The experience of driving a classic car is often described as characterful, special and even unbeatable. If this were true than there would be a lot more oldtimers being used for daily driving. Even though I do not daily any car, I do know some of the struggles that come with not owning a more modern car.
Older cars definitely have more character than newer cars. This becomes clear when driving on that perfect, twisty road on a sunny afternoon. The raw engine and even gearbox sounds echo through the car as I hit every apex. Every bit of movement of the vehicle is felt in my entire body and the carb stutters when I suddenly floor it before unleashing all the power.
“The people who admired my car only moments ago are suddenly in a rush to leave when I start to push start the car all by myself”
I then stop at the gas station because the tank is actually quite small. After filling her up, she won’t start. Probably a combination of a tired, overheated starter motor and a little vapour lock in the fuel lines. The people who admired my car only moments ago are suddenly in a rush to leave when I start to push start the car all by myself. Temperature is always an issue, independent of the actual magnitude of it. For that reason I always park in reverse so I can leave the spot driving forward, because it might be impossible to engage reverse with a cold gearbox.
Of course it is possible to spend some time fixing some issues, making life a little more pleasant. A classic car allows for me to work on it and fix most issues with a simple set of tools on the side of the street or in a borrowed garage. This also means that the previous owner has probably done the same, leaving me with a custom wiring job more complicated than the wiring inside an aircraft.
After replacing the brake shoes on the front, which were worn down to the rivets, the rear brakes apparently only barely work. But that maximum brake difference left to right and bad pull to one side is no longer there and I proudly stand back to see my little project on four wheels again. In record time since it was the third time I had done the front brakes, within two months.
Even braking drastically improves the drivability and thereby my trial times on the regular routes. That is another upside to driving a classic car, especially one with very little power. Every ride is a race. I floor it from light to light and corner as hard as possible. I drive the car to her maximum capabilities and no one knows. Everyone around me sees a yellow Beetle going through a corner at 50 km/h while I struggle hard behind the wheel to achieve that perfect racing line.
That same velocity of about 50 km/h was the maximum when driving through France, uphill, with a fully packed car. Being overtaken by trucks on a highway with an incline so steep that I was out of breath just looking at it.
Driving and owning a classic vehicle is great fun. It are the moments when my wheel is rusted through and another wheel bends when putting on a new tire that I wish for a younger car as a backup.