If you are a classic car lover or an automotive enthusiast, it’s hard to imagine cars like the Honda Civic or Toyota Camry becoming collectibles of the future. Back more than half a century ago, cars were made with art and style in mind. Now, cars only seem to be made with crash test ratings and fuel efficiency in mind. This all begs the question, will cars become “classic cars” in the future.
Admittedly, we are already seeing some cars of the 90s and early 2000s becoming collector’s items. Cars like the 1994 Range Rover Classic or the 2001 BMW M Coupe. These particular cars are slowly appreciating in value and becoming, well, collectible. Seeing these cars become more collectible certainly seems to be alluding to the answer that some cars may become future classics.
To fully examine the trend of cars from ordinary to classic, we have to step back examine what exactly makes a car “classic.” Simply put, a classic car is one that is older and has enough historical and cultural interest to garner collectibility. With that said, only certain cars of the past have reached a classic status. Cars with fine engineering, unique and impressive design, and other characteristics that made them stand out back in the day ultimately roll into the main reasons of why certain cars are classics now.
So, do we see any modern production cars of today that possess these qualities of impressive design and fine engineering? Many believe that the Mazda MX-5 will become a future classic car due to its raw ability to perform, it’s different styling, and inherent “funness” to drive. More outlandishly in future classics predictions, some believe that early generation Toyota Prius’ might become a classic. While Prius’s are anything but the most exciting car, they posses a unique historical quality: they were the first successful gas-electric hybrid vehicle. This means that while the car may not be the prettiest, it’s unique and it set a historical precedent. These qualities too can play into future classics.
The general consensus of the car industry tends to allude to the continuation of “classic cars,” but they simply won’t exist in the same state we see cars of 50 years ago. In many cases, the average person could look at an old classic and see it as beautiful. Classics of the future will likely be seen by only a select few relegated to each model. In other words, there will be fewer universal classics in the future due to the nature of modern automotive design. Modern automobiles, while often very stylistic, are generally focused on function over design. This means that the select few that do become classics will see less general appeal due to design characteristics and will gain more select appeal from often not obvious characteristics like power, handling, and comfort.
While the age of classic cars will continue on for the foreseeable future, the appeal of newer classics will likely become more select and the overall classic car environment will change. All of this is due to a shift in engineering design principles over the years in car design. While they have affected the car industry in a generally positive manner, differing design choices have presented us with an interesting path ahead for the classic car industry.