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How Will The Classic and Collector Car Hobby Differ In 10 Years?

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
It's always difficult to predict the future, yet our curiosity about how things will be prompts us to guess what the collector scene will be like. What's likely to change, and remain the same, and why?

To get the ball rolling, I think the following three factors will impact the interest in collector cars between now and 2018:

First, telematics and the ever increasing complexity of cars, resulting from increasingly strict environmental and safety standards, inter-related electrical systems, as well as motorists' desire for more features, will drastically change the economics of repairing versus disposing of an older vehicle. Even family and economy cars will clearly become money pits at a more easily defined point in time, in a similar way that we view 10+ year old 12 cylinder German cars now, although perhaps to a lesser degree. However, the point where the cost of repairing and keeping versus getting rid of a vehicle, either at a greatly reduced price or by scrapping it, will become more obvious than it was in the past.

Second, the proliferation of niche products, and shorter production runs, results in the reduction of a critical mass of interest in any one model. The days of certain blockbuster models, that excite a wide spectrum of the population for many years, is probably over forever. Think '55-'57 Chevies, '55 Chrysler 300, '55-'57 T' Birds, '53-'63 Corvettes, and numerous European cars of the '50s-'mid '60s.

Third, there are more hobbies and diversions competing for peoples' attention, time and resources. Everything from I-Pods, to video games, to extreme sports comes to mind, to compete with car hobbies, not to mention things that well be invented and become popular in the future. Sure, you could argue that some things, such as the internet, helps car collectors, but in my opinion, the net impact of competing items and activities is more negative than positive for car hobbiests.

There are other factors, of course, but these three may serve to get a discussion started.
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Comments

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,067
    ...I think there will be a greater ability to repair complex systems ten years from now. I remember somebody saying 20 years ago that restoring a 1968 Lincoln Continental Mark III wouldn't be cost-effective due to it's complexity. A Mark III looks like a stone axe compared to today's technological marvels.
  • Restoring a 1968 Lincoln Continental isn't cost effective. But it can be done. What makes it cost ineffective are the hassles with that particular car and the lack of aftermarket support.

    I think with the advent of attempting to reverse-engineer obsolete black boxes, it will become even MORE cost-ineffective to restore most cars, and in the case of say Ferrari, it will become impossible, because their black boxes, at least in their subsystems, are completely in-house (built just for them). So are their scanning computers and interfaces devices.

    A modern car can carry something like 75 microprocessors. Think about that.

    I'm sure people are hoarding black boxes as we speak, but it's scary to think what they will charge for them in ten years.

    Remember a modern car is electro-mechanical. It's not just a matter of the hurdle of hacking into a computer. Many functions are multi-plexed and interface with mechanical devices (solenoids, servos, valves, compressors, injectors, pumps, etc) are often shared by more than one computer device.

    So being a computer whiz isn't going to help you very much. You would have to master entire complex, engineered systems.

    And then there are the issues of forming plastics, one piece interior parts, etc. it's not a matter of re-upholstery anymore.

    In the end, the cost of labor and materials to restore the modern car will continue to accelerate until we reach a point where it is unaffordable except perhaps to the ultra-wealthy.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,575
    that newer cars have going against them, in my book at least, is the simple fact that they don't change them so much from year to year the way they used to. As a result, they just seem to lose their uniqueness. For example, with the 1955-57 Chevy, while they're all popular, they were different enough from year to year that everybody seems to have their favorite year. The '57 seems to have the most fans, but then some people prefer the '55, and some people prefer the '56.

    While the cars got pretty awful in the 70's, at least for the most part they'd still try to change them up from year to year. GM was the best at this though, as Ford and Chrysler, running out of money, would often forego the annual tweaks. But still, there was enough variety that people can pick and choose their favorites. For example, with me, I'll almost get irrationally excited whenever I see a '76-77 LeMans, but if I see a '73-75, well it's a cool old car, but just doesn't stir me.

    Similarly, a '77 Catalina will do it for me, but the '78-81,which was different only in minor trim changes and then a modest sleekening for 1980, just doesn't stir me the same way.

    But then, fast forward to the current day. What really, is the difference between an Intrepid over the years from 1998-04? They all look the same. Okay, so they tweaked the interior fabrics in the ES model around 2000, and then in 2002 they started cost-cutting in some areas, but replaced the 3.2 with a de-tuned 3.5, but that's nothing substantial. The only difference between my 2000 and a 1999 is that mine has 16" wheels, while the 1999 had 15". And for 2001 they started calling the cheap model "SE", so it got an SE badge on the blackout trim in the rear door.

