The sad demise of American car culture

Garceau

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I remember being out at a normal Friday or Saturday night street cruise in Akron, probably around 1981.
I was already in love with Mopar muscle cars and I had my 68 Roadrunner out ($250 car.)
There was a Superbird parked with us and I was just in awe, acting like the 18 year old dumbass I was (compared to the 58 year old dumbass I am), talking shit about how it was the fastest thing around.
Well one older gentleman with a street rod tried to explain a little about power to weight ratio, claiming his car would beat it.
I thought he was completely nuts, but it planted a seed and I would later learn about such things.
I wonder what he thought of my generation of car guys.
I spent a lot of time in Akron as a kid....I raced Soap Box Derby all across the world up until I was about 14.
 

padam

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I spent a lot of time in Akron as a kid....I raced Soap Box Derby all across the world up until I was about 14.
There used to be a lot of action on US 224 that runs close to Derby Downs. Waterloo road, Triplett Blvd, Arlington road.
I guess early 80's was getting to be the end of it.
 

SteveSS

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I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with this article no matter who wrote it. They are going to the wrong car shows. Yes, the Saturday morning downtown car shows are a bunch of old guys but the Saturday night downtown shows are all young. My son belongs to our local young persons' club called The 719 Wicked (based on our area code like the OG 405 was.) I say persons because there are plenty of girl members. They rent out entire parking garages downtown on Saturday nights. Sometimes they move around to different large shopping mall parking lots in the city, wherever the action is. Races are set up for elsewhere. These things are HUGE and the kids are spending every dime they have on their cars. I also see these clubs show up en mass at sanctioned drag race events. They might not be the cars you choose but there are still tons of Mustangs, Camaros, and Mopars. There's a bit of everything. I've even seen some fairly fast Saturn Redlines. If you ever look there are lots of videos of cops busting up huge parking lot meets with some dumbass (just like we were) doing donuts and trying to arrest everyone present. And they still can't stop it! Some of these cats have no problem running from the police. (Just like you did.) Here is 719Wicked's Instagram page. Wicked C.C's (@719wickedcc) Instagram profile • 500 photos and videos

So I say the article is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
 
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Kern Dog

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I would love to know some local kid that was interested in these classics. I have years of knowledge and parts that I could share.
 
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Budnicks

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Times have changed
I don't buy the 'no money', can't afford stuff
unless they are lazy & don't work or earn it

$15 min wage, in many places today
I made $1.65 an hr my 1st real job
(outside of forced/slave labor for my dad's awning & decks construction co.)
at a Shell service station in Georgetown Ca.
4 months if I was full time $1.65 x 40 x 16 = $1056,
probably 1/2 that maybe 20 hrs a week = $528

$15 an hr, that's nearly 10 times what I made
to buy a $350 car my 1st 68 Charger R/T,
I worked for 4 months, I talked the lady down from $500
I saved every dime, I was still going to high school (I live 25+ miles away)
so didn't work full time
saved all but, what I didn't need to put in sparkplugs or fuel
& oil to get to work/school

boo hoo
they worked & were forced to or saved for 4 months
$9600/full time, to buy a car of equal value/now 10 time the price
so lets say if they worked going to school just like I did, 20hrs a week
still is $4,800
(I know not all places are $15 min. wage either, my state is)

yeah costs have risen 10 fold, so has/is income

some do gravitate to cars & up here Subaru's, Ruststain's & 4x4 Truck's
I see it daily acorss the street Tommy's kid Shae, & all his car buddies
with that boom boom cRapp music, shitcan fart exhaust
but they are doing it, Jap crap & all...
there is a car culture, just not really my type
Shae is coming around some, his grandpa Tom Sr.
is a diehard car guy/muscle car/hot rod guy
(they/kids are relatively respectful now too, I did have a serious talk with a couple of them)

