Friday, February 07, 2020


Remembering tonight how cars used to be - and it wasn't better, whatever nostalgia tells us.  I could never get my feet warm in the VW Beetle, nor could I defrost the windshield easily.  I recall breathing warm air on the glass to keep a small section of visibility open, and even holding my cigarette lighter against it to keep it from icing up. (What could go wrong, eh?) I only delayed the inevitable, of course.  I would have to pull over and scrape the windshield.  Pulling over during a snowstorm is interesting when you don't have visibility.

Headlights went out with more regularity.  I seldom see a padiddle anymore. IU recall that Volvo was just being show-offs when they put six digits on their odometer.  Like more than a few of their cars were ever going to make that! Now I'm not happy unless I hit 200k, though 170k is at least something.

Yeah, they don't build 'em like that anymore.  Thank goodness.


james said...

We also have bumpers that crush before you do, which is nice.

IIRC the windshield washer on the Beetle was pressurized from the spare tire. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that. A friend lost all his washer fluid when the valve failed (not good in winter slush and salt), and a couple months later had reason to bewail the state of his spare tire.

OTOH, there's one thing they used to do better--real spare tires.

Unknown said...

The Beetle was kind of a special case, being air-cooled and all. Cars with water-cooling are a lot easier to engineer such that they actually provide heat into the cabin when wanted in most circumstances.

I did do a trip 3 decades ago between Canadian cities at -40° where the engine-temperature gauge never moved from the bottom peg, and I never got any heat in my Subaru. For the return trip I shoved something to block air-flow through the radiator and was MUCH more comfortable.

Defrost is SO MUCH FASTER and better on cars with an air-conditioning system to de-humidify the air. I swapped the above Subaru for a newer identical one that had the air-conditioning option, and the difference in de-fogging/de-frosting is very dramatic. I consider air conditioning essential now that I live in such a cold climate again.

sykes.1 said...

In 1970, every year you bought a new battery and new tires. Every six months or so you got a tuneup. Every other year you got new shocks, and maybe a water pump. A muffler system was good for about four or five years. A some point you would need new piston rings. In places with winter and salt, the body rusted. My 1970 Chevy Malibu got 12 mpg city and 18 highway. It had not acceleration to speak of. At 100,000 miles the car was dead and likely dangerous to drive. 50,000 was about the expected service life, say four years, five tops.

On the other hand, many cars were beautiful and roomy. My mother's 1963 Pontiac Bonneville Coupe was gorgeous. The 1935 Ford Coupe convertible (with rumble seats) she had as a girl was fabulous.

Estoy_Listo said...

Padiddle! Love it, and never heard of the term--yet here it is in Wiki. 70 YO and still learning.

My first real car was a '66VW. It had a passive heating system that borrowed on the heat of the engine. Worked great after running the engine 30 minutes or so. It was the only car I took pride in. After that they were just transportation.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yeah, that's the one. Worked great down to about 20 degrees. Maybe not even that good. You could block it in the summer to prevent the heat coming in, but the block was only partial. It was lowtech and efficient. Ferdinand Porsche designed it in the 1930's. Brilliant, really.

Jonathan said...

In Beetles you couldn't always turn off the heater in the summer.

My mom had a Squareback that she handed down to me. It had fuel injection and rubber fuel lines that started to go after 8 years or so. I would replace a section of line and then another section would spring a leak. I had to replace all of the lines eventually. I have a strong memory of getting doused with gas while I lay under the car, replacing a section of line. Book stores in the '60s and '70s always carried "fix your VW" books.

Cars are much better now.

JMSmith said...

If a girl was sitting next to you when you saw a padiddle, you could kiss her (on the cheek). So those old cars were better in one way.

Sam L. said...

I always knew it as "pEdiddle". Also, "satellite".