’s cars.
I see that Gina Malone of the Village Book Shoppe, one of my former editors at the Bulletin, is now writing for the Hendersonville Times-News. This week’s feature is a pullout tabloid section about cars. Gina marvels at the many new features that require a two-hour cockpit briefing and checkout much like a pilot gets before flying a new fighter plane.
In the 30s, a radio, heater and turn signals were extra-cost accessories. Often a second tail light and windshield wiper on the passenger side were, too. The windshield wiper was powered by manifold vacuum, so it quit wiping when you started up a hill. Many folks did not give the required arm signals for turns or slowing down on rainy days to avoid getting their arm wet. And you never knew whether or not your car would start readily, due to worn out ignition and choke parts, so they needed a “tune-up” about every 10,000 miles.