There are many classic car drivers who have an incredibly impressive knowledge of how it all works – the bits where air and fuel mix, the spark, the compression and how it gets rid of the gases. Personally, I know where the accelerator pedal is and how to turn the lights on. Extreme elation ensues when I successfully locate the bonnet catch. I can only imagine the pleasure of knowing where the fuse box is.
It’s a generational thing. Our dads (and even some moms) know how to use a spanner, but most guys my age think a torque wrench is a new feature on Facebook Messenger. It’s a problem when things go wrong mechanically.
The reality, however, is that the classic car baton needs to be passed at some point from the older to the younger generation. The great love of classic cars is as relevant to young people today as it is to older drivers, even if for different reasons. We may not have witnessed the glory years of Alfa GTVs battling it out against BMW 2002s and Escorts at famed roadhouses, but perhaps that’s why many youngsters love these cars – the stories have been passed down to us.
I bought my ’69 Alfa 1300 GT Junior (the beautiful “stepnose”) at the age of 26, approximately a few weeks before I got married (my wife knew PRECISELY what she was signing up for). She’s old enough to be my mother (the car, that is). Indeed, my mother didn’t appreciate my comment at the time that we would see who leaks more at the age of 70 – her, or one of Italy’s finest.
Full disclosure – my mother’s side of the family is Italian. In fact, my grandparents are from the region of Italy that includes Torino, an important place for Alfa Romeo. A 156 2.5 V6 was my steed of choice at university, with every single cent of student rate slavery going into petrol and insurance (no regrets). I was lucky enough to also rebuild an Alfa Berlina 2000 with my father at the time – MANY lessons learnt on that one.
After a few other cars along the way, today the somewhat restored Stepnose is kept company by a ’76 GT Junior 1600 and an Alfa MiTo QV. Once an Alfa driver…always poor, as the saying goes. Since January 2016, I’ve been lucky enough to call Cape Town my home. What do you get when you combine Cape Town with classic cars? Rust, quite frankly. But, while rusting, you also get to enjoy some of the finest scenery that the world has to offer.
That’s Classic Ownership for Millennials (or, appropriately, .COM for short) Piece of Advice number 1 – if you don’t have a garage, don’t bother. Seriously, just don’t do it. Spending money on a beautiful classic and watching the brown cancer take over the sills is not going to endear the world of carburettors to you, or to your significant other to whom you promised this would be a great investment.
While I’m at it, here comes .COM Piece of Advice number 2 – if you love a clean garage floor, free of oil stains, she’s too old for you bro. The problem is compounded if you have Italian taste (or, let’s be honest, if you own a Land Rover). I’ve been told before that a proper restoration means no oil leaks. That’s great and all, but a proper restoration also means I wouldn’t be able to afford the garage to start with, so there needs to be a compromise. In my world, a compromise is some strategically positioned cardboard on the garage floor.
My final advice for today relates to spousal appreciation. I had a dream that my young bride would love every minute of sharing this car with me. It turns out that I was more ambitious than Martin Luther King Jr. “It hurts my bum. Why does it smell funny? It’s noisy! And it’s SO hot in here…”
It’s tough to disagree with any of the accusations made by the Wife to the Mistress, in this case. The Mistress has a front passenger seat with an adjustment lever waiting to rip a hole in your pants and side cushioning designed to test your enthusiasm for cars in the first corner. Also, the seat is skew, pointing more towards the side window than is advisable. It does make it harder to hear the complaints, at least. My wife is actually supportive, if stuff like “well, he could be into hard drugs instead” can be called support.
Anyway…what is that smell?!? It reminds me of the lawnmower I spent hours behind, making money as a high school kid that would eventually dissipate inside the fuel tank of a V6. But, who cares? The older women thing is fun!