Hooniverse Asks: What Era of the Automotive Age Interests You the Least?

It’s undeniable that the Automotive age – all 125-years and counting of it – is pretty easily to segment into specific eras. There’s the Brass Age, The Deco Age, Rocket Era, Aero Age, etc. And it further goes without saying that some of these eras are of more interest to some than they are others.
That’s right, being a car enthusiast doesn’t necessarily mean that you love all cars from all eras. It’s okay to think that perhaps you might not be as interested in something with a top speed of 18 miles per hour and brakes that still make it dangerous even at that low speed than you would be about Boss Mustangs. I may be a notable exception to this rule as I have an interest in cars from all eras, however my main enthusiasm for ’60s sports cars does tend to temper the attention I can afford to others.
What about you? Are you like me and have more or less focal challenges when it comes to cars? Or is there a particular automotive era that just plain holds no appeal to you?
Image: South Trail Tire

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  1. Jofes2 Avatar

    On that scale, it’s 2001-2010 for me. It feels like cars peaked at their cold, hostile, emotionless plasticness then. Just compare the first and second Citroën C3 for example.
    It could also be because we just left that era, and while 90’s cars start to feel retro/exotic/nostalgic these only feel outdated so far. Ask me again in ten years and maybe I’ve changed.

  2. Alff Avatar

    I like them all but must confess that the plastic and oval era is the least appealing to me…

    1. mve Avatar

      Came here to say this.
      Ironic, because a Taurus is surprisingly comfortable to me.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    If I was forced, I would say pre-1910, for a few reasons, those cars are so scarce most are in museums, most are so slow they would not be practical at all to drive on the road, It is probably the only era that I never could imagine any circumstance where I would buy a car or truck from that era. I wouldn’t mind having a Model T, but I’m sure I would end up with a later, cheaper one. I love to see these cars and see how things were done back in the very early days though.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      I’d say the most interesting thing about such early cars is that the controls might all be wildly different from what we’re used to.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        The whole steering wheel on the left (for most of the world) or steering wheel in general, gas on the right, brake in the middle, clutch on the left thing didn’t get sorted out until the late 1920s-early 1930s. The concept of manual spark advance or using an exterior hand brake is pretty foreign too. I couldn’t just hop in and drive say a Model T without some training and lots of practice.

  4. LEROOOY Avatar

    I have to hand it to the ‘Malaise’ era…73-80. There’s neat engineering there, but you can tell no company had very much money to spend. It’s still fun to read about, of course, but I wouldn’t drop what I was doing to go to a Malaise-era auto meet-up.

    1. Alff Avatar

      I briefly considered that as well but decided that it was primarily American cars that suffered in those years. The euros, Japanese and Australians churned out many vehicles that interest me.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        I concur — my 70’s-designed, 1981-built W126 defies malaise expectations.
        Except that it’s very, very slow.

  5. GTXcellent Avatar

    I think my least appealing era is a moving target that is basically the previous generation. Cars about a decade old from present are just used cars. When I was a kid in the ’80’s (radical dude!), cars from the ’70’s were just old cars. Today – I’ve got an itch for an avocado green Coupe DeVille or a root beer brown Centurion or a 242 or an F150 Explorer or CJ Golden Eagle or…

    1. Krautwursten Avatar

      Cars younger than ten years were the first thing that came to my mind, too. Your eyes are still tired from seeing them everywhere, they’re too new to get anywhere near the bottom of their appreciation curve, young enough for people to still care about checkbook maintenance by franchise dealers, and especially with the most recent ten years even the last models became nightmares to wrench on with their electronics and onboard computers.
      Also while I can appreciate some of the early malaise cars that have grown into it from earlier models, to me absolutely nothing has happened in American cars between the great downsize of 1977-ish and about 1990 or so when the Big Three finally picked up their own slack and started working on ambitious new things again like the Corvette ZR-1, GM jellybean full size wagons or Ford SVT Lightning just to name three.
      Furthermore pre-war motoring is just too abstract for a youngins like me. Especially before the ’30s piloting a car seems to have been more complicated than raising a child, not that I’d know anything about that either. If you can’t start a car with a key, it’s too old for my current level of understanding.

  6. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    I’ll go with 1921 to 1930, the heyday of the T. They’re too impractical to really enjoy but not kooky and alien enough like the ones that came before.

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      But that’s also the era of the Stutz Bearcat.

        1. barney fife Avatar
          barney fife

          Now if that monocle is ground to your individual prescription, so much the better.

  7. dukeisduke Avatar

    For me, the 1980s. The first generation Taurus and Sable stand out, along with the 959, but the rest is pretty much a sea of mediocrity. I’ve never even owned a car from the ’80s.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      I’ve owned more cars from the ’80s than any other decade. Actually I’ve owned more cars from the ’80s (10) than from every other decade combined (7).

