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Discussion On FWD Cars As Future Classics

mminerbimminerbi Posts: 88
edited March 2014 in Dodge
There are very few classic front wheel drive cars, but then large scale production of these models began in 1979. Cords, certain Cadillac Eldorados and Oldsmobile Toronados, and some Citroens are considered classics, but which models from the '80s and '90 will eventually become classics?

For purposes of this discussion lets define a classic as a vehicle with exceptional qualities or strong special interest appeal rather than one that has merely reached a certain age. For example, an Audi TT may eventually reach classic status, but how about a Dodge Omni GLH?


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    ...but here's a few modern FWD models I like...

    1979-85 Eldo/Toro/Riv: neoclassic looks in a fairly modern body. One of the few FWD cars to offer a truly flat floor. Also available some years as a convertible

    1995-99 Aurora/Riviera: Nice styles that just continue to get nicer

    1990's Cutlass Supreme Convertible (forget the exact year span...'91-'95, maybe). One of the last attempts at anywhere near a large convertible. Probably not much roomier than a Sebring, but Sebrings are everwhere; Supreme 'verts are comparatively rare.

    There really isn't too much from Ford that interests me as an FWD car, because for years only their cheapest models, such as the Tempo and Escort, were FWD. The Taurus was a bold break at the time, but there were just too many of 'em built, and they weren't exactly symbols of quality.

    Same with Chrysler. Every FWD car they made up until 1993 was either based on the L (Omni/Horizon) or K-car platform.

    I think part of the problem is that, for the most part, 4-door cars don't generate much interest as classics, yet that's about all they make nowadays. For the most part, 2-door cars are now relegated to cheaper, low-line models, which aren't going to make very hot collector's items, either. Then add to that the fact that FWD cars can get pricey when they break, so who's going to want to collect a cheap old car that's expensive to maintain?
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    1986-91 Cadillac Eldorado/Seville. Although these models were unpopular when new, more and more people are discovering that they have a sporty feel and look to them. They're probably the smallest Cadillacs to come out of Detroit in recent times (excepting the Cimarron and CTS). The short deck/long hood look of the Eldo reminds one of the original Mustang as well. My doctor has a '90 Eldo which he bought new and now has 169k on it. He's got the 4.5-liter SFI V-8 and has nothing but praise for it; he also adds that it's the most reliable car he's ever owned, albeit a little expensive to maintain and keep running. Everybody ought to have these Eldos/Sevilles.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    You can make an argument that there will be no new classic cars (or at least a declining population of new ones). While this may be just a sign of incipient curmudgeonhood, it seems to me that the automobile generally is losing it's hold on the general public as an art form. In addition, changes in design (implying a move to appliance-like maintenance cycles) and giant changes in government regulation will push cars off the pedestal they've inhabited.

    That strikes me as a good general question...will the car as 'classic' survive the upcoming century. I kind of doubt it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It's hard to think of modern cars as classics because they make so many of them and so many of them survive. Also, they look so much alike these days that I suspect the Eyes of the Future won't ever be able to tell them apart (future eyes are not as disciminating of subtle design cues as a rule--to most of us, for instance, stuff just looks "old" rather than Victorian, Edwardian, World War I, World War II etc.).

    Probably the only cars that will be seriously collected (as opposed to just "collected" in someone's back yard) are limited edition high HP cars. Lots of HP always seems to attract attention down the road.

    Once a modern, or even 80s, FWD mass produced car wears out, it is unlikely someone would go through the tremendous expense to restore a common everyday car like that. But doubtless a few people will patch 'em up and keep 'em running, just like they do now.
  • There were lots of low production special Shelbys made and the R/Ts of the early 90s with their 224hp turbo 4s are rare and will have a following.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Being rare unfortunately does not make something valuable and a following has to be substantial to support an aftermarket support network of parts.

    Those FWD "Shelby" cars have little value today (about $2,500) and do not a very large following, so my feeling is that they are all doomed to extinction. Not enough value to justify a restoration, and not enough of a following to support making parts for them. Best you could do is buy ten and cannibalize them until parts run out.

