What makes an old car?

Plenty of old cars never really become old.

By contrast, there are many cars that have been around for some time that are still just ‘cars’ – (my friend’s dad’s forest green early 90s Infiniti with a tail-mounted bike rack springs to mind) – and never really become ‘old’ in the sense that they are recognized as interesting objects from a bygone era. I must have seen a good dozen perfectly classic Honda CRXs that trundled along with duct tape-affixed bumpers and whatnot, driving along until they finally give up the ghost and find themselves in the junkyard.

The Hemmings blog has been dealing with this question in a segment called Class of ’85 asking what cars ought to be allowed into sanctioned classic car shows and what oughtn’t. This approach makes a lot of sense – car shows are indeed a measure of what cars are viewed as noteworthy or worth some time devoted to restoration and preservation. But there is a vast amount of everyday restoration and preservation going on that does not fit into the car show world. Just how much money will you put into a 1981 Honda Accord before you let its shakes become death rattles? How many mid-70s Toyota Cressidas are being preened and cared for by low-budget car nuts? What is the formula for making a car stick out and grab someone by the heartstrings, by the wallet?

Finding this old Cressida was just awesome. It still has the cracks and wear of regular use, but a couple of NorCal dudes wanted to keep it running. Because it’s cool.

I mean, I guess it is – otherwise nobody would care and I would’ve biked right past.

In case you were wondering, Cressidas from the 1970s were upper-rung Toyotas with some bit of space and refinement. Conceivably they were something for a Corolla buyer to trade up to, or were bought by dealers with the intent of selling to former land yacht owners who wanted something Japanese or miserly with gas and couldn’t take the dinkiness of a Corona or Corolla.

But is no one going out there onto the streets and finding how many Chrysler Lebarons are being preserved and how many are being treated like, I don’t know, a 2003 Civic, only rattlier and cheaper?

In any case, cool car, cool that someone ought there is caring for it. This strange little import car came with standard AC and an automatic – a different kind of Japanese car than most Americans might’ve expected to see back in 1977. It didn’t ask so may compromises of the owner as typical Japanese cars of the time, which would often be categorized as either econoboxes or shitboxes, interchangeably.

It certainly looks odd enough, and you don’t see many around. I might be stretching the truth a bit to say that this is a historically significant vehicle for contributing to the normalization of import cars in America, but I love that this one is still out there driving. Unless it got hit by a car in the time since I took these pictures a year ago. Then it’s probably in a junkyard somewhere.

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2 Responses to What makes an old car?

  1. Pingback: Fascination of the Boring: 1985 Toyota Camry, pt.2 | Autofrei

  2. Pingback: 1987 Toyota Cressida | Autofrei

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