Minimalist/Low-Tech Cars

I owned one of the most minimalist/low-tech cars in Canada: the lovely Lada Niva 4X4

51011114409491600x1060_0.jpg


No electrical nothing on these babies; hand crank windows, 'sunroof' you removed by hand to open, no radio, etc.; my first one had a carburetor, but my later ones had a very basic GM fuel injection unit (same one you'd find on a Chevette). Full-time 4WD, with the diffs locked in 4-Low it felt like you could climb a wall. Yes you had to like (or at least be proficient at) wrenching; finding a good garage helped too. Mind you, the motor was the Lada knock-off of the Fiat 124(?) engine, so usually it was enough just to find the local Euro-garage which happened to be reasonably competent.

I enjoyed them immensely, but that was a time when I could forego a little comfort in favour of saving on purchase price and repair bills. Now they are fond memories but I would not go back there. But what is the end goal here for OP? How 'wired in to the matrix' is a base model Nissan Sentra, for example?
 

BURNΞR

Pelican
I've never subscribed to Minimalist teachings (I saw a youtube video about it on TedTalk) but I think of myself as a minimalist by nature. Wouldn't it make more Minimalist sense to buy a new or newer car that won't have the hassle of constant maintenance? With old cars there's a constant worry in the back of your head that it will break down. I also find that any car pre-2000 will get you pulled over by police frequently, which is annoying .
 

Tex Cruise

Pelican
Leonard D Neubache said:
In the next few years I'm going to be in the market for an old wb ute as a project car and eventually a daily drive.

It's a bit of a money sink but it's a piece of Australian history and something you can be just a little bit proud to drive.

If you're going to be in the market for a WB ute, I would start looking for a good one right now. There is no vehicle in Australia more certain of becoming a desirable collector's item than HQ-WB utes
I've passed up utes like that top one for under a grand within the last few years. I will never have that chance again, I guarantee the same thing will be $10k plus in a few more years.
 

Leonard D Neubache

Owl
Gold Member
The Beast1 said:
...
The CIA isn't interested in people like him. Besides, if the CIA wanted to kill you they would put clamps onto your brake lines. Your pedal will still be hard, but your braking power will be heavily diminished or muck with stuff underneath your car.

I don't think there's much tradecraft left in that organisation.

These days they'd just shoot you in the side of the head and write a suicide note in a language you didn't even know.

Later the coroner would recognise what was going down and keep his mouth shut.
 

Leonard D Neubache

Owl
Gold Member
Tex Cruise said:
Leonard D Neubache said:
In the next few years I'm going to be in the market for an old wb ute as a project car and eventually a daily drive.

It's a bit of a money sink but it's a piece of Australian history and something you can be just a little bit proud to drive.

If you're going to be in the market for a WB ute, I would start looking for a good one right now. There is no vehicle in Australia more certain of becoming a desirable collector's item than HQ-WB utes
I've passed up utes like that top one for under a grand within the last few years. I will never have that chance again, I guarantee the same thing will be $10k plus in a few more years.

Yeah, I might start up a small collection. You still find them gathering dust in farm sheds out here. I asked a local farmer and his neighbour just sold one, running, not registered, negligible rust, under 300k kms with a spare engine sitting in the tray for $1500. :dodgy:

I get the feeling you're right about appreciation in value. Rolling shells have already bottomed out and running vehicles are now tracking at least 1k above the minimum cost for a running registered roadworthy vehicle.
 

Leonard D Neubache

Owl
Gold Member
weambulance said:
...
I like my cars to perform; does the suspension even function on a car with the tire like 1.5 millimeters from the fender? Driving something like that around here, I would totally fuck the car in a week. Way too many unavoidable potholes.

I was doing the rounds at a multi-level car park a few years back and there was a guy heading out from the top floor with a Nissan 180sx similarly modified. Well, he couldn't get full wheel lock without scraping the wheel arches with the tyres, so every ramp was a three point turn. Five levels, two ramps per level, and I just happened to be walking down the levels on the far side.