    It's kind of cruel, but that's the world of old cars.
  • From an English point of view, I think Chryslers PT Cruiser is a prime candidate for being a future classic (although it could do with more power), well at least over here!

    It’s the first practical, mass produced ever-day car in a long time to step away from what would be considered to norm. That is, boring, small to medium sized, front wheel drive hatchbacks.

    As for other cars sold in the UK, most are so no-descript that I doubt very much, many will be remembered. Even Ford, who have produced some memorable cars in the past have fallen by the wayside

    The only other model that springs to mind is the Cadillac Servile STS. This has to be the best front wheel drive car I’ve ever driven. I was almost temped to reconsider my dislike for front wheel drive cars.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yes, maybe a second-tier collectible in a Morris Minor sort of way. A PT would never be a classic as they are mass-produced sedans, but they may take on a kind of cutsey cult status like the Minor or the VW bug. I think Cadillacs from the 90s will be scrap metal myself, if we can judge from what happens to old, broken, expensive to fix luxury cars from the 80s, like old beater Benzes and Audis and Jaguar XJ6s and BMW 7-Series. Only a few cream puffs will survive, as restoration costs cannot be justified by resale value.
  • Will the first year Chrysler LeBaron Convertible ('83?) and more recent LeBaron TC make the cut as classics or second-tier collectibles?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I don't think any will be any Lebarons left to collect, quite frankly--they are rather perishable. The Maserati TC will be passed around from person to person but it never has generated any excitement in the past.
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    Lee Iacocca called it the "best-looking Italian since my Mom." Scary idea......
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    I had a LeBaron turbo coupe a few years back. It was an '88, and my uncle bought it in '90. We got it in '95, and when I divorced in '96 I let her have it. Then, the car let her have it. It was junk by '97. She gave it back to me and I stipped some parts off of it and then sold what was left for parts. When that car went South, it did so in a major way. It needed about $900 worth of suspension work right before we split up. After we split, the radiator went, the a/c compressor went, the trip computer would tell fibs. Finally the head gasket blew and the head warped. After that, the turbo went, and so did 2 of the 4 cylinders.

    I'll say one thing for it though. It was probably the most attractive K-car ever built. From an aesthetic standpoint, I think it was beautiful, much better than other aerodynamic efforts such as the Ford Taurus, Tempo, GM W-bodies, etc. They just weren't put together all that well. In all fairness, ours was pretty good up until the 90K mark, but all the stuff I listed above happened between then and around 115K or so, when I junked it.

    They were also very popular when they were new. Some years, the LeBaron was the most popular American convertible available. However, that's something else that probably doesn't bode well for their collectibility. It does mean that trim and body parts are readily available in the junkyard, though!

    As for the TC, I think its main problem is that the LeBaron is actually more attractive (in the eye of this beholder, at least ;-), and sold for about 1/2 the price. Still, go to a Mopar meet sometime, and you'll see that there are plenty of TC's around. I think they're kinda like Prowlers...people with money buy them because they're cool, take care of them, and don't drive them much, so they last.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You don't need a lot of money to buy a TC, and I have a feeling as time goes on, you'll need less.

    If you see a car acting like a used car, that is, the older it gets, the LESS it's worth, that's the opposite of a "collectible", which is supposed to get more valuable as it ages.

    So continuing depreciation after 10-15 years isn't a good sign.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,552
    I know they're pretty cheap nowadays, but I'm thinking more along the lines of when they were new. People bought LeBarons and ragged them out, while they probably bought TC's because they thought they'd be a classic, or for a second, fair weather "toy car", etc.

    Actually, at what age should a car start to come back up in value, instead of continuing to depreciate, to be considered "classic" or "valuable"? For instance, I heard with 'Vettes that they tend to bottom out at 20 years. That may not be a good example though, consdidering that a 20 year old 'Vette isn't too desireable!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You should start seeing the bottoming out at around 15-20 years, yes, and then the car should start climbing in value. I think a 1980 Vette will bottom out and stay there, however.

    Not all old cars get more valuable as they age.

