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Present and Future FWD Classic and Special Interest Cars

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
edited March 2014 in General
RWD is so dominant among classic cars that one could almost argue that "classic FWD" is an oxymoron. Yet, there are a few. Examples would include Citroens from the '30s and '40s, as well as some from the '50s and '60s; Cords; early ('60s) Toronados and Eldorados. In addition to the few classics, there are numerous models that could qualify as special interest cars, such as early Saab convertibles, maybe, and the early '80s Chrysler and Dodge converts. Early Honda microcars would also fall in this category, if they're not considered classics. Will any of today's FWD cars become classics? Which ones are candidates for becoming special interest cars?


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well the theory is that the collectible cars of tomorrow are the ones that young people really wanted and enjoyed when they (the cars) were new----or at least they were cars that were associated with glamorous and exciting events when these people were young.

    So the young get old and now, with some $$$ in their pockets, they attempt to re-create those wonderful feelings, lusts, adventures they had.

    If this theory be sound, then American FWD cars from the 80s and 90s are surely doomed. One could hardly conjure up a more anonymous unexciting type of car.

    However, certain Japanese cars of the FWD persuasion, which are even now being tuned and customized, may indeed become collectible.

    So that's my bet for FWD....80s and early 90s Civics, Preludes, other FWD Japanese hatches and coupes.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Early Minis and GTIs are also special interest FWDs. And, who knows, in 2030 a GM X or J car, or Chrysler Omni/Horizen or K-car, or '84 Minivan could be rare enough to be an interesting museum piece, since they marked an important departure in architecture for the American car industry. By then museum goers will have forgotten just how bad most of these cars were, and focus on their historical significance. The last time I saw a Citation was last Fall, while on a trip, and I remember thinking what an uncommon sight they've become. But, then, so are Pintos, but I happened to park next to one just last weekend, in a parking garage. Whoops, almost forgot, Pintos are RWD.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I'd bet every penny I own that a Citation or GM J car will never, ever be worth ten dollars in the future. :P Nobody cares about them, plays with them, fixes them up, restores them, has pictures of them, notices them, saves them, drives them or likes them, near as I can tell. At least I've never noticed this going on in my travels to all the car shows in all the world.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    I'd bet every penny I own that a Citation or GM J car will never, ever be worth ten dollars in the future. Nobody cares about them, plays with them, fixes them up, restores them, has pictures of them, notices them, saves them, drives them or likes them, near as I can tell.

    Never say never. Contact me privately and I'll give you instructions on where to send every penny you own. Email is in my profile. :P
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I am supremely confident. I have history, mathematics and experience on my side in this particular issue.

    So what are YOU betting against me? :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    So what are YOU betting against me?

    How about a low mileage (for its age) 1968 Dodge Dart 270? Only 8667 miles per year!**

    **winner responsible for pickup and removal of prize. Void where prohibited. Not responsible for wasp stings or maulings by suddenly displaced groundhogs.
  • neile457neile457 Posts: 65
    PT Cruiser is destined to join this list.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    PT Cruiser is destined to join this list.

    Actually, the PT Cruiser may already be there! Now I doubt that it'll ever become a high-dollar collectible like a Hemi Cuda or Tri-Power GTO or some exotic Ferrari or whatever, but it'll definitely retain a cult-like status. As it is now, there's always a good turnout of them at the Chrysler show in Carlisle, PA.

    And by good turnout, I'm talking like 100+, not like that picture I took with 4 Citations and 1 Phoenix representing the X-body crowd. :P
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    That may be, at least in part, because it's easier to personalize a PT Cruiser than an X-car. That shot of five X-cars was impressive, though, in that there are so few of these on the road.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Even if there were one left, it would be worthless, amazing to say....
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I'm sure you're right, since you know far more than I do about values.

