New or used car
When you drive an old car, you're paying attention. You're actually driving. You're physically involved in the experience.
When you're in a car like my 1913 Mercer, which has two-wheel brakes and 3-in.-wide tires, it's a must. You are driving defensively. You're paying attention to the driving situation around you. The number of people I see "driving" and doing something else at the same time–like reading, talking on the phone, eating, putting on makeup–is unbelievable. And then, crash!, they just hit things. And they've got four-wheel discs with antilock brakes. They've got the ability to stop in a tenth the distance of an older car.
Yes, in an older car, you're definitely more physically involved in the act of driving.
I always drive for pleasure. I like to drive. Consequently, I pay attention when I do it. When I'm in an older car and someone wants to cut in front of me, I smile and say, go ahead. There isn't that competitive, "You SOB. I'll ram my blah, blah, blah up your blah, blah, blah" thing going on. Besides, people see you driving a collector car and they cut you a lot of slack. It's a bit like the old lady crossing the street. People say, "Oh look, be careful, go ahead dearie …"
I contend that a certain number of traffic accidents occur because all cars look alike nowadays. You go down the road and there's just a sea of jelly bean shapes that seem to all blend in.
Recently, I was driving my '56 Chrysler Imperial on the freeway, and I passed a guy and he looked over, saw a huge shape he'd not seen before and shooosh!, he looked like he suddenly woke up. He didn't recognize me but he waved anyway. My car just looked odd to him. And rightly so. It had character compared to the look-alikes around us on the road. The Imperial has big whitewall tires and chromed wire wheels. So this enormous land yacht comes cruising by and this guy is just in his own world, tooling along. He sees the Imperial's big fins and the gunsight taillights on the back and, boing!, it got his attention. It registered.
That's part of the fun of old cars. People ask, "Aren't you afraid of being hit?" Actually, I think it's the other way around. People are less likely to run into you because they notice you. It's like blowing your horn. They think, what is that big thing? Lookit that!
People ask me if I'm afraid my old cars are going to break down when I drive them. I say, "Yeah, they break down all the time." With the kind of job I have, when my car breaks down, that's really the only time I get to relax. Because when it happens I can't do anything. I'm stuck by the side of the freeway, so I might as well