Why are American cars not classics?

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Dream Cars
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It's to do with a number of things including but not limited to, the island mentality we British have, making us believe that anything not built on these shores is inferior... unless of course it's German... or French.... or Japanese... or (kneels in a Wayne and Garth 'we're not worthy' style)... Italian. But not American - No, these Over sized, Over juicy and Over here behemoths have constantly been a figure of fun for the informed 'collectors' of Britain who hang on to every word of the over-bearing, stone-washed jean clad, opinionated sychophant with a striking resemblence to Stella Street's, Mrs Huggett - I feel it only a matter of time before this original fella (well original if you don't count him stealing the great Quentin Wilson's act!) turns up with a blue rinse! Basing every cars world ranking on whether or not it can go round a corner at 60 miles per hour is pathetic - with the possible exception of Jenson and Lewis, who drives their own car flat out all the time? Nobody, it's irrelevant!

 

It's a nonsense which knows no bounds - I recently displayed my Persian Sand 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible at a 'judged' event in London - now, having my cars judged has never been a priority of mine and I really don't care what some ill-informed head judge thinks but before the 'get-go', during initial introductions on the set-up day he muttered words along the lines of "....grotesque, handles like a blancmange, stops like the QEII and guzzles like a night out with Oliver Reed, Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen!" - before I could ask if he'd ever actually driven one, he was off extolling the virtues of a Fiat Bertone or some such. (For the record, when I drove the 6.4 litre, triple carbed beauty home from Berlin where I purchased it, it returned a very healthy 21.6 mpg on the road!)

 

As it happen's a huge part of my interest in American cars concerns what it must have been like to purchase and own such a car new, especially in our fair land where granted they would have been considered veritable space ships on a mission from Planet Harleyearl - I've driven '59 Cadillac's for over 30 years and I can catergorically confirm that they run, drive and handle like a car 25 or more years it's junior. A well maintained car is a dream to drive, manufacturing technology has changed so things like shock absorbers, brake-linings, lubricants, exhausts, fuel and not forgetting or course tyres have developed so much that the modern OEM correct replacement parts are much better than those originally fitted - this goes for all old cars. Coupled with a discreetly fitted Petronix ignition and you have a car that will perform and out-perform it's closest rivals (of which there are very few!), every time! 

 

The rule of thumb seems to be, if a country doesn't have it's own domestic motor industry, the most collected cars are American cars and clearly in America they are the most collected. Thus we can safely say on a world wide basis, the most collectable cars are American. The parts availability for American cars as a whole is by far the best of any old car and interest shown by the numerous TV shows and internet sites shows just how popular these cars are and how serious collectors are about these cars. As Al has said, Lord March has been a huge influence on educating British car enthusiasts and the number of US cars on our shores grows by about 200 a month.

 

My advice is, don't listen to popular opinion, designed to score cheap laughs, experience the cars for yourself either at shows or cruises, look for something you like - Mustangs and Tri-Chevy's (55, 56, 57) are a very good 'first' yank as the parts back up is just superb - or maybe something a little more unusual, and see how you enjoy it yourself - I guarantee you'll be smiling from ear to ear and you'll meet lots of like-minded people along the way!

 

Rant over! :)

 

 

Stew

Chris Martin
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Joined: 2011-08-20

Thanks for that Stewart,

Seconded!

You speak for a lot of us there, well said. Yes there are plenty to choose from, and the parts back up is every bit the equal to the home grown MG or Jag supplies, maybe better, and not just Tri-Chevs and Mustangs either, there are many suppliers for T-Birds, Cads, Pontiacs and even the lesser known Packards and Studebakers are well-served. As editor of the Australian Model T Club (NSW) magazine "The Bent Wire" I can say the supply of T and Model A parts is excellent too.

Regarding the petrol consumption and the common myths about 'gas-guzzlers' etc, not true. I posted this story a couple of months ago, but it bears repeating in this context. Because the '66 T-Bird Landau I used as a daily driver in London for a year came with a set of brand new American narrow whitewall tyres I was reluctant to replace them immediately but did find they had the directional stability of an olive on a wet bar counter (worse when it WAS wet) and after a complete overhaul of the brakes to ensure it would slow in something like a straight line, I decided to disconnect the secondary half of the original factory carburettor to try to avoid the sudden kick in acceleration. The design was such that the over-centre action of the carb linkage made it open suddenly rather than gradually and with a healthy motor and no-grip tyres would result in instant wheelspin. Apparently this was common to the type and not a case of a bad adjustment, but without it I found the top speed was maybe down to 90mph from maybe 100, but as that was not a problem for me I found the fact that it no longer stepped sideways every time I floored it a lot easier to live with. So was the 20mpg !

From a fully loaded 390 V8 - about 6.3 litres - automatic, power everything, in central London traffic.

Then I needed a so-called 'sensible' car for business and reluctantly sold it to Stewart (remember the Emberglow and Parchment Landau?) in about '87 to replace it with a 2.8 Granada which returned 18mpg average.

Ho-Hum........

Me and it in '87.

Chris M.

 

Dream Cars
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Hi Chris,

Good to speak to you... I remember it well, a beautiful car!

Oh the irony of changing that for something more economical! It's very difficult to convince people that American cars aren't all gas guzzlers - I'm sure it goes back to the days of Austin 7's and Morris 8's that propabably to 30 odd to the gallon but nowadays you're lucky if any decent sized car does 20 to the gallon!

Funny really, people don't know what they're missing out on!

Nuno Granja
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It's funny, we have the same kind of debate here at Portugal, but with diferent vehicles, people spend hours argumenting if Renault's 5 or Fiat's 124 are classics, the "MG/look at me I'm so british" brigade says "no way", the young people arriving and wiith fresh memories from the back seat of thoose cars, says "yes they are".

I can almost garantee that at  portugal, we consider classics all of american cars who are more that 25 years old . They are real exotica here.

nuno g

Dream Cars
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You are right on both counts Nuno.

GBt
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]Ripper 

MrBenovich
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American cars are classics. Just not as popular over here (Europe) as many others...

mrtotty
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They're popular enough here in the UK to support a couple of monthly magazines.

GBt
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Quote:
Mr Benovich

American cars are classics. Just not as popular over here (Europe) as many others..

Quote:
They're popular enough here in the UK to support a couple of monthly magazines.
agreed good sirs.

My old T Bird in the ninetees, I threw a rod on the original 390V8,  and I rebuilt a gash 352 blockusing the 390 ancillories.Here picturedis still on axle stands nearing completion with matching colour  VF400 Honda , very fast too. 

Chris Martin
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GBt wrote:

Quote:
Mr Benovich

American cars are classics. Just not as popular over here (Europe) as many others..

Quote:
They're popular enough here in the UK to support a couple of monthly magazines.
agreed good sirs.

My old T Bird in the ninetees, I threw a rod on the original 390V8,  and I rebuilt a gash 352 blockusing the 390 ancillories.Here picturedis still on axle stands nearing completion with matching colour  VF400 Honda , very fast too. 

Why are Americans not classics? That T-Bird cetainly is. Do you know where it is now? Looks good (except for that high in the front coz I'm on the stands pose), but the 64 to 66 generation was always my favourite.

Not sure where a Honda bike fits in to a post on American cars though.............

Chris M.