What's That You Said?

(LtoR Simon Kidston, Christopher Svensson, Paul Ingrassia, Chris Urmson. Not pictured, Miles Collier)
Photo Courtesy of The Revs Institute
Another article we recently reviewed was a recap of a panel of Collector car "magnates" (selected by the Rev's Institute for a discussion on "From Here to Autonomy" at the recent Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California) discussing the impact of autonomous cars on the Collector car marketplace with special regard towards museum-grade and similar large scale collections.

While the group provided some of their thoughts, it's important to remember it's all conjecture. There are few, if any, facts to substantiate predictions.

Some of the main points included: 
  • Autonomous cars are a near certainty.
  • Driverless cars won’t kill automotive enthusiasm.
  • The concepts are already affecting automotive design, both inside and out.
  • Autonomous-vehicle technology will not keep enthusiasts from driving collector cars on public roads in the near future.
  • Regulation is a greater immediate threat to enthusiasts.
  • Enthusiasts should speak out regarding the historical significance of their hobby.
But as we read further into the contents it appeared to contain mixed messages. What do these quotes mean?

"The collector-car market is becoming increasingly stratified.
The gulf between the best and the rest is getting greater."

"Great automobiles like vintage Ferrari race cars will always demand top prices, but as the cost of ownership increases, the vast majority of more pedestrian (Classic) vehicles will hold limited appeal..."

It'll be a case of survival of the fittest."
Were we reading about a prediction the overall Collector car market will or is begining to deteriorate, with focus devoted to the top few percent of Collector cars? Maybe. If you were sitting with a group of your Pebble Beach peers, who may hold a belief the only important Classics are the ones they own, you'd probably show support in a similar manner.

After digesting the content of the article, our opinions include the following:

  • For the Collector Car market to remain a vibrant community of millions of owners, representing all grades of Classics, the discussion should be focused on market unification, not the creation or support of value limiting strata.
  • One of the main reasons the top few percent of high-end Classics are popular, valuable and highly sought after is due to the interest and support provided by the other 95% of the market. 
  • If "the vast majority of more pedestrian (Classic) vehicles begin to hold limited appeal" (decimated by regulations and/or stratification) there may also be a declining interest for vehicles now at the top of the market. Furthermore, does "will always demand top prices" mean they'll be valued the same or higher than now or half of their current value, but higher than most? As the saying goes, "be careful of what you wish for, because it may just come true".
  • All existing organizations supporting the collectible car market, manufacturers and high-end collectors should consider forming a "mega organization" to promote and support the hobby. Their combined notoriety and access to regulators would be extremely beneficial as compared to a grass roots effort from average owners.
Survival of the Fittest
We believe that is the key phrase everyone should be paying attention to, but few people are. Hypothetically speaking, it is feasible for the bottom 20% of the Classics in the current market to succumb to the rising cost to own and operate a Classic. But why? 

Are they simply in such bad shape they are unsalable? Will they be rescued like so many other Classics once residing in salvage yards? What about the next 20% of the market? Will they face the same fate, followed by an upward ratcheting class of cars? Is there a way to slow or stop that from occurring?
Our thoughts are, yes. But change will need to occur. We've said it before and we'll say it again; the market is due for a significant "makeover". As the next generation of potential owners move into the market they will be looking for ways to more accurately determine the quality, condition and value of Classics capturing their interest. They are unlikely to view "It is what you can see" as an acceptable condition report.
So when the experts say, "survival of the fittest", we believe they mean, "owners who have meticulously restored or preserved and maintained their cars including the foresight to catalog the details of their Classic, which can collectively be used to define the verifiable quality and condition of the vehicle". These will be those vehicles that survive in the future. Even the ones that aren't "perfect".

For further clarification, imagine you're in the market for a quality used vehicle. After conducting your search, you find a local seller with a competitively priced version of what appears to be exactly what you want. After looking the car over, it seems to be in excellent condition. 

So you ask, "What can you tell me about the car?" The seller replies, "It is what you can see. There are no records available, so we don't know how many people have owned it, the actual mileage, what service may have been performed, or if it's been in a flood or involved in a major accident either." Would you even consider buying it? We didn't think so.

As a way to implement change, we strongly recommend Classic car owners to begin using Garagistry to organize, manage and protect all of the details of their Classic. Once recorded this information can be used to properly judge quality, condition and value. 

Remember, Preserving Automotive History...One Car At a Time® is not just a slogan. It's what we do. For more details, click here.