QotW: What did your dad teach you about cars?

We hope you had a good Father’s Day yesterday. The JNC family welcomed three babies over the last year or so, my son included. Personally speaking, I can’t wait until he is old enough to hang with me in the garage, and it has made me think a lot about what I will share with him when he’s ready (We don’t want to exclude anyone whose mothers were the wrenchers in the family, so feel free to respond with mom lessons too).

What did your dad teach you about cars?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What would you store in a Global JNC Vault?

It wasn’t just a wide range of cars that y’all wanted to preserve, but a wide range of preservation philosophies. MikeRL411 advocated for a single example of one of the cars that started it all, while Dutch 1960 wanted to amass every known example of a single model. エーイダン used the opportunity to build a stockpile of war machines, while dankan attempted to create as succinct a list as possible (a full list would be an insurmountable task, as Lee L discovered). However, the best answer came from Steve, who had a different strategy altogether.

I’m not a big fan of squirreling away perfectly good cars, especially if they’re squirrelled away somewhere so deep and remote that they’re no longer available for the public to see. A seed vault is a good idea because once a plant strain is gone, it’s gone for good. But, man-made things can always be duplicated, replicated, and/or replaced, IF you happen to have the original specs. So, I would like to see a JNC vault that contains every scrap of information about all the cars it can. Think of how great it would be if you could just call someone up and ask for a replica part to be made and that person could just call the vault and get the specs to make one. How many projects have stalled because a replacement part is NLA? While the most popular classics have robust replica parts sources (I just bought a 240Z project car and it’s amazing what is available), less popular cars don’t (anyone know where I can find a rear window seal for a 1979 Celica coupe?). And it would be relatively easy to make such a vault. Manufacturers could just bundle up everything they have on a car (including subsequent recalls and technical bulletins) and when production of that model ends, send the bundle of info to the vault. And yet, I can see why it won’t happen, due to legal liability reasons. ?☹ Oh well, it’s always fun to dream…

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13 Responses to QotW: What did your dad teach you about cars?

  1. Lupus says:

    Nothing. Because he didin’t take part in raising me. He realized that he has a son from his 1st marrige when I was 18. I’ve had my first car already that i bought for money from scholarship – i had the best notes in whole high school. I was gathering my car-knowlege on my own. Now we’r friends with my father and sometimes i’m helping him with works on his cars & share my knowlege in that matter.

  2. M Cruickshank says:

    My late Dad worked for the British, French and German car companies over many years. His advice was simple, buy Japanese! Never gone wrong with Mazda, Suzuki , Toyota and Lexus, – especially the last 2..

  3. BlitzPig says:

    My father instilled in me the importance of regular maintenance, especially oil changes. He learned to drive before WW2, when cars needed things way more often than they do today, something that young people now have trouble getting a grip on. Even when I grew up, putting 100,000 miles on a car was an outlier. Maybe a Mercedes diesel would go that far, with great expense keeping it up, but typical every day cars simply were goners at 75K to 80K, even with the best of care.

    We live in a golden age, as far as cars go folks. Enjoy it.

  4. Steve says:

    Although my dad liked cars, he wasn’t really a hands-on car guy. The only things he taught me were:

    1. Fords suck.
    2. Don’t ever buy used cars.
    3. Use newspaper and Windex to clean the windshield.

    His first two bits of advice came from buying a used Ford back in the 50s and he apparently always had problems with it.


  5. Lee L says:

    When I was a kid me and my dad used to just ride around in the car and he’d point out old cars to me and tell me what they were. I do this now with my kids in the car and they normally laugh about my ability to do so, but they do enjoy it I think.

    He can always tell the year differences for American cars from the 50s-70s based on grilles and headlights, etc… I have similar skills for 80s-90s Japanese cars, especially Z cars and S-Chassis.

    My dad was responsible for making me a car guy. That’s pretty important.

  6. Banpei says:

    My dad didn’t teach me working on cars as he simply didn’t know how to fix things himself. He was able to change a spare tire, but that was about as technical as it went. However as he worked as a contractor his cars always broke down. He simply had the habit of overloading his wagons, tow too heavy loads or simply abuse the wagon to haul six or seven oak beams in them. So in a different way he taught me two things about cars in a different way.

    First thing he taught me was that Toyota’s are virtually indestructible. If I simply look at the stats of his car ownership since I’m alive:
    Peugeot 504 sedan: 4 years (he didn’t use it professionally)
    Peugeot 304 wagon: 3 years
    Toyota Carina TA60 wagon: 6 year
    ARO 10: 2 years (engine swapped twice)
    Peugeot 505: 6 months (went up in flames)
    Ford Sierra wagon: 4 years
    Opel Kadett wagon: 3 years
    Opel Combo: 2 years
    Volvo 740 wagon: 3 years
    Volkswagen Rabbit pickup: 8 years (two engine rebuilds and serious welding to the structure and bed)

    I’m not sure if my dad’s choice in picking cars suitable for the job is questionable or he’s just unlucky with their quality. Also even though the VW Rabbit survived longer than the Carina, the Carina wins as it never had a major engine overhaul.

