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What Will Be a Future Classic?

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    "I think most Aztek owners will be dead before their cars become collectible--but with current medical gains in longevity, I could be wrong."

    Hey, that's it - go camping with your Aztek in the pristine, no stress outdoors and presto, add years to your life. The notion catches on, demand for Azteks soars while supply remains constant, and prices spike. Before long collectors are restoring Azteks because it's a paying proposition, and Azteks become the new gotta have asset class. Soon, hedge funds around the world are shorting gold and going long Azteks.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Don't know if someone has already mentioned these, but the early Chrysler Corp. minivans certainly qualify as trend setters. They also sold in large numbers. The first generation ones are rare today, if not close to non-existence.

    Dodge, and maybe Plymouth also, once offered a turbo-4 minivan with a 5-speed, before they offered the V6 option. Now that one would certainly be rare, especially since it didn't sell in large numbers.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    K-Car based mini vans as future classics.....?

    hpmctorque -

    How to put this...? I understand your point about their technological significance...

    But - no - never.

    Collector cars are about our dreams and memories. I don't think very many people are going to wake up at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning to go out to the garage and work on their Chrysler mini-vans....

    A few should be saved in museums, but nobody should ever have to go on a Classic-cruise in an antique minivan while their friends are all driving their antique Corvettes.

    I'm going to go have another drink now and clear my palette.....

    Brrrrrrrrrhmph!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    It may not make sense now, lokki, but after you follow up your first drink with a few more, it'll be perfectly clear. You'll find the '86 Caravan/Voyager turbo-4 minivan with 5-speed parked next to the '83 LeBaron Mark Cross Town & Country woody convert, at your local 2018 Classic Car Show.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I can't vouch for the minivan yet, but those 1980's LeBarons are already showing up at classic car shows! I took this pic back in August, at an AACA-sponsored event in Macungie, PA.

    By AACA and many other standards, the 1984 models turn 25 years old on January 1, 2009. So I wouldn't be surprised if these things start showing up a classic car shows and such.

    Now I don't think those minivans will ever be high-dollar collectibles, although a turbo 5-speed would certainly attract some attention. But people will definitely hang onto them. Heck, there are people preserving Aspens and Volares!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I don't think admittance into a Show and Shine is really a good indicator of future collectible status; after all, it's really just a matter of the promoters of the show being kind enough not to tell the LeBaron owner to go home, let's face it.

    A person can "collect" any car he wishes, and he can bring it to most friendly local parking lot car shows, but by no means does this mean anyone else cares about, or will EVER car about, some of these ordinary, utilitarian, drab, dull, mediocre, marginal, commonplace cars that most people never cared about even when they were on the showroom floor.

    What you are witnessing I think is an example of people's hospitality, not the judgment of history.

    When someone pays $100,000 for an old Plymouth van or a LeBaron, instead of the current $1000, then my ears will perk up.

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  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    Actually, I prefer going to a show and seeing the cars people actually drove back in the day rather than some nostalgic ideal. You'd think by watching so many movies set in the 1950s that EVERYBODY drove a top-of-the-line convertible or two-door hardtop and that they were perpetually ready for a concours d' elegance. I think it would be pretty cool to see a well-preserved 1983 LeBaron versus ANOTHER 1957 Chevy hardtop or 1964 1/2 Mustang (Yawn!)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    But you can do that in a junkyard. Watching a LeBaron in a car show is like looking at a showing of people's recycling bin. I really don't see tha allure of gaping at the completely uninteresting.

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  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    Late to the game here but I couldn't help note the idea that if you went camping out in your Aztek you might live longer. I think what it is is that if you have an Aztek you would FEEL like you were living longer while praying for a merciful end...

    Meanwhile, yeah, you have the right idea on Edsels. I almost bought a 59 years ago. Had it been a 58 I'd have done it. If you get a top of the line Citation convertible is great shape they go for a fair piece of change but a plain old Ranger won't get much.

    I remember accidentally coming across a meet of the Northeast Edsel Owners Club way back. There was a guy who had one of those perfect Citation convertibles. It was indeed a star of the show. Funny thing was the other star was a plain, average condition 60 Edsel. There are so few of those that even at an owners meet it's an unusual event. Funny thing. They look nothing like Edsels. The tiny run of 60s looked more like Pontiacs of the time.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    Funny you should say that about the '60 Edsel. It pretty much was a ripoff of the 1959 Pontiac:

    image

    1960 Edsel:

    image
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I guess Ford had to come up with an emergency design and picked one of the better-looking GM products.

