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The Last Best Car Ever

Old 03-23-19, 07:51 AM
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The Last Best Car Ever

I've been thinking about this subject for a few years now, and never really got down to asking anyone for an opinion, so I figure that it would be a good topic for the Foosters! So it goes like this...

All of the automobiles available today are rather complex - too complex, and too many gadgets and gizmos for anyone to maintain and repair on their own. AND the MSRP's keep rising with any little bauble they attach. I understand that auto manufacturers are in the business to make money, so continual improvement and continual upgrades and refinements are essential to have vehicles that out-sell the competition by offering more. Our world is all about more more more... but why can't the auto makers offer vehicles for those of us that want less less less?

Now you see, I'm no slouch in the mechanical trades. I'm a second-generation machinist, and I had a full career in the USAF as an aircraft mechanic. Lots of school. Lots of training. Lots of on the job experience. Retired now. But I'll tell you that all of these skills are wasted on vehicles that require thousands of dollars of electronic diagnostic machinery just to fix them. Why can I get a sustainable car, that won't rust out, that I can fix myself with simple tools, and parts are available anywhere and everywhere? Much like unicorns, they don't exist. The VW Beetle was the one vehicle that probably came closest to this criteria, but is found sadly wanting in several areas.

So here you have it. I'd love to get myself a decent older vehicle that can be fixed easily, and has parts still available. I would prefer something without fuel injection, but EFI or TBI or a simpler form of it would help with fuel efficiency and starting, etc.

Any ideas?

I was thinking that an old VW Jetta might be worthy. Oh, and I forgot to mention that a car with some level of class would be great; some kind of car that remains tasteful and doesn't look like a 3rd world wheelbarrow. The early Toyotas come to mind, but their parts are becoming rare now.

Discuss?
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Old 03-23-19, 09:16 AM
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90's Toyota Tacoma.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:22 AM
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It's funny how some people perceive autos as becoming too complex, to this day, I can still hear my mechanic uncle saying the same thing about early 70's vehicles, with all the smog equipment, and electronic ignition.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:44 AM
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Improvements in safety and efficiency that happen with each iteration of any model, and across the industry each year, makes the initial up-front cost of any new(er) vehicle less painful in lower fuel costs and overall maintenance. E.g., I just traded in a 2001 Fiat Scudo van for a 2011 Nissan NV200, and I've lowered my fuel consumption by half.

If you're looking for an inexpensive bulletproof working-man's "modern classic", I'd say the first generation (1999-2004) Ford Focus has to be up there.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
I've been thinking about this subject for a few years now, and never really got down to asking anyone for an opinion, so I figure that it would be a good topic for the Foosters! So it goes like this...

All of the automobiles available today are rather complex - too complex, and too many gadgets and gizmos for anyone to maintain and repair on their own. AND the MSRP's keep rising with any little bauble they attach. I understand that auto manufacturers are in the business to make money, so continual improvement and continual upgrades and refinements are essential to have vehicles that out-sell the competition by offering more. Our world is all about more more more... but why can't the auto makers offer vehicles for those of us that want less less less?

Now you see, I'm no slouch in the mechanical trades. I'm a second-generation machinist, and I had a full career in the USAF as an aircraft mechanic. Lots of school. Lots of training. Lots of on the job experience. Retired now. But I'll tell you that all of these skills are wasted on vehicles that require thousands of dollars of electronic diagnostic machinery just to fix them. Why can I get a sustainable car, that won't rust out, that I can fix myself with simple tools, and parts are available anywhere and everywhere? Much like unicorns, they don't exist. The VW Beetle was the one vehicle that probably came closest to this criteria, but is found sadly wanting in several areas.

So here you have it. I'd love to get myself a decent older vehicle that can be fixed easily, and has parts still available. I would prefer something without fuel injection, but EFI or TBI or a simpler form of it would help with fuel efficiency and starting, etc.

Any ideas?

I was thinking that an old VW Jetta might be worthy. Oh, and I forgot to mention that a car with some level of class would be great; some kind of car that remains tasteful and doesn't look like a 3rd world wheelbarrow. The early Toyotas come to mind, but their parts are becoming rare now.

Discuss?
From my personal experience, a popular 60's muscle car, provided you can afford the initial price, simple to work on, tons more parts and kits are available online today than back in the day, my in having to scour junk yards, magazine ads, and word of mouth for a part in somebody's garage.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post

If you're looking for an inexpensive bulletproof working-man's "modern classic", I'd say the first generation (1999-2004) Ford Focus has to be up there.
Interesting. I bought an '06 Focus in '06 and have put over 200K miles on it since. Still takes me to and from work dependably, anywhere from 50 to 150 miles a day.
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Old 03-23-19, 10:03 AM
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OP, if you are talking about something upscale new or "newer", I think that ship has sailed. If talking about older, just about anything that has withstood the test of time and high miles is worth a look.
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Old 03-23-19, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
90's Toyota Tacoma.
Funny you should say that, because that's more or less what I'm talking about. I worked for years with someone who had one - 1990, I believe. That thing had more miles than you could count, and it purred like a kitten. It was only a 2wd, but for longevity and ease of use it couldn't be beat. The only trouble is, I don't want to look like a redneck when I roll up somewhere. I want a car that has some sort of class and stylishness to it. Sorry, @dynodonn, a muscle car is, sadly, beyond the parameters of my wallet, and unless its absolutely perfect, I'd want to avoid the Joe Dirt Effect anyway.

