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Old 01-26-2012, 11:33 PM   #1
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Anti Technology

My 2002 Ford Focus just blew up. It has been a maintenance nightmare. Non stop oil leaks, water leaks, eletrical problems. I work on it and under it all the time. The valves froze in the head, a common problem Im told and ground off the cam lobes. I sold it to my mechanic.

Ive had it and Im going back to basics. I have owned 3 VW's. A 68, a 70, and a 69 Ghia. With a simple small tube header exhaust 1 3/8 and a recurved distributor, I have taken a stock 1600 VW from 24-26 mpg to 31-34 mpg, with the stock carburetor.

I have found a guy on Youtube who did the same thing with a 1964 bug, but used a pair of carbs - one barrell per cylinder - and is knocking out 32 city and 38 highway.

I am tired of computers and electronics, I want a mechanical fuel pump, a carburetor, and a set of points. I want something I can endlessly modify. I want a stick shift and most of all I want to hear the engine run.

The Focus was so quiet, it was boring, non engaging, solitary confinement inside an automobile.

I want to take a 50 year old car and nail 40 mpg. I begin my search for an old Volkswagen, I can't wait to post my progress in the garage.
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:52 AM   #2
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Re: Anti Technology

Plenty of those old cars can be quite the mpg monsters. Just about any econobox from the late 70's to eary 80's can hit those high numbers with ease. Hell, even my old saturn can do it and its fairly simple compared to new cars. Vw's arent the best platform but if you can find an old rabbit all the power to you. The bigs are a little harder since they are already barebones.
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Old 01-27-2012, 04:11 AM   #3
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Re: Anti Technology

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Originally Posted by kit352 View Post
Plenty of those old cars can be quite the mpg monsters. Just about any econobox from the late 70's to eary 80's can hit those high numbers with ease. Hell, even my old saturn can do it and its fairly simple compared to new cars. Vw's arent the best platform but if you can find an old rabbit all the power to you. The bigs are a little harder since they are already barebones.
Good luck. I had similar issues (except for the terminal valvetrain failure) with my 1986 Ford. I sold it with only 60,000 miles on it since no one could figure out why it kept stalling. I have not bought another Ford since.

Good luck finding a VW. Keep up posted.
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Old 01-27-2012, 08:56 PM   #4
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Re: Anti Technology

Scott ,
Sorry to hear of the problems with the Ford.

For the rest...it IS purely a subjective decision and yours to make.

Good luck with the search.

Peter.
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Old 01-29-2012, 06:18 PM   #5
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Re: Anti Technology

I'll never understand why people think you can't work on newer cars or that older cars are better or will last longer.
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:32 PM   #6
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Re: Anti Technology

I actually did a little essay as to why the concept of "They don't make them like they used to" is only really valid on the truly subjective, such as style.
In other categories I've heard people claim that older is better..
Power
Efficiency
Reliability and
Safety..

Nope.




There is one point that I did not cover that older cars are "better". I will definitely agree that older cars are easier to work on. That is not necessarily a good thing. They were designed to be do because you had to do so a lot, and likely when your car broke down on the side of the road.

Heck, the owners manual for a classic beetle tells you how to rebuild your motor. And you needed it. But they did make it easy for you, including with the vehicle a took kit that let you do any kind of repair short of said motor rebuild. And they expected you'd have to do it on the side of the road, so they did what they could to make it easier.

Personally, I'd rather have a good quality car with modern tech and modern design than an old classic any day. Unless I already had a good modern car to be my daily driver and I could afford to be without my classic WHEN it breaks down.

That's why I'm getting a Miata this spring, rather than a Spitfire or Elan or Midget. I want to be able to know it will always work when I want it to.

Classics are nice, but I'd never want one as my only car.
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Old 01-30-2012, 04:09 AM   #7
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Re: Anti Technology

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Originally Posted by Biffmeistro View Post
I actually did a little essay as to why the concept of "They don't make them like they used to" is only really valid on the truly subjective, such as style.
In other categories I've heard people claim that older is better..
Power
Efficiency
Reliability and
Safety..

Nope.




There is one point that I did not cover that older cars are "better". I will definitely agree that older cars are easier to work on. That is not necessarily a good thing. They were designed to be do because you had to do so a lot, and likely when your car broke down on the side of the road.

Heck, the owners manual for a classic beetle tells you how to rebuild your motor. And you needed it. But they did make it easy for you, including with the vehicle a took kit that let you do any kind of repair short of said motor rebuild. And they expected you'd have to do it on the side of the road, so they did what they could to make it easier.

Personally, I'd rather have a good quality car with modern tech and modern design than an old classic any day. Unless I already had a good modern car to be my daily driver and I could afford to be without my classic WHEN it breaks down.

That's why I'm getting a Miata this spring, rather than a Spitfire or Elan or Midget. I want to be able to know it will always work when I want it to.

