NPF: NOT QUITE HISTORY

The Telegraph recently ran an update of a story that works its way through the auto journalism community once or twice per year: the "endangered cars of the UK" report. Don't stop reading if you don't care about UK family sedans. There is a larger point here.

Long story short: nationwide auto registration databases are used to track how many of a particular year and model of car are still on the road. And some of the numbers are pretty astonishing. Cars that used to be so common that it seemed like everyone owned one are often down to just a few remaining examples. The once ubiquitous Austin Metro, for example, saw 643,000 built between 1973 and 1981. Today 186 are still on the road – a survival rate of 0.03%.

One culprit, of course, is the legendarily terrible quality of the British Leyland years, which is a story for another time. Many of these cars were not only small, cheap, and spartan, but also put together with extreme indifference or even malice (labor strife led to stories of assembly workers welding glass soda bottles inside doors for shits and giggles). So, many of these cars that ended up at the crusher earned the trip there. At the same time, though, the "classic car" industry proves that people are willing to spend large amounts of money to keep shoddily built crap from the 1970s running. The compact sedans of the "malaise" era simply aren't sexy enough or remembered with enough sentimentality to earn that special treatment, though.

This is a phenomenon I notice a lot in architecture. There is always an outcry to protect "old" buildings (generally anything made before 1970 in the U.S. context). Meanwhile, when the concrete brutalism of the late 1970s and 1980s is slated for the wrecking ball, nobody cares. It isn't old enough to be Historic, new enough to be Modern, or far enough removed from our consciousness to be Nostalgic or Retro. There is a bubble, then between being too new to destroy and not old enough to save. And that's where we lose a lot of history, I suppose. In 30 years collectors will probably pay big bucks for those bland econo-cars now numbering only a few dozen, and architecture fans will be admiring the surviving architecture of the Carter years will be subject to some kind of revival and update.

The cycle moves more quickly with some things – music, for example. Take what is popular today and in five years nobody will have any interest in listening to it. In 20 years it will be Classic and ready to be enjoyed again. Fashion is much the same. You'd instantly recognize a Vintage item from the 50s as valuable while throwing something from the early 00s in the donation bin. If any of us are still alive in 2050, people will be clamoring for those ultra-rare original vintage Jorts or whatever nightmare costuming you thought was a good idea in 2002.

No real resolution here; it's just an interesting pattern I have noticed a lot lately. Things become rare in that interval between being New and being venerable. Why do we value the more distant past so much more than the medium term?

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55 Responses to “NPF: NOT QUITE HISTORY”

  1. mainmata Says:

    With all due respect, the dreadful "brutalist" architectural style actually dates from Le Corbusier in the 1950s and it actually reached its nadir, IMO with some awful Washington DC govt. edifices most awfully the FBI headquarters in the 1970s, which everyone, including its employees hates (I live in the DC Metro area). Brutalism is, of course, now dead, dead, dead, not the least because it is grotesquely energy and environmentally inefficient.

    On another but related note, I got my PhD in England (aka DPhil in UK, which is a more logical way of stating it anyways) doing my research in the 1980s and I bought a 1974 Triumph Dolomite (used little old lady, low mileage). This is the period you are talking about. The car was a 4-door sedan, not the other kind of Triumph. It was a gem in exterior and interior period design with walnut dash and a great manual transmission. But the actual engine design was really bizarre and inefficient and I was living where petrol was seriously costly. So sad. British cars were great on style, especially in that period but poor on innovation and operation. I actually think the US is finally becoming a really automotive innovation center though I also personally believe various forms of mass transit is the future.

  2. mago Says:

    All that aside, the British should have been banned from car production and just about every other aspect of their sad legacy.

  3. Kaleberg Says:

    I don't see many US or Japanese cars from the mid-70s or early 80s on the road in the US. Those cars are really old. At a certain point, it just stops being worthwhile to fix old cars. They wear out, and it isn't some secret plan to sell new cars. You can probably make a car that lasts a century, but it would cost a lot more than the typical person who figures on a 50-75 year driving life to pay. Besides, new cars have advantages like better gas mileage, more reliable engines, sturdier bodies, safer construction, air conditioning and so on. It might be fun to tool around in a restored Ford Edsel and see who else gets the joke, but most people would rather just get where they are going.