Grant you
I don't live in the inner-shitty anymore,
anywhere even near a freeway or bus stop
I'm rural, in the mountains, 10+ miles from town
it's a bit different up here for the youth
they are very active
I am amazed how many have decent cars/4x4s
how many make decent $$ for HS kids
you don't have public transit around every corner
you need a car/truck bike etc. to get around
or take the one bus, that comes around
1 time in the am & 1 time in the pm, if you're scheduled for it
it's a min of 5 miles to anything, usually more like 10 miles
walking isn't a good option
otherwise, you will never ever see public transit ever

you need a ride

I share what I know often, if they show interest, some are like sponges
some couldn't care any less about cars/trucks,
some 'they prefer' their handheld devices/'cell' phone (like a jail)
all slumped over, staring at it all damn day, pounding away with their thumbs
on social media or playing games, some do both
if not no big deal

but I see it elsewhere, when I leave here & visit family
many don't care about cars/trucks transportation in general
they have a totally different ethic/morality, a 'way different life',
way different upbringing than I had, I was out in the garage with my stepdad Bob
sometimes I didn't want to be out there either
& the youth has different entertainment and ways to waste time I assume

my kids & niece & nephew couldn't wait to get behind the wheel
or work & earn $$$ to buy their own

look at what's on TV/MSM ABC CBS NBC MSDNC CNN especially
they don't encourage driving or the car culture, they live in inner-shittys
have mass transit (or are clueless, dupped/conned socialist green deal eco-nazis)
hell many of them hate cars (of any kind) or anything that deals with fossil fuels
even if their lives all are surrounded by it & depend on all of it

Wall of text.jpg
 
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moparedtn

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I think Budnicks just said "it's all relative...." :)
Got me thinking though - I remember buying drivable/presentable Mopars in the early 80's for a couple grand
and we know what the damn things are being sold for nowadays, so can a simple comparison be made?
Quick, to the research!

Average wage (US) 1980: $12,500
Average wage (US) 2020: $55,000
(an increase of 440% over 40 years - average increase of 11%/year!)
(For those playing along at home, these numbers were ganked from the Social Security website: Average Wage Index (AWI) )

Caveat #1: I realize we're not talking about average adult full-time employment here, but youth employment,
so....
Minimum wage (US) 1980: $3.10/hr
Minimum wage (US) 2020: $7.25/hr
(an increase of 234% over 40 years - averages to 5.8%/year)

More (perhaps useless) comparisons - this time, the average price of a new car (again, US dollars):
1980: $6,735.00
2020: $24,970.00
An increase of 370% over 40 years - or 8.5%/yr)

Now, for the actual pertinent question - how do wages today vs. the average cost of a classic musclecar
compare to that of 40 years ago?

That's a tough one - because I cannot find a reputable source that has compiled relevant numbers for the time span
we're talking about here...
Understandably so, of course - prices were all over the place back then as they are now, depending on what make/model
you're talking about - widely so!
(Maybe one of you can find a good source for that information?)

I guess the only way I can complete this comparison then is to go with what I remember paying for a couple of cars back
around 1980 - and these were no bargains or special deals, but rather sales right out of the classifieds of the day;
the cars I bought got "all the money" the market said, in other words.
Example:
I paid $2,200 for a real 1968 Super Bee in 1980. Nice car, what I'd call a #3 on Hagerty's guide.
That same car today, according to that same guide in similar condition, is about $30,000.
1980: $2,200
2020: $30,000
That's a 1363% increase! We're talking about a 383 'Bee here, no gingerbread or fancy.
Of course, the more valuable classic/musclecars out there fetch exponentially more than this, so their % increases
are mind-boggling...

My conclusion?
The situation is exactly as it appears and has been widely written and reported upon - namely, that the only folks
that can afford to participate in this hobby - specifically the musclecar ownership hobby - are the ones doing so now:
the middle-aged-up, well established folks making better than average US wages.
Should we be surprised the youth aren't into these cars more?
No, of course not - primarily because of social and generational differences, but also because they cannot afford to.

This all leads to the inevitable (also often-asked) next question, though:
What happens to all our precious cars, with all we've put into them over the years, when there's no one left able to
afford them - or even have the interest in doing so?

Well, the prices will come crashing down for one - and I'm not even going to address government regulation (extermination?)
concerns here, either (but you know that's coming at some point)...but you know what?
The same is going to happen with the classic cars, too - or any sort of collectible car, really - and they're all either destined
for museums (which will themselves die off from lack of interest from newer generations eventually) or the same fate as our
cars.
Sounds pretty pessimistic of me? That's because I'm a realist.
This house of cards will tumble down sooner or later. It has to.
My suggestion therefore? Find a younger person (if you didn't already raise one!) and get them involved and interested
in your car and what happens to it when you're gone - and in the meantime, enjoy the hobby for you...
It may well be you that is the last good steward of your car!
 

