August 13, 2022

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The Automotive Of Paradise

Cars better now, but the stories were better then

They don’t build cars the way they used to. If you say that today, it’s a good thing, but if you had said it in 1980 — and many did — it was not intended as a positive commentary.

Yet in 2021, I am detecting a strange but somehow understandable nostalgia for lousy automobiles. The New York Times recently wrote a lengthy ode to the Yugo, which was basically a Havahart trap Havahart trapon wheels, with an engine you could almost cup in your hands, and upholstery straight out of a Great Depression flophouse.

You didn’t know which was worse: when it wasn’t running, or when it was.

In that vein, James McMurtry wrote of his mother’s Sunbeam, “Left her stranded time and again/Didn’t matter, you could do that then.”