I know, this isn’t ‘Tinker Talks Cars,’ but bear with me here.
I like old cars. They have history, character and sometimes represent a seminal change in the industry. They can be a functional and useful piece of rolling history. But, and this is a big one, modern cars are better by any and every objective standard.
The cars that many people of my generation revere were less safe, less reliable and less durable than modern cars. The cars I grew up with almost universally had bad brakes, horrible gas mileage and despite being made out of steel instead of ‘recycled beer cans’ were flimsier than modern cars. Yes, if you took exceptional care of them and got a car built on Wednesday they could last a long time. But they required constant maintenance to stay on the road. Rebuilding the heads was ‘maintenance’ and rebuilding the engine at 50-80K miles was not unusual. While they often wafted down the road like a magic carpet they handled like a bowl of pudding on wet linoleum. Oh, and if you wafted down the road for an extended period of time you were likely to have a sore-butt and a stiff back when you stopped. YMMV.
Still, I have some affection for these cars and not all cars were created equal; there were exceptions that proved the rules. Sometimes a particular car, while sharing the general faults of its age-mates, has a particular feature that appeals to us and makes the inconvenience worthwhile. For a number of years my daily driver was a 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider. While it’s performance limits were lower than its modern equivalents it’s exceptionally tactile driving experience and heavenly engine noises made up for that. Got non-tragic mileage too, which is a plus.
But it was expensive to keep working. While it had more utility than you might imagine it was not great in that department and if I ever got in a serious accident I was dead. We don’t often think of it but driving is a life-or-death activity and accepting that increased risk of death for intangible benefits was not an entirely rational decision. Eventually it just got too expensive to keep on the road and we sadly parted with it.
The average car of today gets several times the gas mileage, stops from 60 mph is 1/3 to 1/2 the distance, can go around corners faster and you are enormously more likely to survive an accident. Rebuild the engine at 50-60K miles? Dude, your first tune-up is at 100K! Yes, you still need to change the oil after a few thousand miles; some things don’t change.
No, cars were not better in the good old days, we just had a crappy standard for comparison. Oh, and when they were new they did not have ‘more character,’ they were just what cars were like then. The ‘character’ thing comes from their relative rarity and our memories of them.
You see where I am going with this. A 1968 Mustang is cool and it will still get you from Point A to Point B, but seriously it’s not going to do so as well, as fast, as safely, as reliably or efficiently as a 2023 Ford Mustang.
I know, that’s not why one would choose to drive the ’68 Mustang over the ’23 Mustang. You drive the classic because it’s cool and you feel good doing it. But if someone t-bones you I guarantee you will miss the side-impact beams and airbags of the newer car. If you are alive to do so.
You see where I am going with this, right?
If I am hosting a gun-related social event or am attending a certain sort of barbecue I am going to pack a cool gun over a practical one. Risk is low, the gun is still likely to do anything I actually need and I’ll have plenty of back-up. I can afford the potential or actual lesser practicality of the cooler gun. But day-to-day, in less controlled and predictable environments another choice might be prudent.
No, this does not mean I need to always have a Glock 19 and two 20-round magazines on my person, but a modern and sensible option generally speaking seems like a good idea.
I’m human and sometimes I just can’t be bothered. For some time if I was running out to the local convenience store for a pack of smokes and a Maple Bar for the wife I’d toss and Airweight Chief’s Special in one pocket and a speed-loader in the other and call it good. This wasn’t stupid; having lived in the neighborhood and patronized that store for almost 25 years I have a decent handle on the level and type of threat that’s likely. I didn’t do this because the gun was cool, for nostalgia or to feel good. I did it because it was probably adequate, its was handy and I was lazy. So what changed?
Not the store. Not the neighborhood. Not the perceived threats. No, the thing that changed was I got an option that is more likely to be adequate and is just as handy and easy. I get to keep being lazy but be better equipped while doing so.
If you’re interested that’s the Taurus G2S from the $200 challenge, which has yet to have a malfunction and is surprisingly shootable. It’s also very flat, not too heavy and drops nicely to a pants-pocket for a five-minute jaunt in a low-threat scenario, and it is undeniably more capable than the old S&W in almost every way.
If you’ve been paying attention at all you know I absolutely love old guns. I also love doughnuts and while they have their time and place they are not a valid staple for one’s diet. My go-to EDC is a modern pistol, and while I may change that in the near-future to an older style of gun it possesses modern features and significantly enhanced capability.
Just some food for thought on a Sunday morning.
Stay safe and take care,
Michael Tinker Pearce, 12 March 2023