Garceau

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I should add - my 8 year old niece just got a new Junior Dragster motor for her birthday....so not all kids these days are against wrenching, going fast, and making noise.
 

streetmachine

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I wasn't going to chime in but, I figure why not? I'm one of the younger guys here (40ish). I grew up around these cars in the 80s and through the mid 90s. A lot of people I went to school within my age group both slightly younger and older could care less about their vehicle. There is very few that are interested in these classics for some of the mentioned reasons. The other part is that affordability and upkeep for those whom are interested especially when it comes down to the cost of oil, gas, insurance, and parts especially nos ones. Has the interest shifted to the newer cars. Yes, it has but even then I don't see many Camaros, Mustangs, Chargers, or Challengers around here.

Most people I've know would rather have the car drive itself so they play a cell phone game, gamble, shop, or look for a date on a dating app/website on their phone. Plus without going into politics (not here) you have outside forces in the way of ideologies, culture, and regulations that are against the culture of the automobile and modifications especially now. For me, these cars represent a time in my childhood when things at least through my glasses (while rosy colored) were slightly better. These cars have offered me fun, and memories I haven't forgotten. I really could care less about car shows and just enjoy driving them and the experience it offers me.
 

Ron H

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I think Budnicks just said "it's all relative...." :)
Got me thinking though - I remember buying drivable/presentable Mopars in the early 80's for a couple grand
and we know what the damn things are being sold for nowadays, so can a simple comparison be made?
Quick, to the research!

Average wage (US) 1980: $12,500
Average wage (US) 2020: $55,000
(an increase of 440% over 40 years - average increase of 11%/year!)
(For those playing along at home, these numbers were ganked from the Social Security website: Average Wage Index (AWI) )

Caveat #1: I realize we're not talking about average adult full-time employment here, but youth employment,
so....
Minimum wage (US) 1980: $3.10/hr
Minimum wage (US) 2020: $7.25/hr
(an increase of 234% over 40 years - averages to 5.8%/year)

More (perhaps useless) comparisons - this time, the average price of a new car (again, US dollars):
1980: $6,735.00
2020: $24,970.00
An increase of 370% over 40 years - or 8.5%/yr)

Now, for the actual pertinent question - how do wages today vs. the average cost of a classic musclecar
compare to that of 40 years ago?

That's a tough one - because I cannot find a reputable source that has compiled relevant numbers for the time span
we're talking about here...
Understandably so, of course - prices were all over the place back then as they are now, depending on what make/model
you're talking about - widely so!
(Maybe one of you can find a good source for that information?)

I guess the only way I can complete this comparison then is to go with what I remember paying for a couple of cars back
around 1980 - and these were no bargains or special deals, but rather sales right out of the classifieds of the day;
the cars I bought got "all the money" the market said, in other words.
Example:
I paid $2,200 for a real 1968 Super Bee in 1980. Nice car, what I'd call a #3 on Hagerty's guide.
That same car today, according to that same guide in similar condition, is about $30,000.
1980: $2,200
2020: $30,000
That's a 1363% increase! We're talking about a 383 'Bee here, no gingerbread or fancy.
Of course, the more valuable classic/musclecars out there fetch exponentially more than this, so their % increases
are mind-boggling...

My conclusion?
The situation is exactly as it appears and has been widely written and reported upon - namely, that the only folks
that can afford to participate in this hobby - specifically the musclecar ownership hobby - are the ones doing so now:
the middle-aged-up, well established folks making better than average US wages.
Should we be surprised the youth aren't into these cars more?
No, of course not - primarily because of social and generational differences, but also because they cannot afford to.

This all leads to the inevitable (also often-asked) next question, though:
What happens to all our precious cars, with all we've put into them over the years, when there's no one left able to
afford them - or even have the interest in doing so?

Well, the prices will come crashing down for one - and I'm not even going to address government regulation (extermination?)
concerns here, either (but you know that's coming at some point)...but you know what?
The same is going to happen with the classic cars, too - or any sort of collectible car, really - and they're all either destined
for museums (which will themselves die off from lack of interest from newer generations eventually) or the same fate as our
cars.
Sounds pretty pessimistic of me? That's because I'm a realist.
This house of cards will tumble down sooner or later. It has to.
My suggestion therefore? Find a younger person (if you didn't already raise one!) and get them involved and interested
in your car and what happens to it when you're gone - and in the meantime, enjoy the hobby for you...
It may well be you that is the last good steward of your car!
Yeah time span comparison is a point. Started my 1st job at a machine shop around 1972, 2 bucks/hr. That was rather outstanding for a 17 year old then equivalent to $14 today. My 1st car was a cherry 67 GTO vert, paid a grand. Today's compare - $7,900. See what's available like it today for this price.
 

