Featured: Why Do People Still Love Classic Cars?

Why Do People Still Love Classic Cars?

By Petrolicious Productions
June 30, 2015

Story by Ian Davies

In most cases, classic cars are rubbish. As James May once said, if they were any good, they’d still be made. Modern cars are faster, better handling, more reliable, more comfortable, cleaner, safer, more economical, and mostly cheaper to purchase, too. Basically, they’re better in just about every way. Yet despite this, the clearly inferior classic car not only still exists, but is positively thriving these days. Why?

There is no simple answer to this, but instead a combination of factors that each play a part.

First, there’s the design of the car itself. Classic cars were created very much in an analogue world where designers used pencil and paper to create elegant shapes and flowing lines that would just not be possible on the computer-based design software used by modern car designers. Take the front wing of a Jaguar XK120 or the profile of a Ferrari 250 GTO, for example.

These designs are beautiful in every way, but are shapes that no modern designer would create nowadays—often, the way the metal frame underneath the bodywork used during the prototype stage (and even “bucks” used to shape bodywork) would have a direct influence on the car’s form.

These designs belong to a previous age—an age that many people fondly look back on, where designers were unencumbered by constraints such as crash tests, or aerodynamic drag coefficients, and instead created shapes that reflected the mood and trends of the time.

Modern production techniques have also removed much of the character from new cars. Mass production “systems” complete with soulless computers and robots on the production lines producing identical parts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, are focussed on one thing: meeting the targets and quotas set by the car manufacturers to maximise efficiency and shareholder profit.

Classic car production, on the other hand, was largely a manual process performed by craftsmen using simple tools complemented by decades of experience to create panels by hand and by eye. The results of this are creations that have withstood the hardships of daily usage and weathered the passage of time. Not all are like this, of course. Some were very poorly designed, and built with even less care, but this is what separates classic cars from cars that are merely old.

Mechanically, they are quite different, too. Modern car engines are effectively a sealed unit, comprising of components that are largely unserviceable by the average person. Simply speaking, most components are controlled by a central electronic brain, which takes inputs from the driver, and then filters them through systems such as the drive-by-wire throttle system, the traction control, electric steering, electronic clutch, the torque vectoring system, the ABS system, and so on.

All of these systems are designed to improve efficiency and safety, but on some level, they often rob the car of its feel and character. Older machines, in contrast, are the real deal. They are delicately balanced mechanical systems comprising hundreds or thousands of individual parts, all tuned to work together in harmony. The driver is a direct extension to the machine, providing inputs and receiving direct, unfiltered feedback through the controls, resulting in an authentic experience that is just not possible with the modern equivalent.

Driving a classic car requires a great deal of manual input from the driver, from adjusting the fuel/air mixture manually with the choke, to selecting gears and controlling the engagement of power to the wheels with the clutch.

All this needs to be done in a way that gets the best out of the engine and transmission—but proper technique also protects the longevity of the ageing components. Getting all this right is inherently more challenging than the modern equivalent of electronic ignition, automatic transmissions and electronic driver aids, but a far more rewarding and satisfying experience.

Classic car owners mostly don’t embark upon a journey to reach a destination, but instead the journey is the destination.

Nostalgia also plays a large part in the appeal of classics. They all have a history, be it interesting or not. Some have achieved great things in their lives, such as competing in and winning races, expeditions or endurance events, whilst others have overcome challenges that are far more mundane but no less important to the owner. These machines were great enablers of a better life and provided mobility and freedom back in a time when such qualities were rare. They accompanied their owners on major life events, and consequently became indelibly associated with those events.

Classic cars all have a story to tell about what they have accomplished in their lives, where they have been, and why they are still in operation. The cracks in the leather or the scratches on the paint are seen by some as imperfections, but to aficionados of classic cars, these are a record of the car’s history, adding to its character and chronicling its life. Automobile manufacturers play heavily on the pedigree and heritage of their brands, but classic cars are the real-life objects that defined that heritage and established the reputation of the brand in the first place.

Then there’s the individualism. Owning any new car is easy—all it takes is money, and with cheap credit and easy finance, even that is not very difficult any longer. Classic cars however, are no longer in production and are therefore inherently limited in supply, consequently holding a far greater and ever increasing level of exclusivity. No amount of money will get you a brand new Ferrari Daytona, for example, and even if you want an old one, you still have to find someone, somewhere who is willing to sell you theirs.

