When I was growing up, I had a series of old clunkers. I relied on my uncle Bob and later a neighbor named Crazy Bill to keep them running for me. Neither one of them had any special training, but they could fix those old cars wit a rubber band and a paper clip. And sometimes they did.
I remember one time that I bought a Volkswagen that ended up needing a complex repair. I took it to Bill like I always did. After a few days, he told me that he couldn’t fix it. He told me that the tolerances in the thing were impossibly small.
He said: “The Germans are pissed off at us because they lost the war.” He called a Volkswagen dealer and the mechanic there wouldn’t tell him how to fix it. I got a late-night phone call. Bill wanted me to take him up to the dealer so he could kill the mechanic.
I told him that I had to work and ended up taking it to the dealer myself. The repair cost me an arm and a leg. That’s the thing about the backyard mechanics; they were a lot cheaper than the mechanics working on today’s cars, especially if they were related to you.
But today’s cars are vastly different than the ones we drove when we were young. A lot of people look back with nostalgia on the old clunkers and think about buying one and restoring it. But is it really a good idea? Quite frankly, the older cars are not very good for everyday driving.
We don’t remember that they tended to break down a lot. Even though they were easier to fix, do you really want to spend a lot of time working on your vehicle? The other issue is safety. The old cars lacked amenities like seat belts, intermittent wipers, safety dashboards, and air bags. Things that could very well save your life if you get in an accident.
The newer cars are better left to mechanics, but even some modern day mechanics will have trouble with some of them unless they have received special training. Some times I think it takes a computer degree to work on the new cars, so many of the car’s systems are controlled by a computer.