CHANG­ING TASTES

New Zealand Classic Car - - Local Market Report - Spec­u­la­tion

The de­pre­ci­a­tion curve tends to bot­tom out for any car when it has reached 20 years of age, with val­ues not seem­ing seem to drop any fur­ther from that age on­wards. And, pos­si­bly due to the rar­ity of parts and sup­ply, the prices of some cars start creep­ing up as they pass the 20-year mark.

Car col­lect­ing in New Zealand is to­day alive and ac­tive, with pri­vate car col­lec­tions and car mu­se­ums in al­most ev­ery re­gion, thanks to past col­lec­tors in our coun­try who took it upon them­selves to col­lect and pre­serve ve­hi­cles of their gen­er­a­tion.

Th­ese col­lec­tors re­al­ized with star­tling pre­science that their cars rep­re­sented by­gone au­to­mo­tive crafts­man­ship. They col­lected, pre­served, and re­stored their cars and also started clubs in our coun­try — such as the Vin­tage Car Club, among others. They cre­ated a hobby col­lect­ing the as­pi­ra­tional cars of their youth in a pat­tern that col­lec­tors have fol­lowed ever since.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how this pro­gresses, as ev­ery gen­er­a­tion is in­ter­ested in a dif­fer­ent co­hort of ve­hi­cles than the pre­vi­ous one, so, as we spec­u­late about how the clas­sic car mar­ket might change in the next two decades, it’s help­ful to con­sider some of our car his­tory. ’50s cars are still very sought-af­ter, but or­di­nary mid-1920s and ’30s cars, while cer­tainly not worth­less, are be­com­ing harder to find good homes for. The cur­rent stag­nant prices of ’50s or­di­nary cars may be hint­ing that a trend is in place here.

Some baby boomers did em­brace the clas­sics of their par­ents’ era, right­fully rec­og­niz­ing them as ob­jects of art and pieces of his­tory. This was helped by the sheer vol­ume of boomers, enough to ab­sorb the best col­lec­tor cars ex­tant, while also pre­serv­ing the cars of their own era.

We shouldn’t, how­ever, ex­pect this phe­nom­e­non to be re­peated, be­cause not only has the sheer vol­ume of col­lec­tor cars grown but also the next gen­er­a­tion in the line of suc­ces­sion — my gen­er­a­tion, the so-called Gen­er­a­tion X — does not seem to be as large or as en­thu­si­as­tic as the boomers.

Baby boomers and some Gen­er­a­tion Xers are still buy­ing cars that our dads liked or had, but mil­len­ni­als aren’t de­vel­op­ing an in­ter­est in the same type of col­lec­tor cars. There are too many things go­ing on to cap­ture their at­ten­tion: travel, sports, the in­ter­net, and so­cial me­dia. So, I of­ten won­der — what’s go­ing to hap­pen to our cars? I feel that, if we don’t do any­thing about it, one pos­si­bil­ity is that over­seas buy­ers look­ing for places to park their tax-free money (col­lectable cars are a par­tic­u­larly won­der­ful place to do so) could ab­sorb many of our cars. Now, can’t we do this our­selves here in New Zealand, as an al­ter­na­tive to in­vest­ing in prop­erty or leav­ing money in the bank?

We also have to keep in mind that tastes change, a fact that will prob­a­bly also af­fect the hobby. For ex­am­ple, mil­len­ni­als are not used to work­ing on their cars as much as pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions were, with high-school shop classes hav­ing been largely elim­i­nated and com­put­er­ized com­plex­ity mak­ing self­wrench­ing more dif­fi­cult.

So, while to­day’s col­lec­tor car mar­ket is dom­i­nated by mostly orig­i­nal cars and moreor-less ac­cu­rate restora­tions, the fu­ture may also in­clude mod­ern clas­sics and even ‘resto­mods’ — old cars with mod­ern equip­ment. Hereti­cal as this may be to some, in­clud­ing my­self, anec­do­tal ev­i­dence al­ready sug­gests that resto­mod buy­ers tend to be younger, which makes sense.

I’m say­ing gen­er­a­tions change, peo­ple change, trends change, and tastes change, and clubs and au­thor­i­ties need to find a way to evolve with the times, while, at the same time, find ways to pre­serve our her­itage in New Zealand.

I feel that it is im­por­tant to pro­tect our her­itage in this coun­try, and to suc­ceed in this, all gen­er­a­tions need to learn how to co­ex­ist.

Un­til next month, safe driv­ing.

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