Perhaps a decent compromise would be one of the early Landcruisers? A J60 model might just fill the ticket.
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Old 03-23-19, 11:03 AM
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Very few, if any, older cars have aged well. Maybe a mid-00s Range Rover or BMW X5?
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Old 03-23-19, 12:54 PM
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'67 vw
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Old 03-23-19, 01:04 PM
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‘75 AMC Gremlin. Inline 6, 3 speed stick, nothing auto, no A.C., power nothing. The engine is long and lean like a John Deer tractor, lots of room to get to stuff. As AMC wasn’t a “real” car company, they got parts from like everybody. Thus no concerns about somebody going out of business and parts drying up. There are very few parts actually. Ugly as **** as well so NOBODY is going to steal this thing.

My Gremlin, fondly referred to as The Lead Sled, could use a very large screwdriver as the stick shift (which I needed to do on occasion). The locks didn’t always work so I only needed one key to start it and a rope from the rear hatch to the interior drivers door handle, in the event that the exterior door latches failed. Would run an -27 F below zero, but took a week to get started. Mine was school bus yellow.

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Old 03-23-19, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
Very few, if any, older cars have aged well. Maybe a mid-00s Range Rover or BMW X5?
I had a 1970 BMW 1602, which was excellent. The reason I'm not keen on the BMWs or Mercedes - despite their inherent longevity - is that parts are woefully scarce here.
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Old 03-23-19, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
'67 vw
Yeah I know. This is still probably the best choice. Easy to fix. Easy to drive. Sucks in the winter. I had a 1959 in Germany, and had to drive to work, scraping the windshield inside and out on the way.
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Old 03-23-19, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
I want a car that has some sort of class and stylishness to it.
This is incompatible with your premise.
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Old 03-23-19, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post

This is incompatible with your premise.
Not really, DL. I could get everything I listed in the criteria if I had a Chevy C10 pickup or a Ford F100, but then again, you've got the redneck factor with those. I have nothing against rednecks, mind you, but I'm looking for a sedan-type vehicle. Hey you know, one of the early Bronco II's might fit the bill...
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Old 03-23-19, 01:21 PM
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My favorite : Saab 96 , here is one a bit modified : (Not Mine)




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Old 03-23-19, 01:51 PM
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another under hood image , still a V4, 4 stroke

As a German Ford supplied engine, the V4 could be replaced by the Capri V6....
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Old 03-23-19, 03:08 PM
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The 123 chassis E-class diesels are pretty notorious for their longevity and simplicity. The only common failure points are probably the AC and Radio. Of course you'll be paying 10-15k+ for a nice one these days, and even then they are 35+ years old...

I loved my 126 S-class. They are a bit more complex of course, but made until 91, so slightly newer. Probably one of the most advanced cars of its age but still simple compared to these days. Again, AC and Radio relatively common failure points. A number of engines to choose from. I kept one going on zero budget for 5 years in my early 20's, doing quite a bit of work myself. It was a car designed with repairs and maintenance in mind.

My mechanic buddies talk fondly of their old 4.3 chevy S10's. You also still see quite a few 9th generation F-series pickups around. I hear the 4.9 v6 goes forever. I think pickups of that era will probably be some of the last relatively simple cars. Style and class though, eh.
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Old 03-23-19, 03:33 PM
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I just got a '75 Dart Swinger for fun. It is on the other side of the classic performance fence, but it has an indestructible gas sippin' slant 6 and is already set for unleaded. Also has some safety standards like collapsible steering column, three point seat belts and better bumpers. However, compared to some other old cars I've owned it is pretty complex. I had a '63 Valiant that looked like it only had 5 moving parts.
My main car is a Honda Element. One thing I like is it is has some tech, but is not overly complicated.
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Old 03-23-19, 03:40 PM
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Lincoln Town Car or Mercury Grand Marquis.
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Old 03-23-19, 04:41 PM
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I've always thought a stolen car runs the best. Low maintenance too.
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Old 03-23-19, 05:45 PM
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Now if someone needs a car for a quick trip to pick up a pack of smokes from the corner store a quarter mile away, or a Vegas Strip attention getter, here's a car for you.

It even has a 1000, (or 2000) watt stereo system to boot.

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Old 03-23-19, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
'67 vw
My first car was a 67 Beetle. The heater in my second car was one of the many things I liked better, that and acceleration.
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Old 03-23-19, 09:57 PM
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If you lived in France i’d suggest a Deux Chevaux. About as simple and future proof as they come.
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Old 03-24-19, 12:16 AM
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An early Land Cruiser, with points vice electronic ignition or a 56 Chevy... the latter with stylish paint job to give it the "flair" you seek. Both have somewhat readily available parts. I wonder if a Checker Cab might fit in there somehow.

It's gonna be difficult to get that "prestige" you seek, with an old car... a great paint job and full restoration are about the only solutions, there. An old Rolls Royce comes to mind there, but parts are gonna be hard to find, as not many were actually built.

With regards to the electronics of more modern vehicles... the GEM board seems to be one of the bigger failing items of later Ford F150s... and largely due to an overly complex circuit board being located beneath a poorly designed front window seal.
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