    I enjoy seeing a variety of cars purely from a nostalgia, historical, and curiosity perspective, regardless of their value. My thought is that there's a good chance that some of the people who drive an early model X or K-car, Pinto, Chevette, or early Escort, or one of their badged variants, may be trying to make a statement, because there are any number of more lower and easier-to-maintain beaters (relatively speaking, of course) that can be bought for very little, but wouldn't garner the attention of one of the models mentioned above. Same goes for Ford Festivas and Subaru Justys, and Omni-Horizons, just to name a few more. The Festiva and (manual transmission) Justy were actually good, durable cars, but it's difficult to find parts now, so owning them isn't fun. Yet you still see these from time to time, so they must have their fans too.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well sure but it's kind of wearisome to watch them jump up and down and say "it IS collectible. It IS a classic....because I think so..."

    It makes a historian throw up his listen to them using the same word for a Cadillac V-16, a Corvette fuelie, and a Dodge Omni. It strikes me as irritating and absurd to devalue the great cars of the world with this ordinary stuff that really should be melted and banged into teapots.

    I mean, are we all "special" now? :P

    One could rightly argue that one should be allowed to bring whatever they want to the party, but I really think some people shoulnd't be invited as participants.

    Analogy? When you have a "swap meet" or "flea market" and it's all filled with 99% of the booths selling cheap watches from China and only 1% actually interesting old stuff.

    Call it "elitist"...I call it "basic discrimination based on collective knowledge of our ancestors".

    If thousands of people want something, hunt for it, and pay serious money for it, THAT'S a "collectible" because there is obviously a passion for it.

    You could go out today and buy a Citation for $375 bucks.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    It makes a historian throw up his listen to them using the same word for a Cadillac V-16, a Corvette fuelie, and a Dodge Omni. It strikes me as irritating and absurd to devalue the great cars of the world with this ordinary stuff that really should be melted and banged into teapots.

    Yeah, but if those five people are really having fun with their X-bodies, what harm is it really causing? I mean, I'm not exactly seeing the prices of V-16 Caddies and Chevy Fuelies plummeting simply because a small group of people really dig their X-bods.

    Oh, and if you think those X-bodies were bad, well I think there were something like 15-20 Pintos at the Furd Nationals! :shades:
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,922
    Good list of cars, but many of them were 'me too'. The Omni/Horizon were practically Rabbit clones, the X cars rife with quality and design problems (and I thought the X-11 was the best looking American car when it came out). The Chevette was purely cheap, have you seen one on the road in the last 5 years, plywood floor and all? The Pinto and Vega were ground-breakers, and should garner some attention. Of course, all will have some fans here and there, making them 'collectable' in some sense, but I can't see them earning 'classic' lables. IMHO, of course.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    We're in total agreement on the issue that none of the cars I listed in my messages above qualify as classics, and I'm sorry if by posting my messages on the Classic Cars board I implied otherwise. I was merely commenting about my personal feelings regarding these models.

    I fully realize that while X and K cars, etc. - and we might as well add Tempos/Topazes to this sorry list - sold in large numbers, they were failed vehicles in an important sense, because their quality problems contributed to the decline of the domestic car industry. For that reason alone they're historically significant. All I was trying to say was that I find these models interesting, or call it strangely fascinating. I'm also intrigued (no pun intended, since that failed Olds model, though better than the Xs, also contributed to the domestic industry's decline) by some of the people who choose to drive the Xs and Ks, etc. today, when there's a wide choice of better beaters available.

    Correction: In my message #12 I intended to say, "...because there are any number of better and easier-to-maintain beaters..."
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    briefly owned a 1982 Reliant 4-door back in 1990. It was one of the earlier models, before they made the running change to roll-down rear windows. I drove it a couple of times, and it was interesting, in a masochistic, automotive-pariah sort of way. I remember timing it with a stopwatch, and 0-60 came up in about 25 seconds. About the same as my buddy's 1980 Accord.

    My uncle bought it from some guy he knew down in Virginia, for $600. The guy also had a '65 Pontiac Catalina that he wanted to sell, for about the same price. In retrospect, my uncle probably should've gotten the Catalina!

