Stories and photos of classic automobiles, trucks, tractors and a motorcycle or two throughout the world.
CRYSTAL BALL FOR 2017
SOMEONE'S CRYSTAL BALL
we’ve survived another trip around the sun, which means it’s time once
again for our annual gaze into the crystal ball, which smells
suspiciously of carb cleaner (reminding us to use a fresh shop rag to
wipe it down next year). For the year that was, Mr. Dickens summed it up
best by saying, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
As is tradition, we’ll begin with a look back at our accuracy rate for 2016 predictions:
Eighties cars will continue to grow in demand – and price.We’ll
score this in the “correct” column for demand, though prices certainly
haven’t begun to appreciate in a significant manner, Ferrari and
air-cooled Porsche models excepted. A new generation of collectors is
entering the hobby, and to many of them, it’s the cars from the ’80s
that bring back memories of youth. It isn’t likely that a Reagan-era
Dodge Caravan will out-price a Volkswagen 21-window Samba bus any time
soon, but we’ve learned to never say never.
Look for Japanese family cars from the 1960s-’80s to climb in value.This
falls into the “neither correct nor incorrect” category. Prices are
certainly up on well-preserved examples, but the same can be said for
cars of the period originating in just about any country. If a car
evokes memories of childhood, there’s probably a market for it, and as
demand outstrips supply, prices rise. In the case of Japanese family
cars from the 1960s – ’80s, this rise was neither as sudden nor as
dramatic as we expected.
Demand for vintage hot rods will increase.Correct,
with a caveat. Hot rods built to someone else’s taste with radical
paint, modern drivetrains and updated suspension remain a mixed bag,
selling for impressive numbers only when the right buyer is found. On
the other hand, period-correct cars built with bangers or flatheads
enhanced with vintage speed parts are becoming more sought-after, which
also translates to more expensive.
Expect an upswing in vintage motorcycle prices.Check.
Not only have prices for prewar bikes risen, the number of auctions
selling vintage iron have increased as well. Perhaps motorcycles,
traditionally built in smaller numbers, are seen as a safer investment
than collector cars, or perhaps buyers are simply yearning for a time
when bikes were little more than two wheels, an engine, and a bit of
The glory days of the American V-8 are winding down.Not
even close to correct on this, although it’s hard to say what the
future has in store. In 2016, at least, the V-8 was safe, and having
spent time in both the new Shelby GT350 Mustang and the Dodge Challenger
Hellcat, better than it’s ever been. Armed with a big enough account
balance, one can walk into a domestic car dealership and buy a
V-8-powered pony car that puts down 707 horsepower, or one that revs to
8,200 RPM and still meets emissions numbers. If that’s not proof that
this is a great time to be alive, we don’t know what is.
Housekeeping out of the way, let’s move on to our predictions for 2017
THE BARN FIND
a car is only original once, but on the other hand, driving a classic
car should not come with a risk of tetanus or hantavirus. In the past
three years, “barn finds” have grown from an eccentric offshoot of the
auction business to an expected norm, with prices rising to
mind-boggling levels. As functional cars, such vehicles often need
extensive work to make them road-worthy, making an already expensive
purchase even more of a financial risk. As art, few will appreciate
thick dust (enhanced with authentic, period-correct bat guano),
mouse-eaten upholstery and dry-rotted rubber. We say 2017 is the year
that buyers begin to realize that a well-restored car may actually be
more desirable than one showing decades of neglect.
PEAK "GARAGE TELEVISION"
year, it seems, brings with it another scripted “reality television”
show about a long-suffering shop owner, tormented by inept employees and
overbearing customers, forced to perform a ground-up restoration on a
one-of-one Hemi Superbird with the factory incense burner and the Coyote
Fur interior, with less than a week remaining before SEMA, MCACN, the
Pillsbury Bake-Off, or some such event. In case you didn’t already know
this, there is no “reality” in “reality television,” and the appeal of
such shows has worn as thin as the chrome finish from a rattle can.
Maybe this is little more than wishful thinking on our part, but we’d
really like to believe the days when every channel with a leaning-male
demographic shows endless reruns of this drivel are coming to an end.
rising tide raises all boats, and skyrocketing values for air-cooled
Porsche 911s have driven up prices of 912s and, to a lesser degree,
914s. Though prices seem to have stabilized somewhat in the past year,
the days of the affordable 911 seem to be behind us. Fortunately for
driving enthusiasts yearning to own a car with the Porsche crest, the
Stuttgart automaker’s transaxle models (924, 944, 928 and 968) remain
relative bargains, though we don’t expect this to last forever. Buy one
in the next year or so, or be prepared to kick yourself five years down
DITTO FOR FIRST-GENERATION MIATA
first-generation (NA, in Mazda-speak) Mazda Miatas, built from
1989-’97, used to be plentiful and cheap, as few enthusiasts understood
exactly how good these cars were, even in stock form. As more people
came to understand this (and as the SCCA’s Spec Miata series exploded in
popularity), the pool of available first-gen cars began to grow ever
smaller. Today, it seems, there are just two kinds of NA Miatas left:
the inexpensive ones, often heavily modified or suffering from terminal
rocker-panel rust, and the collector examples, remarkably well-preserved
and priced accordingly. Fortunately for those seeking an affordable
sports car, the second-generation (NB) Miatas remain somewhat more
abundant (and affordable), while the third-gen cars (the roomiest and
most powerful normally aspirated examples) are now dipping into the
realm of the affordable. If you’ve got your heart set on an NA, be aware
that prices won’t be coming down in the future – buy the best example
you can afford, as soon as you find it.
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