Classic cars are rubbish. Fans of older vehicles might be a little wide-eyed at this point, but let me qualify that incendiary statement.
“Classic-car lover” credentials first: as any long-standing reader of CAR will know, this magazine has always revered automotive icons. Along with the new machinery we drive and review, each issue has at least one nugget on old cars – this month we feature oom Louis Coetzer’s staggering collection in Bloemfontein (page 32) and Peter Palm provides his usual Starter Classic advice on page 124.
You’ll have gleaned from past editorials that my own classic-car credentials include owning a ‘66 Mercedes-Benz 230S “Fintail”, a ‘68 Sunbeam Alpine Series V and a ‘70 Ford Fairmont GT. Make no mistake, I love classic cars. But, when it comes to driving them, they’re awful compared with modern vehicles.
Which is why I’m always amused when any classic-car fan – person or publication – talks in glowing terms of how a revered old car performs. Of course, nothing compares to the mechanical directness and the emotive experience of piloting a classic car, but the reality is that, even against a cooking 2014 hatchback, most “sportscars” from back then will lose out in the acceleration, braking and handling stakes.
The intention here isn’t to bash classics – that’s a cheap shot – but to reiterate just how much the automobile has improved over the last four decades. Sometimes, I think we lose sight of just how better built, equipped and safer today’s cars are. In relative terms they are pricier, but look at our test of the new Nissan Qashqai on page 66 to see what a modern vehicle of this ilk offers as a family car.
I appreciate old cars and I enjoy the pleasure that driving them provides … but they do serve to remind me just how far today’s automobiles have progressed.