Paleo Retiree writes:
One of the joys of life in California is the presence of lots more well-kept old cars than you’ll see elsewhere in the country. As far as I can tell, two factors account for this: 1) What with the nice weather, cars don’t decay out here as quickly as they do in other regions. 2) What with Californians being such a happy-go-lucky, pop-culture-lovin’, car-culture crowd, people here are as eager to acquire and show off cars as a European aristo might be to collect Old Master paintings, or as a Midwestern housewife might be to display the family silverware. And what confident, evocative beasts these old vehicles often are. My retro-design-worshipping heart flutters on a daily basis. With no further ado, I give you a gorgeous ’40s Plymouth I ran across this afternoon. Click on the collage for a much bigger view.
It’s the attitude more than the weather, since there are places back east with decent preservation conditions, yet few to no old cars. Like, not even a Trans Am or a 280ZX.
The small towns around Wheeling, WV are a good example. All of the stuff in public areas is real old — playgrounds still have teeter-totters, the main drag still has a VHS rental store, and the overpasses still have graffiti proclaiming “Van Halen Rules.” Not as a result of local conservation efforts — just because nobody gave enough of a shit to update their town, while everyone else has been makeover-crazy.
The things that people actually have control over and feel like making decisions about — like their private cars — are all under 20 years old. No effort to keep something cool and old.
Then head over to the Mountain states, and small towns (and even big cities) have old Camaros, VW Bugs, you name it, in plain sight. There’s a greater drive toward cultural stewardship out west, while back east everyone is looking out for themselves.
Also, in Los Angeles, you can make money renting your well-maintained old car for use in period movies. I knew a man who made his living keeping his 15 ancient cars running and renting them out.
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