Answer: They ran very well.
Seriously, although they were simple to maintain in a lot of ways, the efficiency and long term reliability that comes with modern engines is remarkable.
In those days, if you knew how to keep them running right, you would get complements. Most people did not know how to put in new points and plugs periodically and get everything adjusted right. I kind of miss the pride that was involved, but at the same time, the lack of required maintenance and the extended mileage we get from modern engines, more than makes up for it.
I guess the time has come now, that there is a whole generation that would not know what a set of contact points were, if you put them in their hand. A dwell meter would probably be equally foreign.
I remember when I was young, hearing the "old guys" talk about Model T ignition coils and generator cutouts. Our technology is ten times past the sixties technology. The early sixties technology was probably only two or three times past the twenties technology. In the mid to late sixties, we saw quite alot of basic innovations come about; disk brakes, alternators, all synchro transmissions, and even the beginnings of electronic ignitions.
As far as trouble free motoring goes, we are light years ahead. The price, of course, is a complex troubleshooting path when we do have trouble. Thank goodness, that's not real common.
Would one of you young whipper-snappers hand me my walking cane?
'01 C Class, Six Speed
'84 Euro 240D, manual, 533K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in