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.