    Some old cars will even "re-depreciate", like Model T Fords are now, as the people who like them die off and younger enthusiasts shift their focus. You can buy good running Model Ts (later models without brass) for as little as $5K-6K, even though they are 85 years old.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Funny but a nice Model A will often bring more than an equal Model T.

    I think the reason might be that the A is, at least drivable. Not on freeways but they will chug along at 40 MPH pretty easily.

    The T on the other hand would be a menace given any traffic.
  • Over here the Cadillac is still to a degree seen as an enthusiast car and GM have done little to alter this as its only sold through a limited number of specialist dealerships. Although, I think the same could be said for a variety of American cars that make to these shores.

    I know over the last few years the number of 1970's and 80's models that have appeared at classic cars events have increased considerably. I think it has a lot to do with the uniqueness add to that the bonus of low running costs and parts availability, a great deal of fun can be had.

    I found this last summer when a friend asked if I would do some work on his 78 Fleetwood whilst he was on Vacation. I had the car for three weeks and used it for two and had a great deal of fun. so much so I am considering looking for something later this year.

    All-in-all, I think we are looking at different sides of the same coin. I watched a TV program not so long back about different car collectors around the world, and one of the guy's that was interviewed was from Boston and he had a collection of 70's and 80's British cars from BL/Rover.

    Now over here, they would be considered as nothing more than junkyard fodder, however, there uniqueness provided a great deal of fun and entertainment for him and his family (although if it's a BL product its probably down to all the exercise gained in pushing it!) So along that line of thought, if you had an old LTD parked in your drive, no-one would give it a second thought, however, park the same car on my drive and it would certainly generate some interest.

    So, whether or not that make a car a classic I really don't know. We'll just have to wait 20 years and see what people collect.
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    to something different -- and sometimes, the odder the better.

    The only Cadillac I ever owned was a 68 Sedan de Ville with 80k on the clock, in absolutely perfect condition. The owner never even put the windows down because it had climate control, and he never let his grandkids in it either -- that was reserved for his wife's Mercury. He changed the oil every 1500-200 miles, and it didn't burn a drop.

    The local Cadillac dealer tried to screw him on the trade-in for a new one (this was his fifth bought there, so you can imagine his ire at being so treated), so he went down the street to the Lincoln dealer and put his car up for sale -- for $800!!! I bought it on the spot, thinking to re-sell it at a profit as quickly as possible. The longer I drove it, the better I liked it. My first revelation was when blowing out the carbon on one of those wide, straight country roads southeastern Michigan is so full of. I nearly ran up the tailpipe of the guy in front of me. Later, I found out that I could dust small-block Novas (stock, of course) with the thing, and that it would deliver 18 mpg at a steady 70-80 mph.

    Things ended tragically. On the way to my insurance agent one day to write a special policy on it (it was worth far more than book, obviously), a dumptruck driver made a u-turn across three lanes of traffic and t-boned me, wiping the whole front end of the car out. But it was a wonderful car for the 2-3 months I was able to drive it. Rode like a cloud. Pretty, too.
  • Yer! You find the same thing over here. Some dealers just cannot grasp the concept of customer loyalty. Same about the car though. Although, I know in these days of environmental awareness, to admit to fact of liking old gas guzzling American cars is a major sin. But, personally I really don't care!

    I like late sixties and early to mid seventies full size sedans. I think old Lincolns and Cadillac's are great. I went to see a 1970 Fleetwood last year that I was looking at as a restoration project, and it drove like a dream, and the performance.

    I nailed the pedal and the auto box shifted down and the car just took off. I was amazed that a car of its size could move as quick. Unfortunately, the owner had begun to restore the car himself, had then lost his job and just left the car sitting for almost two years. In that time it was vandalized and when I looked at it, the owner wanted more than the car was really worth.

    By the time I had tracked down the parts (including a new windshield) it would have cost more to restore than a good roadworthy example would cost. So, its still there. Although, If he would be willing to lower his price I would like to resurrect the old girl. I would hate to see it sit there until its nothing more than junk.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 20,575
    cars will ever be considered classic or even collectible IMHO. Probably Mini-Coopers, Citroen DS, early SAAB Turbos and just maybe VW Corrado VR6s might make the grade. Only time will tell.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    has little to do with whether or not the car will be a collectible (except in the case of a V12 Ferrari or 427 Cobra). Usually it's a combination of the brand name and styling. Even ugly Ferraris (yes, there are quite a few) don't go for that much money.

