Here’s why you need an old car

Brent vd Schyff thinks you never knew you needed an old car until now. “An entire word of discovery awaits you. From dodging potholes to breaking down, it’s all part of the adventure.”

You may classify me as your regular, sentimental car guy. How so? Heck, I still own my first car. A 1983 Classic Mini Clubman and it’ll require more than the rapture to pry it away from me. We’ve been through hell together. Relationships have been ended thanks to it. Ask me about that sometime but it’ll cost you a beer. I digress. It’s a car that tells a story. So many pieces of myself have gone into it over the years. It’s been my refuge in times when I needed a distraction from life’s challenges, and it’s been an opportunity generator and conversation piece with other like-minded travellers. Such is the mystique of owning an old car.


Throughout the years of being a motoring journalist, I’ve had the experience of driving some crazy modern technological marvels. Multi-million-rand sports cars and Grand Tourers, a few of the hottest hatches money can buy, morbidly expensive SUVs and every modern bakkie alive. All marvels of technological advancement, machines that are insanely capable in their own rights serving the modern-day commuter but they all fail on one point…. they’re not my Mini.


Cars of today are tipping the scales of comfort. Advances in technology mean that your commute negates so many obstacles that could potentially kill you including the pothole crisis we have in this country. In the Mini, hit a pothole the wrong way and I may disappear into the underworld (queue up the Stranger Things soundtrack). Swerving out of the way of an empty can in the road is required to avoid risking cracking the gearbox casing and THAT is where the fun lies. Driving an old car is always an adventure. 


Adventure how? I feel you staring at this with a puzzling look. The connection to the road in an old car can not be found in a modern one. They may as well be from different galaxies, let alone decades, such is the difference. That doesn’t fault the modern-day car. It’s so refreshing to just reset everything by jumping into that old Mini and heading out for a drive, not knowing if I’ll get stuck and not return.


Compared to newer cars, older cars just don’t cost as much to acquire and contrary to what you may think, they’re not that expensive to maintain. Pick a reasonably available choice like a VW Golf Mk1 or an early Toyota Corolla and you’ll find that there are parts readily available. Even for the Mini, I can order new parts from the UK.

If you’re hunting the experience, I’d suggest getting some oil stains on those threads and dirt under the nails, grab a Haynes manual, search the internet for help guides on repair jobs and tackle those tasks even if you’re not a technically astute human. You may find yourself enjoying the process even after you crack the gearbox casing requiring engineering help after not blowing all the glass beads out of the bolt thread… as I did. I won’t repeat that mistake.


Opportunities await. Along the journey of classic car ownership, I’ve discovered a completely different world that exists, rich in opportunity. Car Clubs exist out there are always willing to help in some way or form. Breakfast runs on a spring morning, the stench of carburettor fuel, the noises, the creaks, and suspension compression. They all add to the experience and that leaves you engaged in your passion and disengaged from the world. They’re like time capsules from the decade they were made in, sporting the modern technology of its time. A wind-up window and a lack of power steering, ditto no power-assisted braking, traction control nor ESP. Nothing that, if it breaks, will break your budget. Mind you, that is part of the magic that makes old cars so attractive.


The world of classic cars is packed with learning curves but also opportunities to meet new people who are just as enthusiastic as you. The transferable skills learnt around problem-solving will install a new sense of patience and make you look at life differently. What are you waiting for? Head over to those classifieds and start that chat with a seller of an old car. Cos you know it all starts with a chat.

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