By the time he got to the bottom I was walking out and he made a point of not even looking at me. Pretty embarrassing.
 

realologist

Ostrich
Gold Member
maxresdefault.jpg


I know. They are electric but low tech and easy to fix

Edit: On a more serious note my first car was a 89 Dodge ram. Thing was a tank and lasted 20+ years.
 

Bolly

Pelican
I always thought it would be awesome to live out of a VW camper van and travel around the country and live where you decide to park. Definitely minimalist but considering their age probably not best for maintenance.

If I had one I would put an Ann Coulter for President bumper sticker on it and a MAGA hat on the dash to ensure I'm not confused for being a hippy.

 

weambulance

Hummingbird
Gold Member
realologist said:
Edit: On a more serious note my first car was a 89 Dodge ram. Thing was a tank and lasted 20+ years.

Having owned a couple pickups with eight foot beds, including one with a bigass diesel, it's hard not having one now.

I'll be looking for a pre-96 Dodge 3500 diesel from the southwest in the next year or two. Those things last forever if you keep them out of corrosive environments.

I'll just have to decide if I want a standard transmission... not sure. My only vehicle now is a standard and I like it, but it kinda sucks having to drive a standard all the time. In the past I always had at least one automatic vehicle. Sometimes I just want to forget about the clutch and let the vehicle do the work.

Thing is, I had a 1995 diesel F250 until last year and it was an awesome vehicle mechanically, but the various computerized powertrain controls caused a ton of problems. Terrible, terrible system design there. If one wire goes, you can toast your $4500 automatic transmission in an hour as the computer starts freaking out, hard shifting, dropping into neutral under load and slamming back into gear, etc. So do I want to take a chance on having problems like that again, or just stick to a standard transmission? Probably the latter. I guess I'll only be able to get road head on the highway.
 

Stadtaffe

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Gold Member
Definitely agree with this thread and initially seek out older "clockwork" vehicles preferably.

How baked in are the GPS and chip issues in new cars?

The way people are paranoid these days (legitimately or not) you could almost premise a new business on the removal of these "features" if it were possible to do so for a reasonable cost.
That will probably truly become a business one day as these forced features increase. Actually I will start a thread here soon related to that, and how I deactivated something.

I always thought it would be awesome to live out of a VW camper van and travel around the country and live where you decide to park. Definitely minimalist but considering their age probably not best for maintenance.

If I had one I would put an Ann Coulter for President bumper sticker on it and a MAGA hat on the dash to ensure I'm not confused for being a hippy.
They definitely have style but yes, with the curtains it does scream flower power. Air cooled engines..

This may sound unbelievable but I recently had to have a modern car towed several hundred kilometres in a remote area to a dealership - why? Well it was a hybrid, that wasn't the issue but a sensor went off falsely detecting incorrect gearbox pressure then the car shut itself down like a computer and refused to go. I doubt any local mechanic could have done anything, it needed a computer at the dealership to read the fault and delete it. The whole experience caused several days delay.
 

Stadtaffe

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Gold Member
A few months ago I was at a gathering where some conservative politicians took turns in speaking on stage to a mixed public. One of them was extremely vocal about how his party was dead against laws being imposed from the EU government in Brussels which were more or less banning the internal combustion engine in a few years. I don't remember the specific detail but it was something like that.

Usually, I don't get the right wing opposition to environmentalism, Trump arguing against wind turbines, that guy waxing lyrical on stage about several environmental measures which his party opposed.

The thing is, the world is becoming rather clown and it's not just the promotion of porn, transgenderism, homosexuality etc.

There is that Friday's for Future march and people saying not only don't eat meat, but don't have children. Why stop there and not say that people should snuff themselves to reduce emissions so that one day those living in low lying areas don't have to get flooded? (check your privilege and don't be selfish..)

Anyway, there has been a progression over decades for cleaner cars which has been partially good but is taking on some elements of clown. I had some recent experiences with test driving which made me think that that guy ranting about excessive environmentalism of the mainstream parties probably has a point. I have had 2 and 4 wheeled friends since the late 90s and have seen the progression.

So in the 80s, they got rid of leaded petrol, brought in catalytic converters and I am not old enough to comment, but believe that took away some oomph from the driving experience.

