Originally Posted by jaobrien6
You're right, we should get rid of everything in cars that has any chance of breaking. Power steering (heck, power anything), ABS, Airbags, A/C, Radio. Keep it simple. As I type that, I know you're probably sitting there thinking "Yes! That'd be perfect!"
Hmmmm....for many years I had a 1974 full-size Chevy Blazer that kind of fit that description. It did have power steering and brakes, but not much else. No power windows, no air, no back seat, no insulation, front bucket seats covered with vinyl that had long since split in cold weather were repaired with liberal quantities of duct tape, etc. A fine motor carriage!
Power was a 4-bolt Chevy 350 with rebuilt heads and a Holly 4-barrel with mechanical secondaries and a manual choke. It would start in very cold weather, although it needed help once up in Quebec at -50F. To this day, I think the Chevy 350 is one of the best general-purpose utility gas engines ever made.
The rear axle had an Eaton locker in it that helped me through a few sketchy places.
It had headers that needed to be replaced every two or three years because they rusted out at the low point where all the pipes came together. Water collected there, apparently.
It had a 4-speed Muncie truck box - three-speed plus granny. The granny, of course, had no synchromesh. The first of the three road gears had a syncro that mostly just prevented you from getting it back to first gear while the truck was rolling, so you couldn't "grind" the gears. It was possible to get it back to first by double-clutching and matching RPMs.
It had a heavy-duty clutch that was indeed a workout for the left leg. When it failed (i.e., something broke so that it wouldn't disengage), I drove the truck around for two days without a clutch. Bump start in first gear and feel your way through the gears by matching RPMs. Even back then (1980 or so), it cost $400 to replace the clutch.
So I know about simple vehicles with little to go wrong that I can work on myself. It's good that I could do that, because I needed to. It needed points and plugs every 12,000 miles, just like clockwork. It needed plug wires, timing adjustments and diddling with the carburetor. It needed...etc.
It was awful on the highway. No overdrive. Noisy and rough. In the winter, the heater could barely warm the front seats, never mind the back. The back floor was warm mainly because the mufflers were only about 2 inches below it. You sure were connected to the experience, but you didn't have much choice!
Now I drive a 1999 Chevy 3/4-ton pickup. You guessed it - automagic transmission - 4L80E, basically a Turbo400 with overdrive and electronic control. I've had it since new and put over 200,000 miles on it. I hope it never breaks, but it probably will, someday. It's much more pleasant to travel in than the old Blazer, and much less trouble.