Tuesday, March 22, 2011

O/T: 1959 Vs. 2009

I don't talk politics, religion, etc. on this blog because it's just not the place.  I have plenty of strong opinions (somewhere my wife laughs in the background) and I know that lots of my friends have very different, equally strong opinions.  But, this is America, after all, and one of the best things about this country is the idea that people with all sorts of differences agree to get along in some sort of mutual respect.  I very much believe that we're all better off for this.

That said, there is a big difference between opinion and ignorance, and it drives me crazy when I interact with people who absolutely INSIST that something is fact, even when it is clearly, demonstrably untrue.   An easy example is astrology- the notion that astrology has ANY scientific basis has been debunked so completely that I can't even pretend to make polite conversation with anyone serious about it... it's like trying to have a polite conversation with someone who is telling you that the earth is flat. I just make a mental note never to bring it up again and walk away depressed at the state of mankind.

I give up because I know that the other person has chosen not to listen, not to think, not to be logical.   We ALL have our cherished myths - all of us.... the key is knowing when to confront your own myths and accept them as such.  You don't even have to do anything different, you just have to internally acknowledge that you are doing something illogical and know it.

I speak from personal experience.  I've been driving old heaps of shit since I learned to drive.  Until Liv and I got married in 2006 (and I became a co-owner of her Toyota) I'd never owned a car made after I was born- and I was born in 1966.  The newest car I ever owned was my first car, a '63 VW bus that was 23 years old when I bought it in 1986.  I've never bought anything newer than a '64 model since.

My own cherished myth was that old cars, having more steel, and being more solid, were just as safe - or safer - than the crappy new cars on the road.  I pointed to my '62 Valiant wagon which survived a direct hit from a '73 Chevy doing 40 mph and drove away from the accident as proof.  It was kinda ugly, but mechanically, it was unscathed.  (Please note that I didn't believe that Crosleys were in any way, shape or form, safe; I knew that I was a goner if I was hit in a Crosley by anything larger than a BMX bike.)

Last year, I was disabused of my beliefs about the relative safety of old cars.  I stumbled across this video from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, made to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  It didn't change my habits - I still drive old cars, and probably always will - but it made me realize that I was wrong. I drive old cars because that's what I do, but at least now I'm not kidding myself, and if anything happens, c'est la vie - I may be dead, but at least I won't be dead and dumb.


Darrell Wilhelm said...

I think this video has made its rounds on the Internet a lot, but anyone who thinks a 50s American sedan or any other car made before the jellybean era (mid-80s on) or so is safe ought to see this. If one must drive an old car but still want at least a vestige of safety, consider a Volvo 140-series, a Rover P6 or SD1, a Saab 99 or a 70s-on Citroen (late DS, GS, Visa or CX, or an SM if you can afford one). They are nothing like a late-model, but you're not in a complete deathtrap either.

Then again, most car guys, you & I included, accept the risks of driving an old car just as one might accept the risk of a house fire by deep-frying food, using solid-fuel heat or using a space heater.

Ol' Man Foster said...

Darrell, you said it.

Darrell Wilhelm said...

Yes... I thought it was a pretty smart and educated comment. :)

BTW, the jellybean era refers to both the car designs like the Audi 5000, Ford Taurus, Aerostar and Thunderbird, Isuzu Impulse, Mercedes-Benz W126 and other aerodynamic designs that had rounded qualities, as well as to the president at the time via his favorite candy.

I like your blog. You have a unique outlook on everything and great taste in cars.

d a v i d e said...

I think the bigger problems to "face" were the dashboard and the steering wheel. Straight in the middle of the chest. I've always looked at this as a spike constantly aiming at your chest. Still worth every minute of it thou.

(still a smoker)

d a v i d e said...


Ol' Man Foster said...

I saw those vintage crash tests too. yeesh.

smoke 'em up, dude. My mom and dad both died of smoking-related illness (lung cancer, congestive heart failure), and Liv's dad just had his voicebox removed. he now talks through a hole in this throat. smoking sucks.

Quit and you will never regret it.

Anonymous said...

What nearly all car enthusiasts seem to be shockingly ignorant of is that cars made in the last 5 to 10 years use Ultra High Strength Steel all around the passenger compartment. This has a tensile strength of 110,000 pounds per square inch. The old cars use mild steel everywhere, including the thick frames - it only has 35,000 pounds per square inch of tensile strength. But the new car crumple zones use thin mild steel as well. So no old 1950s or 1960s car is capable of penetrating the passenger compartment of any new car. The new steel is that much stronger. Another myth busted.....those comments on youtube and other blogs are hilarious. They thing the 1959 must have been sabotaged for the results to be the way they are. None of them realize that the new car is really the "tank". A tank with soda cans in front of it and behind it - those would be the crumple zones.