Then the European Emissions Standards started and there is now Euro 1 to at least Euro 6


The screws are being tightened on the various gases, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and a few others and the manufacturers respond with the technology to implement it.

Apart from the catalytic converters and unleaded petrol mentioned above, the following are some other consequences of this "progress" :
  • air cooled engines at least for cars were phased out in the 90s, water cooled engines comply more easily with the rules
  • carburetor for fuel mixing was replaced by fuel injection and a computer to map the engine for optimal timing etc given rpm, temperature etc
  • stop / start engines for the traffic lights
  • hybrids and purely electric cars
  • phasing out of manual transmissions
This last one is what inspired me to post and upsets me terribly. In the last few months I have test driven a few cars. I sold my main car a bit over a year ago and am starting to miss having one. So this one new model was perfect in every respect, fast, corners very well, BUT is only available with a seven speed double clutch transmission. It will never be made with a manual transmission, because.. emissions :(

So now I have test driven two of these seven speed double clutch things and it is depressing like a vegetarian hamburger.

Good to see I'm not the only one complaining :
the various computerized powertrain controls caused a ton of problems. Terrible, terrible system design there. If one wire goes, you can toast your $4500 automatic transmission in an hour as the computer starts freaking out, hard shifting, dropping into neutral under load and slamming back into gear, etc.
Many years ago I had one of these fancy computerised transmissions 'toast' itself and it cost absolutely stupid money to get it replaced! I remember another workshop saying if I had a manual transmission it would have been repairable, not just need replacing. Since then I drove only manuals, but the modern age is trying to mess with that. Being open minded, I've now tried a few of these things (automotive abominations) but am going to declare the experiment over now.

It's not just you and the car, there is a damn computer measuring and calculating! Isn't it enough with AI in social media.. Then even if you shift with the paddles, the computer might decide a few seconds later that it knows better! Horrible

I think this seven speed thing truly has to do with emissions more than driver joy. The Honda Jazz had a CRT - continuously variable transmission which is like
\infty
gears. So 7 is more than 6, that's one more ratio so the computer can save fuel and emissions.

Anyway, no more cars which are not manual, it's unbearable. Electric cars can be fun, but these environmental extremists will never say that some aspects of cars should be retained cause they are fun. Maybe get rid of the worst offenders in the engine but leave some things there. It's not worth shaving a few more fractions of a percent off if the thing is no longer enjoyable to drive.
 

Stadtaffe

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Gold Member
So after test driving some of the latest and greatest as alluded to in the previous posts, and getting stuck in a highly computerised vehicle, I embraced the low tech and finally bought myself a car from the late 80s which I've been thinking about for a long time. I believe that it has ABS, but really, it is the very first generation of ABS and is not that reliable - I've managed to lock the wheels, it seems to only sometimes work. Don't think it has an airbag, it's a manual and the one thing I really value is that when I choose not to wear a seatbelt for short, low speed trips, it doesn't beep. Actually it does not beep for any reason, unlike these modern cars which drive you so crazy with beeping for all kinds of things - I am going to start a thread about that.

Anyway, the haters are going to like this - not long after buying it, I was driving at night in freezing conditions. I came up behind a slow moving vehicle and touched the brakes to slow down and prepare to overtake and the car slid on the ice off the road into a ditch. So I climbed out, the car was seriously at a 45° angle with the drivers side lower down. I put on the hazard lights and waved down some passing cars in the darkness. In not that long, a tow truck arrived and with a rope pulled it out again and I was on my way again.

Was very happy that there was no damage at all. Did not hit any rocks on the way off the road, did not roll, did not skid into the path of an oncoming vehicle. But I have wondered whether electronic stability control / traction control would have made a difference in this case:


Will quote a few excerpts as it is probably tl;dr for most -

Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter oversteer, or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer.

Aparently it's been mandatory in the EU on new cars since 2009.

It reacts to and corrects skidding much faster and more effectively than the typical human driver, often before the driver is even aware of any imminent loss of control.

...

