Who are the new classics?
I’m helping a friend of mine’s father restore a 1940 Ford truck. He’s just begun a hobby of collecting cars and the Ford is a nice compliment to his 1964 Corvette Convertible. As I’m sanding down the bodywork on this old truck, it’s evident that the body lines are amazingly simple, but the overall effect is an elegant little hauler. It’s a true original, which makes me begin to wonder what’s going to be in my own collection. I now realize that I will have to wait another twenty years (or the lottery) for me to truly afford this hobby, and by then, I wonder what will be the new classics.
Immediately I have to narrow my criteria for selection. First to qualify, it needs to be affordable. I’m classifying the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Paganis, etc., as exotics. They are instant classics that never have working examples in an affordable price range (i.e. Countaches never go for Camry prices.)
Second, no retro cars. Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro and the rest of them are actually very good cars for what they are: fun and affordable pieces of nostalgia. There will always be a large group of people who will cherish these cars as instant classics. But what they are not is fully original, so I am leaving them off this list.
So with the field narrowed, I present three cars for induction into the hall of future classics.
The first one I offer is the last generation Pontiac GTO (2004-2006). This was a misunderstood vehicle. One of the biggest criticisms was that the car looked too ordinary. But that’s exactly how a GTO is supposed to look. The originals were little more than everyday Pontiac Tempests snuck out GM’s back door with the 389 cu in V8 engine from the full-sized Bonneville. The last GTO may have looked like a Monte Carlo, but the Corvette derived LS1 V8 made it a sleeper that could hang with cars like the Audi RS4. The car was canceled with fewer than 41,000 examples produced. High performance + low production numbers = a valuable classic.
The next is Mazda MX-5 (Miata). All of the Miatas are classics. Mazda did an amazing thing by bringing back the roadster after almost a decade’s absence, and because it came from Japan instead of Europe, it had everyday reliability. But the true classic is the current generation. The first two versions were too cute to be enjoyed by both men and women, and so they weren’t the spiritual successor to the MGB. The third generation, on sale since 2006, is the most powerful (166 horsepower), and it’s just aggressive enough to be ambiguous. With over 800,000 examples built since 1989, the Miata will be the car that will always be a cheap and fun convertible – a great classic.
My final entry may be my largest stretch, it’s BMW 1-Series coupe. BMW has sold its soul. It used to build cars that looked like everyday sedans but had the ability to bully Corvettes. Now its designs are not as understated, and even worse, they’ve been “Bangled”. This is a far cry from the immortal 2002 that made the world fall in love with BMW. But the lines of the 1-Series coupe seem to have escaped the odd shapes of designer Chris Bangle. The flat nose of the 1-Series is the closest we may ever come again to the great 2002. The rest of the car is absolutely amazing. It’s offered with the twin turbo six cylinder from the 3-Series making 306 horsepower, and it has legendary BWM handling. It’s a small, powerful and slightly understated coupe; long live the 1-Series.
In reality, by the time my lotto numbers finally hit, my garage may be too filled with relics from the 60s to make room for these new classics. But are my predictions right? Of course I think so. I also know this is a list far from complete, so please help.