    All sorts of things go through this cycle. It starts out current. Then it gets old. Then it nearly vanishes. Then, the few survivors go up in value. When its a book, it gets labeled a classic if people are still reading it in 50 or 100 years, and even classics go out of style or get rediscovered. It's worse when there is technology involved, because new things often replace old things because they are objectively better or more cost effective.

    P.S. English cars did have a reputation for poor workmanship, but England was once a technology powerhouse. They owned telegraphy, radio and television. Their military was always way ahead, and not just their navy. English armor is still up there with the Israeli stuff. Hell, England invented the jet engine and the hovercraft. Even now, they have boffins like Dyson doing pretty cool stuff.

    P.P.S. Still, the jokes can be good. I once saw a vintage MG on the street with the bumper sticker: "All parts falling off of this vehicle are of the finest English workmanship."

  4. Major Kong Says:

    I have owned two Jaguars, a 92 XJ6 and a 95 XJ12. Beautiful, great driving cars and every bit as trouble prone as you've heard.

  5. Railsplitter Says:

    (*Sigh*) I do miss my AMC Gremlin. Now there was a car!

  6. terraplane Says:

    My dad, who did auto body repair all his life, told me long ago: don't ever get an English, French or Italian car, they may look cool but you'll be working on them all the time.

    Fix
    It
    Again,
    Tony!

  7. Katydid Says:

    I made the mistake of buying a Sonata a few years back. I picked that model because they'd just come off several bad years and the general consensus of various sources (online and print) was that they'd turned a corner and the car was way underpriced for what you were getting. Also because that model was made in America (Alabama), and buying American-made products is important to me.

    Well, it's been 7 years and it's had 11 recalls plus one thing that went bad right after the warranty ended that was my problem to fix. The styling is meh, the gas mileage is okay, it's boring as anything to drive, and apparently put together by the same people who built the Tower in that Bufy The Vampire Slayer episode.

  8. Scoutito Says:

    I loved my MG Midget but got tired of walking home.

  9. doug Says:

    Drove a MGB for 18 years without any problems. Well, not exactly(er not even close) but I did daily drive it for that period.

  10. jtr Says:

    Could it just be that a lot of this crap isn't worth saving? 1970's car design was dominated by the oil crisis, which meant that everything had to be tiny and severely underpowered to save fuel. It's hard to feel much nostalgia for those kinds of vehicles even if you grew up in that Era.
    And does anyone actually like the appearance of brutalist buildings? I thought the whole point was to build as big as possible as cheaply as possible, aesthetics be damned. Unless it's an original Corbusier, it's hard to imagine anyone shedding a tear for them.

  11. Aaron Says:

    Boston's Government Center has been voted one of the ugliest buildings in the world and there are repeated moves to tear it down… but brutalism now has at least a few preservationist fans. Including my sister-in-law.

    I like to taunt her by saying things like "Sure, we destroyed ol' Scollay Square to build this windswept concrete monstrosity… but let's not repeat the mistake by tearing it down to build a neighborhood!"

  12. ninja3000 Says:

    Loved my '68 Cortina GT, which I owned in the mid-'70s for a couple years. The best thing about them was that when they broke, they were the kinds of fixes that you could do yourself. In the middle of the night. On the Connecticut Turnpike. In the dead of winter. Thank god for duct tape and a stray wire coat hanger, and relatively primitive automotive engineering.

  13. acousticsouthpaw Says:

    I've seen something similar with my 15-18 y.o. students re: the 1990s.

    "Man, Tupac and Biggie were at their peak. Snoop was low-key legit still and Eminem was just breaking through." I remind them that then Tupac and Biggie were killed, Snoop (and Dre) sold out a bit, and MM got old. See also: Eddie Murphy & Adam Sandler.

