What is a classic car? Is it as simple as using the DMV’s “25 years old” rule to deem a car a ‘classic’? Because if that was true, there is a 1987 Ford Taurus that should be rolling up to the next concourse event, ready to be judged. I highly doubt that is the case, even if the taurus was the “car of the future” featured in the movie RoboCop.
"Matte Black is the future..."
I think a classic car is so much more than whether it is old or not. A classic is something that has a timeless nature to it; something that was unique from when it was brand new; or something that maintains a beauty or aesthetic that is well loved and cherished. It is a car that transcends generations in its appeal. A 1966 Aston Martin DB5, for example, is a beautiful car with a timeless design. I do not believe that anyone could argue against the fact that a 1966 DB5 is a classic car.
Starting at $900,000 at auction...
There is also a physical aspect to it. To me, a classic car has always been something that sat in your garage, something that you would put your blood, sweat, and tears into improving, or restoring. Classic cars were cars that you didn’t need an engineering degree to fix, restore, or maintain. Pig iron, nuts, bolts, and squeaky hinges were their attributes. But you don’t see that in the “modern classic.” What I mean by that is that there are cars from today that could be seen as future collectors cars, but don't meet this criteria. Supercars and special editions like the ‘hellcats,’ or timeless popular cars like Mustangs all come to mind. I say ‘collectors’ instead of classics because that is what they will be; cars collected to stay in a garage by some guy or girl who has the money to maintain them and often rarely driv them.
At some point in our history cars became more disposable than ever before. Looking at cars in the 1950’s, with their pontoon style and chrome trim, even the basic cars had some style and flair to them. Thus making even the most practical car from that time now a classic beauty. But as the decades passed, basic transportation became the embodiment of plain and boring. This inevitably meant they weren’t worth holding onto. I feel the heavy use of cheap plastics in the automotive world attributes to the disposibility of cars because plastic just doesn’t last as long or maintain as well as metal.
Practicality with style
So where am I going with this? These are just two points for my argument that there will no longer be "Classic Cars" in the same sense as we see them today. The true “classic” car is dead and current modern cars won’t necessarily be “classics” in 30-40 years. There has been a polarization in our automotive world. You have cars made of plastics that you, as the car companies would want it, trade in every 4-7 years for a newer model. Or, you have these highly special editions that are super marked up in price, just so whoever buys them can tell their friends that “they only made 1,000 of those, you know.” Along with that, current cars are becoming more and more complicated to the point that the at home mechanic is starting to find difficulty in the simplest of maintenance tasks. The one reason why you see classic cars at auto shows today is because they were able to be maintained by their owners due to their simplicity. So with the complexity of new cars, people will make less effort in trying to hold on to those cars that could be “classics” because they can’t do the work themselves. That, or they'll have to pay other people to do it for them, which will get expensive. The automobile hobby may one day no longer be affordable for everyone and might be reserved for those who are more well off.
The argument against this is that those who grow up with these modern cars are “smarter” and more familiar with the technology that is found in cars. So much so that many high schoolers can easily tune their car’s ECU to what they want, as well as do wonders with electric work. In my previous article, I stated the 1980’s holds some future, if not already, classic cars, and this is the decade where we see the early electronics and the beginnings of what modern cars are like. So in that sense, it’s already happening, where “modern” cars are being maintained and showcased as classics.
I hope that, no matter what car it is, there will be some automobiles that are from my lifetime that are cherished as classics and that this hobby is still affordable to the everyday person, and not reserved for the wealthy. I hope that some of the cars we see today will be driven by the youth of tomorrow to the cars and coffee of the 2040’s.