The most important sensors are as follows:

A steering wheel angle sensor that determines where the driver wants to steer. This kind of sensor often uses AMR elements.
A yaw rate sensor that measures the rotation rate of the car. The data from the yaw sensor is compared with the data from the steering wheel angle sensor to determine regulating action.
A lateral acceleration sensor that measures the vehicle's lateral acceleration. This is often called an accelerometer.
Wheel speed sensors that measure wheel speed.

...as I was waiting for the tow truck with the drivers who had stopped to help, I realised that the road was indeed like an ice rink. Whatever moisture was on top had just frozen and was damn slippery, you could skate around with just your shoes. Anyway, the rest of the trip I certainly treated the icy roads with more respect, and nervousness

I think that a well designed car has some natural stability in the event of loss of traction, but none the less, once you break traction whether on regular roads or ice, I know with what I am driving now, no magical system is going to intervene to correct it.

This car is fantastic on good roads in dry conditions. Even on good roads in wet conditions. It really does not like ice and broken sandy surfaces though. The minimalist / low tech I like is - no beeping, no screen, nothing digital on the dash, no keyless starting, no arrows on the dash telling you to change gear, no road safety announcements over the radio.
 

Stadtaffe

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Gold Member
A bulb has gone in one of the indicators / turning lights.. So now that side blinks at double speed. Have not done this for a while and need to work out whether to unscrew the external lens or remove something on the inside of the chassis.

All LED these days which never needs replacing, but these old tungsten, probably not even halogen bulbs do have a certain charm about them. The slight warm on and off switching, few more milliseconds and glow of a different colour. Like a pinball machine.
 
I am a self proclaimed expert in the used car industry. I produce my own used cars for mine and my families use.

I am assuming you are in USA. Although lots of older cars are very minimalist, you will find that sourcing parts for them is not so easy. I recommend for a true balance of simplicity , cost per value, and durability and ease of repair , you go for modern Japanese cars that are at their peak depreciation and availability. 90s-early 2000s eras civics and corollas come to mind. although fuel injeted vehicles are more complicated than carbeurated ones, it is fairly simple to keep the fuel injected vehicles running entirely with parts sourced form public junkyards. The ready supply of cheap parts makes late 90s-early 2000s modern fuel injected cars the most convenient to repair. Walk into any junkyard in the country and you will find honda civics with good parts ready for you. no need to order online or wait in line at the dealer.

something late 90s-early 2000s is old enough that you among car enthusiasts your arent seen as some dumb consumer who thinks the newer the model year the better. also OBD2 is a good thing - its a more common diagnostic tool and less problematic to fix.

and do get a manual transmission - they last much longer and are far simpler.

old classic 80s bimmers and benzes and volskwagons are enthusiast vehciles which are not financially a good decision to own. awesome cars, don't get me wrong but you will pay and suffer more with these than a 99 civic. do not tough 90s bimmers. modern Germany has garbage cars when it comes to durability.
 
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I owned one of the most minimalist/low-tech cars in Canada: the lovely Lada Niva 4X4

51011114409491600x1060_0.jpg


No electrical nothing on these babies; hand crank windows, 'sunroof' you removed by hand to open, no radio, etc.; my first one had a carburetor, but my later ones had a very basic GM fuel injection unit (same one you'd find on a Chevette). Full-time 4WD, with the diffs locked in 4-Low it felt like you could climb a wall. Yes you had to like (or at least be proficient at) wrenching; finding a good garage helped too. Mind you, the motor was the Lada knock-off of the Fiat 124(?) engine, so usually it was enough just to find the local Euro-garage which happened to be reasonably competent.

I enjoyed them immensely, but that was a time when I could forego a little comfort in favour of saving on purchase price and repair bills. Now they are fond memories but I would not go back there. But what is the end goal here for OP? How 'wired in to the matrix' is a base model Nissan Sentra, for example?

awesome vehicle! and not made by POS Western car makers who want your car to fail so you buy a new one.
 
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dicknixon72

Pelican
I am a self proclaimed expert in the used car industry. I produce my own used cars for mine and my families use.