The greater effort of acquiring, owning and maintaining a more exclusive product prompts questions of the owner’s passion for that product and his or her motivation for going to these additional lengths when owning a new car is so much simpler and easier. A culture has emerged surrounding classic cars, comprising of events such as classic rallies, road trips, historic racing, and classic car shows. Owners of classic cars gain great satisfaction from exhibiting their cars at these events and use them as a means to show off not only the car but also their own personality and taste.

Purchasers of modern cars typically calculate their ownership period of anything between 6 months and 5 years before they move on to something newer and better, but classic car owners see it the opposite way: the cars will exist beyond their tenure, and they are merely temporary custodians of something that has a life beyond theirs.

So will this continue, or is it just a passing trend? New cars are likely to get better and better with each passing year, so the 3 year old car that you have today is likely to be already outclassed by the new model just released.

Classic cars, however, compete on a completely different level. it’s not about efficiency and speed, but about the experience, style, exclusivity and craftsmanship, all of which are universal and timeless. Classic cars not only appeal to car lovers, but also to lovers of engineering, design, art and history.

That is the reason why people do, and always will, love classic cars—and long may it continue.

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2 years ago

I love driving my 1983 Chevy Malibu, she is a VERY reliable car and the way she drives at 65 mph on the highway is like driving on a cloud! I love old cars because they have their own look, when you see a classic headed your way, you know what it is, not like these new plastic cars! I helped a neighbor who has a 5.3l 2008 Denali with a lifter issue, yeah pulling the heads off amd replacing all the lifters and spending near a thousand dollars just in parts…yeah id rather do that than spend almost $200 on parts and not removing the heads just to change lifters…oh and dont get me started about C.E.L. and having to pass inspections. So I’ll take my nice REAL METAL car over the new cars any day of the week!!

2 years ago

Classic cars do just what you want them to do. They weren’t designed by a committee. They are more human, i.e. they have faults. They keep you awake when you drive them. Sometime they scare you.

Hunter Stevens
Hunter Stevens(@hunter_stevens)
2 years ago

well, older cars look fantastic compared to new cars. Newer cars look so stupid but old cars look so beautiful. I would rather pick an old car than a new car that is rated the safest. Old Cars For Life.

3 years ago

New cars reliable? Hahaha, good joke

Peter J Smith
Peter J Smith(@fb_1043682525)
3 years ago

I don’t think it’s something that can be quantified. You either get it, or, you don’t. Get me going, and, I can talk about the way my old Alfa smelled, and, sounded for 45 minutes. At gatherings, most people look at me like I have two heads, and, back away, but, there’s always that one person that understands.

Dana Wilcox
Dana Wilcox(@dana_wilcox)
3 years ago

I’ve owned a 1970 Cougar XR7 for 35 years…I customized it over the years and it is a blast to drive! I’ve done much of the work myself. A classic car can be both a labor of love and a sentimental part of your life. If you’ve hung on to your car from your past or bought your favorite
classic car from the past you understand. Sure, new cars can be more reliable and have better performance and safety but nothing compares to that old school feeling a classic evokes!


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4 years ago

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4 years ago

Classics 2 me R (I’m frm USA) 1935 – 1950+ a yr or 2.
Y do folks still luv em?
It’s personal!

Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč(@sleeper)
5 years ago

Why? From medias, you could still hear, like (young) people want cars like their smartphones or computers. Some, maybe. No, no, why should I? I want car, I would “udnerstand” and which would I have control of. I like desing of lot of classic car and the feeling from classic car. The simplicity of “mechanic” design. Yeah, it’s nto for free to drive classic car, you must care about it and invest in it. But that’s how relationshiop with girl.

Pablo Rodríguez
Pablo Rodríguez(@ilsorpasso)
5 years ago

Nice interpretation of something so easy like go for it in a sunny sunday and lets spend sometime just riding away, just because …

Nom DelaNom
Nom DelaNom(@fb_100007357035967)
5 years ago

“…designers used pencil and paper to create elegant shapes and flowing lines that would just not be possible on the computer-based design software used by modern car designers…”

Wait, WHAT? Modern cars look different because of improved understandings of aerodynamics and government regulations regarding safety and emissions vs efficiency; *not* the real or imagined limitations of computer aided design tools.

Kenneth Hancock
Kenneth Hancock(@bozemanken)
5 years ago

A lot of these cars have soul. They are very easy to fall in love with. Driving them creates a bond with man, or woman, that is unimaginable today. Driving an Alfa in period was very different than driving a Porsche or Jaguar, MG or Healey. They each had their own look, feel, smell, sound, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s about passion. These cars fired that emotion. And though it’s a much different world today, they still do.

