Monday, August 23, 2010

Response to "Open Letter to Classic Car Owners"

Over at Jalopnik (great car news source and generally cool place) a recent article entitled "An Open Letter to the Typical Classic Car Seller/Owner" brought up some interesting opinions. The author writes "I'm getting increasingly bothered by the fact that I don't have a car, whether drivable or not. This frustration rises exponentially when I'm "window shopping" for a car on Craigslist. I come across one in which I'm halfway interested (usually within the late 1930′s, late 40′s, early 50′s or late 60′s model years) & then see the price." So it seems he is shopping via craigslist and is not thrilled that the cars are in his price point. I understand this issue but also wonder what he was initially setting out to buy? The car choice can be a big factor in price obviously. He continues "The only people who can afford these immaculately restored cars are people of your age group. No wonder the classic car culture is dying. The only people who can afford them literally ARE…dying." Ok, I get it, the boomers are putting stock into their own personal nostalgia (cars) and selling them for top dollar. Perhaps the real issue is that they really dont want to sell their cars? They have a immense sense of nostalgia for these vehicles because it is  a reminder of their childhoods. They remember the good old days when they see these cars and well, nostalgia can be a great feeling.

I thing the primary issue here is not that cars are overpriced (some certainly are of course) or that classic car culture is drying up but the fact that everyone views the "classics" as only a few certain types of vehicles. Classic car culture is not dead, it is not huge but it is alive. I am 26 and love classic cars. The styling, feel, and history of classic cars are what draw me. The thing is I dont have to have a pristine 57' Chevy to feel like a real classic car enthusiast. I chose my Rambler because it was unique, there were parts available, and it resonated with me. You have to connect to the car, thats what makes owning a classic special. If you do it purely for the dollar, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

I do agree with some of the article to some extent. He argues cars are meant to be driven, new and old and I can agree with that. Their original purpose was to be a drivable automobile, no question. I also understand some folks wanting to keep their rides off the road and preserve them as a show piece. You spend thousands of dollars in restoration you may want to keep it shiny. The problem arises when the vehicle becomes a thing of monetary value, its purpose only to sell at a later date. The connection to the car is not there, its just a form of currency at this point.

So do not fret younger generation, all hope is not lost. The only thing lost is the classic car you have yet to find and make your own. If you want a mint classic for bargain basement price you will be disappointed. If you want something will some wear and "patina" then you only need look and something will show up. Owning and maintaining a classic car takes some elbow grease and brow sweat, but hey thats what makes it yours. Get out there and find yours.

image: Airflyte


  1. It's a little like old houses (or vintage stoves)...there is always one type that is "hot" and they sell for a whole lot of money because they are trendy and everyone wants one. And sooner or later a new trend comes around and everyone is selling the old and buying the new hot item. But, I agree with you, if you are really interested in something (whatever it may be), you want it for it's own merits. The trick is to find something solid, that you like, that makes you happy for a reasonable price.

  2. Couldn't agree more. Get something you like and make it your own, trends fade.