Now it’s your turn. Where do you think the hobby’s headed?

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Is the road we're on taking the collector car hobby in the right direction? Where do you think we're headed in the next decade? | Larry Edsall photo

During the past week, as the movers and shakers of the collector car hobby were preparing for their annual gathering on the Monterey Peninsula, we asked several of them to help us take a long look through the windshield, scouting out the Road to 2030. 

After we introduced the series, Lindsey Harrell took a look at the changes she anticipates in concours and car shows; Michael Bodell did the same regarding car museums; Roger Falcione wrote of changing technology and demographics; John Kruse predicted a major shift for the collector car auction industry; we suggested that the “electra-mod” will become as common as the “resto mod” has become; and McKeel Hagerty had some startling observations about autonomous vehicles and the upcoming generations of car enthusiasts.

The series already has drawn some interesting comments from readers, among them the suggestion that if we want to make the hobby more accepted by everyone, from governments to future generations, we should brand the preservation and restoration of vintage vehicles as a beneficial form of recycling.

Throughout the series, we’ve presented some interesting, engaging and perhaps even controversial ideas about the road the hobby will be traveling in the coming years. Now it’s your turn, since it is you, the hobbyists, from Baby Boomers to Millennials (or even Gen Zers), who actually will determine where we’ll be in 2030, and even beyond.

We welcome your thoughts and we’ll share them through the Comments section below.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I think in the next 10 to 15 years we will see a significant loss in the value of most classic vehicles . Even sooner if we have another major recession . Its already happening with most of the 50s cars . For example You can barley get 28 30 k for a nicely restored original stock Tri 5 chevy two door hardtop these days . The resto mods will bring more but the stockers are hard to sell . The problem is there are more for sale than there are buyers that are interested in them .

    • Classic Cars will always have an attraction. Their beauty is no longer repeated in most modern transportation. The value for mark cars will increase not only for the collector appreciating the nostalgia and appearance but for investment value. Where else can one purchase something so fun, use, stare at and drive for years and then if and when we decide to sell the value is at or more than we paid?

    • clearly interest is down and costs are up the clubs are lucky if they can get 5% participation in events even if held for investment purposes their is very little incentive to purchase a car . Name a celbrity and what car he drives the public hates us if we park to protect our car we are considered snobs when all we want to do is appreciate the cars the politicans hate us and have removed every incentive to own a car. finally no one can or will work on them.

      • I have to agree that interest in old classic and hot rods has probably peaked, I go to car shows here in Canada and unfortunately 90 percent of the guys and gals are balding , grey haired , and wrinkled up 30s 40s and a few 50s people {me included, I’m a 1947 model} Most young people just don’t get it,as far as old cars go…..I just bought a 1985 Olds Delta 88 Brougham in very good original condition from a 36 year old fellow,who inherited this gem from his Grandpa…he just threw up his hands and said, what do I do with this old relick….I said sell it to me son, and I’ll love it forever….so….old guys and gals, lets go out in a blaze of glory and smoking back tires….we really are a dying breed……Wayne Bennett, Kingsville Ontario Canada

        • Not all of us are like that. I’m 43 years old and I would have done the same thing you did. I would have bought that old Delta 88 and loved ‘er forever. Had I received a car like that from my grandfather I would have never let it get outta my sight! I have to admit though I’m actually somewhat surprised to see someone of your generation collecting a car from the 80’s. Most people of your age bracket won’t touch anything made past about 1969-72. Mention anything from the 70’s or newer and we start hearing the name calling and lambasting and how "they don’t make ’em like they used to…"
          Forgive me if I’m stereotyping too much but I’ve heard it all way too often.

    • Back before I sent my three kids off to college I owned two Austin Healey 3000 MKIII’s and a Bugeye. All of these were in one stage of restoration or another. Due to the need for tuition money I sold all three for a total of $22,500, not bad change for the early 80’s. Today if I still had these cars (remember all 3 were drivers)j they would be valued somewhere around $60-$65 thousand. The hobby has gone to the wealthy collector a long time ago. If a younger person wants to get into the hobby they need to be realistic with their choice of projects.

    • I’d sure like to know where you’re seeing Tri-Fives for $25,000 to 35,000. Unless its a total wreck I haven’t seen a single one under $60,000. More like $85,000 and those were stock original. I personnally don’t like resto mods.

  2. The hobby moves with the generations and the market. Hot Rods and pony cars were something to which a generation aspired while in high school but could not obtain. As the aging continues, what someone wanted in high school changes. At Good Guys in San Diego, there was a low rider pavillion. To stay with the aging, next comes a 70’s and 80’s japanese pavilion as proven by recent TV auctions and some of the prices fetched by Japanese classics. As to "true collector original antique cars" they remain and always will be tied to their limited addition and quality and desirability. It is just "supply and demand". As demand wanes, supply increases and prices drop. It is the same as anything. If you want it, you decide the price you want to pay and more of that thing around, the lower the price.

