Gavin Green on the appeal of battered old cars

Published: 16 April 2012

Every time I go to a so called 'developing' country I am reminded of the wonderful appeal of old well-used cars.

India and Morocco happen to be two of my favourite destinations. One of their appeals is the horde of old cars - aged Fiats and Morrises in India, ancient Peugeots and Mercedes in Morocco - still providing loyal service to unpretentious owners.

Old battered cars have a character alien to shiny new ones. They are all unique, all with their own bumps, scrapes and nicks, all with their own stories to tell.

They are a reminder of an era when cars were built to last, in the days before high-tech electronics were the latest built-in obsolescence.

Why old cars never fail to appeal

These old cars have been patched-up, panel beaten, occasionally rebuilt. (But never 'restored', surely the ultimate ignominy for any self-respecting old timer.)

We are told, by the various car industry lobby groups, that cars are becoming more eco friendly, as new car CO2 emissions decline, as hybrids proliferate and as electric cars are encouraged.

But hybrids and EVs, of course, will not be long lived. Their electric-dependent power trains will ensure early deaths.

Don't expect to see 20-year-old Priuses or Leafs acting as taxis in Mumbai or Marrakech in a couple of decades.

They'll be in the breaker's yard, guaranteed, the latest sign of our throw-away culture. And that's surely the greatest environmental evil of them all.

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By Gavin Green

Contributor-in-chief, former editor, anti-weight campaigner, voice of experience