The question of today’s cars vs. yesterday’s… This can start a fight, don’t you think?
Everyone will argue what car is the best, and there’s almost nothing more polarizing than trying to discuss what years of cars were the best.
Is the 1965 Corvette Stingray better than the 2017 Corvette Stingray? That’s a fight I don’t want to be in the middle of!
Yet, here I find myself trying to help everyone decide which is better. How did I get myself into this mess?
If I’m going to put forth any type of argument, we’re going to have to figure out what exactly defines “best” in relation to a car.
Do we start with horsepower?
Is horsepower the way to decide a car is the best?
We can talk about the Dodge Challenger: In 1970, it peaked out at about 470 horsepower. Which is not bad at all, is it?
But then we look at the new Dodge Challenger Hellcat. In 2017, the Hellcat has about 707 horsepower! That’s a leap up for sure.
However, which one is “better” is open to interpretation, because I don’t think horsepower tells the whole story here.
Technology advances as the years go by, but to some folks, too much technology in a car and you lose the driving experience.
How about design?
Cars change appearance over the years and we have to admit that liking a style is very subjective.
I’ll pick one example that I particularly like, the Nissan Skyline GTR. The first design, I have to admit, wasn’t great. The KPGC10, the original Godzilla, is too boxy in my opinion, and the mirrors are way out on the front fenders. It just looks strange to me. The R32 model is way too bubbly for me, as well.
However, the R34 model, made between 1999 and 2002, is my favorite look of all the generations. I even think it’s better looking than the newer R35 that we see on the streets of the U.S. today.
Really, this is another less-than-perfect way to look at best or worst, because style is subjective and changes from generation to generation.
Do safety features make any difference?
Yes, a newer car is inherently going to be safer than an older car, and safety is a huge factor in the ultimate decision of buying one these days. However, I don’t think this has anything to do with what’s best or worst in any way.
While it’s true that the cars today are much safer because of the supplemental restraint systems, crumple zones, and other such technological advancements, the older cars also wouldn’t self-destruct in an accident.
What I mean by that is, a fender bender shouldn’t total a car, leading you to buy a new one. Older cars were built to withstand some abuse, and that’s something you should take into account.
But really, I don’t think safety is a good determiner for what’s “best.” As much as I love my car, I want to walk away from any accident I’m in. Well then, moving on…
OK, let’s try features!
Do the options that come on a car make it the “best?” This has as much to do with technological advances as safety measures, and cars that feature the latest and greatest technology of that generation can sometimes make the difference in who gets to earn “best” status.
Sometimes things were added for better, and other times there was really no reason to add them. Let’s think of an example of a factory-installed option, from the past, that really makes no sense today. A third headlight in a Tucker 48? There’s really no reason for it, but at the time they thought it was a great idea.
The air conditioned glove box in a MINI Cooper? It’s not really effective enough to keep a drink super cold, but it’s something that’s there.
Neither of these options makes either car the “best,” and we really aren’t a whole lot closer to the answer than we were at the beginning.
The more I think about it, the more I think there really is no “best” generation of cars. Personally, I would love a 1965 Corvette, a 1968 Camaro, a 2017 Corvette, or a 2017 Camaro. All of these cars sound like something great to have sitting in my driveway. I mean, let’s be realistic!
I love the look of each one, they all have decent power (enough to get me in trouble), and I feel they are all pretty timeless.
So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I can’t make this decision for anyone. Answering “Which generation had the better cars?” is tough; there are reasons to like most generations of most cars.
All except the Pontiac Aztec. I think we can all agree there are no redeeming qualities to that vehicle.