    They've also started to latch on to the fashion and, sweet Jesus, I am so looking forward to busting out my old sweater vests to show them how "cool" I was. Now, if only I could find that Hypercolor…

    The best is the the one girl who has found god in the form of Kurt Cobain. I'm talking wearing black to commemorate his death, spouting conspiracy theories about Courtney and Dave killing him steal the money and/or continue their torrid affair. I asked her who introduced her to Nirvana…her dad. Girl, I thought, you will never understand your parents HATING your music, trashing your mix tapes.

    Eh, she smells like patchouli too, but doesn't understand why I think that's weird either.

    Tl;dr – sometimes, the young ignore the bad parts of the past

  14. Jim Says:

    Probably getting old, but doesn't it seem like we are losing the distinctiveness that decades seem to have had in the 20th Century i.e fashion, music, slang etc that set each decade apart then?

    What for instance would you say was distinctive about the 2000s that is different from the 2010s now?

  15. anotherbozo Says:

    A few months ago two dealers came to my studio with a painting of mine from the 70s. It had been damaged and they wondered if I could restore it. They had a customer for it, someone who liked 70's Postminimal shaped abstraction for its quaint, period style.
    I told them it couldn't be repaired and sent them on their way. It dawned on me only later that I should have been insulted.
    Or should I? Very, very few know how to experience art (or architecture, serious music, etc), but everyone understands cultural and social symbols, experiencing art only as artifact.
    "We experience the world through symbolic binoculars." —not Ram Dass or Deepak Chopra but Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, literary critic.

  16. Dave Dell Says:

    I'm pleased to say that the "Sonic Drive-By" deep bass turned way up in auto's driven by early 20's male drivers (for the most part) have decreased markedly. Now we have Honda Civics (and similar), tricked out with wide tires and large exhaust systems, with their smallish engines enhanced for max horsepower playing "Stoplight Racer".

  17. democommie Says:

    My classic 1999 Ford Ranger is sitting in my driveway-as it has for most of the last 4 years. It would be sans plates but one of my asshole neighbors (the only one I don't get along with) dimed me out to the city and you cannot have any vehicle without a registration IN the city. Assholes.

    Anyway, the truck sits on the cusp of meh engineering and REALLY expensive repairs. At the moment it needs brakelines in the front. I spent months, off and on, fabricating a one-off clamp to secure the catalytic converter to the exhaust header as the bolts had to be cut and ground flush to the flange–major nightmare–I haz fotoz. In the event, sitting here typing makes my arthritic and carpal tunneled wrist and hands hurt—so, getting under the car will wait until the buzzing stops, perhaps after some surgery in August or September.

    If I had money to do so, I would lease an econobox and donate the Ranger to somebody I don't like.

  18. Mo Says:

    Why do we value the more distant past so much more than the medium term?

    We're novelty junkies. If we can remember it, it's just worn-out and boring. The next generation, however, having had no actual hands-on experience of the awfulness of having to wear, drive, live in, or eat the stuff, however, and gramps being dead and unable to rant and remind them, think old crap is tres quaint and contributes cachet.

    I think of those African people who used to wear sunglasses and plastic shoes worked into their headgear because that stuff was novel and strange and attracted the girls. We're all that.

    Plus, it takes time to winnow out the junk and attempt to save the good bits. Which are usually not many.

    The Sturgeon Hypothesis: "90 percent of everything is crap."

  19. Haggis Says:

    The 20-ish year cycle works with fashion, cars and pop culture because in that time frame the garbage is forgotten and the 10% or so of good stuff retains it's lustre. It's fundamentally a kind of survivor bias.

    With architecture it's a much longer time frame. Corbusiers work morphed into the brutalism of the Smithsons in the UK. Which thankfully went out of style, hopefully never to return. Some things are just bad – and more so upon reflection.

    And, you could pick up a lovely series 1 E-Type Jag for peanuts not so many years ago. Now they're worth a small fortune – not bad for a relatively large production car. The fundamental problem with many British cars from that era were the Lucas electrics. They were known as Lucas, Prince of Darkness….for a reason.