  3. Definitely will be a shift as with each generation. Most local show are run by 50-60 yr. olds and don’t see the value of bringing in more current cars. There will probably be a separate division for Japanese, as they are the future classics along with electric being the wave of the future. Since the market for Model T’s is not what it used to be, I wonder what will happen to say the British cars of yesteryear.

  4. I don’t see much of a change in the next 10 years unless the liberals get their way with The Green New Deal and try to eliminate fossil fuels. If that happens I can see the value of classic cars heading downhill. The muscle cars of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s are doomed if we go to all electric vehicles. If we still have gasoline down the road I think the value of classics will rise because of supply and demand.

  5. There is no doubt, the price of collector cars has risen to the point where the grass root collectors can’t afford the hobby anymore. Collectors are getting older and the 30,40s vehicles are just not in demand with younger buyers and there value has plummeted.The 50s,60, and 70s have rose to a plateau where they are unaffordable.

    • I publish a local car show publication, Car Show & Cruise Guide in the Baltimore area. Five years ago, me and some friends started a foundation to try to find some way to get younger people interested in our hobby ( Custom & Classic Car Educational Foundation). We get some help from the car clubs, but very little interest in helping us from individual owners. I see values dropping as the car owners age, right now in our area the age is 63 and getting greyer all the time. My personal belief is when the values drop significantly on the muscle cars, folks will then begin to find ways to change things. Likely too late- Dave Bielecki http://www.SavetheHobby.org

    • it doesn’t matter how high the cost goes. I’ve had some expensive cars, ’69 Roadrunner w/426 new in ’69 (wrecked) , 63 Galaxie 427(just sold to Reg in B.C, ’63 ‘vette 327, back in ’71, sold during a stupid mood, ’68 Javlin 343 and ’67 Rebel 390 ar same time we sold to buy home, probably every other car you can think of(had wrecking yard) still playing with flathead Fords, Model T coupe on an A chassis and have a ’66 Plymoutg Sport Fury drop top they’re putting a new 440 in for me and I’m 72. got 1st car at 13(28 Plymouth(free for cleaning property ) and even though I’m disabled on a fixed pension I’m still looking at more and will till they bury me in one of them. people will always want their cars, new or old, trailer queen or rat rod. WHEELS ARE AS NECCESSARY AS OXYGEN TO SURVIVE once youve been bitten or smitten. always was and always will be my 1st love. my favorite concert was ZZ TOP "RECYCLER" HA HA

      • We need to get the hobbyist back into the hobby by making it affordable for younger folks high end auctions hurt the hobbyist.AACA and other clubs need to get back to their beginnings when hobbyist drove their vehicles an had fun .Forget the trophy crowd

  6. I’m sorry to forecast that the classic car market will continue to shrink. As old guys pass on and the kids get the cars, they immediately sell them as don’t have the interests we did. The money rules. The resto’s have the best chance to make them more drivable for years. And, the exotics will forever be in demand.

  7. I’ve been driving classic American cars for 45 years and I don’t know what the new emission rules are going to be (I am in France) but one thing I know for sure: I don’t think I could contemplate driving anything without a good old carbureted V8 under the hood ! Despite the price of gas here around 1.5€ a liter witch makes over $6.00 a gallon !
    I hope all the clubs and associations will fight for our rights to keep our collector cars on the roads where they belong.

  8. From Michigan, Indiana Ohio All is well in fact their are so many car shows / Cruse In. it is hard to pick
    More cars than spots to park, Most of the men work on and restore their cars REASON it is FUN and keeps you busy.
    These cars/ trucks are being pasted down.

    Many of us are Short Track racers, With at attendances being up, Because everyone is working
    This adds interest to the Sport of Fast CARS and Big Motors.

  9. The classic car market is heading towards a significant correction. People are selling these cars are ridiculous values. As the current owners get older and cash out buyers will shop for a deal. The younger generation simply won’t care about this classics. No technology! Restomods are way too expensive. Too many people are passing fake vin plates and fake build plates. If this market doesn’t experience a correction no one will be able to afford them. When you see prices of $60k or worse yet $100k or more, it’s simply unaffordable for most. These owners can keep their jewels!

  10. I can only comment on Street Rodding and that the future looks bleak. I have be doing cars for fifty years muscle, pro street, exotic and street rods. I just attended the 50th NSRA event in Louisville KY. The problem lies in that the average street rodder is 75 and the number of cars that are out there out ways the number of men and woman interested in street rods. I think in the next ten years the market will be flooded with street rods, I only wish I was younger so I could capitalize on buying a few of them.

