There are truly just two kinds of classic car enthusiasts; much like drug users, there are the casual users and there are the severe addicts. For the casual user the drug is a luxury, tapped into only on special occasions with discipline and moderation. For the addict though, the drug is not a luxury but a way of life. There is no beige Camry sitting in the garage of an addict, only the medium that will provide the visceral stimulation the addict needs.
I will be the first to admit that I’m an addict. I am a heavy user and need a fix every single day. In the fifteen or so odd years that I’ve been behind the wheel, I have never once owned a car that any authoritative figure would consider “safe” or “responsible”. Overcoming impracticalities is part of the fun. Over those fifteen years, my addiction has only grown stronger.
Daily driving a classic car is a truly special experience. It’s emotional, with peaking highs and disastrous lows. But, while there are a number of parallels in looking at car obsession and drug addiction, there is a key difference that I see; daily classic car use can instill valuable lessons that will help mold someone into a better person on a fundamental level, whereas daily drug use can ruin a person.
I’ve outlined three explanations as to how driving vintage vehicles can make someone a better person on a fundamental level.
Encourages Social Interaction In Real Life
A classic vehicle is more than just a toy to enjoy alone; it’s actually a catalyst of social interaction. When you are driving a classic car, every passerby wants to talk to you. They make comments like, “What is that thing?” or “My grandfather used to own one of these!” and even “I bet you get a lot of chicks with this car!”
If you aim to expand your social circle or even just reaffirm that there are still good people out in the world, get in a classic car and drive around. Anytime you see other classic cars pass by, you will feel a part of a unique and special family. These relationships are one of many takeaways of being a classic car driver.
While the internet may have debunked the dark magic of tuning triple Weber carburetors years ago, no forum or YouTube video can ever compare with hands-on car training from a true expert. In real life, friends within the hobby will likely be able to help you work on and locate parts for your classic too.
Driving a classic car forces the driver to put their cell phone and computer screens by the wayside and focus on the real world in front of them. Exciting things happen in the real world all the time and driving a classic car helps you to appreciate it.
Develop Skills for Self-Sustainability
When a person drives a classic car daily they develop ground-floor mechanical knowledge, as a car is no more than a sum of its parts. While you might feel confidently safe behind the steering wheel of a 60-year old VW Kombi with a brand new installed engine and transmission, you really are not that safe unless the ol’ gal got a comprehensive restoration of every single one of those 60-year old parts.
While the old saying, “They don’t build them like they used to” is still somewhat true, every single moving part in a vehicle is subject to some degree of wear and tear. This is a critical part of driving classic cars and I say this from experience, if you are not willing to fix a broken accelerator cable using a flashlight in the 3am cold of the Mojave desert on the side of Interstate 10, then you probably should not be driving a classic car every day.
Sudden and urgent roadside repairs may sound like an absolute nightmare, but they are everything but that to the well-prepared enthusiast. For these aficionados, breakdowns are simply a new opportunity to put knowledge to the test. Savvy classic car drivers know which parts are the most likely ones to fail while driving. They carry spare parts, a handy tool kit, and usually an instruction manual of some sort. These folks are the Eagle Scouts of the classic car world. Some casual classic car drivers consider a working cell phone, an auto club membership, and a deep pocket to be the most well-prepared you can be on the road. While they aren’t wrong in that these things help, if that’s all you have on your utility belt then you are not getting the full classic car experience.
Successfully pulling off an unassisted and unexpected roadside repair on your classic car evokes the vintage-head’s greasy soul. It gives us a sense of strength, confidence, and power like MacGyver. When you pull it off, you are the king; you can do anything you put your mind to!
It Promotes Mindfulness
One does not simply get into a classic car, turn the key, and drive off just like people do with a modern, regular car. Vintage cars require special care, and I mean more than just a standard lube job or a timing belt every 60,000 miles. Air-cooled Porsches and Volkswagens, even BMWs of the early 1990s, for example, are recommended to have valve adjustments at 3000, 6000, and 10,000 miles. If a driver or owner ignores adjustments for too long, a motor can chew itself apart. No fun. I know this from experience.
Classic cars depend on their owners. Your classic requires your respect, admiration, and understanding. Your car needs you to understand its intricacies, preferences, and weird quirks as good as you know your own. When you are out on the road with your classic car, noting a weird sound, movement, or smell and pulling over to explore can minimize the risk of a potentially damaging and costly mechanical failure. In fact, it can even save your life.
As the owner and daily driver of a classic car, the experience requires a level of mindfulness that optimises the entire experience and even optimises aspects of your own personal life. This mindfulness is like an extra boost of confidence. Classic car enthusiasts everywhere will tell you that the true path to enlightenment is out on the open road.