    And Mago you're wrong – the Brits shouldn't be "banned from car production and everything else". All except two F1 teams are based in England. And your comment firmly brings to mind the Life of Brian "What did the Romans ever do for us?" scene with an equal amount of "qualifications" ….

  20. Geoff Says:

    One of the most interesting "fun facts" to come out of the movie "Boyhood" which was filmed over the course of about a decade, was that the director was worried that some of the first shot scenes would play as hilarious because of the changing of fashion. He thought it would be like starting filming in the 70s and showing the movie in the late 80s, where the fashion differences would have been crazy obvious.

    However, when they got to the edit he was shocked to find that fashion had barely moved (talking about popular fashion here) in the decade+ of filming. His theory was that electronics, starting with cell phones in the early 2000s, had essentially become our new displays of being modern as opposed to clothing, resulting in the fashion changeover slowing down.

  21. Major Kong Says:

    My complaint with the Jaguars I drove was that they were over-engineered.

    The philosophy seemed to be "Why use something simple when we can make something complicated work just as well?"

    My 1992 XJ6 had a self-leveling hydraulic rear suspension. They must have been trying to copy Citroen.

    I suspect it worked great when the car was new, but at 5 years old mine would occasionally decide it was a 69 Chevelle and jack the rear end way up. Other times it would pretend it was a low-rider and bounce the rear end up and down.

    When I took it to the dealer they said that they didn't even like to fix those any more and retrofitted standard springs and shocks in the back. That was one of many problems I had with that car. The HVAC system seemed to be particularly complex and each of the four ventilation fans cost something like $300 to replace.

    Being a glutton for punishment I ended up trading it on a used XJ12. Probably one of the nicest cars I have ever owned. Beautiful, fast, comfortable, great handling. Unfortunately it broke as often as the XJ6 but everything cost twice as much because it was a V12. It also got 15 mpg and was scary in snow or ice (big motor plus rear-wheel-drive).

    Traded it on a used Audi and I've driven Audis ever since. I've looked at some of the newer Jags but I don't know if I could get myself to own another one.

  22. Dick Says:

    There is only one real British car company left – Morgan Motor. Family owned since 1909. Their design is timeless. They still use apprenticeships.

    I owned a 65 Consul wagon, sibling of the Cortina GT. It ate starter ring gears and pinions like popcorn until I figured out what a previous owner had done with their repair. The starter motor was fastened with two bolts. You had to re-install it so the cables to it were knuckle-busters instead of the 180 degrees easy way.

    Thanks to Cortina GTs racing and trashing their front ends, used rear axles and other parts were cheap. I kept overloading it and breaking stuff.

    The other problems I had with that car were thanks to Lucas, Lord of Darkness.

  23. JohnBoy Says:

    The first car I ever owned was a 1959 Hillman Minx convertible. Being a 20 something "hippie", I actually revelled in it's essential weirdness like a positive ground electrical system, reversed 4 speed column shifter, and the strangest manual top mechanism in the world. Other than their value as curiosities, this car and its other Rootes Group brethren, such as the Humber Super Snipe and the Commer Cob were destined to suffer the same ignominious fate as American Motors: assimilation into the ever bumbling Chrysler Corporation.

  24. Katydid Says:

    Regarding fashion; to escape the awful swamp my area is in, I took Kid #2 clothes shopping at the local mall today (she's home briefly between summer jobs). Know what the trendy stores are selling? The same crap we saw on The Mary Tyler Moore show in the early 1970s and then again in the late 1980s. Fashion is indeed cyclical. Sadly, I remember the trend both times around.

  25. SeaTea Says:

    I've seen this happen with guitars and amplifiers. There was a time in the 80's (when Eddie Van Halen ruled all) when you couldn't get pennies on the dollar for vintage gear that is now worth a small fortune. People would, without any hesitation, hack up a vintage Stratocaster to turn it into some Van-Halen-esque thing, or modify a '68 Marshall amp to give it more output gain.

    Then there was a period where you couldn't get pennies on the dollar for 80's "hair metal" gear. Guitars, preamps, etc. from the golden age of Hair Metal were essentially worthless.

