10 Things You’ll Definitely Relate to If You Owned a Car in the 70s, 80s and 90s

Did you live through the era of disco and bell bottoms? What about big hair, neon clothes and parachute pants? Can you recall the early days of the internet? Then you will probably relate to these nostalgic trials and tribulations of car ownership and repair in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

R.I.P. Yellow Pages

1 – The Yellow Pages were once upon a time your go-to resource for any type of service. Now they’re a souvenir. After 51 years of guiding people to their local automotive mechanic, hairdresser, doctor, handyman, dog groomer, etc., the Yellow Pages book is a thing of the past. Now we have Google reviews, Yelp, OpenTable, Angie’s List and Openbay to make it easier than ever to find whatever you need.

Driver’s Education Glory Days

2 – Chances are you knew how to change a flat tire, check the engine oil level, and know where to place jumper cables if your battery died thanks to those driver’s education classes in high school. Nowadays, 2 in 3 teens wouldn’t have the slightest idea to perform any of these tasks. But they know how to find someone that will.

Road Trips Required Strategy

3 – You were S.O.L. if you ran out of gas in the middle of the night… because there was no way to get help. You might have vivid flashbacks of a road trip gone wrong, where you suddenly realize you’re running on empty in the middle of nowhere in pitch dark, thinking to yourself this is the recipe for a horror movie. 24-hour self-service wasn’t a thing until the late 1980s and cell phones weren’t common until the 1990s.

Long Gone Are The “Let Us Do It For You” Days

4 – Full-service gas stations were the norm in ALL states – not just New Jersey and Oregon. Self-service technology emerged in the late 1960s, and by 1971 all but 14 states let you pump gas yourself.

5 – Gas station attendants, aka “pump jockeys,” used to go the extra mile. In addition to pumping fuel, they would even clean your windshield and check vehicle oil levels. Way back in the day before self-starting vehicle engines, attendants would even turn the crankshaft with a hand crank to get the engines going. Talk about top-notch customer service!

6 – Attendants even dressed up for the occasion, donning uniforms with the company logo on their breast pocket and an embroidered nameplate on the other. The best part of their outfit was the giant wad of cash sticking out of their pocket to make change, since cash-only was the standard until the late 1980s and tipping was common.

Where’s the Wawa?

7 – Filling up your tank didn’t mean filling up your stomach. Gas stations were more reminiscent of an auto repair shop than a mall food court or fast food chain. Up until the 1980s, you were lucky to stumble upon a vending machine when you stopped for gas. Stations used to cater their services more towards your car than your appetite, offering tune-ups, new batteries, tires, belts and hoses, oil changes, radiator flushes, lube jobs and replacement parts. Then in the 80s, gas stations started to close up their service bays and expand their coffee, snacks and drinks selection. Fun fact for our Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Washington, D.C. readers: Wawa market opened its first fuel store in Millsboro, DE in 1996!

Nostalgia for Simpler Times

8 – Mechanics didn’t need to be certified in electrical systems to figure out the extent of your car repair needs. Then, on board diagnostics (OBD) systems came about in the 80s, which triggered a warning light on your dashboard. OBD II made it even easier to diagnose car trouble in the mid to late 90s, incorporating DTCs (data trouble codes) that indicated a warning light specific to each component of the vehicle. Don’t ignore those check engine lights! Give your car the TLC it needs now to avoid a potential disaster later.

9 – It took a whole lot more effort to find the right mechanic who had the time, the parts and the capability to work on your specific make and model. You probably spent about two hours on average calling around for pricing or stopping by shops looking for the right one. Now, Openbay takes care of all that work for you – sending you service quotes from local trusted mechanics, customer reviews and available drop-off times, all at the click of a few buttons.

#TBT to Your First Dream Car

10 – Watching Back to the Future on VHS made all of your car dreams come true (“Marty, he’s in a ’46 Ford, we’re in a DeLorean. He’d rip through us like we were tin foil!”). Or how about the 1979 Porsche 928 in Risky Business? As Tom Cruise said, “Porsche, there is no substitute.” One fan agreed so much with that infamous line that he hired a private investigator to track down the original Porsche from the film. Read about Lewis Johnsen’s Quest for RB 928 here.


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