There are all kinds of automotive fans: bikers, sportscar lovers, SUV lovers, Fiatphiles and Bulleteers, tifosi and Ultimate Driving Machiners. And there are lovers of classic machines.
What characterises these people? How do you know whether a person loves cars and bikes that are not being produced anymore? Is there any way to identify them? What is the stuff that unites them? Is there anything common to them? After spending over a decade meeting and making hundreds of friends who love old-timers, I think I know what the main characteristics of this species are. Here are the main ones:
Those who love old machines love old machines. Er, didn’t get that? Well, they love all old machines, period. It need not be of a particular marque or have only two wheels or four. It can be of any era, a historic veteran or a mass-produced 80s example. There is no snobbery involved. Whether it is a made-in-India Lamby or a Velocette Venom, or an Austin 7 or a Rolls-Royce Phantom III, the love is the same.
And they respect those who keep these machines running. It doesn’t matter whether the indicators are genuine or the carburettor is from another modern car. The very fact that these machines are running despite not being in production for decades is a matter of pride. As a fallout, old-timer buffs love lots of other heritage stuff as well, like art deco architecture and grandparents!
Old bikes and cars are wheezy, petulant, phlegmatic and highly fickle creatures. Those who love them accept them as they are and work their way around these symptoms. Which calls for immense levels of patience. They talk to them, they cajole them, they coax them, and they may even get frustrated. But they don’t lose their patience. Though the machines are their first loves, this is the reason why these guys make for great husbands, boyfriends and parents too!
Sense of wonder
The love for old machines is so all-enveloping that even the mundane elements about them impress these old-timer lovers. Though they may have seen a trafficator pop up hundreds of times before, their jaw still drops when they see it again. The sense of wonder comes about because of huge dollops of nostalgia, thinking about how it would have been in those days... and you can never get enough of fantasising about the past you never had.
Old-timer lovers are like classic machines themselves. Sometimes cranky and touchy and sometimes mind-blowing and wonderful. They are possessive yet they have large hearts. They are critical yet they are forgiving. They are envious but they have tremendous goodwill too. They are eccentric but they are predictable too. But they are great fun!
If you like old bikes and cars, you must be nodding your head now, right? Let me know if I have missed anything obvious.