    Now both categories of gear are seeing collectors champing at the bit for them. Obviously vintage Fender, Marshall, Gibson, etc stuff is hugely pricey. But '91 Nuno Bettencourt N4 guitar is also a sought-after collector model, as are the early Charvel, Hamer, and Kramer models that made big hair rock all the rage.

  26. jjack Says:

    Could it be that we would never be nostalgic for anything if we didn't first go through the period where we throw it away? If we didn't dispose of anything in the medium-term, why would we later come to miss it? What would be the motivation for rediscovering it if it was still readily at-hand?

    This is similar, I think, to the idea some others have expressed that there is a period of natural selection where the fittest examples of an era stand the test of time and become "classics" that are later sought after, but the rest of it falls to the wayside. If you go to a thrift store and look through the LP's there's all sorts of crap that is clearly identifiable as from a certain era by its cover art, but which no one has ever ever heard of. Spotify has been doing that to me lately, suggesting a lot of deep cuts that are vaguely related to my playlists. Most of them are very obscure and very crappy.

  27. democommie Says:

    @ SeaTea:

    I have a friend who took a Les Paul Goldtop (which he actually traded a Harmony acoustic and $15 for–an itenerant preacher heard him playing the Harmony and said he needed something he didn't have to plug in) to E.U.Wurlitzer in Boston where they replaced the pick-ups–bad enough AFTER cutting bigger fucking openings in the top.

    The guitar still sounds fine–or did the last time I heard him play–but somebody should have chased the idiot who did it and broken his hands so he couldn't commit that sort of sacrilege on anyone else's equipment.

    I was walking down the street with my hairy little roomie a few months back and saw a beat up "reptile" patterned pressboard guitar case on top of a gar bage can and figured I'd grab it and give it to somebody. Turned out it was full of guitar. The guitar is an Ibanez "Hummingbird" knock-off and it appears to be okay. It doesn't sound as nice as my '85 Takamine* aco/elec but it's not a horrible instrument.

    @ jjack:

    "Could it be that we would never be nostalgic for anything if we didn't first go through the period where we throw it away? If we didn't dispose of anything in the medium-term, why would we later come to miss it? What would be the motivation for rediscovering it if it was still readily at-hand?"

    Are we talking about gear or democracy?

    @ Katydid:

    Bad taste is timeless, as well.

    * Full disclosure, I can't play either one of them worth a damn.

  28. whomever Says:

    So, my parents inherited a British Leyland Marina, in 70s puke orange (this was mid-80s Australia), and I definitely found myself nodding along when Top Gear decreed it the worst car of all time (and they compared it to various cars from the Eastern Bloc). I hope someone saves one to put in a "How not to do it" museum, but otherwise? Best part was when the horn would randomly go off in traffic. For hours. We'd leave it unlocked on the desperate hope someone would be stupid enough to steal it. Same with brutalist architecture, I mean it's nice as a punch line and all, but really? And I think it's always been this way. No one much sheds tears for the shoddy late-90th century tenemants put up everywhere from NYC to London….

  29. Katydid Says:

    @Whomever; I had a 1980 Ford Escort (their answer to the VW Rabbit and Dodge Omni) that I used to leave unlocked for that very same reason–that someone might be stupid enough to steal it. Alas, I was never that lucky. Or they tried to steal it but couldn't get it started. That's completely plausible.

    @everyone; I particularly enjoy looking at nice architecture. Older, East Coast cities are great for that. Pittsburgh, in particular, has some gorgeous buildings. So does NYC; attention to detail that we just don't get today. The spouse's hometown hit its peak around 1900 and the homes built around then are also very aesthetically pleasing.

  30. schmitt trigger Says:

    Re: the decline of he British automotive industry.

    One forgets that not only the Industrial Revolution was actually born in Mid 18th century England, but that British science and engineering dominated the world for the next two centuries.

