Modern Technology vs. Screwdrivers
IWILL ADMIT THAT I’M A BIT OF A CAVEMAN IN SOME REGARDS, AT LEAST WHEN IT COMES TO CLASSIC MUSTANGS AND OTHER MUSCLE CARS AND TRUCKS. I prefer mechanical bits to electronically controlled things whenever possible ( just ask Mark Houlahan!), and I hate it when a car’s computer creates a nanny state of protection, turning the car from a fast and fun hunk of steel to a bubble-wrapped cocoon.
Such as with any new car. I’m constantly irritated by that auto-lock feature—put the car in gear and all the doors lock. In my experience the worst offenders (like my daily beater) won’t unlock the doors even after you put it in park—you have to shut the whole thing off. Sure the power lock switch unlocks them, but I’m constantly grabbing the door handle without thinking of that feature and being stopped by a locked door. That’s when the swearing begins. It’s a real pain in the butt when you’re working on the car and have to get in and out while it’s running, which as car guys and girls we do all the time. I can lock and unlock my own doors thankyouverymuch!
When I turn the headlights off, I want them to turn OFF dammit, not wait two minutes to help safely illuminate the path to the front door before they go out. I’m always skeptical of that, forcing my OCD-ness to stand at the door and wait until they do.
I won’t even begin to discuss seatbelt and ignition key warning chimes. I get why they’re there—to save stupid people from themselves—but I sure as all get-out would never install that in an older car. If you’re too unaware to wear your seatbelt or lock your keys in the car, then maybe you should rethink the whole automobile-operating thing.
Power windows are a toss-up to me. The convenience of rolling all the windows up and down with the push of a button is nice, and I admit to seriously liking that auto-down feature in new cars that rolls them down (and sometimes up) with a single push of the button. That’s pretty cool. But it’s more weight and complication when we’re talking older cars and more stuff that could break. And that feature in new cars where, in the name of reducing wind noise, the windows roll down just a hair when you open the door, then they tick back up when you close the door and fully seal into the weatherstrip—whenever I see that I understand why it’s there, but also think to myself, “That is totally going to fail before this thing is five years old.”
I’m fine with leaning over to roll them down by hand, and if the mechanical mechanism stops working, it’s pretty easy to diagnose and fix. Cheaper in most cases too. That’s not saying I don’t like power windows—the Electric Life kit we put in our Week to Wicked ’66 hardtop is great and super handy, especially with the high bolsters of the Scat ProCar seats, but in my personal Mustangs and hot rods I’ll stick with the old-fashioned mechanical mechanisms thank you.
While I’m getting better at embracing electronics, especially when it comes to fuel injection, it still creates anxiety installing something computer-controlled in place of a good ol’ Holley carburetor that I can tune with a screwdriver and fix a stuck needle-and-seat with a quick whack from that screwdriver’s handle. You can’t beat the mileage, cold start, and drivability with EFI, and I would never replace factory EFI with a carb, but for simplicity and cost sake, gimme that 750-cfm calibrated fuel-leaker any day.
Again, that’s just me and my primitive way of thinking when it comes to MY old cars. Now if I had a wife and kids, I would want all of that safety stuff built into whatever vehicle they were in on a regular basis without me. But that wouldn’t be my early Mustang, it would be the Family Truckster.
I recently got to spend a week with a 2018 Mustang GT with the 10-speed automatic, direct-injected 5.0 Coyote, and all the electronic bells and whistles I just railed against earlier, and I love that car to death. Faster than hell too. But that’s a brand-new $40,000-plus machine, and I couldn’t bring myself to make big monthly payments for a car that didn’t have all the comfort and convenience equipment. I might even pop for the optional navigation system, which is a big step for me!
But with a 1965 Mustang? Nah, remove as much unnecessary wiring and junk as possible (although a killer stereo is mandatory!) and give me control over as much as possible and I’m good. And when I push the headlight switch in, the lights turn off. I can walk away with the peace of mind that I won’t come out to a dead battery in the morning.
I prefer mechanical bits to electronically controlled things whenever possible ( just ask Mark Houlahan!), and I hate it when a car’s computer creates a nanny state of protection, turning the car from a fast and fun hunk of steel to a bubble-wrapped cocoon.”