      1. duurtlang Avatar

        Same here. Even at the moment I own three 80s cars. Well, two 80s cars and a ’91 that was introduced in ’83. A ’88 Peugeot 205 GTI, ’89 BMW 320i Touring (E30), and a ’91 mk2 VW Golf. To me the 1980s are one of the most interesting eras. They combine relatively modern reliability, rust protection and safety with more vintage mechanic-friendly mechanicals, looks and driving involvement.
        That I was born in the early 80s might’ve affected this opinion though.

        1. Telecinese Avatar

          Good choices! (born in 82) 🙂

          1. duurtlang Avatar

            Thanks! (conceived in 82)

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      Okay, I will add the C4 to that list. Thanks, P161911.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Don’t forget the Grand National/GNX, the Ferrari F40 and Testarossa, the Lamborghini LM002, and the Maxda Miata came out in 1989,

        1. tonyola Avatar

          And the Honda CRX was introduced for 1984.

    3. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      Four Eyed FoxStangs cry from four eyes at their exclusion.

  8. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    1940s are a write-off for me. The development was put towards the war and the engineering marvels happened on planes, ships and tanks, etc. It wasn’t until after our efforts were turned back towards butter that the cars saw development again, and that was a swift uptick in performance and style when it did.

    1. mve Avatar

      The 1940’s were a write-off for most of the world, sadly. On the other hand, if you want parts availability, it’s a gold mine, since cars didn’t really change from 1939 to 1949.

  9. Lokki Avatar

    For me there are two era’s – the first is between, say 1914 and 1935 – we are past the thrill of the initial invention phase, and the earliest speed records -Barney Oldfield and the 999, and the Stanley Steamer screaming down Daytona Beach. Technologically the DOHC, the self starter, and carburation have all been sorted. Nothing (for me anyhow) really interesting happens until the insane Auto Unions and the Bluebird land speed record cars appear, and commercially we get the Dusenburgs, the Ford V-8,and the Chrysler Airflow.
    The second era is say 1980 to 1994. Now there is a morbid fascination for me in the beginning of malaise era- in 1969 American cars had never been faster, more beautiful, or more desirable, then the twin meteors of government intervention and the oil shock hit and by 1974 it was exactly like watching the dinosaurs try to adapt or die when their world changed while the tiny mammals (cars from Japan) thrived. The horror, the horror, but you can’t turn your head away.
    However, by 1980, all the dramatic moments have passed and it’s all just a long slog of mediocre car after mediocre car, Nothing of interest happens until early 90’s when the savage and overly complex Japanese sports-muscle rule the streets, with such fascinating beasts as the Supra Turbo and the RX-7. Then the 4th Gen Mustang and Camero appear as domestic competition and things get interesting again.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      The C4 Corvette debuted in 1984 and was unlike ANY American car before it. It truly ushered in the modern American performance era (at least by 1985 when they got rid of Crossfire), the early Z51 (performance suspension) cars could pull 1.0g on the skidpad. (These were later detuned because they were too harsh for even Corvette drivers). C4 Corvettes will surpass any contemporary Japanese sports muscle in performance (if not build quality).

      1. Lokki Avatar

        That’s one exception, and the Taurus makes two….. To an otherwise boring decade.

    2. Telecinese Avatar

      Funny you mention 1980-1994 as purely mediocre. Maybe in the USA? I think there were some very interesting models coming out of Europe in the “let’s put some fog and lasers in the posters” time period. (For instance: http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/02/poll-80s-performance-icons/ )
      I’ve been finding myself particularly interested in exactly this era as a sort of final age of purely mechanical, made-to-last refinement before the everything-electronic, fly-by-wire, hard-to-fix-yourself reality of today. I’ve also been digging the plain elegance of the straight lined, boxy design language as a counterpoint to the melty-soap “round all the edges” style that dominated the following generation and is still kind of around. Think E34, 205 or W201, lean, sharp, purposeful. Not that the E39, 206 and, um, *some* more recent Benzes aren’t good cars or good-looking ones in their own way, but to me that was the turning point toward a sort of general bloated, numbed generic blandness in form and function that’s still with us today. I can think of few modern BMWs and no modern Peugeot with the raw appeal of the 80s ones.

    3. ptschett Avatar

      There are numerous interesting cars, and interesting points in history you’d miss out on by carving out ’80-’94.
      -The BMW M-cars had their first iterations.
      -Electronic injection enabled better engine tuning for forced induction, without as much risk of having cylinders go lean and overheat; meanwhile, turbochargers had improved to a point that they could be expected to survive somewhere other than a meticulously-maintained sports car or professionally-operated heavy duty diesel. This enabled cars like the Mustang SVO & Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, Grand National/GNX & Chrysler’s near-universal application of turbo 2.2’s on the sportier K-car derivatives. A little later on you get the not-quite-sane turbo/AWD GMC Typhoon/Syclone pair & the Eclipse/Laser/Talon triplets.
      -Jeep’s link-coil suspension and uniframe body design led the way toward the modern SUV with the XJ Cherokee and ZJ Grand Cherokee.
      -Overdrive transmissions become the norm. Automatics generally haven’t broken out past 4-speeds by the end of this time, but 5-speed manuals are ubiquitous, and practically-modern 6-speeds w/ 2 overdrive gears start to appear.
      -Compact pickup trucks had their heyday.
      -Group B rally cars.
      -Minivans (though not sexy) changed how parents hauled their kids, with diverse solutions (Ford & GM’s with a compact truck basis, Chrysler’s based on the ubiquitous K-car, Toyota’s mid-engined Previa) that each had advantages.

