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By Tom Endean

Nostalgia: The arch enemy of taste

Not so long ago I popped in to see my parents and whilst sat drinking much tea, we struck the subject of music. Clearly there are differences of taste between generations, but there are also many crossovers. My dad made a bold statement that I know many will agree with: “The best music was produced in the 70s”. The 70s did indeed give birth to a raft of great bands and songs – some of which are still sampled, re-churned or ripped-off today. However, I truly believe a big part of this is just nostalgia.

Since the start of recording music there have been good examples every decade. However, with each little gem comes 100 times more tripe. Some may be well known and some not, but I honestly don’t think that any decade really is that far ahead or behind another. What really makes the differences are the emotions we attach to them.

I for example, grew up in the 80’s and attached my early drinking memories to 90’s music. The result of this are songs that will instantly conjure up memories of great nights out, no worries, youth, and not being physically broken. This massively clouds my view of whether the song is actually a decent tune. The reality, in a number of cases, was that the music is just manufactured junk, filling a gap to make a few quid. If you were to hear it now without those memories you would see it as well… crap!

If you are yet to be convinced, just take out your old records, tapes or CDs and forget the memories, but instead listen to the lyrics and the song for what they really are. Some will justify your misty-eyed attachment to the masterpiece before you. Some will start to unveil themselves as the ugly-date-in-sober-eyes that they really are.

This isn’t just a music phenomenon: clothes, art, TV, films, books, comedians, food, drink and… cars and motorcycles.

Classic cars and classic motorcycles are drowning in nostalgia. We are often guilty of spending vastly more on them than what they are worth. We love them when they do something vaguely useful and forgive them for all the annoying faults and failures.

Let’s take the Morris Marina as a test subject. We know it has been the cruel subject of bullying from Top Gear. We know it crawled out from British Leyland only just nailed together well enough and with it slightly lacking the engineering it really deserved. We also know, that although not ugly, neither is it a poster girl. However, for a car that was average at best when new, it is still loved by many. Most, admittedly, ended their lives as small metal cubes (the cars, not the people that loved them), but many were also saved at a cost much greater than their market value.

Did you know there are actually a load of people who protect and care for Triumph Acclaims... ACCLAIMS!!

I am not innocent here. I personally think that the Triumph Spitfire may have been most useful and drivable in its 1500 form, but its best styling stopped at the Mark III. I still have a 1500 and have spent on it more than twice what it’s worth – but that’s because I have memories of it from back when I was at university.

This warms me and worries me at the same time. It’s outstanding that so many cars and bikes, ordinarily likely to be scrapped, are being cared for, appreciated, protected and preserved - no matter what the cost; or how rubbish they actually are. However, I am also concerned. If this continues, does this mean that cars like the Smart, the Prius and Chrysler Neon will also be preserved!?

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