Ron H

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Good comments RC. Sure, this has some variations or comparisons as classmates/others I’ve known were either into cars/DIY interest and not. I had a lofty position at a nationwide company for a span in my career surrounded by non-car guys. Had a nice company provided ride; but when I’d bring my old ride to da office, oly chit, the skank comments: Why you driving that old tin can (it was rather cherry; but they wouldn’t know the diff). One time we were shooting da shit before a meeting talking about what we did over the weekend. Well, these guys watched college basketball games non-stop and I said I tore apart the washing machine to fix it. Cost me 9 bucks for the part I needed and few hours doing it. Well, zero impression hey. They say why didn’t you call a firm to fix it or buy a new one?

Advantage, I followed my dad’s footsteps cuz he fixed shit calling someone for help was rare despite being able to afford it. Figure it out, read what info you can about it, and take to it. Lol, a few of these guys gave me a call at midnight when something in their house went ta shit for help. Fine, it is their thing whether they have interest or gumption to learn how to change a lightbulb while they could tell ya the BB scores of every friggin college across the country. I hate having to call some outfit when I can figure it out.

This is applicable IMO, as I saw a major decline in HS’s to maintain shop classes and gutting of apprenticeship programs. Thee thing was 4-year college for whatever or you’re a pos. We have a serious shortage of people in the trades as boomers retire. Granted, there are young people out there. I know several smarter than a whip mechanically, just fewer of them. I went to tech-school getting 3 job offers while contemplating getting a BS, and even today, tech-school grads are finding more BETTER jobs than some of those 4-year people. Work ‘in the trades’ pays big money.
 

Runcharger

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One thing I suggest is when you're walking through a show and shine/cruise in whatever with your buddies. Take a minute to ask the young guy with the Ricer that is standing all alone something about his car. I always find these guys respectful and shocked that an old guy with an out of reach car (how he feels anyway) shows interest in his ride, you usually can't shut these guys up and they will always acknowledge you after that.
We as carguys were a bit of an outcast back in the 70's but it's much worse now, it's up to us to keep the interest up and the enthusiasts united.
 

Kern Dog

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One thing I suggest is when you're walking through a show and shine/cruise in whatever with your buddies. Take a minute to ask the young guy with the Ricer that is standing all alone something about his car. I always find these guys respectful and shocked that an old guy with an out of reach car (how he feels anyway) shows interest in his ride, you usually can't shut these guys up and they will always acknowledge you after that.
We as carguys were a bit of an outcast back in the 70's but it's much worse now, it's up to us to keep the interest up and the enthusiasts united.
This is an excellent point.
 

SteveSS

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I always felt like my kids had no choice but to be INTO cars growing up in with my influence. My son is still on the sunny side of 30 and he knows more about how to fix old and new cars than I do. He's also just very mechanically minded, remember he graduated with his ME degree. My daughter LOVES muscle cars. She went with me to the MEGA MOPAR SERIES in Denver this summer. i was kind of on the fence but she really wanted to go. She has the BumbleBee Camaro and a low-mileage Hyundai Turbo Santa Fe she got from her grandmother. My son bought a house with some land so we have the '71 Challenger, his 2 Dodge Ram 50's (Mitsubishis) his '73 Pontiac Grand Am with a hopped-up 400 (not my black one with the 455) the new '70 Coronet 500. A 2000-something CJ Jeep. All his engineering friends bought one so they can go on adventures. 2 Pontiac Vibes for food MPG. Really Toytota Matrixes. Matrii? God, I love those things! A 2000 something Ram 2500 diesel 4x4. You can't convince me Gen Xers don't love cars!
 

1STMP

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Get him a CD racers use for practicing a road course at Riverside. The one I saw for Watkins Glen was very realistic, and that was 10 years ago. Probably 3-D now. The owner raced his DB2000 there, but hailed from Deadwood, SD.
Tell him: Learn the Riverside course and how to drive it, and we'll go there with a rent a racer.
Sad to say, the grandson shows absolutely
no interest in any video games that involves
any type of motorsports. Believe me, I've
tried. There must be at least 50 games yet
to be opened.
 

68BabyBlue

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96, you’re right, I’d have to say it’s the later millennials if anything. But I would have to say our generation isn’t as bad as the next one. (If you’re a member of the next generation and on this forum, I’m not mad at you, it’s the other “they/thems” :lol: )
A millennial with a GTX is a bright spot for us old guys.
 

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