    Another problem, IMO, is that there just isn't a huge difference in performance anymore. My base 2000 Intrepid, with its 200 hp 2.7 V-6, will do 0-60 in about 9.5 seconds. The ES models with the variable intake 2.7 and 202 hp would do it in about 8.8. The 3.2 with 225 hp would do it in about 8.4. And the 3.5 models, which put out 234-250 hp, would do it in around 7.8-8.0. So while there's a definite improvement with the bigger engines, it's not a huge jump like back in the day.

    For instance, back in say, 1970, you could get an intermediate Mopar Coronet/Satellite/Charger with anything from a 225 slant six on up to the 426 Hemi. The slant six got you from 0-60 in about 15 seconds. The 318 would knock you down to around 10. Consumer Reports got 0-60 in 7.0 seconds out of a 1969 Charger with the 440, automatic, 3.23:1 axle and, IIRC, the 375 hp setup. So suffice to say that Car & Driver or Motortrend would've gotten a bit quicker. And the Hemi put you down in the 5-6 second range.

    Even by, say, 1976-77 in a LeMans, if you got the base Chevy 250 6-cyl or an Olds 260 V-8, you were looking at 0-60 in about 20 seconds. You'd have to get on up to a 350 to put yourself down into the 12 second range, and the only way you were going to break 10 seconds was with the ~200 hp 455-4bbl (1976) or the Can Am (1977) which had a high-output 200 hp 400. I've seen tests of a Can Am that put it at around 8.7 seconds from 0-60. Nothing to gloat about by today's standards, but still worlds apart from scads of 15-20+ second slugs that propagated the earth at the time. Maybe, just maybe, a milder 180 hp 400 (1976-77), or the 185 hp Olds 403 (1977) with the right gearing could break 10 seconds, as well.

    So I think the one thing that made the high-performance versions of those cars so special was the simple fact that they were comparatively rare. And the difference between the low end and the high end was enormous. It's not so much that the high performance engines were so great, it's just that their status was elevated by all those sucky engines!

    Plus, in recent times we've had these so-called performance cars like the Intrepid R/T and Mercury Marauder that would easily get embarrassed by a V-6 Accord...
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    A thought that crossed my mind is that, while we tend to focus on the shifting demand, over time, for various collector models, a certainty in the pricing equation is the toll time takes on supply. A certain number of desirable models from every period is lost each year to crashes, neglect, fires, floods, rust and general exposure to the elements, mileage, expensive or unobtainable parts, etc. Countering this, to a modest extent, is the remanufacture of replacement parts, especially for hot, once high production models like the Model T, the '32 Ford coupe and roadster, the Beetle, the '55-'57 Chevies, the '55-'57 T-Birds, the '65 Mustang, certain MGs, and others. For some of these, you can rebuild the entire car. Yet, they're not originals.

    While the year-to-year supply reduction may be modest, I imagine that the cumulative effect over, say, 10 years, can have a significant effect on prices.
  • When cars become rare, collectors tend to excuse non-original parts, whereas if they are plentiful, like most Camaros, they are fussier and want more original cars.

    Since it is very difficult to prove "rarity" except on cars that were rare from the day they were built, these claims of "only 28000 of these are left" doesn't carry that much weight, when there were 250,000 of them built. How could anyone know that?

    IMO, for "rarity" to become a value factor, we are talking in the hundreds only, or the teens. To a serious collector, 5000 surviving examples of a car is a LOT.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,423
    I just saw a show on how the new Rolls is made. Miles of wire, hundreds of connections, I can't imagine restoring something like that.
  • They aren't even restoring Rolls from the 80s, much less new ones.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    The depreciation alone, not to mention the total cost of ownership, of high end luxury cars and exotics is shocking. I know, I know, some people have prodigious amounts of money to burn, but still, you have to wonder how they manage to sell even the limited number of these cars that they do sell.
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Let me throw this out. In 10 years, I don't think the hobby will change that much. Why? Because, the same cars that are sought-after today (which are generally pre-1970), will still be sought-after 10 years from now. In my opinion, cars built after 1970 are just used cars and won't garner that much attention as the years go by. With the exception of a few performance models such as the Corvette, Camaro/Firebird, cars produced after 1970 just don't spark that much interest. After 1970 (and even in the late 60's), cars became "too plastic". And, while there were a few styling exercises worth noting, most cars built between 1970 and the late 1980's offered about as much pizazz as a bowl of oatmeal at room temperature.

