I asked ChatGPT about classic cars, and it seems we’re safe—for now


Unless you’ve had your head buried under the hood of your car for the last few months, you’ve heard the hype around the rapid rise of artificial intelligence software—specifically ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer), an online chatbot from San Francisco-based OpenAI, that can seemingly answer any question in natural language.

With the right prompting it can write anything you ask it, from computer code to a Hollywood screenplay. Fearmongers say it could put millions out of a job, forever change the way English literature teachers and professors assign written essays and, perhaps helpfully, make writing birthday cards a little less monotonous.

But I wondered: Could a digital brain speak intelligently about classic cars and the people who love them?

To find out, I sat down at my keyboard for a chat with ChatGPT. The transcript is below. Let me know in the comments if the profession of automotive journalism is in danger of being overrun with AI writers.


Nik Berg: Hi ChatGPT! Let’s chat about classic cars!
ChatGPT: Sure! What would you like to know about classic cars?

NB: What defines a classic car?
ChatGPT: A classic car is typically defined as a vehicle that is at least 20-30 years old and has a significant historical interest. Classic cars are often valued for their design, engineering, and cultural significance, rather than just their market value.

NB:  What kind of people are into classic cars?
ChatGPT: People who are into classic cars come from all walks of life and ages. They can range from car enthusiasts, collectors, historians, hobbyists, and restorers. Some are drawn to the nostalgia and romance of owning a piece of automotive history, while others appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail of classic car design. People who own classic cars often have a deep passion and love for the vehicles and the memories they evoke.

NB: That’s nice.
ChatGPT: Yes, it is! The world of classic cars is filled with fascinating stories, interesting people, and a rich history that spans over a century. It’s a hobby that can bring joy and fulfillment to those who are passionate about it.

NB: Do you know any good stories about classic cars?
ChatGPT: Yes! Here are a few examples of classic car stories that are popular among enthusiasts:

  1. The restoration of a rare or unique car that has been lost or forgotten, and bringing it back to its former glory.
  2. The discovery of a barn find, where a classic car has been preserved in near-original condition for many years and is now restored to its former glory.
  3. The history of a car that has been passed down through generations of a family and holds sentimental value.
  4. The racing history of a car, including its victories, milestones, and the drivers who piloted it.
  5. The journey of a classic car from production to the present day, including any modifications and updates it has undergone over the years.

These stories capture the excitement, passion, and history of the classic car world and are a testament to the enduring appeal of these vehicles.

NB: If I wanted to get into classic cars do you have any advice?
ChatGPT: Sure, here are some tips to get started with classic cars:

  1. Educate yourself: Read up on the history of classic cars, learn about the different makes and models, and familiarize yourself with the car culture.
  2. Attend car shows and events: Participate in local car shows, attend rallies, and join classic car clubs. This is a great way to meet other enthusiasts and see a variety of classic cars in person.
  3. Find your niche: Are you interested in classic muscle cars, European sports cars, or vintage American luxury vehicles? Narrowing your focus can help you build a deeper knowledge and appreciation for a particular type of classic car.
  4. Start small: Consider purchasing a classic car that is relatively affordable and in good condition. This will give you a chance to get familiar with the mechanics and maintenance of classic cars without breaking the bank.
  5. Work with a reputable dealer or mechanic: When purchasing a classic car, it is important to work with a reputable dealer or mechanic who can help you find a high-quality vehicle that is right for you.
  6. Join online forums and communities: Join online classic car forums and communities to connect with other enthusiasts, share your experiences, and learn from others.

Remember, getting into classic cars is a journey and it is important to start slow, educate yourself, and build your knowledge and experience over time.

DALL·E bubble car
A robot driving a bubble car, drawn by AI art generator DALL-E DALL·E

NB: Thanks! I quite like bubble cars, what do you know about them?
ChatGPT:  network error

NB (again): Thanks! I quite like bubble cars, what do you know about them?
ChatGPT: Bubble cars are a type of small, compact car that became popular in Europe during the 1950s and 60s. They are known for their distinctive rounded shape, which gives them a “bubble-like” appearance. They were designed to be affordable, fuel-efficient, and easy to maneuver in crowded city streets. Examples of well-known bubble cars include the Isetta, Messerschmitt KR200, and the Fulda Mobil.

NB: That’s a bit of dry answer, can you tell more but in the style of Hagerty writer Sam Smith?
ChatGPT:  Ah, the bubble car! A topic near and dear to my heart. As a Hagerty writer, allow me to wax poetic about these charming little vehicles.

Verse 1:
Round and petite, like a soap bubble in the breeze
A symbol of a bygone era, full of peace and ease
In crowded cities, they slipped through with grace
Affordable, efficient, and a joy to the face

Bubble cars, oh what a delight
A nostalgic dream, shining so bright
The Isetta, the Messerschmitt, the Fulda Mobil, too
Precious memories, forever in view 

Verse 2:
In the days of yore, when the world was young and bold
They drifted down the streets, a story to be told
Of innocence and charm, a simpler time and place
Bubble cars, a smile on every face 

Bubble cars, oh what a delight
A nostalgic dream, shining so bright
The Isetta, the Messerschmitt, the Fulda Mobil, too
Precious memories, forever in view 

So when you see a bubble car glide by
Remember the days that have gone by
And smile, at the memories they evoke
For bubble cars will always evoke love.

NB: Well, that was unexpected…
ChatGPT: I’m glad you enjoyed it! As a language model, I strive to deliver answers that meet the expectations and requirements of each user. If there’s anything else I can help with, please don’t hesitate to ask.


If it wasn’t for the strange Sam Smith-the-Hagerty-writer/Sam Smith-the-Grammy-winning singer conflation, this conversation would have felt rather like a search-engine-optimized series of generic answers, and not really a chat—despite the informal tone. [Hagerty Sam chiming in here. For the record, my poems are not this banal. They are way more stupid. –Sam Smith]

I think our jobs are safe—for now, anyway. Maybe I didn’t feed ChatGPT enough detail in my questions, but if I’m looking to converse about classics, I’ll be heading to a Cars and Coffee or a Hagerty event. Even an online owner’s club would mean speaking with real people, not a robot.

DALL-E cars and coffee 2
Two scary robots talking with several 1960s cars in the background in a photo-realistic style, drawn by DALL-E. DALL-E
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    The day that A.I. takes over thinking and speaking and writing from real people is the day that I won’t want to live in this world any longer. It’s already too tech-saturated. I understand that things will naturally “move forward” so as to not stagnate, but I haven’t really felt like we’ve been witnessing “progress” since probably the 1990s.

    If you hadn’t revealed this as a bot, what came to my mind is the writing in USA Today, or the specialty articles in the big Sunday editions of virtually every large city newspaper years ago. Just imagine that wring under some classic car picture. Also sounds like a lot of the babble you get by searching the internet for answers.

    Great song/poem. This GTP is FAR more articulate than most folks I seem to meet at car shows/coffee. All hail the AI overlords.

    Agree with Jeff. Nik. You should be fired! There are clearly much clearer ways to talk about cars at a much reduced cost. If I were 50 years younger I would apply for the job myself.

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