The good driver is becoming extinct.
Cars are getting safer. But drivers are getting worse. That's a fact, and every one of us who drives a vintage car knows it. As cars do more and more for the average driver, the average driver does less and less skilled driving. Most drivers today open the door, sit in their self adjusting seat, push a button (because turning a key in the ignition is so "yesterday"), and let the car do most of the work. They sit in their car like they would sit on a train. They travel, but they don't drive.
Technology has a price.
Don't get me wrong.... I know that newer cars are safer, and there are fewer fatal accidents because of it. But all that safety (and let's face it- comfort) comes at a price. The price we've all paid is that the average driver has relaxed to the point that they don't need to be connected to their car in order to drive. The computer controls braking, speed and even parallel parking.
Connected to your car feels great.
You know what I mean when I say connected. It's that feeling of "I am one with my car." It's that feeling you get when you corner on a two lane road high in the mountains. It's knowing how your car "feels," and feeling it in your bones. The right speed, the perfect angle, the correct gear. Who wants ABS when cornering in a 5 speed? No one. At least none of my vintage car friends.
Two lane turds.
OK, I shouldn't use that word in a professional blog. But I get frustrated when I'm on a targa, enjoying the physical act of driving on a two lane back country highway, and I get stuck behind some guy with a computer on 4 wheels. He's not actually driving. He's stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, and he doesn't know how to handle his car well enough to pass. He doesn't "know" his car. No downshifting. No feeling his car's ability and matching that to the road. Nope. He's just waiting for an open stretch of 4 lane freeway so he can go really fast.
Challenge makes driving a remarkable experience.
Yes, it's a challenge to drive a vintage car. Most of us vintage car owners also own one of these newer "computer brain" cars. Let's face it- it's kinda nice, once in a while, to have an automatic transmission and a rear facing camera. But when we get into our modern machines, we still feel like we're missing something. Maybe it's part of our soul. I don't know.
I think it's the challenge of driving our classic cars that makes us enjoy them even more. It's the challenge of needing to truly "know" our car when we start it up. We learn every new sound. We anticipate the perfect operating temperature and the right vibration of the engine. It's the challenge of driving our vintage car that makes it a memorable experience.
Self-driving cars. Are they good or bad?
Our first response is... are you kidding? Of course they're bad. But hold on. Maybe not. Self-driving cars are not just the future... they are here right now. There are partially self-driving cars on the road right now, thanks to Mercedes, BMW and other manufacturers. And that's just the start. By 2020, just five years from now, there will be over 10 million of these on the road.
Maybe self-driving cars and all that sophisticated technology will solve the problem that technology created. Why not finish the job and completely remove the driver from the equation? Let Google's self-driving car software take the wheel from the folks already asleep at the wheel. There's no way that a self-driving car could be as bad a driver as some of the ones I've been stuck behind this year. Let the real drivers -us- actually drive.
Give me my vintage car and an open stretch of road.
I can't stop the march of technology, and neither can you. But we can make up our minds, right here and now, to celebrate what we have. We have the privilege of driving some of the most unique vehicles every created. We are classic and vintage car owners, and that also makes us great drivers. We have to feel the road and the car because a computer won't do it for us. And so we do. We feel every beautiful vibration and exciting curve. May that endure to the next generation of classic car lovers.
If you need insurance for your classic car, and you'd like to buy it from someone who owns a vintage car and loves to drive it, call me at (951) 284-0400. ~Jeff St. Clair, St. Clair Insurance
(photo by ken, and yes, that's a 62 corvette)