Teenagers’ walls likely show the future of the hobby

From left, Larry Edsall, John Carlson, Dave Kinney and Tom Cotter discuss the classic car market | Nicole James photo
From left, Larry Edsall, John Carlson, Dave Kinney and Tom Cotter discuss classic car market | Nicole James photo

If you want to invest in classic and collector cars, look to see what is on the walls of a teenager’s bedroom. At least that was some of the advice shared Saturday at the sixth annual Phoenix Automotive Press Association Arizona Auction Week Preview, held at the Arizona Biltmore on the eve of the Arizona Concours d’Elegance.

“Anything that resonates with that generation,” said Dave Kinney, classic car expert and publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide. “They might be too young when it came out, but as they get older they will be able to get that car they always wanted.”

Among those cars, said Kinney, concours chief judge John Carlson and barn-found car expert and author Tom Cotter, are the so-called JDM cars — JDM is short for Japanese Domestic Market, which includes cars produced in Japan but not always exported to the U.S. — as well as 1970’s Datsuns, cars such as the Subaru WRX, 1990s’ Ford Mustangs, and even, Cotter added, “obscure British cars.”

And the panelists are putting their money behind their words. Carlson, who has a collection of hot rods and American muscle cars, shared a story about how at the Arizona auctions last year he bought a rare Alex Zanardi-edition Acura NSX, and Cotter talked about recently starting the restoration of his 1972 Datsun 510, a car he used to race.

However, Kinney suggested that people with cars such as the NSX or WRX need to take very good care of them. Many such cars have been hot-rodded and raced by their initial owners. Twenty years from now, he said, it will be nearly impossible to find one that hasn’t been all but destroyed, thus increasing the value of those that are in excellent condition.

Kinney noted that the Ford GT, a mid-engine supercar launched less than a decade ago, already is accelerating in value. He also pointed out that the least-popular color option among buyers when the Ford GT was brand new has become the most sought-after look for collectors.

That color scheme is known as the Heritage version and is based on the blue and orange colors of the Gulf-sponsored Ford GT40s that race at Le Mans in the 1960s.

The panelists also noted that we are in what really is the golden age of the automobile. Cars are faster, lighter, safer, get better gas mileage and are the very best ever been built, and will be sought as collectible classics by future generations.

During an open question and answer segment, people in the audience asked about the future of the hobby as it faces generational changes.

Panelists said that millennials are interested in cars, but not necessarily the same sort of car events as their parents and grandparents.

Kinney noted that what younger owners aren’t interested in awards and trophies. Instead, what they want to do is to enjoy their cars, to drive and have fun with them, which includes going to “cars and coffee” style events where they can hang out with friends for a couple of hours.

The panel was moderated by Larry Edsall, editorial director for ClassicCars.com and founding editor of the Phoenix auto press group.

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