There’s no doubt about it, the skyrocketing value of older vehicles – especially modern classics from the ’80s and ’90s – has been a strong talking point within our post-Covid automotive social circles.
Invariably, once the complaining about the prices of cars ‘that got away’ or the hypothetical garage valuation gloating has run its natural course, and assuming you’re still awake, it’s time to draw a line in the sand and duke it out.
If you didn’t guess, I’m referring to the debate over whether our hyper-inflated assets (I mean cars) should be driven as intended, or preserved for maximum financial return some day down the track. Sorry, did I mention money as a motivating factor? Oops, what I meant to say was ‘preserved for the appreciation of future generations.’ Terribly sorry.
Both sides of the fence can spin a compelling argument about why those who oppose their views are either short-sighted heathens or superficial sellouts, but for a change of pace I’m going to try my best not to take sides.
Besides, the ‘get out and drive’ side of the argument had very little competition while I was surrounded by more retro Skylines than I’d ever seen in one place at one time.
I’m sure you’ll agree that nothing can beat blasting off into the sunset surrounded by motoring legends. But are moments like these coming to an end?Enjoying The Moment
Sure, fast cars may eventually fade into ‘the good old days.’ Perhaps our grandchildren will roll their eyes while we relive tales of frosty Sunday morning drives for the umpteenth time. But doesn’t that just make you want to get out there even more?
We can choose to take everything for granted or to use each day to create the memories we’d later like to reflect upon. Living in the moment and trying to appreciate the small things does mean extra work, but it’s unwise to assume that opportunity knocks twice. Make sure your bags are packed when adventure next calls, because you never know where you will end up or who you’ll meet.
That’s exactly the same sharp, focused mentality that allowed me to only hit snooze on my alarm clock twice before rising with the sun to join a group of mates for a very special Sunday morning run.
Not only had our hosts done their homework by organizing an exceptional route, our group of mostly Japanese cars would potentially set a record for the most C10 Hakosuka and C110 Kenmeri Skylines to assemble for a cruise outside of their Japanese homeland.
Invitations weren’t limited to boxy Princes, Datsuns and Nissans, though a few Mitsubishi Evolutions and later-model cars also made the trip. We even brought along a token Ford Mustang, but that was mainly for crowd control if things got busy. I heard a 13B rotary buzzing, too.
After a relaxed (and delicious) bacon and egg roll and my second coffee for the morning, we toured through the quieter roads of the iconic Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
Evidence of last year’s devastating NSW bushfires still scarred the surroundings. Although most of the homes and business premises that were affected have since been rebuilt, the lack of foliage transformed parts of a familiar drive into a new experience.
Green growth brought a sense of renewal as we turned off and found new un-driven roads. Some of it almost felt like miniature valley rainforests.
The roads we travelled suited ours cars perfectly. While on one hand the scenery was very Australian (read: brown and dark green), there were patches where it all felt very similar to racing across rural Japan.
Not even five minutes after a quick pitstop outside of a historic pub, it felt like we were speeding across the mountain roads of Hakone.
Cool cars, great rides, friendly people. It was nothing too far from an ordinary day, yet there wasn’t anything ordinary about the day at all. It was brilliant. But given the exploding costs and difficulties of keeping these classics on the road, I really can’t help but think these brilliant days are numbered.The End Is Nigh!(?)
Romantically, the first reaction to that statement is ‘shut up Matt, of course, we want to keep driving these things.’ Sure, me too; I can’t ever imagine not being an advocate for enjoying what we have or making the most of every day.
But there’s a dark side to the parabolic prices of the cars we enjoy and take for granted. Because while your friends are high-fiving their ever-growing profits, the cost and scarcity of parts are also quietly increasing.
With fewer parts available and fewer cars to work on, it’s safe to assume that those who’ve specialized within a niche may find themselves with a much lighter workload. Eventually, these companies may be forced to turn their focus elsewhere or potentially close their doors for good.
As the cycle continues with less readily available parts and fewer trusted hands to employ, it’s not unthinkable that, eventually, owners will feel reluctant to push their cars as close to the limits as they used to.
I’m not saying it’s all over or nice cars belong in museums, because there’ll always be a place for Sunday drives, but don’t be surprised when those outings are planned further and further apart or when fewer cars turn up.
I’ll admit that’s a pretty dark and harsh view of what could potentially happen. Hell, It might even upset a few of you out there. But if we can’t imagine it we certainly can’t plan for it.
Sadly, my crystal ball went out for servicing this week so I’m not able to confirm if the current price trajectory is going to stay constant, ramp up or decline tomorrow. But surely if prices were to chill out a little it wouldn’t be the worst thing, right?
Nothing is set in stone, prices could slide and fall of a cliff and explode into a fiery wreck tomorrow, buying us all some extra time to make the very most of our awesome machinery.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that nobody knows what the future holds with any certainty. The main thing I’ve taken from this whole Covid experience is to actively seek out and be more appreciative of the good times we have.
Often we don’t know how good we had it until after the fact. So go on, get out there and make today count. Oh, and don’t be so upset if your S-chassis isn’t worth six figures by this fall.