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Old 10-11-2008, 04:49 PM
astro is offline
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Why the romance for awful older British cars and mororcycles?


Over the years Ive seen several threads, including this recent one, about otherwise rational people mooning over restoring or acquiring some unreliable and crappy even when it was new British motorcycle or car.

The comments usually run along the line of "Boy howdy it was a serious piece of shit, but it looked so cool."

If it's unreliable and poorly engineered why keep bringing these things back to life to torment the living?
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:53 PM
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Can't the same be said for American cars?

In fact isn't America far mor guilty about this (or was) than any other country? (Keeping old poorly engineerd but good looking cars in favour of better engineered better on the economy but often rather bland looking cars)
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Lobsang View Post
Can't the same be said for American cars?

In fact isn't America far more guilty about this (or was) than any other country? (Keeping old poorly engineered but good looking cars in favour of better engineered better on the economy but often rather bland looking cars)
Older American cars including sports cars, for all their faults, were generally not considered unreliable relative to the state of the technology. Judging by what I've seen written about the subject older British vehicles seem to be in a class of their own regarding bad or questionable engineering.
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:21 PM
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OK. But older American cars were extremely un-fuel-efficient right? So while they might not have been unreliable they were not that efficient.

From what I've seen, a lot of old British cars WERE beautiful, (Such as the old Jaguars). And there's a patriotic side to this: Britain no longer has any companies that make cars. (Well I think there's one - Lotus. But they don't make 'ordinary' cars) So I can see why people would want to own a purely British, classic car from when Britain had some of it's Empire sheen left.
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:34 PM
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Yeah, it's not about the engineering or performance, it's about the aesthetics. The MG TD is a dangerous pile of shit, but you look stylin' driving it around, and no one uses it as a daily driver.
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Old 10-11-2008, 05:44 PM
Pimms o' clock is offline
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The best British, indeed any, car is the Bristol.

But one needs a certain (dare I say British?) mindset to fully appreciate them.

Chrysler engines for decades though I fear.
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Old 10-18-2008, 12:16 AM
Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lobsang View Post
From what I've seen, a lot of old British cars WERE beautiful, (Such as the old Jaguars). And there's a patriotic side to this: Britain no longer has any companies that make cars. (Well I think there's one - Lotus. But they don't make 'ordinary' cars) So I can see why people would want to own a purely British, classic car from when Britain had some of it's Empire sheen left.
There are tons of British companies making cars: Lotus, TVR, Morgan, Caterham, Westfield, Vauxhall, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls, Land Rover, Bristol, Ascari, Caparo...

It's just that hardly any of them are British owned these days (and the ones that are, generally, are tiny specialist manufacturers).
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Old 10-13-2008, 12:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
Judging by what I've seen written about the subject older British vehicles seem to be in a class of their own regarding bad or questionable engineering.
You don't have the nuance right. They were often beautifully engineered in a certain sense. The engineering was often theoretically very advanced and cool, in the sense of what the cars were capable of, when running correctly. The problems lay very often in quality control, lack of serviceability and unreliability.

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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
That's incredibly funny and very true; now I just need to find a way to work that into conversation with other car enthusiasts.
If they haven't heard that before they're very young or they aren't car enthusiasts.
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:01 PM
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The engineering was often theoretically very advanced and cool, in the sense of what the cars were capable of, when running correctly. The problems lay very often in quality control, lack of serviceability and unreliability.
In the Top Gear "British Leyland" challenge, they showed some snippets of film from, I guess, a British Leyland promotional film from the 1970s - in addition to lots of guys with big bushy mustasches assembling car parts, there was a scene with an older man in a smock with a ball-peen hammer banging away at a door frame to get it to fit. (over this scene Hammond said that British Leyland cars were either poorly made, or weren't made at all - showing scene of striking BL auto workers).
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:10 PM
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The Really big problem with british cars (ca.1960-1980's)


was technical onbsolescence. take electrical systems-the USA, germany, japan, switched from DC generators to alternators, by the early 1960's-the Brits stuck with their LUCAS generators. A generator needs periodic service (brushes, bearing lubrication, commutator cleaning). Neglect that, and your battery won't charge!
Carburators: the Brits used a old side draft design from the 1920's (SU)-the rest of the world went to downdraft and later fuel injection.
Starters: my 1969 MGB had a starter that was used on the FORD MODEL A (1930); the old bendix drive would get dirty and stick-so your starter went "whirr, whirr"-instead of cranking the engine.
Add to that the weird placement of components (MGB fuel line went over the hot exhaust manifold-guaranteeing engine fires), removal of Austin-Healy water pump was an all-day affair!
That and weal, noisey heaters, road-pounding suspension ("lever shocks" (1920 design))!
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:59 PM
KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
If it's unreliable and poorly engineered why keep bringing these things back to life to torment the living?
Some people have time, money, and energy to burn. These people are called hobbyists. The distinguishing characteristic of a hobbyist is that their hobby looks silly, extravagant, and wasteful to anyone who does not share it.

Knead
recovering model-builder
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