Can you recommend any older cars that AREN'T computerized that I can repair myself?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm getting tired of all this computer stuff in cars. My mother recently had a problem with the computer in her '92 Camry, and it shut down the whole car. I used to be able to do my own repairs, and I resent not having the choice to screw things up myself! So here's my question: What older vehicles would you recommend, preferably of the pickup-truck variety, that have a minimum of -- or maybe no -- computerized functions and are still fairly reliable and economical to repair? I'm looking for vehicles with points, carburetors and bad paint jobs. Suggestions? -- Jeff

TOM: Ah! A fellow troglodyte! I'm with you, Jeff. My last three cars have been a '74 Chevy Caprice Classic convertible, then a '63 Dodge Dart convertible and now a '52 MGTD ... convertible, of course. So you can see what direction I'm going in.

RAY: Yeah. His next vehicle is going to be a "Fisher-Price."

TOM: The question for you, Jeff, is exactly how much technology are you willing to deal with?

RAY: For instance, you'll find electronic ignition systems on cars as far back as the early '70s. I think Chrysler was the first of the Big Three automakers to dump points and condensers for electronic ignition. They used a very rudimentary system -- just a coil, a pickup and a little brain box -- kind of like my brother.

TOM: Near the very end of the '70s, General Motors started using electronically controlled carburetors (which you ABSOLUTELY don't want to go anywhere near).

RAY: And then fuel injection and engine-management computers started to become commonplace in the early '80s -- and just got more and more complex over the next 20 years.

TOM: So I'd say if you want to stick to REAL simple technology, you need a late '60s or early '70s American pickup truck. There's probably nothing on a truck like this that you can't fix or replace yourself if you're a decent shade-tree mechanic.

RAY: Just don't forget the bumper sticker that says, "I Brake for Velociraptors."

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