    Names like Newton, Watt, Darwin, Faraday, Maxwell, Fleming, Lord Kelvin, Dirac, Rutherford, Turing, Babbage, Davy, Thompson, Halley, Priestley, Cavendish, Faraday, Whittle, Boole, Lister, Crick, Joule, Bessemer, Lord Rayleigh…….the list is endless.
    And I'm only talking about pre-WW2 personalities.

    Good science brings good engineering, which brought world dominance in manufacturing.

    As such, it is sad indeed, the decline of its auto, steel and other heavy industry.

  31. JustRuss Says:

    @MajorKong: I bought a 1985 XJ6 in 2000 and drove it for seven years. Marvelous car, but lordy, some crazy engineering: fuel lines running through the trunk, so even an undetectable pin-hole leak means the interior smells like gas; the AC system; in-board rear brakes, super cool but a nightmare to maintain. If I had more money or time than I knew what to do with, I might still have it.

    As for Ed's point, no mystery: Old crap gets supplanted by newer, better crap, until it becomes so rare that the number of people who want it for nostalgia's sake outnumber the surviving examples. Demand exceeds supply and, voila, prices increase. Economics 101.

  32. Tim H. Says:

    Used to drive a Mercury Capri with English and German parts, and the German bits caused some of the more interesting difficulties…

  33. Dave Bearse Says:

    This echos what Mo wrote…Who's around that really remembers the 60's as youthful yet mature adults in their 30's? People in their 80's, now low profile and fast decreasing in numbers and diminishing acuity.

    The more distant past becomes valued by those that didn't live it that can pick and choose without first hand experience.

  34. Nunya Says:

    Majoring – Jags build after the Ford takeover have almost Japanese level reliability. The XJR is a beautiful and surprisingly fast car. I'd highly recommend giving them another try.

  35. democommie Says:

    @ Nunya:

    Major Kong's got a job that pays more than a buck-three-eighty an hour, he can prolly buy one. I don't got some money.

    Can I borrow your Jag?

  36. Major Kong Says:

    @Nunya

    I'm happy with my 2004 A8. It drives about as well as the Jag but has all-wheel-drive for the Ohio winters.

    I don't buy new cars. I got my A8 as a certified used car at less than half the price of a new one. The depreciation on high-end European cars is pretty steep in the first few years.

  37. Katydid Says:

    @Democommie; a buck-three-eighty won't buy you much lately on the streets these days, and when you can't get gas, you know, you can't drive fast anymore on the parkways…

  38. laaleigh Says:

    The first car I ever purchased was a 1968 MGB-GT with three wipers and knock-on/off wheels. It had duel-carbs with ball-floats one of which would randomly stick open and the Lucas-Prince of Darkness/Get home before dark electronics that would frequently require a vulcan mind meld before starting; usually in the rain. I loved/love that car with a white-hot passion. The f*ck-wit I was married to at the time applied undo duress and got me to sell it (we had an infant and he thought it was irresponsible of "us" to have such a car) then took the money and put it toward a Dodge Omni I regularly found myself under in the middle of winter (in shipyard let-out traffic) when the shift linkage would came undone. I would drive that thing across the bridge to work in the early morning, with the top down even in the winter, sometimes with the heat blasting during the occasional light snow. That is why that car will always be beautiful to me.

  39. democommie Says:

    I've always lanes toward cars/trucks that can be wrecked pretty much and still get there.

    Never pretty, always cheap.

  40. Ormond Otvos Says:

    Due to way too many crapoline cars and pickups, I got off the treadmill, put solar on the roof and a Kia Soul EV on the street.

    Goodbye, fossil fuels!

  41. Nunya Says:

    MajorKong -I agree that a used Audi is a good deal but the dick to owner ratio for Audis surpassed BMW a few years ago and you seem like a nice guy.

  42. democommie Says:

    @Nunya:

    What, you mean the joke is now, "What's the difference between and AUDI and a porcupine?"?

  43. Nunya Says:

    A porcupine has all it's pricks on the outside. I loved it more when it was about BMW drivers.