Jack Olsen
Jack Olsen(@jack-olsen)
5 years ago

The styling, size, weight and other characteristics of modern car are largely determined by marketing departments. A business-school mentality of fitting a model into existing market segments, so that one regime’s performance can be directly compared to other companies’ regimes — that allows executives to market themselves for future jobs and boards of directors to feel like they have a handle on the complex issues of brand identity and marketplace share.

It all works together to produce a lot of lowest-common-denominator cars for us to drive.

That wasn’t always the case.

And the new models aren’t always faster.


Francesco Cristofori
Francesco Cristofori(@fracrist)
5 years ago

I think most of the love for classic (or just “pre by-wire era”) cars is the fact that these cars are challenging.
You have to give them some part of you in order to get them give you the pleasure they can give.

Ray Houghton
Ray Houghton(@fb_1245381563)
5 years ago

There are several reasons. One would be a connection to the past. I’m 56 and many of these cars are the cars I lusted after in the 60s and early 70s. I also love this period as it’s a time when car design wasn’t constrained by wind tunnels and safety regulations. Some of the best cars where designed by people that had a passion for their job, and were not constrained by regulation. I’m often reminded by people that my car is unsafe, I simply tell them I’m not driving it to be safe. If I want to be safe I’ll stay home on my sofa.

I love the mechanical purity of older cars. I like working on them, fixing and improving them, and most all the feeling of connection you get while driving them. Driving a car that weighs in at one ton, where the steering is just metal rods and a few gears connecting you to the wheels, a proper manual transmission it becomes and extension of your body.

There was also a practical reason I stumbled upon back when I had a 400 mile round trip commute. I was buying relatively current cars with low miles (the cost was relative high) drive them back and forth over windy mountain roads and down Highway 101 to work and back till they were high mile/worn out, and sold for pennies on the dollar of what I paid for them.
I thought that if I bought two rough drivable project classics from the early 70s I could get them cheap, always have at least one running, repair as I drive them, and when time came to sell I would at least get my purchase price back, and possibly get more. I have to admit it worked, and I get to drive the cars I love. I’m almost always repairing one of the cars, and the people I worked with thought I was crazy, but It worked for me.

Alex Mehl
Alex Mehl(@thealexmehl)
5 years ago

Simplicity, affordability, and they are romantic

Vasi Atanasova
Vasi Atanasova(@vassi)
6 years ago

I think it is quite personal when it comes to classic cars, just like with many other things actually. I like some classics simply because they are beautiful and certainly because they are different the most cars today. But hey, many modern cars are beautiful too. To be bluntly honest in my opinion most classic cars do not belong on the road. Many cars are unsafe for the highways. Just think about Germany – I can not imagine a classic car on the German highway. Sure I have seen some on the city roads, but not on the highway. Well maybe you could see one or two sports classics, but still not like old old.
There is a reason why technology is evolving and why classics are exactly this – classics – so they can make room for the new, better versions of themselves. I certainly liked my 1999 Acura CL – but that is not quite a classic, and to be honest I do not wish to get into an older than that car. I preferred it than my husband’s 2008 Honda Civic, but it mostly simply because the Acura was a higher class car and experience was nicer.
One thing is for sure – many classics have the looks and the appeal. To have one is to have a beautiful asset that can, hopefully, only increase in value. But still I am almost certain that it is not the mechanical history of the classic cars that keeps people intrigued. It is something else, something in the psyche that just wants to cling to those old times. I am very curious to see what will happen in 10 or 20 years with some cars that are classics now and how far into the generations the love will extend.

Ian Miles
Ian Miles(@smilo998)
6 years ago

It is however good to see designers being given more freedom than they experienced in the 90’s where cars seemed to be designed by customer panel and as a consequence wel very dull. So some fantastic designs, that are beautiful / innovative or both are still being produced (current Aston Range, Lambo Aventador, F-Type, the new Fiat 500, new Twingo, AMG GT). The number of cars being made has made the car much more of a commodity than it was in the 60’s or even 70’s so they are less special simply because there were more produced. There is also the simple economics. Modern classic cars today can cost 10\% of the original purchase price and right from the second owner onwards, these cars can be purchased by people who could not buy them new. They will be cherished and brought back to showroom condition because often they are not the primary vehicle in the garage for transport. There are many modern classics from the late 90’s – 2000’s that i would argue are just as special as those above. BMW Z3M Coupe and 4M Coupe. TVR Sagaris, Lancia Delta Integrale EVOII, M3 CSl, certain Fiat 500’s, Lotus Exige and Jag XJR. Some will continue to be cheap, others not so. The F1 for example. They will however leak less oil and breakdown less than the previous generation of classics which can really only be a good thing for those of us who will be driving them.

