Journal: Were Any Classics Designed To Be Admired And Not Driven?

Were Any Classics Designed To Be Admired And Not Driven?

By Michael Banovsky
June 30, 2016

Ask Petrolicious” had an overwhelming response, with more than 75 questions sent in so far. Today, I’ll answer an easy one from Rik E.: “Are all cars meant to be driven, or should some just be put on a pedestal as the actual drive or ownership lets down the experience? Are there examples of typical pedestal cars?”

Look, there are a few ways to look at this. First, nearly all cars are put on a pedestal. The average a typical vehicle is used during the course of ownership roughly 5% of the time it spends literally in an owner’s hands, and the rest of the time it’s parked. Put another way, in terms of time it’s the difference between owning a car for a year or driving it for a year—the former sits in your garage and the latter will accumulate milage over time.

Figure that unreliable vehicles are used less, that sometimes finding parts is a problem for rare models, and perhaps that many of the more expensive ones don’t get out as much—and pretty soon you realize there are an awful lot of classic machines are driven well less than 1,000 miles in an entire year. Devoting time, attention, and resources to keep them going is, in a big way, placing them on a pedestal. Jay Leno even made a TV show out of his passion, right? I figure there’s a reason it’s called “Jay Leno’s Garage” and not, “Jay Leno’s Cars Being Driven”.

That said, with the benefit of time, many shortcomings originally seen on classics have been addressed. Chevrolet Corvairs no longer have to be wayward and unpredictable, it’s possible to tune older cars to run very well on our modern pump gas, and the Porsche 356 can be given a serious speed upgrade in the form of the Polo-4 engine. With enough money, time, and desire, anything can be made better. So: if you’re finding it difficult to enjoy the classic car you have, there are plenty of others to choose from.

Getting back to the original question, there are definitely examples of vehicles not designed to be thrilling to drive. Chauffeur-driven cars typically fall under that category, as do luxo-barges (Chrysler Imperials, Lincoln Continentals, Cadillacs), trucks, “economy cars”, etc. I’m not saying those classics aren’t enjoyable to drive, more that they weren’t likely designed to clip apexes and make snappy gear changes.

There is one category of vehicles that were designed to be on pedestals, with few concerns beyond looking beautiful: concept cars.

Concepts are produced solely to attract attention when sitting on a pedestal, and owners who’ve managed to take them home or get them road-registered are acutely aware of that fact—which is why many end up on concours lawns more than they’re driven. Getting your own concept car isn’t an unattainable dream, either, though you’re also more likely to have to outbid someone to get ahold of one. Could be fun, though.

Have a question for us? Just ask. We’ll do our very best to answer it in a future story!

Image Sources: Niklas Andresson, Sean Mathis,

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Fernando Souto
Fernando Souto

From our studio I look into an apartment building where you can park your exotic car in your living room. I’ve seen one Lamborghini Miura and 1967 400GT.
There’s nothing typical about the Alfa Romeo BAT cars but I’d have one in my living room. I think Bertone defined the modern automobile with these three cars.

Joshua Seidenberg
Joshua Seidenberg

I don’t think you completely answered. In addition, I think he was asking if there were cars produced for sale that are most likely “show piece” type collectables, perhaps like the one-offs Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lamborghini will build, ie P4/5…we’ve all seen pics of that. Who owns it? Where is it? Do the 3 owners of the Lambo veneno drive them ever since the unvailing?

Not being picky, just asking. There are a ton of exotic car owners here in CO that never drive, though their cars are begging to be driven.


At the other end of the luxo-barge scale, everything I’ve read about the Countach says it’s better admired.

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson

If it has wheels , drive it or ride it.
If it floats , put up the sails and sail it.
If it’s a motorboat , start it up and go for a cruise.
All that other stuff is just some dreamers idea that may or may not ever see any use. To me those things , while nice to look at ( or gag over) are pretty much useless objects, some call it art.


The lovely Lamborghini 350 GTV is probably the best example of a non-driver. The show car body panels wouldn’t fit around the intended engine, so Ferruccio had them put bricks in the engine bay so it would sit right and fastened the cover closed. And without brake calipers or pedals it wasn’t even a coaster. Still… a sweet way to introduce a new car company.

Jack White
Jack White

The Alfa Romeo Superflow coupe, a car made to be driven and was… to great success as well, which gradually turned into a piece of tranforming art which now you wouldn’t want to drive! Stuff finding a rear window if that got smashed or reverse parking it against a bollard. B-E-A-utiful thing though.