When we moved into our new home, midst some 90,000 other seniors a few months ago, I was struck by the number of 1965-1990 cars on the road around here. Some even older.
In today’s world of leasing or buying a new vehicle every few years, it seemed odd folks in our retirement haven were hanging onto such vintage wheels. After all, many living in this area of houses surrounded by golf courses have two homes. Or more. They could certainly afford to keep up with what’s new.
It took awhile to figure out this four-wheeled anomaly. And the answer is a bit surprising.
Many, it seems, don’t want to deal with all the new whistles-and-bells of technology. They feel more comfortable - and safer - with the old.
Please don’t get the idea our extra wide streets are filled with clunkers. No, Sir! We’re talking shiny paint jobs using the new longer-lasting chemicals and colors. We’re talking top notch upholstery. No pits or stains in the glass or the chrome. Latest in tire technology. Extremely well-kept cars with a few hundred thousand miles or so. Looking sharp!
Here, I need to disclose we bought a new SUV a few weeks back. Middle-of-the-line model with the usual equipment. Now, after some time driving around our silver-haired neighborhood, I understand why folks are avoiding the new.
Technology. Plain and simple. For several reasons. For one, much of the new electronic gadgetry is difficult for lots of older folk to deal with. We’re all used to dashboards of manual switches and buttons - not touch-screens and multi-function icons and buttons. Our 2018, for example, came with three - THREE - owner’s manuals. One for the overall vehicle operation and care. Two - TWO - for the electronics!
With a six button radio, for example, you don’t have to take your eyes off the road while your fingers - and mind - search for a station or the volume. With slide controls for hearing/cooling, your fingers know exactly where the right spot is. No looking away from the road to figure out which screen you want - which icon to use - what multi-function has to be changed.
If you aren’t seven or eight decades old, please don’t think these are the ramblings of some senile old guy. Not everyone here feels the same, I’m sure. But, for many, the comfort of what you’ve been used to in a vehicle for 50-60 years - the exact knowledge of where all the controls are - not wanting to turn your tri-focals away from the road at 75mph in six lanes of traffic- familiar operation is important. Could even be lifesaving.
And there’s cost: to license a new car here, it’s upwards of $450 a year. The price declines annually by $20 or so and flatlines at about 10 years. Insurance costs for older models are much less as well. Older is much more frugal.
Nearly all seniors try to keep things they’re comfortable and familiar with. A family car is one of those, it seems. The certain feel of a radio button or a headlight switch or a sliding bar on the heater control - those, too.
Besides, when the new electronics go bad - and they occasionally do - you’re out of luck if your 10-year-old grandson whiz lives clear up in Pocatello.