Ted Shannon
Ted Shannon(@oldsquid)
6 years ago

How about the simple fact you could tell one of these cars apart in the day, and you could find a car to suit all of your wants/desires/tastes. I’m 53, been a gearhead my whole life and where you could tell the make of a car from a 1/4 mile away as a kid now 80\% of the crap on the road looks like a bloated egg. Just the sight of a Chev/GMC truck brings up the taste of bile. Regardless of how much rubbish they have to build into cars to keep people who can’t drive from hurting themselves, there is no styling, and most of the car manufacturers should be running and hiding from the vehicles they sell while having all their styling department employees fired for lack of initiative. Doubt me? Watch the next twenty cars go by and tell us that 12 of the four door compacts didn’t look the same, each ugly SUV looked like it was a twin of the one previous, and other than the Dodge pickup that went by you have to look away from any of the overweight, huge wheelhouse, oversized pickups that went by. Sigh, at least my 91 5.0 Mustang notch still makes me grin every time I see it.

6 years ago

Great article and some excellent comments. My own two cents worth?

First, I agree that the current level of enthusiasm for classic cars is partly just a fashion trend, and like all such trends will pass. I have been into old cars for a long time and remember the last bubble at the end of the 1980s. When it popped it left a lot of people who’d bought the wrong cars for the wrong reasons stuck with an “asset” that would take a decade or two to return to a market value similar to what they’d paid. And even to get that they’d probably have to pay to redo the car’s “restoration” as well!

Also, while I agree that most cars we recognise as classics are way more stylish and fun to drive than most modern cars, they are also way better than most other cars made at the same time. Every decade had boring, ugly cars and we are lucky that most of those aren’t around any more.

On the other hand, cars that were recognised in their time as having outstanding qualities can still be appreciated for those qualities today. The fact that modern cars are faster, more efficient etc means little or nothing in terms of the driver’s subjective experience. Cars that were fun and exciting to drive in the 1950s are every bit as fun to drive now, given the right conditions.

Finally, I disagree with suggestions that enthusiasm for classic cars is just nostalgia. A classic car (even a relatively boring and ugly one) offers the owner a level of involvement – both in terms of driving and in terms of maintenance – that modern mass production vehicles simply can’t compete with, because the regulators won’t allow them to. The risk of course is that the regulators will realise that people with old cars are having far too much fun and will want to put a stop to that. You have been warned.

David Mitchell
David Mitchell(@enzo)
6 years ago

I am going to have to fundamentally disagree with the notions portrayed that classic cars are a trend or a fad as suggested by a number of persons here in this thread. The cars that today already are considered as classic (outside of the exotics) were simply normal but nice cars in their day. My first car back in 1979 was a ’68 Fiat 124 sedan, closely followed thereafter by a 1969 Fiat 124 AC sport. Back then I was just choosing to have a slightly different type of car from what my mates all drove, that’s right boring Toyotas, Datsuns and Holdens (GM) etc. I still have my 124 sport today and yes it is now of course considered a classic just as my 105 Alfas are.

But in truth my daily driver which is a 2003 Alfa 156 sportwagon is in today’s term no older than my Fiats were back when I bought them. So logically, if I were to keep the 156 for another 46 years it too probably would be considered a classic.

The real point about old cars (classic, veteran or vintage) is exactly the same as per old boats, houses and furniture (be they antique), they simply represent a lifestyle choice that was available in their day, but which has largely moved on. All things were new once. As owners of classic cars we are custodians of such engineering and artistic designs that represented societies values back in their day.
I love my classics and will always do so, drive them, admire them and look after them. For me they offer a glimpse of a life style that is long gone. Its like a window into the past. I don’t really give a toss if they emit slightly more pollutants than modern cars, for in truth given the level of driving most people use such cars as opposed to their modern daily driver, the contribution to airborne pollution is incredibly minimal. Remember all cars old or new emit pollutants in their exhaust emissions, none are nice regardless of technologies employed to reduce them. The only cars which perhaps don’t emit pollutants are electric cars, but then again the batteries they use, the manufacturing costs etc would have contributed to emissions anyway.

