CAR MAK­ERS CAN’T AF­FORD TO BE SEN­TI­MEN­TAL. THEY NEED TO SELL CARS NOW, NOT RUN THE RISK OF DIS­TRACT­ING BUY­ERS WITH PAST GLO­RIES. TALK­ING ABOUT OLD CARS HAS ONE PUR­POSE: TO RE­FLECT GLORY ON THE NEW ONES THAT COM­PA­NIES MAKE MONEY ON.

Wheels (Australia) - - The Insider -

While few se­nior car ex­ecs would say so pub­licly, most agree with Henry Ford’s in­fa­mous as­ser­tion that his­tory is bunk.

Yet as brands strug­gle to forge emo­tional con­nec­tions with their new ma­chin­ery, so that’s start­ing to change. As is so of­ten with sports cars, the Porsche 911 has proved the bell­wether, the value of air-cooled ver­sions ris­ing higher than those of the tech­ni­cally more ad­vanced wa­ter-cooled ones that re­placed them. Is a leggy au­to­matic 964 cabri­o­let re­ally two or three times bet­ter than a gen­tly used 996 man­ual coupe? That’s what the mar­ket thinks at present; while a light­weight 2.7 RS is worth more than a garage full of new GT3S.

Part of this may well be down to the mad­ness of crowds, with the soar­ing val­ues of some av­er­age cars look­ing like a spec­u­la­tive bub­ble; the ris­ing tide for 80s su­per­cars has lifted some ter­ri­ble Fer­raris along­side some good ones. But there are plenty of more hum­ble older cars that have seen prices spike well beyond those of much more mod­ern and ad­vanced equiv­a­lents – a 25-year-old E30 BMW M3 is more than a last-of-line V8-pow­ered E92, and have you seen what a half-de­cent XB Fal­con is worth these days? Nos­tal­gia is a hell of a drug.

No sur­prise that car­mak­ers are start­ing to fol­low the money, with ten­ta­tive steps into this mar­ket. Top-end brands have had fac­tory restora­tion ser­vices be­fore, re­ju­ve­nat­ing older mod­els to (of­ten bet­ter than) orig­i­nal con­di­tion and – more im­por­tantly – giv­ing them the prove­nance nec­es­sary to com­mand top value when sold. But now they are step­ping beyond this, putting some of their great­est hits back into lim­ited pro­duc­tion. These so-called ‘con­tin­u­a­tion’ mod­els aren’t new – at least half of AC Co­bra pro­duc­tion came after the car’s orig­i­nal build – but now other man­u­fac­tur­ers are get­ting in on the act. Jaguar made seven new light­weight E-types and is now look­ing to do a D-type, As­ton has re­cently sold 25 pixel-per­fect recre­ations of the DB4 GT.

For the most part, such cars can’t be road­reg­is­tered; most will ef­fec­tively serve as body dou­bles for orig­i­nals that have be­come too pre­cious for the risks of his­toric mo­tor­sport. But the idea of restora­tions and new mod­els with di­rect links to old ones is go­ing to spread fur­ther as man­u­fac­tur­ers square up to the chal­lenge of at­trac­tive per­for­mance cars in what will soon be the hy­bridized and in­creas­ingly au­ton­o­mous fu­ture of the forth­com­ing Age of Meh.

It’s a dilemma per­fectly en­cap­su­lated by the 718-gen­er­a­tion Porsche Boxster and Cay­man and their down­sized four-cylin­der turbo en­gines. These are bet­ter than the atmo sixes they re­placed on ev­ery quan­tifi­able met­ric, but not the ethe­real mat­ter of soul. Give it a cou­ple of years and I con­fi­dently pre­dict that late six­cylin­der cars will be trad­ing at a pre­mium. By 2028 don’t be sur­prised if Porsche is of­fer­ing of­fi­cially sanc­tioned restora­tions in the same show­rooms charged with sell­ing the far less in­ter­est­ing self-driv­ing elec­tric cars the brand will have bet its fu­ture on.

So-called ‘con­tin­u­a­tion’ mod­els are not a new idea, but more man­u­fac­tur­ers are get­ting in on the act

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