2011 witnessed seventeen vehicles coming to the end of their respective assembly lines. From the relatively unheard-of Nissan Altima Hybrid to the farmer fancies like Ford Ranger and even the running favourites such as the popular Mitsubishi Eclipse have been taken off production.
Industry experts are speculating that each one of these seventeen cars can be expected to be called a classic car in a few decades.
However, the exact contours of what constitutes a classic car are slightly garbled.
Dan Wilkin, owner of Dan’s Old Cars, Miltona, says: “If someone wants one because they had one as a kid, that’s what makes it a classic. If it was their grandpa’s car and they loved it, that’s all it takes.”
Typically, any car that has seen 20-30 years of service can be classified a ‘Collectible’, but some connoisseurs tend to opt for more selective breeding.
Scott Ellingson, who’s the owner of Ellingson Car Museum, says, “I don’t feel a ’91 Ford Taurus is a true collector. Thirty years is generally what I’ve always worked on, and even then, what 1981 cars are classics now?”
Most collectors tend to place the ‘certified classic’ lapel on vintage models with chrome grilles, big fins and other finesses of the yesteryear era. The cars from the last 30 years don’t have that, sadly.
“Most of the newer cars are considered throwaway cars. But 30 years go, people considered the 1950s cars were throwaway cars,” Wilkin continued.
Cavan Lasch, who used to run shows like the West St Paul’s Downtown Beat Classics, says: “Classic car gatherings usually have a benchmark beyond three decades, mostly mid-century models. Most hot-rodders believe in 1975 on down (in years).”
“If you have a car that’s 1975 and older, you can go to all shows except for ‘Back to the ‘50s’ which is 1964 and older. But you’re going to get different opinions, absolutely,” Lasch said.
Surmising the standards of classic cars can be very subjective, since people tend to have a different opinion of what a classic car should be.
Models that are being declared redundant, such as the Eclipse, may be coveted by the next generation. For instance, the Ford Crown Victoria already has such a unanimous appeal that it is assured to be declared a classic car in a few years.
However, one of the prime assets of a classic car has to be its rarity, so popular cars that have been phased out this year, such as the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota, will have to wait for another 50 years or so to gain the necessary tag.
“They made too many of them. Rarity does mean value,” Lasch says.
Certain cars with unique engines or parts also have a shot at becoming collectibles in the coming decade. The Mazda RX-8, which is still commonplace, does have the calibre to become a classic car, courtesy the Wankel (rotary engine). The Mazda is the only car around with a rotary engine, which ups it chances considerably.
In terms of classic car insurance, the insurers can look forward to a lot of business in the next decade, with more and more vehicles joining the classic car bandwagon.