In owning and driving a classic car, its all about the tactile pleasures, a simpler lifestyle, as yes you can fix them up yourself, and the sheer pleasure that can be gained of the aesthetics that their design individuality offers.

I agree that for the most part modern cars are boring, dull in design (jelly molds) and so perfect to operate. But then again are they, for their computers with time will fail and the cost to fix them prohibitive. Hence they are even more a throw away item then those cars of the past.

So if there is a choice of whether or not to have, and to be able to keep on enjoying my classic cars, you bet I will take this choice.

Edward Levin
Edward Levin(@edl)
6 years ago
Reply to  David Mitchell

“So logically, if I were to keep the 156 for another 46 years it too probably would be considered a classic. ”

or a miracle…

Sorry–couldn’t resist. But there’s also a serious point, which is that the electronics in your 2003 will make its usable survival after another half-century less likely than the fully analog cars that are now 50 years old.

David Mitchell
David Mitchell(@enzo)
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward Levin

Too true Edward and that is the difference of course between old classic cars and modern cars. The question of course therefore that could be asked is will any of the cars being made say from the 1990s onwards attain classic status, given that for a large part they will disappear off the roads, given their mechanical and electronic complexity, with associated maintenance costs.

Re my 156, two things there, yes it is a pleasant design and IMHO a lot better than much of the other dross out there, but am I likely to keep it for another 46 years. Somehow I doubt it as I am unlikely to be alive (101 yrs old) and secondly it is more than likely not to have survived.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram(@antony-ingram)
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward Levin

I’ve never quite understood the mindset that cars with more complex electronics will somehow be rendered inoperable at some point down the line. Electronics are, for those who deal in such things (not me, I hasten to add) very simple indeed. And although the electronics in the very latest cars are a bit bewildering (I suspect a back-street mechanic may struggle with a 2015 Mercedes S-class, for example), something like a 156 from the 1990s isn’t really that complex.

I don’t doubt that in 46 years, classic car owners will be able to 3D-print ECUs for their Alfa 156s in their office, and give them custom maps using software downloaded onto whatever an iPhone looks like in 46 years…

Sadly, by the time 46 years have passed, I suspect the biggest barrier to running a 1990s classic will be the same it will to running a 1960s car, or a car from 2015 – the cost of fuelling it, and attempting to convince authorities that a car with half-century old technology is safe to run in a world where everything else is autonomous!

Evan Bedford
Evan Bedford(@quixotic)
6 years ago
Reply to  Antony Ingram

Good point on the ECU’s. In fact, a company called Silent Hektik makes fuel injection systems and ECU’s for 50 year old Bmw and Moto Guzzi motorcycles.

Andre Raul Rocha
Andre Raul Rocha(@fb_10203211624410212)
6 years ago

I understand where GS is coming from, but I need to disagree just a bit. He is very well based, though. Some psychologists have even determine the root cause of this apparent “past fever”, which can become a disease, according to an article I red on GQ some time ago. Which is pretty much the same what GS mentioned very well. It is easy to understand if someone travels his/her mind back in 60’s, as an example, and wants to “stay” back there. Everything but medicine was better at that time. Cities, movies, music (OMG, way better), bodies, friendships, lifestyle, work routine, I could go on and on…. Only medicine and technology have changed to a better, more pleasant scene. But those days are gone. And trying to resist to this, is a disease.

However, when it comes to cars, the discussion is completely different. First of all, because cars always had a stronger, intimate, intrinsic relationship with the human being. Since the beginning. For most of the people, cars do represent something else beyond the task of taking people to a destination. It is part of their lives. Several classic cars lovers love these oldies because their ancestry has thrown this seed on their subconscious. When my grandfather bought his first car was almost a herculean task, given its price and the difficult to buy them. As a result, cars were part of the family. We did care for them. Carwash on gas stations would be a sin. We washed our cars with our hands, on Sunday mornings. The experiences we had traveling to the coast, for example, were brought through the car. This kind of immediate link does not happen with the clothes we were wearing or the movies we were watching. Perhaps the song we were listening…… because we were listening on the car! I don’t think this is a disease. Mainly because, we take pics of our classic cars on our IPhone 6. We post the pics on Instagram. We use them only few times a week, striving for more sustainable ways to move during regular days… We live our days, today.

