Let me start with a story, true story……sad story.
In town there is a 1997 Porsche 911 Turbo, the desirable 993 generation, all original, accident free and mint condition with 14000 KM on the clock. Do yourself a favor and google image this car, inside and out, then google search, let’s say a 2007 911 Turbo………let’s just say 10 years has revolutionized the 911 and has made all old cars completely outdated in every way shape or form……or did it? The story continues at part 2 muah ha ha!!
In the mind of a gearhead, a classic car is usually a car that has a “soul”. It’s a car that speaks to the heart of the driver in discussion. May it be the way the car sounds, or the way it looks, or the nostalgic value a car may have. In my experience and research, people want to re-live “the good old days” and nothing can bring back those memories to a gearhead better than their childhood Delorean……get it…..?? Think about it, if there was something out there that you can magically get your hands on that would bring you back to your childhood or any wonderful past life experience, what would you pay for that? How much would you pay for your favourite doll, toys or stuffed animal ?! A pet you grew up with (I know that’s a bit cryptic….?) how much would you pay for all those childhood videos and photos you lost or got destroyed. Seriously take 10 Minutes, grab a pen and paper (remember we have to re-live the past and there weren’t iPads to write notes in past years !) and hand write all those amazing things that are priceless from your past.
Oh and I want you guys to share these things with me and with all the readers! And definitely if it’s a car :)
It’s pretty simple we cannot put a price on these items, and if we could how much would you pay for it? Why do you think old collector Lego sets are worth so much? Old vintage furniture? Vintage video games from days past, have you looked how much a mint condition unique games cost? It’s insane, but with such limited supply and such high demand for “memories” to be re-lived, it’s time to open up those wallets and spend that cash people! Let’s divulge in video games for a second, you can download that classic game on your phone in 10 seconds for free or for less than a dollar in most cases……..or……..you can spend 200$ on that old obsolete plastic cartridge Legend of Zelda with original box and booklet?? Same game we are talking about, but there is something missing.
Soul people, it’s all about soul.
Now that I have established that, in the world of cars being able to predict a future classic is a very very difficult task to say the least. Cars are known to be instantly obsolete when it comes to innovation and technology in every respect as soon as that new generation comes flying off the assembly line. This is a natural occurrence in the automobile world, companies need to remain competitive to stay profitable. So what happens to the old cars, the previous generation cars? They depreciate…..read my second post, that will explain everything. Now I want you to ask as many people as you know this question: can a car be both a tool for excitement and an investment? I truly think 95% of the time it’s a definite No! Although with some homework on what makes a car classic, this may not be the case.
There are two dominant elements that can predict a future classic.
The first thing that makes a car classic is the most fundamental economic concept, supply and demand. Let’s focus on the supply end of it. Many cars had limited production due to several reasons such as initial purchase price, popularity during production, competition, reliability, stigmas, capped production, short overall production lifespan, etc. Usually cars that were initially out of the price range of the average folk are the ones that become future classics. Again I will elaborate on specific models in part 2 of this post which are of limited numbers and many of which are produced in such limited quantities that they are destined to become instant classics by design of the manufacturer.
Second reason as to why a car can become a future classic is that during it’s next generation, there is a special trait or feature that was changed or removed, that may have been an attractive feature. Usually, this change dramatically improves the car overall, however something intangible or tangible is lost. Even though all these changes create a superior product in respect to power, reliability, fuel economy and handling, something is lost, some soul the car previously had, was lost. Today there are three major “trait” changes happening in the automotive world due to strict government regulations in place for fuel economy and emissions. Basically all car manufacturers need to reduce emissions and hit fuel economy targets, therefore specific technologies must be implemented to comply with new requirements.
The first change is the use of forced induction, turbocharging in most cases, that both increase the performance and decrease fuel consumption simultaneously. How can this be a bad thing you ask!?! Simple, along with the addition of turbos, this is usually accompanied with smaller engines that lack soul and reduced revs to achieve peak power (vampire sucking the life out of the car’s soul!). Sure it’s faster and more efficient (when driving normally and non spirited at all) although a major element of excitement is lost, gearheads love high revs, loud obnoxious engines, and the sound of an old school muscle car!
The second major change occurring is the use of hybrid/electric motor technology to dramatically reduce fuel consumption and emissions as it’s primary function. Today however, three of the most prestigious sports car brands are using hybrid technology as a performance enhancer as it’s main priority. Ferrari, Mclaren and Porsche all use hybrid technology in In their new hypercars in very innovative ways to decrease lap times and increase fuel economy simultaneously, rather than resorting to turbocharging, downsizing motor displacement, etc. To me this application if hybrid technology is truly revolutionary in the sports car world and allows manufactures to continue to use stratospherically revving motors, and at the same time save the world! Brilliant I say.
The final and arguably most important change that is creating instant classics, is the death of the manual transmission. Most major players in the sports car world have already killed the manual transmission option including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Flagship Porsche models (iconic GT3), and so many more icons. The reason is very simple, the manual transmission is completely inferior in every way when it comes to all elements of performance and efficiency without getting into any details. It is however not inferior when it comes to pure driving pleasure. Even when the manual was offered in the past as an option with these iconic cars, the take rate was virtually zero in comparison to it’s automated manual counterpart. The only car companies that are staying true to the manual are the American sports cars, including the new mustang GT350, SRT viper, corvette stingray/z06, etc. That being said it’s only a matter of time when consumer demand for the manual transmission continues to die as the American car monikers design their new sports cars to be used with modern day sequential manual gearboxes and more performance oriented automatic transmissions. Naturally, emissions and fuel economy are also improved when a modern day manual transmission is applied by maximizing the engines efficiency to transit power to the wheels.
I’m not saying that in every instance the cars will become less desirable, I am simply stating that these changes may allow previous generation cars to hold something special in the hearts of traditionalists who don’t care about more power, or being more efficient. People who buy sports cars are buying a tool to provide excitement above anything else, and going faster does not always go hand in hand with excitement (excluding extreme HP turbocharged and highly tuned Gallardo’s, GT-R’s, 911 Turbos, etc).
Soul people, it’s all about soul of a car.
Part 2 we will discuss specific modern day cars (less than 20 years old) that I think are classics in the making or already achieved that status! And I want your feedback!
Live to drive