    Actually, if you get a model other than the first couple of years and stay away from the turbo, the Mitsu 2.6, the later Mitsu 3.0 V-6, or the 4-speed automatic, they're not horrible little cars. The 2.2/2.5 4-cyl was designed by the same guy who did the slant six and the wedge-head V-8's, and it was designed to be fairly durable and easy and cheap to work on. And the longer wheelbase models, like the Caravelle, 600 sedan, LeBaron GTS, and Lancer, are pretty comfy, roomy cars.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    These engines are models in terms accessibility. I've never owned one of them, but I recall you mentioning to me at Carlisle that they were prone to head gasket failure. I hadn't been aware of this weakness, since my main exposure to them is a friend who's had four of them, and they all went over 100,000 miles without a head gasket problem. In fact, he's still got an '87 and '88 in the family fleet with ~150,000 miles on them. Maybe it's one of those cases where a certain percentage fail, while the majority soldier on for a lot of miles. One thing that leads me to this conclusion is that I've heard of some that have gone over 300,000 on the original engine. Of course, I didn't verify this claim, so while I suppose it's possible, I'm a little skeptical. As the resident Mopar expert, do you think the 2.2/2.5 is capable of going 300,000 miles, if it's maintained and driven with reasonable care?
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,922
    I understand. I guess I was just voicing my frustration with the big three. This was the period when they basically handed over the market for FWD cars to Honda/Toyota/Nissan. The Japanese makers succeeded in bringing to market a constantly-improving group of FWD vehicles that shamed the domestic efforts.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    These engines are models in terms accessibility. I've never owned one of them, but I recall you mentioning to me at Carlisle that they were prone to head gasket failure. I hadn't been aware of this weakness, since my main exposure to them is a friend who's had four of them, and they all went over 100,000 miles without a head gasket problem.

    I think it was mainly the turbo models that were more prone to head gasket failure. The 2.2/2.5 used an aluminum head and an iron block, and the differences in expansion/cooling rates of the two meterials could stress out the head gasket over time. So I guess any 2.2/2.5 would've been succeptible to it, although the turbos probably put more strain there. The '88 LeBaron turbo coupe I had blew its head gasket and warped the head around the 115,000 mile mark. However, I should also add that it was my ex-wife's car by that time, and I have no idea how well she maintained it. It also got stolen a couple times...both while we were married and after the fact. It turned up in the impound yard a couple times. So it very well could have been abused during those joy rides, as well.

    I'd imagine that as long as you maintained it and kept up on the coolant changes, and didn't let it overheat, you could go a long time without messing up the head gasket and head.

    I have a friend who had two K-car convertibles, both of 'em '86'es. One had the 2.2 and one had the 2.5. I know he took them both to around 150,000 miles or so with no major engine or transmission problems. He finally switched to a new '95 or '96 Corolla though, when he made plans to move out beyond Frederick, yet keep his job in Annapolis. I think that was about 160 miles round trip, and not something that he wanted to trust a 9-10 year old car to do regularly. I think the Corolla also got fuel economy in the mid 30's, while the LeBaron got around 25-26, so with that amount of driving, he saw a pretty substantial savings in fuel, too.

    I remember our '88 LeBaron turbo got a bit better though. I'd usually get around 27-28 on the highway, and the wife could actually break 30.

    I'd imagine that a 2.2/2.5 could make it to 300K miles if, like you said, it was maintained well and driven with reasonable care. I'm sure that something would go along the way, like the water pump, starter, alternator, crankshaft/camshaft seals, etc. And the service interval for the timing belt back then was 60,000 miles, at which point it's easy to get to those seals, anyway.

    Oh, and one other bonus...if the timing belt does snap, it's a non-interference engine. So while you're still stranded, at least your valves aren't kissing the pistons!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yes it's the turbo engines that have the high mortality rate. They are pretty much doomed to early head gasket failure. As for 300K, I'd bet against that. But of course, people fall off buildings and land on passing mattress trucks, and cigarette smokers do, now and then, live to 80, so the occasional miracle of 300K might very well be witnessed. Never say never.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I think your LeBaron is statistically meaningless because of probable maintenance and use induced stresses.