  10. tonyola Avatar

    The era from 1915 to 1930 or so. Although there were some technological advances during this time, styling for the most part was boxy, bland, and derivative. This was the heyday of the numerous so-called “assembled” car make where mechanical components were bought off the shelf with bodywork being the only manufactured part. There were some interesting cars in this period but they are the small minority. Plus these cars aren’t really driveable on modern roads – they’re too slow and have weak brakes. For the record, the pictured car is a 1925 Rollin but it could be any number of makes.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      They see me Rollin.

  11. dukeisduke Avatar

    I dig that poster. In case anyone wanted to download the PDF:

  12. Kiefmo Avatar

    I refuse to play by your hinky, overly-neat decade divisions! Instead, I propose my own: ~1995-2005.
    This is a bit fluid based on what car manufacturer you’re looking at, but look at what happened to some of the world’s greats during that 10-year time span:
    Family sedans took a nose dive. Ford Taurus went from space shuttle to chewed bubble gum. Honda Accord started it’s road to bloat that’s only been remedied with the latest generation. Maxima went from 4DSC to pimp parade float (not sure the last time I saw a Maxima on stock, unchromed wheels smaller than 20″). The Camry experienced notable reliability issues (sludging, IIRC) with the b-n-b 2.2L four. Honda couldn’t make a V6 automatic transmission that lasted more than 40k.
    Ford’s pickup trucks had some awkward years. The sleek, fishlike F-series that just didn’t look like a truck. The more-complicated mod truck engines had some teething issues. The F-superduty couldn’t get its diesel figured out for a while.
    Mercedes took on an ailing Chrysler, believing it could do what its European predecessors could not, injecting far too much capital into Chryco’s give-a-fart coffers. Mercedes vehicles suffered for it when they tried to maintain the level of innovation previously known while cutting corners elsewhere, and their reputation for last-car-you-ever-have-to-buy longevity has tanked.
    Notable exceptions: BMW E39, F150 Lightning… um maybe some others, but I cannot think of many cars from that era I would love to own.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Chrysler actually got pretty healthy in the 1990s once they began getting rid of the aging K-car derivatives. The LH cab-forward cars were successful, along with the Neon and new 1994 Ram pickups, and they were continuing to sell just about every minivan they could make.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        I’m sorry, but I can’t see any 90’s-2010 Chrysler as better than a good idea, half-baked.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          I wasn’t speaking of the quality and execution of the 1990s Chryslers which could be rather dismal (how many running Neons are left?), rather I was referring to the company’s financial health.

      2. P161911 Avatar

        When was the last time you saw an LH car on the road, compared to say a Taurus or Lumina/Monte Carlo of the same era. The LH cars were a quick flash in the pan at best. The later RWD 300 and Magnum were pretty nice though.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          I should have clarified that I was referring to financial health rather than the quality of the products.

          1. P161911 Avatar

            True, the 1990s were the heyday of Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee sales and the 1994 Ram trucks were a HUGE success. Just checked, in 1993 Dodge sold 78,000 pickups, in 1996 they sold 480,000. Japanese minivans didn’t start seriously challenging Mopar until the mid-late 1990s.

        2. 0A5599 Avatar

          I see a lot more 1st generation LHs commuting than I see Luminas. Probably more Tauri than either, but not disproportionate to original sales volumes.

  13. Citric Avatar

    I’d probably go with pre-1928 because before that the designs were still kinda horseless carriages to me, if that makes sense. It seemed like it took until the Duesenberg Model J for cars to start getting cool.

  14. Batshitbox Avatar

    (Firstly, I’ve never liked cars made past 1980. My 1991 pickup truck is the most modern thing I’ve ever owned, so I’m an “old car guy” more than a car guy.)
    I never got excited about the Post War American cars.
    Pre WW2, Pre WW1, Muscle car and Malaise are okay, but a Gen X punk rocker like me just barfs at the crap phony Baby Boom nostalgia that goes with these ’50s creampuffs. To me they’re just symbolic of a clueless culture that was about to get smacked down by the up and coming industrial giants in the rest of the world. They’re all pre-WW2 technology, anyway, up ’till Oldsmobile put an airplane turbo charger on an aluminum engine; things got interesting around then.

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      But.. But.. This is the era of the Nash Metropolitan, Henry J, AC Ace and shoebox Fords. There were great things going on in England and… And I think I’m with Graverobber. There’s something I like from every era.

  15. Synchromesh Avatar

    Most cars made before WWII. While I do agree that some of them are cool, they’re just too old to be really useful at this point. I’m also not a huge fan of most modern cars made in last 10 years. They are just too computerized.
    My favorite decades are 50s through late 90s.