    I think "rip-off" is too polite. EXACT COPY might be more like it.

    anyway, the Pontedsel was certainly better than the slug that preceded it:

    image<img src="

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  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,330
    Now, here's why I liked the 58 over the 59 - the 58 was everything tat doomed the Edsel - garish styling, the dumb push button transmission that that screamed trouble.... by 59 they had calmed down somewhat. Of course by 60 they were a Pontiac with Ford underpinnings.

    image
    58 Edsel

    image
    59 Edsel
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    Either one would make a baby jump out of its stroller.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I think whether cars such as the niche-market K-car derivatives that were mentioned in previous messages should be considered classics depends, to a great extent, on definition. I'm okay with not calling them classics, if they don't meet the restrictive "Concours de Elegance" criteria that these cars must possess. I believe that they should be included in car shows of collectible automobiles, however, which is more inclusive.

    Ordinary folks, with ordinary budgets, who happen to own low cost, yet interesting and fun-to-look-at cars, shouldn't be excluded from old car shows. Hemmings and "Collectible Automobiles" magazine feature a lot of the cars that ordinary people drove, back in the day, along with the rare and exclusive ones.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I must respectfully disagree because if you lower the standards, the term "classic" becomes utterly meaningless. If you include a Lebaron and a Minivan, you have to include a Yugo, a Geo Metro, or any other old thing...include old shovels, water heaters, bed springs and old refrigerators.

    What on earth could be the allure of a lot full of cars that people used only as transportation modules to get from one place to another.

    What are we? A nation of "everyone is special"?

    That rather destroys the idea of merit, doesn't it?

    The term "classics", applied to that old junk, just demeans the term in my opinion, for truly interesting, beautiful, rare cars with perhaps interesting engineering, etc. or dominating performance.

    And on top of all that, a car show full of Lebarons seems almost...forgive me...a pathetic moment... :cry:

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,931
    This is a good place for "classic" vs "special interest".

    Well preserved everyday cars and oddballs are "special interest" cars. They lack high level design or performance pedigrees that make a car a legitimate classic, but can still have charm, looks, and fun potential galore.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I'm not sure we disagree. I may not have expressed myself clearly. I'm suggesting that there's room for more than one type of old car show, as in different strokes for different folks. One type is represented by the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and another is the major regional car shows such as the ones held in Carlisle, PA. Still another, more similar to Carlisle, is the large local type, such as is held in Rockville, MD every October. There are still others, that feature one company's products (eg. old Ford Motor Company cars), or even one brand (eg old Chevy's), or one country's cars.

    Now, I believe that shows such as the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance should remain as they are. Of course, it's understood that no K-car (horror of horrors) or X-car (heaven forbid) would ever be displayed at Pebble beach. Maybe they wouldn't even allow one in the parking lot, and that would be okay, if those were the rules. Although I've never had the pleasure of attending this show, I imagine that it draws a pretty exclusive audience, most of whom own high priced wheels as daily drivers.

    Other shows, such as those held in Carlisle and Rockville, are more inclusive, and display everything from old Ferraris, Rolls Royces and Mercedes, to old cars that ordinary people bought and drove, for work and pleasure, and ultimately junked. I say there's nothing wrong with these shows, even if they happen to include a sprinkling of low budget collectibles. I would hope that the entrants would have some unusual, rare, or interesting characteristics, though (read no 4-door Reliants or Tempos, thank you, but maybe one LeBaron Mark Cross T & C Convert, Fiero, or T-Bird Turbo Coupe.

    I think part of our difference, or appearance of difference, my rest with the definition of "classic." Maybe the cars I mentioned above are not classics, by the official definition. I'm okay with calling them something else. It would be offensive to someone who owns one, and thinks it's somewhat special, to call them junk, though, since one man's junk is another man's treasure. The term "collectible" strikes me as a more inclusive, and politically appropriate term.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    You must have gotten your message in just as I was about to send mine, fintail. "Special interest" would work for me too.

    This discussion has always included special interest and collectible cars (these may be synonymous), in addition to classics. It would be good if we could agree on terminology.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I don't think a Lebaron or a Plymouth minivan deserve anything more than to be called "old cars". No, I would not call them "junk" unless they really were "junk". But then I'd call a 1935 Bugatti "junk" if it were a rust heap of unrecognizable parts at the bottom of a lake.

    But you'd get no argument from me if you want to have a local "old used car" show.

    I wouldn't even use the term "special interest" because it's not about the OWNER'S "special interest"---it's about other people's special interest, if they have any or not. And "collectible" implies that more than a handful of people scattered throughout the 50 states is collecting and restoring a certain car. Just "gathering" up old minivans, to let them rot in your backyard, doesn't make an old "minivan" collectible.