    Second thing I learned about cars is that I like to tinker with them and know how they work. My dad’s cars broke down so often than I simply have difficulty remembering a family visit without calling the AA or getting towed. Obviously whenever we were stuck on the hard shoulder of the road again and the AA repair man was trying his best to get the car working again, I would be the one shoving my head under the bonnet too asking all sorts of questions what each those parts were for. Who knows, maybe I was hoping to be able to fix the car next time we would be stuck? Or maybe hope to prevent myself from getting stuck on the side of the road and having to wait hours for the AA? What I do know is that without all those breakdowns of my dad I probably wouldn’t have been that interested in tinkering with cars!

    Thanks dad! 😀

  7. lowspeedhighfun says:


    Dad was, and still, is a huge muscle car fan. I helped where his hands didn’t reach. Then we bonded through go-karts, which helped a lot in learning how to set up a chassis. Now I somehow got in to old Toyotas’ and been tracking and fixing them up for a few years now.

    Sometimes I wish he would’ve gotten me intrested in something cheaper haha..

  8. MWC says:

    Everything – he taught me the most important lessons. Showing me the correct way, patience and letting me fail on my own. He worked a lot, so when he was home, whatever he said to me, I remember every word. We built a car together, I was quite impatient as a youth, but the level of detail must be maintained, so I started buying and building cars parallel to our project car, because I wanted to work on the car as he was in Europe or some other place and I couldn’t wait for him – but I didn’t want to screw up the good car, so I wheeled/Dealed as a 15 and 16 year old to get whatever I could. Datsun, Chevelle, MG, Buick, mustang, Turbo, EFI, Carbs- we were never a ‘brand specific’ family and they were all excellent ‘proving platforms’. My Dad jokes about this now, says “the good car” we built was more Educational and more expensive than university, so I should have 2 degrees ??

  9. Randy Hone says:

    My father was a car guy, from day one. He saw fit to include me in his car related live, so that I grew to appreciate and love all car related items in life. He was always wrenching on something, swapping out motors, fixing body work, always something cool with cars. It rubbed off on me and is one of my life passions, though I’ll never be quite as good as he was.

  10. F31Roger says:

    My dad was a mechanic in the Army.

    He would work on his Mustang and later when we got a 82 Honda CVCC, he barely touched it because it was running well.

    In 1993, he traded the Honda CVCC for a new Civic hatchback DX, which I used from 93-97 in high school. I inherited the EG hatch.

    During this time, my dad really didn’t value cars like I did. He asked me why I liked the red civic so much (it was a red hatch). It kinda blew me away as he was always working on the Mustang and other car stuff.

    But he didn’t take notice until I started to take it apart and fix the issues that have came up.

    I think the part that impressed him was that I swapped it from AT to MT and he actually helped me on it.

    As a father myself now, I try to teach both of my kids the values of not just the car, but the experience of working on them and being able to figure out problems.

  11. Vitor David says:

    My dad was not a car guy, in fact he was a bad driver and didn’t knew much about mechanics. Anyway he said one thing once that i remember all the time when someone talks about mitsubishi: “Mitsubishis? they are the mercedes from japan”.

  12. エーイダン says:

    My dad works in the autobody field and has done so since about 1992-ish. His advice was simple, buy cheap, buy something practical and don’t buy something with all the fancy styling because in the event of a panel being dented or shattered, cars with all those fancy curved body lines and all those contours are a bodyman’s and your wallet’s impending worst nightmare. Not only that, especially on cars from the 2010’s, when you paint these cars it is incredibly difficult to get the paint colour to blend seamlessly from panel to panel. Even if the paint came from the same batch and was perfectly mixed throughout, the paint may appear to be lighter on one panel compared to the others. Every time we go out on a weekend drive for a coffee he can point out just cars on the street we’re alongside and what colours are particularly bad and which cars are hardest to fix bodywork on.

  13. Angelo says:

    Weirdly, it’s actually me who teaches my stepdad about car stuff, which he really appreciates. Learning really is his thing, so for him, whose real son never really bonded with him, he found happiness in his stepson. Glad he’s here honestly.

    I just wanted him to be happy, the same way as he helped me get my way back up from the time my real father left us. I’ll never be grateful enough.

    Happy Father’s Day to everyone!

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