    I don't include engine accessories or timing belts in engine longevity assumptions, because I consider these long term maintenance items.

    I agree with Shifty, that 300K is an unrealistic expectation. Now if you're talking about the Slant 6, or even the 318...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    STILL unrealistic....despite all the claims I have seen in 25 years of looking at cars, perhaps 1/2 dozen proven documented 300K engines that were not opened up at some point. Even if you've owned the car from 150K to 300K, you can't claim accurate knowledge of prior history.

    Even my beloved 300D, pushing 286K, had had a new cylinder head, (cracked, fairly common on the legendary durable 300D) so that doesn't make it a 286K engine anymore.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    I have a friend who had two K-car convertibles, both of 'em '86'es. One had the 2.2 and one had the 2.5. I know he took them both to around 150,000 miles or so with no major engine or transmission problems.

    We had several K-cars as company cars back in the mid 80's. One I drove kept stalling at every intersection. I tore my sport coat sleeve on the ragged door trim of another one. They were pathetic, miserable cars. 150,000 miles in one should be outlawed by the Geneva convention. Would I ever collect one? Only if I could do so with a pooper-scooper.


    By comparison, the Chevy Citations we got were decent cars. They were painted in a sort of hotelroom-heater beige color, and only had 85 mph speedo's but they weren't bad cars in a utilitarian Soviet-Block tool sort of way. But Classic? Uhm, no.
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 2,036
    There has been a lot of discussion of what cars are 'worthy' of being classics, but that is not the question being asked. Let me use a 1982 Chevy Citation as an example. It is, at this point, a 25 y.o. car. Shifty notes that you could pick one up for $375 and from the perspective of today there is no reason to believe that this is going to change.

    However, let us venture back to 1982, when the Citation was young. How much would you have had to pay for a '57 Chevy then; say a nice Bel Air hardtop with a 283. I would be willing to bet it would not have set you back much. It wasn't an especially good car, and was a typical (slightly stylish) family car. Now look at how much they are worth.

    The point is, you never can tell. I still can't figure out why these cars command such crazy money, so I don't see how to predict which ones will fetch crazy money in the future. You can point at some that undoubtedly will, but categorically stating that a car will never be collectable is less certain. I am certainly not betting that a Citation will, it was just an example. But I sure am not going to predict that none of the '80s front drivers will ever be considered a classic.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, sure.... it's a good argument as far as it goes but you've left out, in my opinion, one really crucial factor in your comparison to 57 Chevys.

    And what's that?

    When they were new, 57 Chevy hardtops were *exciting* to people; on the other hand, nobody cared much about a Chevy Citation in 1982, except the poor slobs who bought one.

    It is of course desire and that "ICON" status that drives classic car and demand...and the desirability of a Chevy Citation, and its myth-making capacity, is about that of a 1980s GMC bread van.

    Julia Roberts is exciting. The 4th runner up in the Dallas Cattleman's Association Bathing Suit Contest is not, even if she (he?) is passably attractive.

    Even if one were, in a fit of cleverness, to point out to Shifty a plain jane, stripped-down 4 door '57 Chevy, and say "well look, that car wasn't exciting to anyone in 1957"....

    yes yes,...that's true....BUT....the car's value today is BASED ON its exciting older brother, the flashy '57 convertible and hardtop. Without one there would be no value to a stripper 4-door.

    The Citation has no well-dressed cousin to help it along.

    It was a humble economy car back then, back when the world greeted it with a raised eyebrow of curiousity, and some modest ink in the press---all of which quickly turning into mild disgust, then apathy, when it was revealed what an tragically flawed car it was "in reality", despite what it promised IN THEORY.

    So I think the Citation is utterly, totally, eternally, momumentally hopeless as a "classic" or a "collectible", unless you consider storing them in your back yard as a "collector car" status.