    It's sometimes hard to tell what will be a classic when the car is a current model -- familiarity breeds contempt. No one in their right mind would think a Citroen DS would be a classic, back when they were making them -- but they may very well turn out to be just that. The Mini-Cooper, on the other hand, had a racing record and the Cooper name, so even back then it was a safe bet that they would become collectible.

    Also, don't forget the big American FWDs -- the Toronado and Eldorado. The early models are already considered classics, and clean examples will continue to appreciate in value as they become more and more scarce.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think you are an optimist, BT, on some of those cars you mentioned, because hey, the Citroen DS has had a lot of years to start getting "classic" and there's no sign of it yet. At least you can see Minis going up in value and generating lots of excitement at auctions. But a Citroen at a classic car auction pulls just about the same money year after year after year. And my friend has a mint '76 Eldo he can't sell for $8,500. If anything, FWD Eldo prices are dropping still (but pretty close to bottom, which should be about $7,500 for a nice one).

    But I do agree in principle, it's not the drivetrain that determines classic status
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    I thought early Toronados would start bringing in decent prices (high 20s, low thirties) by now, if they were extra clean. All that speculation without a shred of hard evidence! Thanks for the correction, shifty.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, you could still be right, but it isn't looking good at this point, and really, if a car doesn't start to show some glamour after say 15 years, it may never.

    As a rule, only cars that really lit people up the day they were new (even non-car people) become true classics.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I like early Toros too but I sure wouldn't park one in my garage just for its appreciation potential. For one thing it's an Oldsmobile, an off-brand in the collector market. It's going to be extinct soon and that won't add any cachet. They've been surprisingly cheap for years and I don't think an extablished history like that usually changes.
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    I thought that's why the Toros would be collectible (much more so than the Eldo, although I thought the Eldo was a high-water mark of Mitchell styling, and much prettier than the Toro). I do know that it caused a sensation when it was first introduced -- I was a student in Chicago at the time, and everybody just went nuts. Here was a sleek, big American car with non-nonsense styling and a 130 mph top speed. The FWD just made it that much more exotic.

    speedshift: Intuitively, I don't agree with your contention that the Toro will be less valuable now that Olds has left the market -- in fact, I think it would make it MORE valuable. What do you think, shifty?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I could be wrong but I'm sceptical because I've owned--and sold--four Olds.

    Three of them were really nice semi-collectibles, a '63 Starfire convertible, '65 Starfire hardtop and '68 Toronado. All were in excellent mechanical shape and had been detailed to look good. The buyer indifference to them was remarkable. No one I dealt with was dying to own an Olds. But if they'd been big block Impalas I'd have had to beat off buyers with a stick. Less car but more demand.

    The fourth Olds was a '90 Cutlass International Series coupe, also very nice but with no resale value, which I understand was typical of Olds even before GM pulled the plug.

    None of this bodes well for Olds values down the road.

    I think Olds is going to join the ranks of makes like Hudson, Nash and DeSoto. It wasn't a marketing disaster like the Edsel, or involved in scandal like the Delorean. Olds had some very good years into the late '80s but since then it's been downhill. The Toro will have more appeal than most Olds but there isn't enough magic to either name make Toronado a big collectible.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yeah, I agree, most Olds will be just another orphan. Oh, it will certainly have those who love them and "collect" them, but as collectibles they will always be 2nd or 3rd tier----"mildly interesting to a select few". But the right year 4-4-2 with the right options might bring some money.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Right, maybe a '70 W-30 or a '69 Hurst Olds or I suppose one of the ultra-rare 3 deuce '66s.

    BTW there was a W-34 Toronado in 1970 with 455/400, upgraded Turbo-Hydramatic, GT emblems and striping.
  • badtoybadtoy Posts: 368
    Guess, after all the arm-waving, that GM actually did the right thing in killing off the brand.
This discussion has been closed.