Besides that, I don’t want to be repetitive with what was told on the article. But the thing is: Classic Cars have identity. One car was different to the other. You have the ability to chose what you would like to drive. Instead of buying a VW Passat that look alike VW Polo and shares the chassis with three other brands. This is so annoying! If I could, I would only drive classic cars. Every time I need to take my 2008 Discovery to a workshop, I pay an absurd amount of money to fix one of hundreds of electronics controls that we don’t even know where they sit or what they do! Instead, if my 1975 BMW 2002 is having a problem, I have a clue where it may be. And I even try to fix it. And the man in the workshop needs to convince what he is doing and why – because we know these cars.

Last but not least. All the modern cars are getting uglier and more similar. Then engines, on this crazy pursuit of ecological solutions, get more and more fragile, smaller and bland. Oh my gosh… turn the key on a BMW 3.0 CS from the 70’s and compare to a current 320 with these “blender-engines” they carry on the cars nowadays.

If you really like driving, you must have an old car. If you just use your car to pick up the kids at school, or go to the grocery shop, go ahead and buy a Corolla.

Evan Bedford
Evan Bedford(@quixotic)
6 years ago

I couldn’t agree more…especially on the bit about newer cars getting uglier and uglier. I’m trying to think of which new vehicles actually looks beautiful (at least to my eyes). The ones that come to mind are the Fiat 500, Dodge Viper, PT Cruiser, and the Royal Enfield motorcycles. And the last example isn’t really new, in that the design is just a copy of what they had a half century ago. Even the new Miata — although being a great advance in the area of weight reduction and driving fun — doesn’t do anything for me visually.

Andrew Hart-Barron
Andrew Hart-Barron(@fb_10153352227165199)
6 years ago

I love classic cars too, but I have to disagree with the notion that classics look better because the designers in those days used pencil and paper, creating shapes that are no longer possible using computer-based design software. (I work as a designer in the automotive industry and have experience with computers and pencils). The automotive industry still employs highly skilled clay modelers that are fully capable of shaping romantic and very beautiful shapes. The computer-based design software is only limited by the designer’s imagination.
The modern car is as you so rightly put it, very restricted by things like crash safety, ergonomics, aerodynamic efficiency etc. Every generation the car manufacturers have to offer a more usable space with a smaller footprint than the last.
Classic cars were quite simply born in a different time. A time where society loved and were fascinated by cars. A time of innocence and fun. Design was almost hedonistic compared to todays standards. Today’s design carries responsibility. It doesn’t mean that great designs do not exist today but yes, they have a different appeal. That is why when we just want a break from it all a classic car can offer a pure and unadulterated feeling of automotive joy!

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram(@antony-ingram)
6 years ago

I spoke to Nissan’s chief creative officer recently. He has some great ideas in the pipeline, but he did sign off by saying he envied designers of the 1960s, whose work wasn’t regulated by the need to create aerodynamic shapes, or vehicles that could protect their occupants in an accident…

I agree with you though. There are some great designs around today. And it’s much easier to appreciate design in hindsight, I think. It’s why the boxy vehicles of the 1980s are coming into vogue. I don’t doubt that many modern vehicles will be coveted for their design in another 30 years, just as some vehicles from 30 years ago are today.

6 years ago

I agree with the article’s assessment as well as GS’s and the following comments. But I also have much simpler view – with our highly developed sense of preservationism, anything old will be cherished by some, for better or for worse. What I mean is that Yugo is collectible nowadays (there’s one for sale on ebay right now, for $5k. I bought one used back when you could’ve still bought it new. I gave a guy $500, and he gave me $100 back because he felt bad for a college student), and I saw Daihatsu Charade traded for $3k. It’s our method of madness. But look at the bright side: in 50 years, all internal combustion engined automobiles will be collectible.

6 years ago
Reply to  JB21

I think that GS nailed it when speaking about older folks wanting “get back” to the good old days. However, what about people my age, (25) that are obsessed with cars? I do not have anything to “get back” to as quite frankly, I did not exist during the age that is typically referred to as the “golden era of motorsports”. While GS was right about nostalgia, I think the love of classics is owed more to the mechanical and aesthetic attributes of older cars. For me, it comes down to the relative size, 360* degree visibility, and of course, the increased feedback. My older ’86 GTI has excellent styling, I can see out of it, and I know exactly when the front tires are about to let go. These simply do not exist in most modern cars. My current dd car is a ’12GTI and while it is a fine DD, make no mistake, it is massive and a mute by comparison!