I am assuming you are in USA. Although lots of older cars are very minimalist, you will find that sourcing parts for them is not so easy. I recommend for a true balance of simplicity , cost per value, and durability and ease of repair , you go for modern Japanese cars that are at their peak depreciation and availability. 90s-early 2000s eras civics and corollas come to mind. although fuel injeted vehicles are more complicated than carbeurated ones, it is fairly simple to keep the fuel injected vehicles running entirely with parts sourced form public junkyards. The ready supply of cheap parts makes late 90s-early 2000s modern fuel injected cars the most convenient to repair. Walk into any junkyard in the country and you will find honda civics with good parts ready for you. no need to order online or wait in line at the dealer.

something late 90s-early 2000s is old enough that you among car enthusiasts your arent seen as some dumb consumer who thinks the newer the model year the better. also OBD2 is a good thing - its a more common diagnostic tool and less problematic to fix.

and do get a manual transmission - they last much longer and are far simpler.

old classic 80s bimmers and benzes and volskwagons are enthusiast vehciles which are not financially a good decision to own. awesome cars, don't get me wrong but you will pay and suffer more with these than a 99 civic. do not tough 90s bimmers. modern Germany has garbage cars when it comes to durability.

A good resource for anyone looking for older/higher-mileage Toyotas with unknown service histories...


Among Japanese cars, avoid...
*Mitsubishis
*Automatic Nissans w/XTRONIC CVTs
 

Pointy Elbows

Woodpecker
Orthodox
You guys think a new toyota tacoma would be stupid? It looks like they have a ton of computer stuff like amazon alexa and cuck stuff.
Have previously owned an early 2000s Tacoma and it was excellent and reliable. Took it on a 4WD trail over the Colorado Rockies once, and the only other vehicles on that trail were either rigged out jeeps or Toyotas, all with aftermarket off-road tires.

For low-tech but extremely sturdy, I'm a big fan of these Toyotas (not sold in the US, though):


I read on another car thread some guys praising old Dodge Cummins diesels. I've owned two of these trucks (1994 and 1998) and they were both beasts, each at around 350k miles before the '94 was in a wreck and the '98 was stolen. These "12-valve Cummins" trucks have a following and people will steal them just for the block. Recommend manual tranny if you are serious about reliability and simplicity. That old Cummins can be loud and it shakes the truck a lot. Had to put a flat/stake-bed on one of these trucks as it had rattled the flimsy bed and tailgate to pieces. They can leak a little oil, so watch for that.

Serious about theft with these. The 94 was stolen from me once, but we got it back. The 98 was stolen twice, got it back the first time, only to be stolen again 3 years later and is now gone.

The 98 could haul 12k lbs trailer up an 8-miles long incline and be at the top of the pass at 60+ mph - with 350k miles on the odometer!
 

amor_fati

Pigeon
Have previously owned an early 2000s Tacoma and it was excellent and reliable. Took it on a 4WD trail over the Colorado Rockies once, and the only other vehicles on that trail were either rigged out jeeps or Toyotas, all with aftermarket off-road tires.

For low-tech but extremely sturdy, I'm a big fan of these Toyotas (not sold in the US, though):


I read on another car thread some guys praising old Dodge Cummins diesels. I've owned two of these trucks (1994 and 1998) and they were both beasts, each at around 350k miles before the '94 was in a wreck and the '98 was stolen. These "12-valve Cummins" trucks have a following and people will steal them just for the block. Recommend manual tranny if you are serious about reliability and simplicity. That old Cummins can be loud and it shakes the truck a lot. Had to put a flat/stake-bed on one of these trucks as it had rattled the flimsy bed and tailgate to pieces. They can leak a little oil, so watch for that.

Serious about theft with these. The 94 was stolen from me once, but we got it back. The 98 was stolen twice, got it back the first time, only to be stolen again 3 years later and is now gone.

The 98 could haul 12k lbs trailer up an 8-miles long incline and be at the top of the pass at 60+ mph - with 350k miles on the odometer!
Yeah I hear good things about Tacomas. I might try to aim for an older one without modern electronics and all that.
 
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