The year all old cars turned into classic cars


I miss it Talking about car. Someone else? At the end of the year, as someone who writes on the internet, I’m supposed to have some insightful recommendations for things like the latest and greatest podcasts, Hidden Gems if you will, but to tell you the truth, a much of my listening history this year has been from old Click and Clack episodes.

Even today, the late Tom Magliozzi and his brother Ray have timeless advice on cars (Want a cheap sports car? Buy a Miata.) And life (When a couple calls to settle a dispute, it’s best to to say they’re both right in their own way), but an episode that recently crept into my feed showed me just how far we’ve come in American automotive culture. A recently divorced man called to say he wanted to buy a used car that would show he is the type to warn against the wind, so he asked what would be better: a Suzuki Sidekick ’88 or ‘ 89, Isuzu Amigo or Geo Tracker?

“Give us your rationale for picking these three losers,” Ray replied. In the end, they convince the guy to buy a Miata.

Back then there were good cars, some of which would become classic cars, and there were losers. Today, it feels like every old car, no matter how loser it seemed when it came out, has the potential to be hailed as a classic. As we reported in October, the ’80s and’ 90s SUVs that the midlife crisis caller wanted have come back to life as collectibles, along with even newer vehicles that have been released. deemed unworthy of a second generation like the FJ Cruiser and the Honda Element.

For an overview, I called John Wiley, the valuation analytics lead at Hagerty, a company that has always had a more democratic mindset than most when it comes to the remarkable automobile. The growing car enthusiast brand – which officially went public in December through a SPAC merger – has built its name by insuring vintage cars, currently around two million. On its website, they state that they “only protect the classics”. So what exactly do they see as a classic car?

“We really define them as something that you don’t drive to get to work every day,” Wiley told InsideHook. “So as long as it meets those criteria and as long as you have a safe place to keep it, we will consider it an avid collector’s vehicle. ”

In Hagerty’s eyes, there is a place for the Ferrari F40 and Suzuki Samurai in their price guides. As long as the company team has the data that shows these vehicles are becoming collectable – that is, their values ​​are appreciating enough – then they are happy to sign an official classic car designation. But the F40, which has never been a universally beloved design, is one car that can help explain why there seems to be increased interest in all older cars, even smaller ones.

“The F40 could be a good example of cars that have… those analog driving experiences that enthusiasts fear losing as more cars become electric vehicles,” says Wiley. “I think this is one thing that drives the growth of the enthusiast market and the number of enthusiasts. It’s just that if everything goes electric there will still be some fun vehicles, but they will be different in one way or another. And maybe it’s the noise and maybe it’s the complexity, but I think enthusiasts are worried about losing something in this transition.

While we have yet to hit the predicted steep curve in electric vehicle adoption here in the United States, 2022 looks likely to be a banner year for electrification, especially with the release of the Ford F-150. Lightning, an electric version of the best. vehicle sales in the country. But it’s not just a growing fear of the unknown that is changing the way we think about cars of old, it’s that we are redefining who can also be a collector.

Social media has generally been a democratizing force in the automotive world, offering the juicy details of six-figure supercar brands to anyone with a smartphone, but it’s also a place for underrated gems. be defended by people who see their true worth.

“When was the last time you saw a 1980s Mitsubishi Montero on the road? ” he asks. “Probably not too often, but it might show up on your social media feed if you’re looking for vintage SUVs. ”

The diversification of car auction sites has been greater during the pandemic years than your regular social media. It’s no longer just about bringing a trailer or bidding over the phone through your top-notch auction houses; from Cars & Bids to Rad for Sale to The Market (which was bought by Bonhams and debuted in the US in January), budding collectors can browse, bid and, most importantly, comment and interact with other enthusiasts. on these new platforms.

“Going to a vintage car auction in person was kind of an all-day deal and a lot of times it wasn’t very exciting,” says Wiley. It was also, for many, an exclusion. Now, instead of turning people away and annoying those who can attend, these online auctions have become their own great communities and a way for people to “stay out of boredom”.

Of course, eventually the pandemic will subside and people might stop spending so much time scrolling through research for Geo Trackers and commenting on the overestimation of certain Lamborghinis. When it comes to the world of electric vehicles, there is a growing group of enthusiasts who see more value in this new technology than in the fuel-intensive, carbon-spitting status quo, as Hagerty himself has pointed out. . Still, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for this boom in automotive nostalgia.

As CEO McKeel Hagerty said when the company started listing on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month, Hagerty’s goal is to “save driving and automotive culture for future generations.” . But at the moment, people seem more concerned with saving the cars of the previous generation than thinking about the future.


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