  44. ChickenLady Says:

    I love my '66 Plymouth Valiant. Pretty much everything is original including the slant-6. I finally painted it as some of the paint was wearing thin and she was starting to rust. I think of all the other cars I've bought and worn out over the years, and she just keeps plugging along. It's odd how driving her is so relaxing. I love the spaciousness, and while she has no trouble doing 80, you just never feel like you're in a hurry to get where you're going. My neighbor borrowed it once to go grocery shopping with his 4-year-old son, and they both just loved it. I wish we could get some of that feeling and reliability in modern cars.

  45. Major Kong Says:

    The old Dart/Valiant with a slant-6 was one of the most "bulletproof" cars ever made. Just wasn't much to go wrong with them.

    Chrysler corp completely ruined it when they replaced it with the awful Aspen/Volare in the early 70s.

  46. democommie Says:

    @ Major Kong:

    Wasn't there a song about that? I think Dean Martin sang it, maybe:

    "Volare, oh, oh, oh, oh; can't start it, oh, oh, oh, oh.

    No wonder my bank account stings, the trannies shot, it needs valves and rings…"

    Or did I just make that up&

    It gets a bit confusing inside my brain, at times.

  47. Katydid Says:

    My family had a 1978 Dodge Aspen station wagon. I don't recall anything in particular wrong with it, but I wasn't the one taking it to the shop, so maybe there was?

  48. The Dark Avenger Says:

    Major Kong, when one of my aunts expressed an interest in getting a Jaguar, one of my cousins advised her to call the service manager of a dealership to get an idea of what she would be letting herself be in for if she bought one.

    I

  49. Jack the Cold Warrior Says:

    @ Tim H:

    While I was a new LT in the USArmy in Germany (76-79) I had a used German built Ford Capri. Loved it, handled the autobahn fine, went on ski trips to Austria with it. Only thing I ever fixed in it was a new starter I put on myself at the on post DIY auto center. Really enjoyed that car. Sold it to my younger brother who was posted to Germany a couple years later, cause I got the new car bug and thought a 1LT should have a cool, fast 79 Chevy Camaro. I should have kept the Capri.

  50. HoosierPoli Says:

    It's the same thing here in Germany. Any building from between 1950 and 1990 can be torn to pieces and nobody would ever even think to care. Any building from before 1939 is basically legally untouchable…you have to get government permission to put in new windows. This is not unconnected to the fact that postwar architecture, until quite recently, is so offensively ugly as to somewhat defy belief.

  51. Major Kong Says:

    @Hoosier

    The first time I laid over in Munich I got my first look at the Hauptbahnhof (central train station). At first sight I could tell it had been built in the 1950s, presumably because we bombed the original to rubble in WWII.

  52. Comrade Misfit Says:

    Well, whomsoever was behind the destruction of Scollay Square in Boston and replacing it with that brick plaza and concrete monstrosity known as Government Center should have been dragged behind a MTA car for the length of the system.

  53. democommie Says:

    @ Major Kong:

    I've never been there but apparently Dubrovnik and Krakow have both been largely restored to their pre WWII splendor.

    @ Comrade Misfit:

    I'm thinking that the Bangor, ME to Baltimore, MD Amtrak ride would be a better distance.

  54. sock Says:

    @demo, Krakow largely escaped bombing as the seat of the Nazi occupation government, and it is amazingly beautiful. The oldest university in central Europe (founded 1364!) is there and has a gallery of alumnus John Paul II miscellany in a 15th century manor house, so if you really wanna see a pope's report cards, they've got you covered. Also there's two castles, a cave with a bronze dragon in it, and an architecturally bizarre cathedral.

    Warsaw on the other hand was 90% leveled.

  55. Matthew Says:

    That interval works out pretty well for me in my small corner of things, although admittedly the timeline I work with is much shorter. A big part of my business is restoring used console games, and those few months when the current console generation finally gives way to the next is the prime time to rake in a shit-ton of games that everyone is giving away for peanuts.

    Those piles of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games will pretty much just sit and do nothing but take up space on my shelves for a while, but in 5-10 years they'll be classics and I'll be doing a brisk trade in them.

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