Are new cars really better than old cars?

Picture of n old and new Ford car.

A common question among car enthusiasts is whether or not new cars are better than older ones.

In particular, there’s a rumour that has spread over the internet and through word of mouth that older car models were built to last for decades, whereas new cars are specifically built with weaknesses so that they’ll break down within a year or two.

It’s easy to see where something like that would come from; in our world of consumerism, why would a company want to sell you a £30,000 car that’ll last 30 years when they could sell you a £20,000 one that’ll soon break down, forcing you to buy a new car all over again?

However, the truth is a little different from the conspiracy theories. New cars actually last much longer on average; in fact, cars generally didn’t start to make it to 200,000 miles until the 1980s, while it’s not uncommon to find a recent model with mileages as high as that.

It could be argued that older cars were made out of heavier materials and were simpler to work on and repair than a modern vehicle, but that’s not 100 per cent true, either.

While new models do tend to be built of lighter composites than the cars of old, they’re still built to much higher safety standards.

What’s more, the advent of electronic diagnostics systems can often make it much easier to diagnose and repair a problem compared with old world mechanics who “just knew” what the problem was via some sort of black magic, evidently.

A combination of technology and regulation has made the cars of today more fuel-efficient, cleaner, safer and more reliable by orders of magnitude, but just in case you need a little more convincing, here’s our list of the top reasons the old has been outgunned by the new:

1: Crash protection

Thanks to car bodies and frames that are designed to take impacts, seatbelts, airbags and an ever-increasing list of new intelligent safety features, you’re now far more likely to survive a collision on the road these days than back in the old days. Which is handy, y’know, if you’re a fan of being alive and all…

2: Accident avoidance

Speaking of collisions, no doubt one of the best ways to survive them is to avoid having them outright. From simple things like ABS brakes to electronic stability control, parking sensors and blind spot warning systems, your car is now safer than ever.

3: Better tyres

Classic cars tend to come with inner tubes like many bicycle tyres, though the vast majority of new cars come with tubeless tyres, which improve handling and life-span. They’re also more puncture resistance, while you also get better fuel economy thanks to lower rolling resistance. Neat!

4: Recyclability

Jeremy Clarkson would have you believe that the motorist is at constant war with Mother Earth, but that’s not strictly true. Most parts of a modern car, including the plastics, are designed to be recycled – in fact, we bet you didn’t know that cars are the single most recycled objects on earth!

5: Ergonomic efficiency

Does your classic old banger come with steering-wheel-mounted controls, integrated Bluetooth and electrically-operated massaging seats? Nope, we didn’t think so! Modern cars just make it so much easier to be a driver, why would you want to add more difficulty to your life?

6: Greater aerodynamics

Modern cars are also a lot more aerodynamic than older ones, which increases your fuel efficiency and performance, as well as making your ride a lot slicker looking than some boxy old scrapheap!

7: They look nicer

We’ve all heard the old adage about Henry Ford saying that you could buy a Model T in any colour as long as it’s black, but did you know they were hand-painted with a brush? Even if you prefer the classic look, there’s no denying that modern paintwork is just a lot better to look at, and a lot more durable too.

8: Better security

It’s actually frighteningly easy for some no-good crook to come along and shimmy his way inside an old car with little else than a coathanger and a piece of string. Contrast that with modern alarm and immobiliser technology, while some cars even let you track their position and automatically alert the police!

9: Climate control

Essentially every new car available these days comes with air conditioning of some sort, while some even come with multizone controls that let you heat or cool specific parts of the car. Cracking the window in an old Morris Minor just isn’t the same.

10: They sound better

Some will argue that nothing beats the growl of a vintage V8 engine, and we’d agree with them. Listening to engine whine all day isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, however, and for those who like things a little more comfortable, the fact that modern car stereos are better than the best home audio systems of 20 years ago is welcome news!

11: Electronic diagnostics

Back in the day, mechanics had to be a cross between a rocket scientist and a horse whisperer to figure out what was wrong with cars, but these days it’s as easy as plugging in a laptop. Some cars even allow you to monitor your performance on your smartphone!

12: New cars feel better

Gone are the days of being hurled down the motorway in your dad’s old boneshaker. Cushy independent suspension systems tend to be the norm on the vast majority of cars now, while some come with selectable settings to tune the handling to your exact specifications.

13: Maintenance is easier

If you think replacing your oil now and again is a bit of a pain, spare a thought for the owners of older cars who have to replace theirs every few thousand miles and pump grease into a dozen suspension fittings. Plus, when was the last time you heard of somebody’s engine exploding?

14: Cleaner emissions

Drive behind an old car and the fumes will be so strong they’ll make your eyes water. Today’s cars emit only a fractional amount of the horrible smog that older models do, and that amount is soon to get even lower in the next few months!

So what do you think? Convinced that new cars are better, or do you still have a soft spot for the classics? Why not let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter!