by John L. Baeke

As I see the growing number of hybrid and electric cars on our roads and read of the coming wave of driverless vehicles, I admit to yearning for the good ol’ days when driving was not just fun, but it took real skill.

New cars require so little attention from the driver, that (though illegal) many drivers devote brainwaves to instant messaging their BFF rather than be bothered by something as mundane as driving.

Is it any wonder that our younger generation is falling out of love with the American car?

How old-school am I, you ask?

The next Jeep or 4×4 pickup I buy is going to be one where I have to (correction, “get to”) get out and manually turn the hubs; likely that will be something manufactured pre-1967. My guess is that most readers in the under-40-something gen are unfamiliar with the task.

Having had my driver’s license for nearly 50 years has afforded me the opportunity to experience all manners of automotive advancement. Just because something is more modern does not necessarily mean it is better.

You see, I want my feet directly connected to the carburetor and drum brakes. I don’t ever want to feel an electronic accelerator pedal pushing up against my foot. A steering wheel should convey every bump of the road directly to my hands, unlike the PlayStation-game-controller that steering wheels have now become.

I enjoy the challenge of parallel parking. I don’t need a car’s microprocessor taking over that skill, or telling me if I can change lanes, or warning me to brake — only a birdbrain needs that.

I am quite capable of turning off/on my own lights and wipers. I don’t need an annoying buzzer screaming to fasten my seat belt just to drive my car into the garage. You can keep your dopey little fogged-up bumper cameras. I am not so lazy that I can’t move my head to look at a mirror.

I don’t have a panic attack if there is no cup holder. I don’t need some Bluetooth Howard Stern-cursing satellite radio. In fact, I think radio-delete plates are cool. I don’t need some Siri gal insisting I proceed down a dead-end desert road.

To me a “connector for my device” is a 2-inch ball and hitch. I don’t need LED-Xenon liquid-crystal neon-fluorescent lighting. You may keep your power windows, 12-way seats and 9-speed automatic transmission. Actually, I don’t need power automatic anything.

All I like is to be one with the vehicle, where the vehicle knows it is I who is 100 percent in charge, rather than a bunch of free-thinking microchips, printed circuits, sonar cameras and hidden RF antennae that simply take my physical input under advisement.

I do not believe I am alone with this rebellion. It always pleases me how many folks I see in our valley driving as their daily-drivers cars and trucks that would qualify as “old-school.” Every time I drive by one of these fellow “old-schoolers” I try to wave, honk or smile — especially when I am driving my wife’s modern BMW.