Posts Tagged Jimmy Carter

What makes a car a “classic?”

1975 Mercury MonarchI picked up the latest issue of Hemmings Classic Car today, and found an unusual mix of vehicles on the cover.

A gorgeous 1962 Chrysler New Yorker wagon was the main attraction, but it shared space with a 1991 GMC Syclone and a 1977 Mercury Monarch.

Any vehicle over 25 years old is considered “vintage” (which makes me feel rather dated), but you don’t need to attend the Pebble Beach Concours to know that “vintage” and “classic” are not the same.

Cars from the 1960s or earlier have the strongest hold on the “classic” title, but lately I’ve noticed many cars from the 1970s and ’80s making their way into classic-car discussions.

This is partially because of economics: as cars get older, they become rarer and more expensive. Many of the most desirable classics have been priced out of the average enthusiast’s range, leaving him or her to get creative.

It’s more than that, though.

No one is going to deal with the trials and tribulations of an old car, unless they really want to.

People often collect cars (and other things) to recapture their youth, and not everyone grew up during the age of tail fins.

The nostalgia factor is often masked by a car’s other positive qualities; you don’t need to be a child of the ’60s to appreciate a first-generation Camaro.

However, as newer cars transition from cheap transportation to potential collectibles, people’s personal attachment to them becomes more apparent. Why else would you buy a Mercury Monarch?

The Monarch, and its Ford Granada sibling, have been the butt of many jokes, but perhaps that will change as people become nostalgic for the days of the Carter Administration.

If that happens, old car mavens will still be able lament about how “they don’t make ’em like they used to,” but people might answer “good.”


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The limitations of small government

Americans like to complain about how much the government intrudes on their lives, but that does not mean they don’t want it to solve their problems. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

The second 1970s energy crisis occurred during Carter’s presidency, causing gasoline shortages and leaving the American populous clamoring for a solution. President Carter wasn’t sure what to do, either, but he did come up with some commonsense advice to help alleviate the pain: he told Americans to turn their thermostats down. He even set an example for the nation by wearing sweaters all the time.

Anyone who has to purchase home heating oil knows that forgoing heat for short periods of time can save money. I have friends who wait until November, or even December, to turn their heat on, all in the name of economy.

However, when Carter asked 1970s Americans to do the same, they were outraged. Instead of solving the crisis, it looked like the government was telling them to fend for themselves.

Some might argue that people were more angry at Carter than his tip. Maybe it was not the idea of turning thermostats down, but the fact that Carter was telling people to do it that angered them. To the 21st century Right Wing, it probably sounds like a case of big government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.

Still, whether the president asks or not, an oil shortage would force people to use less oil. All the “real Americans” might accept that sacrifice in the name of independence but, more likely, they would be pissed that their house is cold and that they have to walk to work.

People should remember this episode before buying into Republican/Tea Party “small-government” rhetoric. Yes, sometimes government is an inconvenience, but if an oil embargo occurs, who is going to stop it?

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