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
6 years ago

Personally I think you can widen this argument out beyond classic cars, and ask why do people choose cars beyond the most beige of cars such as the Toyota Corolla, VW Golf or Ford Focus? All of those will provide perfectly good transportation for a small family and cover their light cargo needs. So why do people instead spend rather more money on say a BMW 3 Series, Mazda MX5, a big SUV such as a Range Rover, or a supercar such as a Lamborghini Aventador?
I suppose the answer is somewhere within a mix of style, expression of personal status, a feeling a larger car is safer, and plain old they enjoy driving a nicer car. Coming back to classics, GS is right there is a desire to create a past era but I think it is more than that. There is a common theme amongst a good number of Petrolicious films that these old cars have been a means for family generations to bond. Would I have been into classics if my Father wasn’t? Probably not. His love of these cars has shown me cars that I find far more stylish than today’s and also a lot more challenging to drive which I find more enjoyable. There is no question my daily drive BMW with it’s 2.0 diesel engine will get me to a destination quicker than the Daytona will but I remember the drives in the Daytona a lot more.

Oh and GS I prefer coffee to tea 😉

Wayne Mattson
Wayne Mattson(@wemattson)
6 years ago

Well said GS. I also have to agree to certain extent that the “classic car” thing is a trend. Just look at the recent flourish of classic car shows there are on TV and how popular they are. Will this trend continue and become the norm? Only time will tell.

However, there is a large segment of us enthusiasts that love classic cars for reasons other than nostalgia or trying to relive the good old days. I, for one have no interest in living in the past and the problems that were associated with it. A lot of us appreciate classic cars because of their design and uniqueness. Also, I enjoy working with my hands on mechanical machines and classic cars afford this opportunity, an opportunity that modern cars don’t allow.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
6 years ago

If I may , please allow the philosopher in the room [ got the ‘ sheepskin ‘ and everything ] to chime in on the subject .

First thing you need to know is my foray into what would now be considered ‘ classic ‘ cars was in fact just the choice of buying a used exotic over something new . Back then used Ferrari’s unless they were significant Ferrari’s [ say Mr Lange’s GTB/4 which everyone was hot to trot for in the 70’s versus my GTC/4 which was perceived as mundane by all but those in the know ] were just that . Used cars that happened to be Ferrari’s . So technically though I’ve always had a great appreciation for classic cars and owned a few of what today would be considered classic cars in fact I’ve not really been a part of the mindset . Well .. with the exception of selling those Ferrari’s for a ludicrous amount of money to three individual classic car collectors after many years of enjoyment and ownership

But to the subject at hand . Why ‘ classic ‘ much of anything , cars , religion , architecture , furniture , politics etc not just cars is holding so much sway over the general mindset and especially the gentrified mindset ;

All the reasons given in the article are valid .with the sole exception of individualism . After all just how ‘ individual ‘ can you possibly be when there’s 10,000 other folks either doing exactly the same or wishing they could [ thats the Harley Davidson faithful argument … individualism .. that falls on its face with them as well ] Which is about to be my main point . It is a trend . Read … TREND . Period . And a trend I’m afraid we’re paying the price for and will be paying for many years to come if we don’t put ‘ classic ‘ back into a realistic perspective .

Whats fueling the trend despite all the rhetoric coming from politicians to economists and right on down the line is the simple fact that when the current age we’re living in is looked upon with ‘ Eyes Wide Open ‘ things are not good . Not good at all . Fact is ” Potemkin Village ” may be the perfect analogy for the age we’re living in across the board .

And when things are so blatantly wrong the first thing human nature .. and especially well heeled human nature does is to revert to the past . Basking in what is perceived as the ‘ Good Ole Days ‘ .. pining for things gone by … and … here it comes … the main point … trying albeit futilely to recreate the past or at least a semblance of what the past felt like by buying up as much of the past as one can afford . Add in the Gentry’s need to separate themselves from the mainstream [ as if their wealth wasn’t enough ] fueling higher and higher to the point of ludicrous prices for those items from the past .

The other thing that is fueling this trend is the Digital Domain . With so much of our lives embroiled in the ephemeral virtual world and worse so many of you younger folks knowing almost nothing but there is a desperate need to reconnect with the real and the authentic . The problem arising that trying to connect to an ‘ authentic ‘ past you never took part in is just another exercise in ‘ virtual ‘ reality . Funny how many younger people will blather on in my ear about reconnecting to the real this , that or the other thing while focusing on their smartphones , listening/streaming on their MP3’s , taking selfies , posting on FaceBook , taking digital photographs they’ll never revisit again etc while participating in nothing real what so ever and doing nothing genuinely authentic at all

The real problem with this current trend [ that in fact has its roots in .. apologies Mr Lange .. Jolly ole England where everyone seems obsessed with recreating the UK’s former glory years if only for a moment ] can be summed up by a quote from famous UK philosopher/theologian GK Chesterton ;

” A society focused on the past has taken its eyes off the future and is therefore heading towards its own self destruction ”

Now … am I trying to say classic cars etc have no place ? Am I saying we should completely ignore the past ?