  11. I grew up/was a teen during the muscle car era (mid 60’s to 71) and had friends with wealthy Dad’s that liked performance cars. The Dad’s would buy GTO’s, Corvettes, Z28 Camaros, Mustangs, Olds 442’s, and of course every MOPAR known to man. My Dad quit buying nice cars after my brother – 6 years older than me – kept "fender bendering" and damaging the family cars. He was finally banned from the cars and I almost had Dad talked into a Cuda’…… "well engined" (440 ?,auto) when big brother (who was moving out on his own) borrowed (during his move) and trashed Mom’s Valiant. Point: My muscle car era time was spent behind the wheel of an MG Midget, an MGB, various Triumphs (cars), because I could buy them for nothing (most not running for a simple reason most times…did I mention rust?). I would have loved to have American iron during those days from 1967 to 1971……but I was ale to enjoy being a passenger in my friends families high performance muscle cars. In order to be mobile I had to drive British……and a few friends who had the muscle cars began to enjoy my M.G. and Triumph on the occasion they would ask to drive them. They enjoyed getting away from big muscle V8’s from GM, Ford, Chrysler……in a little MG Midget on a severely curvy up and down country road in south west Ohio. Good memories.

  12. I’m excited – I bought my first pony a couple months ago (‘74 – full #’s matching – 360, 4 spd Challenger) & followed it up w/ two more AMCs (‘70 Javelin SST w/ 390 & ‘70 red-white-& blue Machine)! And I’m hot on the hunt for more – granted the bank account needs some replenishing. I’m learning, mechanically capable but lacking some experience, but it’s amazing fun & every time I go cruising I think I’m converting a few more people!

  13. Yes I think the desire for old cars will decrease. In 2017 our oldest granddaughter finished grade 12. She loved her little stick Accura. She is not an old car person. Her dad’s 67 Charger 383 4 speed was not done yet. So for graduation pictures in the park she asked to use Grandpa and Gramma’s 67 440 4 speed Charger. She and her sister love their Dad’s 4 speed, just don’t like paying for fuel. I am in the process doing our car. Will I get our money back? Did we get our money back on our 1978 Fury Sport, no.
    We drive our cars to shows. Detroit, Jefferson City Missouri, Aurora Missouri etc. 3600-4000 mile return trip not unusual. In summation, our cars are for enjoyment. Here in Saskatoon we just had a MoparClub Meet. There were a large number of teenagers and under 25 years people that enjoyed the show. If the price is right, someone will buy it. What is the 2010 something you bought new worth now, does it matter? Ian

  14. I think that the future of classic cars
    Is like picking the stock market
    Some times up sometimes down
    Seems like when you want to buy
    The markets up,but when you want to
    Sell it’s down The crazy prices are
    Driven by auction house hype and
    Hungry car dealers
    Us collectors (I have 25 of them)
    Have to pay the price if we want
    Them. I’m really not too concerned
    About the future value of my
    Collection because I love having
    Them to look at and drive and
    I always said you can’t go to the
    Bank and admire your money
    No matter if you have 1 car or 25
    So let’s not worry so much about
    The hobbys direction,we can’t control
    It But we can enjoy it while we’re
    Still here so don’t worry be happy

  15. We are allowing our own demise by letting "newer" vehicles into our car shows and cruisins. Our hobby is old cars and that is what it should be. Less than 50 years is not an old car.

  16. If the democrats win, old cars will be planter boxes with no real FOSSILS fuel to power them i.e. NO FOSSIL FUELS WILL RUIN THE SPORT AND DESTROY THEIR VALUE. YOU COULD PUT A PROPELLER ON IT!! WAKE UP LIBS!! ELCTRO MOD IS A JOKE!!

  17. I believe that the collector car market is on the decline. Many of the collectors are aging and younger folks aren’t interested in classic autos. Prices will be on the decline over the next decade and eventually fall from grace.

    • The car hobby is changing for sure. The people who were born in the 1940’s, 50’s & 60’s had the car movies, music & TV shows. Car culture was everywhere. Kids now a days if they do want a car are more interested if it has WIFI and a big screen monitor. They have so many more interests which consume their time & money unfortunately the automobile is not one of them.

  18. Last year I attended the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix car show on Saturday on the grounds of the Schenley Park golf course in Pittsburgh. I live in that area so I try to attend aevery year or two years. Anyway I talked to a gentleman who was displaying his car that was converted to be powered by both CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and straight gasoline at the flip of a switch. He was also advertising the sale of these conversion kits. I walked away thinking to myself that is great! It allows a vintage vehicle to remain mostly original while still being PC for the 21st century and beyond. As I talked to him I learned that it is possible to perform this conversion on virtually gasoline-powered vehicle, be it carbureted or fuel injected. Though carbed vehicles would be easier simply for lack of computer module and related sensors and complexity.

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