    If you think you'll find more than 1 person out of 10,000 who will stop and look at a lotful of Plymouth minivans, well good luck :P

    I think that the careless assigning of terminology absolutely ruins the meaning forever, so I am quick to defend against what, in my opinion, is the destruction of useful terms and re-making them into vague, meaningless, parodies of their former glorious selves. :shades:

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,931
    I think a big part of the problem is some people use terms based on age, and some want to define it based on cars. Every 25-30 year old car is not a "classic", no matter the insurance or registration definitions. Many old cars aren't really even "special interest" - as nobody cares now and nobody did when new. A mint 30 year old Fairmont isn't going to really attract anyone. It's just an old car - and there's nothing wrong with that. The terms shouldn't be judgmental or value judgments. The cars are what they are. Some cars attract admiration, some are invisible.

    I could see something as odd as a 1986 5-speed turbo minivan being "special interest", especially in another decade or so. K-cars and the like, nothing more than a historical footnote. In 2008 not many people get excited about a slant-6 1963 Dart sedan...in 2026 I doubt many will wax poetic about a 1981 K-car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    It's possible that some bizarre variation of an otherwise ordinary uninteresting car might make it to some sort of future "old car freak show".

    I guess a house cat with two heads is more interesting than a house cat with one head. But it will never be a panther.

    I suppose that in the year 2041 people will be about as excited with a 1981 K-car as they are now about a stripped down, base model 1948 Chevrolet 4-door sedan. It'll sit on the back row, the owner will tell you how his grandma drove it for 60 years, whether you want to hear it or not, and he'll have 20X times the money in it than the car is worth.

    There may be a certain pleasure for the owner of that car in all of this, but there is also a kind of obliviousness that I might not actually wish to acknowledge, much less reward. People also collect modern teddy bears, but I'm not going to a teddy bear show.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    As much of an atrocity as the 1958 Edsel was, I don't think it would have been that hard to make it look better. Mainly, if they just got rid of that horse collar and the associated bulge in the hood, it would have made a world of difference. That would make the grille and bumper one piece, rather than two. Sure, it would make the car more generic looking, and probably less memorable today, but more attractive IMO.

    Also, if they recessed the headlights a bit, and gave the fenders a forward slant like a '58 Dodge or Plymouth, it would've made the car downright attractive. Well, to me, at least!

    All things considered though, even as ugly as it was, there were bigger factors in Edsel's failure than just its styling. First off, it was launched in a recession year, and competed in the already overcrowded middle-priced market. They were also over-engined and over-powered...which would have been great in 1957. By 1958 though, people were starting to think economy. The smallest engine the '58 Edsel offered was a 361 V-8 with 303 hp. Edsel's Ranger series priced a little below the Dodge Coronet V-8 and Pontiac Chieftain...the cheapest models of their respective series. Yet the Coronet V-8 was just a 325 V-8 with 245 hp, while the Chieftain had a 270 hp 370 V-8 (240 with the manual shift). I'm sure with that much power, the Edsels were guzzlers.

    I've also heard that the '58 Edsels were poorly assembled and unreliable. They didn't have dedicated assembly lines...rather the cheaper models were put together on a sped up Ford assembly line, while the bigger ones were on a sped up Mercury assembly line. As a result, they were slapped together extra fast and rushed out the door.

    So I guess if the car was less offensively styled and failed, it would be largely forgotten today, sort of like the 1957 Hudsons and big Nashes, or the non-Hawk Studes and Packardbakers from 1958. In a twisted sort of way, the ugly styling probably helped ensure the '58 Edsel's survival rate years later.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,761
    Honestly, Ford products didn't have much in the way of looks in 58-60, maybe the squarebirds, so Edsel wasn't alone in unattractiveness as a classic for that period. It has special interest because of its spectacular failure in the marketplace.

    In the same vein, the K car and its derived minivan have special interest because it saved Chrysler at the time. Unfortunately, it also made it clear that Chrysler had lost its past mojo.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    I always likened the Edsel disaster to the lure of disasters like the Titanic. It just wasn't the shipwreck---other large vessels had certainly gone down with equal or greater loss of life----it was more about the arrogance of it all, how everything was so carefully planned and counted upon. I guess it was the blindness of the men behind the disaster that is so interesting today.

    Hindsight is also fun to play with-----why go full speed ahead in a sea of icebergs? Why design such an obviously hideous car, and why give it such a bizarre name?

    You can just see people marching to their doom, unawares of what is to befall them.

    It's just macabre enough to be fascinating.

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    In the context of the time in which it was created, the Edsel probably made sense. My understanding was that they started conception of it in 1955, which happened to be a banner year for the auto industry. Ford had always been weak in the middle-priced market. While GM had Pontiac, Olds, and Buick and Chrysler had Dodge, DeSoto, and the Chrysler Windsor, all Ford had was Mercury. And I think Mercury had started to lose much of its magic after 1951.

    I think in the early-mid 1950's, Mercury tended to be down towards the lower end of the mid-priced spectrum, in range with Pontiacs and Dodges...maybe also the Buick Special, cheaper DeSotos, and the base Olds 88. So in order to compete more with Chrysler and GM, it probably made sense to bring out a new brand.

