60 YEARS APART: 1902–1962—2022

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1962 was sixty years ago and for some it seems like yesterday, while others see it as an era so far back in time Barney Rubble was still in diapers.

I’m a tweener on that perspective because 1962 seems like a long time ago, but I definitely remember it.

This exercise is all about how cars evolved over the 60 years between 2022 to 1962 and 1902 because in 2022 a ’62 Ford looks ancient—especially if you were born after 1962.

We live in an era when cars can drive themselves–occasionally you’ll see a video of a guy having a great snooze while his car tracks straight down a freeway. In 1962, there was cruise control—all that meant was your ’62 Ford would still be doing 85 miles per hour when it rocketed into the semi parked on the shoulder of the highway. 

This is where 1902 had a huge advantage over 1962 and 2022, because most guys still ran with a horse and buggy back in ‘02. That horse could get you home safely from a saloon in the middle of a blizzard plus you could sleep it off on the way—try that 2022 driver-assisted Toyota Camry drivers–or cruise-controlled 1962 Pontiac drivers.

Non car people may think a 1962 Olds is ancient history and drives accordingly, but a ‘62 Olds can easily handle 75-80 miles per hour on a freeway—just don’t expect it to stop like a new Subaru. Try this mental experiment–imagine how well a 1902 Packard Model F (top speed 25 miles per hour) would do on your local turnpike back in 1962—let alone on your local turnpike in 2022.

Creature comforts abound in 2022. You can program your seats to be hot or cold, depending on the season and your kids can bask in the glory of a wi-fi equipped run to Grandma’s house–plus your car will talk to you all the way and give helpful hints on upcoming construction zones and where to stop for a pizza. Today’s car will even tell you when their karma is off a degree or two–long before your mechanic does. 

Compare that to a ’62 Lincoln. You’ll get air conditioning, power seats, power windows, power steering and an AM radio, but the only time a 1962 Lincoln will talk to you is when a fan belt lets go.

That kind of performance is still light years ahead of the 1902 Cadillac Model A. You’re going to find out what the Italian phrase ‘Al Fresco’ really means because an ’02 Cadillac is the ultimate open-air experience–so pack your buffalo hide coat and your pan of hot coals. As for electronic options—an AM radio was still 24 years down the road in cars and electric headlights would come 10 years later—in a Cadillac.

Gas mileage is another big win for 2022. You can routinely get 400 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon in 2022, but a ’62 Merc will have you taking out a second mortgage on your house to fill the gas tank.

A 1902 Autocar (10 horsepower) will do significantly better than a ’62 Mercury in the gas mileage wars, but the 1902 horse and buggy guy will do better than all of them.

Like I said, this was an exercise in perspective, so my conclusion is simple. The 60-year gap between 1902 and 1962 was much larger than the 60-year gap between 1962 and 2022—with all due respect to a young Barney Rubble.         

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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