JANUARY 7, 2011: MODERN AIR CONDITIONING IN OLD IRON-HAVE BABY BOOMERS GONE SOFT?

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Well over 40 years ago, a legendary band called The Who wrote an anthem for the then youthful baby boomers called ‘My Generation’. One of the key lines was “…hope I die before I get old”.

 

That didn’t happen.

 

So now we’re stuck as a generation in one big contradiction–guys driving cars with the punk look of a classic 1920s era Ford hot-rod and…state of the art air-conditioning.

 

As a member of this giant, narcissistic demographic group, I feel a tug on this issue. On the one hand, I can see glaring irony in trying to recapture your rebellious youth-but within a clearly defined comfort zone.

 

 

But on the other hand, air-conditioning is a pretty nice option over a long haul on the road. Why fry in a car if you can travel in cool 21st Century comfort? Seriously, do we still live in caves or spear giant mastodons to death for that weekly Sunday dinner?

 

So…why suffer through a lethally hot day when driving a ’52 Olds?

 


 

The simple answer is we don’t have to- so why should we? That fits right in with our long discarded rebellious 60s youth philosophy-the same catchall line we used against our parents or anything we could loosely associate with “The Establishment”.

 

Before baby boomers became grown ups we beat that “fight the power” mantra to death-now we can trot it out and still drive cars that reflect our far younger, more interesting selves. But the guys who hung on to their Judges, GTXs and 390 Mustangs through the decades now find the ride, power train and handling not up to their regular driver-a brand new Lexus.

 

 

Baby boomers old rides now feel more and more like an un-sprung 19th Century stagecoach on the Santa Fe Trail  than the state of the art (1960s) babe magnet they used to be in 1968. Consequently, they’ll take their tired old car buddy to a shop and turn it into a monster that can out-handle brand new Challengers and out air-condition brand new Lincoln Navigators.

 

 

But is it really the same car? This is a lot like finding and dating an old girlfriend from 1978 who looks spectacular in 2010-better than she did in her 20s-then finding out she’s fresh off a divorce settlement with the world’s best plastic surgeon.

 

It’s not the same girl. It’s not the same GTO. Better in some ways, but definitely not the same. That  GTO could easily be about 10% original GTO at the end of a rebuild-no word on the girlfriend from 1978.

 

 

Consequently-what do I really think?

 

I’m not 100% convinced a creature comfort retrofit is the right thing to do… for an odd reason-it would disappoint my parents. My last long road trip with my dad was in 1969 through scorching prairie summer days. He was driving his tired 3-year-old Plymouth the same was he always did-fast, with the windows down and his arm out the window.

 

That was air-conditioning in those days and he was only a few years younger that I am now.

 

60s baby boomer refugee or not-you can’t fight that kind of power.

 

Jerry Sutherland @mystarcollectorcar.com

COMMENTS

CINDY:”Don’t know if I agree!! We have had two trips home from Osoyoos when our AC crapped out. It was NOT fun!! And Tavis didn’t even offer to let his mother ride with him??? Chachi the Bulldog had a whole air conditioned backseat all to himself on the one trip – What’s with that??? LOL!”

DENNIS:”there’s 2 schools of thought on this. There’s the “Purists”, the one’s who have all the ‘correct’ production tags, over spray, even the dust is the right places and then there are the “Drivers” (like me). My Model T Ford is very much a Model T with all it’s little unique Model T “quirks” but it’s set up to to be safe and (almost) practical in today’s traffic.

However, there is a limit to this. I have a friend who has 3-68 Camaro’s. 2 of them are absolutely “Show Room” correct, the other one is is more of a Corvette ZO6 in a Camaro shell. By the way, my Model T has ‘air conditioning’, the windshield folds out, just like it did 84 years ago but I can plug my “Lap Top” directly in to the modern 12V ignition system”.

 

 

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