    1955 and 1956 were very strong years for the auto industry, and 1957 was a bit of a cooling down period, sales-wise. That year, Mercury was moved upscale, more into DeSoto/Chrysler and Buick/Olds territory than Dodge/Pontiac. The cars only did so-so, sales-wise, at that new price point.

    For 1958, Edsel was brought out, to slot in between Ford and Mercury, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. IIRC, the domestics sold about 8 million cars in 1955 and 1956, but that would contract to around 6 million for 1957, and bottom out around 4.2 million for 1958. Meanwhile, the mid-priced market had just gotten overcrowded.

    Sales-wise, the Edsel wasn't really THAT disastrous. I read that they forecast selling 100,000 units for 1958, and ended up selling about 63,000. Meanwhile, Chrysler saw sales fall by about half. Dodge and DeSoto were down by more than that, about 58%. Mercury, Buick, and Pontiac also got hit hard, probably to the tune of a 30-40% decline. Oddly, in the mid-priced field, only Oldsmobile seemed to do fairly well, and I'd always thought it was one of the ugliest cars of that year (but still cool, in a sick sort of way!) I think they were down about 25%.

    Interestingly, once the Edsel was cut from the lineup, Mercury moved back downscale in price, so while it was the Mercury name that survived, it essentially did so at the Edsel price point. In a similar fashion, Dodge moved considerably downscale. For 1960, the only popular Dodge was the Dart lineup, which matched Plymouth in price, model for model. The "traditional" bigger, pricier Dodges, sold poorly.

    Similarly, once DeSoto went away, most of Chrysler's volume came from the Newport, a car that sold at about the same price point as the old DeSoto Firesweep, which from 1957-59 was the cheapest car in DeSoto's lineup.

    And even at GM, Pontiac, Olds, and Buick were moving into cheaper territory. Not just with compacts, but base level cars like the LeSabre and Catalina started coming down in price.

    So in that recession, everybody was hurting, and it caused sweeping changes in the auto industry, and a major turmoil in the mid-priced market. Edsel wasn't alone in experiencing the pain, but over the years, I guess that brand came to symbolize the failure.

    I still think it's pretty amazing that they could introduce a brand and kill it, all within the course of about 2.2 model years back then. Heck, I think Oldsmobile and Plymouth lasted longer than that from the announcement of their death, until when it finally came!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    All true enough what you say, but one can't blame the recession for a truly ugly automobile. You'd think someone at Ford would have had the guts to say "You plan to sell that THING with that NAME on it?"

    What if you were a CEO and someone brought you an Aztek, but re-named it "Harvey" and told you this was meant to compete against the Honda Odyssey?

    Right, you'd have them sent to the medical office.

    These days, we'd call it "believing your own BS"

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    All true enough what you say, but one can't blame the recession for a truly ugly automobile.

    Definitely true, I think the thing was ugly, no matter what. Scary thing though, is that the Edsel almost had some influence on Chevrolet! Fortunately, GM decided to realign their models for 1959 so the A-bodies would redesign the same year as the B/C bodies, so the '57-58 B/C only lasted two years and the '58 A-body only lasted one year. But for Chevrolet, had that body held on another year, one of the concepts they were working on was a "central" theme, like the Edsel.

    Now as it was, the '59 Chevy was pretty controversial, and the T-bird inspired Fords actually beat it in sales. But I think a facelifted '58 Chevy with an Edsel-esque center section would have been an all-out disaster!
  • berriberri Posts: 7,761
    I pretty much agree with you Andre. Except for maybe 49-51, I'm not sure Ford really knew what the hell Mercury was supposed to be, or Lincoln for that matter. Edsel's styling in 58 was a bit over the edge, but maybe not as much of a disaster as people think today. The late 50's and early 60's had a lot of somewhat extreme cars (the 61 Plymouth you mention was one of them as was the 58 Ford, Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, 58-60 Lincoln Continental and 58 Buick and Olds). Unfortunately Edsel came out during a recessionary period which hurt all car sales and probably also made people more reluctant to try an Edsel or anything else that was new or a bit extreme stylewise. Most midlevel cars were slow sellers in 57/58. The Edsel, like the 57 Mopars, developed a reputation for bad quality its first year out. And I think Edsel had way too many models (4) in the lineup further blurring the divide between Ford and Mercury.

    DeSoto had some of the same problems and I think that after the economy and quality issues started hurting Chrysler's reputation, that spurred the DeSoto death rumors that quickly spiraled against it. It was really unfortunate because I think DeSoto had some of the best looking mid and late 50's cars
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    The recession was over and done with by 1958. 1959 and 60 were strong growth years, so a recession does not explain Edsel's dismal failure in my book.

    I think cars like Edsel and Desoto simply didn't have an identity. There was no way to build brand equity.

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  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    I am pleased that you are willing to defend the language. So few are.
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