Hot Rods Forever

I wrote in NKY Live magazine about the seemingly dying car culture in America. The younger generations lack of interest and the high cost and low availability of older “cool” cars to buy and fix up.

This got me thinking about even further down the road and the cost of technology beyond literal dollars and cents. Back in the day, systems were relatively easy to work on and a decent knowledge of performance parts and how they worked would get you where you wanted to be at the drag strip.

Today’s cars are not so easy, you really have to understand more than cams, timing and carbs to make a modern car perform in fact, if you don’t know what you are doing you can hurt the performance or worse, a vital control system.

But if you set aside mods and upgrades, the cost to repair current technology, some of which is needed just to keep the car running, is getting extremely expensive. Consider the control modules which are computers and like any computer, they are subject to failure at some point. And what about comfort features like back up cameras in which the Feds would like to see as standard equipment on all vehicles soon.

What will happen to insurance rates when you have a crash and need to replace a $1000 headlamp assembly? I am not exaggerating, the headlight on a Lincoln MKZ is that much! How would a young person when the car is old enough that they can afford to buy it going to be able to drive it  when normal every day parts are so exspensive that you either drive it broke or park it. How can you customize or hot rod a late-model vehicle on a budget when just to get it drivable could cost thousands.

Boo on Cash for Clunkers right? Not all the desirable cars when to the crusher but a good number did. I remember when a rusty but fixable Nova could be driven home for about $500. After some body and paint, a cam, intake, headers, and a nice Holley, you were pounding pavement and feeling good. Todays youth have become disinterested, a lot has to do with the cost and what is available to them, hence the wave of Asian hot rods.

Not taking anything away from drifters and fast and furious rides, I like many of them and you can’t argue with the performance that can be generated out of those 4 and 6 bangers. I just see it as a offshute to the American car culture as it has been for decades. I miss seeing those old Novas, Chevelles, Torinos, and other cool cars cruising’ the streets everyday.

Even if you consider the new factory performance cars as the new skool cruising machines, how do young people afford them and then there is the pride of building it yourself and making it your own. I like what manufacturers are doing these days but some of these hot rods are out of the price range of adults much less kids out of high school.

I guess times are changing, I just hate the thought of losing that mystique, that American hobby that is hot rodding, car building, and the spirit of competition at the track and at the local fast food joint. I cringe when I think of the cost to keep a new car running when it is out of warranty. If you have priced a set of tires lately you know what I mean. The 18 to 20 inch wheels that are standard on many new cars come with a high maintenance cost….things I have always though should be disclosed when buying a new car.

The more sophisticated we get, the more creature features we want, the more it is going to cost up front and down the road. I think the highest price paid is the loss of an American past time, an original ingredient that makes the American pie.

Hot Rods Forever.


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