    It's not cruel or biased, it's just how it works. Other than some vague hope, there's no evidence to support a Citation becoming anything more than it ever was---which was a common dull car that teenager ever dreamed of owning.

    The Citation wasn't even a good tragic hero like the Edsel or Delorean. It just rolled over and died quietly.
  • Shifty, I want to thank you for that statement in regards to the Edsel and DeLorean. As a DeLorean owner I've seen somewhat of a turn in perspective toward the car and its legacy. Most people now see the car as what it was: a great concept car that got saw production. It's one of those great "what if" cars. People also look back on JZD for his great work at GM and how he almost had asuccess on his hands with the DMC.

    The DeLorean saga is actually a pretty cool story! If you ever get the chance, pick up "Stainless Steel Illusion" and you'll see how close it came to working.

    Be well, and Live the Dream!

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yeah I guess you and I are on the same page about automotive history.

    Some unique types of automotive "failures", with the drama and personalities that go with them, are far more interesting to me than run of the mill cars that just died of apathy or boredom.

    The Edsel is a great story about corporate hubris, human blindness and the chicanery of "market research" and bobbling of statistical data.

    The Delorean is a great story of bribery, corruption, some bad luck, some twists of fate, once again that 'ol human blindness, individual hubris, and even peripherally the tragedy of Ireland's economic morass of the times (they are in much better shape now).

    As far as FWD is concerned, there were FWD cars built for innovation and to advance technology, and then there were FWD cars built because it was just cheaper to build small cars that way.

    The original MINI is the former, the Citation, IMHO, is the latter---and that difference will make a world of difference to the two cars' collectibility I believe.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    I see a little fascination in the Citation is that it represented a turning point for GM. Sure, GM had failures and losers before the Citation, but usually in relatively niche markets that didn't really hurt them, such as the Corvair and Vega.

    However the Citation represented a whole new breed of family car, and basically set the pattern for the way cars are built today (albeit much more reliably!) People flocked to the Citation in droves, enough to push sales in that extra-long 1980 model year to roughly 811,000 units, toppling the record set by the 1965 Mustang for first-year popularity. The Mustang sold about 680,000 units in its extra long first year, IIRC.

    Had the Citation been a more reliable car, it would've definitely helped GM maintain its dominance, although I guess over the years, they still would've found other ways to shoot themselves in the foot. But instead, the Citation ended up being the most recalled car in history, and only helped accelerate the avalanche that was GM's slide from grace.

    Now, I'm not saying that any of that warrants the Citation ever commanding a high dollar price, but I find it to be an interesting footnote in automotive history.

    And I guess in the long run, there was some success in the Citation, after all. In 1985, 3 of its offspring, the Celebrity, Cutlass Ciera, and Century, were among the top ten selling cars in America. And had it not been for more stingent side impact standards that were adopted in the late 1990's, I'm sure GM would've found a way to keep building the things, even today!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think of the Citation as just one more stumbling incompetent disaster for GM in its seemingly endless plunge into self-inflicted second-tier status. It wasn't fast, it wasn't good looking, it wasn't charming, it wasn't cute, it wasn't interesting technically, it didn't make anyone (like the Mustang), it didn't destroy anyone (like Delorean).

    It just sits there like a Big Nothing in the automotive history books. I've got "Collectible Cars 1930-80s", I've got "Cars of the 1980s", I've got classic and collectible car price guides in 6 different versions, I've got Hemmings "Classic Cars" magazine in every issue, and the Citation is in none of these books or magazines. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero.

    So I am apparently not alone :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    Hmmm, there actually IS a book on 80's cars?! I have a few books in a series that covers each decade and has names like "Cars of the Fabulous 50s", "Sizzling 60's", and "Sensational 70's" and thinking that if they made an "Awesome 80's" that maybe me, Lemko, and 3 other people on the face of the earth would be interested in it!
This discussion has been closed.