Year end is a time of reflection, a time for looking back and considering events of the past 12 months and, for many, a time of making resolutions for change in the New Year.
Today we begin our annual review of the top stories of the year, in this case the year of 2019, which was a year of significant events and some major changes in the collector car hobby.
Tomorrow we begin our official countdown of the top-10 stories, as selected by the ClassicCars.com Journal editors and correspondents. But today, as is our annual practice, we launch the series with some of the events and developments that didn’t make the final top-10 list.
For example, there was that much-publicized crash that left comedian Kevin Hart and others in his classic and resto-mod Plymouth Barracuda with severe injuries. The crash occurred near Los Angeles. Combine the epicenter of American car culture with the nation’s thirst for celebrity news and a reactive legislative culture and somewhere down the road, should there be regulations regarding old cars and modern safety technology, Hart’s crash could have a huge impact on the future of the collector car hobby.
Another tragic event that touched the collector car community was the death of Jessi Combs in a crash during a land speed-record attempt in Oregon. She was 39 years old, a hands-on car builder, racer, popular television personality and role model.
Among other stories that made our ballot but not the final top-10 countdown were a couple involving local governments, including a decision in Monterey County, California, to change the management — after 62 years — of the historic Laguna Seca race track, and another, in northeastern Indiana, to block the sale of the historic Auburn Auction Park.
There also was the continuing growth in the popularity of collectible vintage motorcycles, and did you realize that while the comparison of the dockets certainly is an apples-to-oranges mismatch, Mecum’s annual vintage motorcycle auction in Las Vegas this year had a higher sales total — $26.3 million compared to $25.2 million — than did its collector car auction in Vegas in late 2018.
Other stories of significance from 2019 include the merger of the Silver Arizona and MAG auction companies, a fire at Cadillac Ranch, a Porsche heir re-launching auto racing on ice in Austria, an Italian court ruling that the Ferrari 250 GTO was a work of art and cannot be reproduced in kit-car form, and Roger Penske’s purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy racing series.
And then there was an announcement that left many in the collector car community in despair — if not outrage — as Ford confirmed that it would put the revered Mustang badge on an electric-powered sport utility vehicle.