    Look at it this way, a 1974 Cadillac Coupe Deville had so much plastic, it was like driving around a Bic lighter, albeit an extremely heavy one. I outta know, we bought one new (a '74 Coupe Deville, not the Bic lighter!) a couple of years before I got my driver's license. And, my Grandmother purchased a new '76 Fleetwood soon after and I put the first 5,000 miles on that car. You'd think I'd be all "gah-gah" over a car from that time in my life, right? Nope. They were appliances. Period. BUT, if we're talking about a 1964 Coupe Deville, NOW THAT'S a different story! Those cars were elegantly styled. They were (and still are) graceful to look at. And, others will speak equally fondly of Cadillcs from the 50's, 40's and older. OK, mechanically speaking, perhaps they won't win many lifetime achievement awards, but that's a part of their charm.

    So, in short, with the exception of some modern ultra performance or exotics (ex. Ford GT), I think the cars currently crossing the auction block at Barrett-Jackson or Kruse will pretty much be the same 10 years from now.
  • You could be right. The mid to late-70s and just about all the 80s cars have had 25 to 30 years to "get collectible" but with a few rare exceptions they are as active as starfish at the moment on the market. So yeah, when does this "collectibility" start. After we're all dead? :P

    I'd actually foresee a decline or a pretty firm stagnation in collector car values all across the board as time goes on, adjusted for inflation.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,423
    I've alway applied a simple cutoff - big bumpers. '73 on, they're an immediate indicator of a low-power, poor performing, and (in almost all cases) undesirable car.
  • That's an excellent gross filter, but collectors even pare it down further to 1970---you'll generally see the drop off starting in 1971, especially in the muscle stuff.

    You'll find people "collecting" post '73 cars, but most are just "collecting" in their back yard.

    And you will see some people even fixing up 70s and 80s survivors, because they can buy them cheap and they can get them in very good condition in the first place. So they'll plug a big crate engine into grandpa's old 1975 anemic whatever coupe or convertible and have a nice ride for cheap.

    So I'd say that any post '73 cars we see that will be "restored", will have been modified in order to make them more fun and more valuable.

    Nothing wrong with that. We could be evolving into a Modified Collectible kind of hobby here.

    In other words, correcting all of Detroit's mistakes (or their regulatory necessities, to be a bit fairer about it).

    So we'll shift out of the anally-retentive obsession with matching #s and correct carpet weave into a looser approach for the car hobby. Not unlike the way it used to be in the 50s and 60s.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,575
    You'll find people "collecting" post '73 cars, but most are just "collecting" in their back yard.

    Guilty as charged! :P
  • BUSTED! :shades:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,575
    I guess in my defense though, I'm not delusional. I know these things will never be worth much...I just buy 'em because I like them. Now I'll admit, that if one of them broke I'd put more money into them than they're worth. But heck...a new set of tires, a battery, and a tuneup would probably exceed the book value! And I'm also not overly concerned about keeping them stock and original. If anything, ditching the Lean Burn would probably be a good thing! :surprise:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    Buying because you like the car...that's the best way to approach the old car hobby.

    I certainly don't keep my old beast around because I expect to get rich off it.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    A consensus that seems to be emerging in this discussion is that the pre-'70s iron will continue to be the backbone of the collector market, with minimal interest in the '70s and '80s model years. Presumably, or hopefully, by 2027 there will be a few examples from the the '90s that people will pay more than old used car prices for. But which might these be? Could it be that the '90s was little better than the '70s and '80s; another dead zone? Or will something like the Mazda Miatas of the '90s be the new MGs, just to cite an example? What domestics from the '90s stand a chance of lighting the fire of collectors in 2027? I can come up with some ideas (first gen Aurora and it's coupe counterpart, the Riviera), and then tell myself, "well no, not really," than ones where I feel reasonably confident that they'll stand the test of time.
  • Oh the 90s will definitely fare better. I don't think there will be many (if any) really huge dollar cars from the 90s in 2027 but there will be some attractive ones to own and enjoy, and perhaps even restore if you can figure out how to do that.

    Reverse engineering obsolete electronics is going to be very very difficult, so once the new old stock dries up, that's dooms-day for many cars.

    But early 90s cars aren't too complex. It's when you get into multiple ECMs with multiplexing devices et al---that's going to get very very hairy.

    Dealers can't even fix the new ones most of the time and they have access to everything.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Domestics? The Impala SS, Corvette ZR-1, and maybe the C5 Z06. The SN95 Mustang Cobra R should be worth something, and the handful of unwrecked Vipers. The list is a lot longer on the import side.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Yup, I thought of the Corvettes as I was sending my message, and, oh, yes, Vipers and certain Mustangs. As I think about it, there are indeed a lot of import brand models that could make the cut. So, yeah, the cars of the '90s, including several Japanese models, look more promising than those from the '70s and '80s for collectors.
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