Classics are nice, but I'd never want one as my only car.
Agreed. Of course, I will never say that one shouldn't own a classic. I think the VW idea sounds like fun. Scott has owned a few of them, so he knows what he's getting into. My "VW" is the '95 Civic. The '92-'00 Civics were incredibly easy to work on, and I've had 4 of them, including 3 '95s. I can understand that when you've had a really crappy experience with a vehicle, you want to get back into your comfort zone.
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Old 01-30-2012, 01:40 PM   #8
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Re: Anti Technology

Oh, I totally agree that there is nothing wrong with owning a classic. They are a lot of fun, and they are cool. My VW is the second gen Ford escort, but unfortunately, I cannot fit all my kids in one. I was just saying that if someone took the time to stop being intimidated by the technology, newer cars are easier to work on. Now, ignoring the obvious things like the insane vacuum systems on domestic vehicles 30 years ago when they were trying to work out emissions purely mechanically, newer cars have computers in them that literally tell you exactly what is wrong with the engine. Plus, you have things like fuel injectors, a part that the expected service life can be mind boggling and only have 1 moving part that never needs adjustment, just regular cleaning. I can't tell you how many times I have rebuilt and adjusted carburetors, and you will never get the even, predictable fuel delivery with as precise of atomization as you do out of a fuel injector. How about adjusting timing? How many of you have done that on a newer vehicle? What's that? You haven't? That is because newer vehicles have a crank position sensor, instead of a distributor driven off the cam. The crankshaft is keyed, so the crank position sensor always knows where TDC is, and the computer does the rest.

Most people's problems with newer cars is that they don't maintain their cars well. People think of how their old car ran through anything.... well it is because the engines were built in such a way they had huge tolerances, so even when the engine was broken, it didn't seem all that broken, because it was still close to the correct tolerance. But who cared. It took a couple beers and a few hours to swap in a brand new one. Now people see all the wires and plugs, and are afraid to even try thinking they will plug something in wrong.

Then, there are the smaller percentage of people who have a part fail on their engine, and complain about how adding that part made their engine hopelessly complex, and they would have never had this problem on an older vehicle. For instance the earlier mentioned crank position sensor. They completely ignore the fact that their timing chain and distributor would have gone bad a couple times before that Crankshaft Position Sensor did, causing them to need to re-time their engine.

Don't get me wrong though. I appreciate that Scott had a crappy time with his Focus, and it sounds like he tried, but it was just fighting him the whole time. He is among the smallest minority unfortunately, one that gets a car that just plain sucks and no amount of being good on maintenance or repairs is going to ever make it run good. The kind of car that sucks so bad, you are comparing it to Model Ts in terms of reliability. I don't blame him for wanting to go back to something he was more comfortable with, and hell, it sounds like a really fun project anyway.


Plus, older cars have much more style... except in the interior.... seriously, can we just raise the car designers from the 50s and 60s from the dead and put them in a room with the interior designers and engineers of today?
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Old 01-30-2012, 03:29 PM   #9
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Re: Anti Technology

eh i still love older cars, much simpler to work on (actually swing a wrench in the engine bay, ever try changing the rear 3 plugs on a caravan)

most complicated tool you need on an old car is a distributor wrench...

mechanical fuel pump what $20? and maybe an hour to change if that electric fuel pump- $300 + at least 4 hours

points are easy, usually the condenser takes a ****

just because it has an OBD2 computer doesnt mean ****. random misfire error code - could be damn near everything. O2 sensor out of range, is the sensor bad or is something causing the exhaust to be rich/lean?

carbs yea they need rebuilt every now and then but like 100K miles and an afternoon with a $30 kit haha

old cars breaking down all the time? yea if you didnt do regular maintenance or check things like points/plugs/etc id drive my chevette anywhere (and have several long roadtrips without a hiccup but i know exactly how it was maintained as i did it)

if its a ford the camshaft position sensor will go out far quicker than timing chain and distributor...

alot of what i consider "modern" cars have/had distributors. Anything GM made with a 4.3 has a distributor for sure.

vaccum line mess? not really as most cars had a vac line diagram stuck to the snorkel of the air intake. not any more complicated than all the wiring mess today cars have.

as an owner of a 1960 vw ghia yes they are incredibly easy to work on. 4 bolts hold the engine to the trans and 2 people can easily lift it around.

adjusting timing? eh if you know what your doing and have that dist wrench (some dont need a special wrench) and have even a ****ty $10 timing light its easy. set and forget. same with the carb, once its set and running right dont dick with it haha.

computer not always quick to adjust timing sometimes...hook a timing light up to a vehicle and it fluctuates more than one would hope especially on accel/decel.

BUT yes i will agree that they did try some far out and backasswards ideas back in the day to solve energy and emission problems...

plus yes i think all but one new car looks like crap and most sound like crap. I prefer to hear my car so i know what its doing not like a somewhat padded room going down the highway...

im just wondering whats gonna happen to all these plastic parts (both engine and body) in 30+ years after theyve been in the -20* to the 100+ degrees....

interiors designed well today? blah well ok some of the really new ones arent bad but they take styles of 60 years ago...the late 90's early 00's were just terrible and very very boring...give me a chevy, ford, dodge, plymouth, or chrysler anything thats 30+ years old...i still swear GM and ford cant design a cupholder/cupholder location to save themselves...

give me classics anyday! (even the 70's landbarges aka livingroom on wheels)
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:12 PM   #10
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Re: Anti Technology

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Originally Posted by FIND View Post
People think of how their old car ran through anything.... well it is because the engines were built in such a way they had huge tolerances, so even when the engine was broken, it didn't seem all that broken, because it was still close to the correct tolerance.
Well, that and also the fact that it didn't need to "run through anything" for very long. 80,000 to 100,000 miles and it was junkyard time by most people's standards.

Now, you buy a new car and you really don't have to do anything other than oil changes, brakes, car washes, and tires until that same 100,000 miles. You're usually looking at 15 years or 200,000 miles before you have to worry about random failures in crankshaft position sensors, coolant temperature sensors, O2 sensors, or whatever.

Swinging a wrench on an old car is easier but the on-board diagnostic system, despite its faults, still beats the hell out of guessing...and the dynamic ability of the computer to compensate for all kinds of conditions and events is awesome.

...says the guy who commutes in a 1980 model complete with vacuum spaghetti and rotten carburetor.
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