No ! Of course not . The past is there to be learned from , enjoyed and appreciated . But the fact is . It is not your past . Its someone else’s

The point I’m making is we [ society in general ] need to put ‘classic ‘ back into a more realistic focus [ we cannot recreate or relive the past ] while keeping our eyes on the road ahead . Think about it , Think how much pollution a single classic car like say an Alfa Spider I4 creates . Like to take a wild guess ? Try ten times as much pollution per mile as a fully loaded Hummer H1 . Yes . It is that bad . In this age of dramatic climate change , polluted cities , pollution created diseases etc is driving a classic car daily really a responsible and ethical thing to be doing ?

[ many major metropolitan cities and towns are now asking that very question ]

In conclusion . Am I hopeful for the future ? With whats going on at the moment considering all my generation fought for and won yet has now been lost .. not really . At least not for the short term . But does reliving the past change that reality . Not in the slightest . Oh I may wax nostalgic and bemoan much of the present but I’m not trying in vain to relive it either

So here’s hoping for a little more perspective in what should be a fun hobby rather than a lifestyle or an obsession . And here’s hoping by gaining said perspective the future might just start looking a little brighter

Phew . Lecture over . Donuts and coffee in the lobby [ tea of course for the good Mr Lange ] And ;

Rock On – Drive On [ sensibly and tastefully ] – Remain Calm [ despite it all ] -and Carry On … with wisdom

6 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Guitar Slinger – you must be a ton of fun at parties and stuff. :p Wow, what a downer. Sometimes a classic car is just a classic car.

I won’t try to speak for anyone else, but I will speak for myself. I like classic cars for the following reasons:

1) New cars all look the same and they are ugly. U-G-L-Y, Ugly! Melted bars of soap, with massive A and B (and possibly C) pillars. High belt lines, and terrible proportions. In general terms, modern performance cars are overly masculine, instead of feminine; with large shoulders and squared off edges. Classic performance cars were lithe, sensuous with curves. You can hang your arm out of the window in a classic. Try that in most modern cars!

2) Modern cars are boring. They’re too good. They do everything so well, there is no love-hate. There is no compromise. They hold all of your luggage, race to the redline, get 35 mpg, have frigid AC and start every morning. There is no sacrifice in owning a modern car. Boring.

3) Ya can’t fix modern cars yourself. Sure, you can do the simple stuff like brakes, and change the oil (assuming its not a Tesla et. al.). But anything else, you have to pay to have done. Heck, the car companies are trying to use the DMCA laws to stop small shops and individuals from fixing cars by restricting access to diagnostic software. So if you are in this for the hobby aspect, good luck! Classic cars are simple, and with some care and feeding, can be reliable.

4) And yes, individuality. Not everyone owns a classic and even fewer work on their own. That’s how you can separate the wheat from the chaff. Those people that own a classic, do the work, keep it running, and enjoy the experience are my kind of interesting folks that I would like to sit down and have a beer with! Those are the people that I connect with, who’s wisdom and insight I enjoy. They have suffered the rigors of owning a classic and have come back for more. If the only tool in your tool box is a checkbook, then you’re missing the point.

5) I like classics because they are not boring. They have great highs, and tremendous lows, not unlike that red haired girl in college that rocked your world, and broke your heart. Ripping to the redline, webers at full song, clipping apexes and then being brought home on the back of a flat bed because of one of those noises (you now what I mean). It’s all part of the deal.

Don’t overthink it GS. Relax and enjoy. 🙂

6 years ago
Reply to  Gruns

Used boring twice, sorry about that. :p

6 years ago
Reply to  Gruns

All the points you’ve made, funny, because I remember my dad used to say the same thing about cars of my youth. And I’m pretty sure my his dad said the same bloody thing.

Antony Ingram
Antony Ingram(@antony-ingram)
6 years ago
Reply to  JB21

“All cars look the same” is one of the most tediously over-used phrases to describe car design, and as you say, people have been saying it for as long as cars have existed.