My Car Quest

May 16, 2022

Why Do We Like Classic Cars So Much?

by Mike Gulett –

When someone asked Willie Nelson why he took up the guitar and joined a band he replied “to get the girls”.

Triumph TR6

Triumph TR6 and Mike Gulett in Dayton, Ohio

I wanted to be this guy below with the Triumph Spitfire so I bought a TR6, above.

Triumph Spitfire Advertisement

Triumph Spitfire Advertisement

Is there some of this Willie Nelson motivation behind why men love cars so much? Maybe, but there are other motivations too.

MG Midget

MG Midget and Mike Gulett in San Diego, California

MG Midget Advertisement

MG Midget Advertisement

A classic car is a beautiful thing and is a symbol of a bygone era where designers created elegant shapes with a lot of care and craftsmanship. In the modern world cars are made on a factory line and there isn’t that sense of care and attention.

Yes, modern cars have been designed to maximize the overall practicalities and (sometimes) style, but the modern computer software can help design a modern vehicle, yet there’s just no charm or character to them. You can scour any of the used cars for sale online, and compare something from the last twenty years to the classic designs, and the classic car will always stand out. That elegant design just does not pop from a computer design tool used by modern designers.

Alfa Romeo Veloce Spyder

Alfa Romeo Veloce Spyder and Rebecca in Fremont, California

A classic like the Ferrari 250 GTO is beautiful in every single way but it’s a shape that no modern designer would dream of creating. These designs belong to a bygone age that many of us love.

Nostalgia is a very powerful component when we’re thinking about classic cars. Any car from a bygone era has a history, regardless of how interesting it is (or not). Certain cars have achieved amazing things in their lives and whether it’s winning endurance events or overcoming more mundane challenges, these are all a part of the story. The machines had a character all of their own.

Porsche 911

Porsche 911 and Mike Gulett in Colorado

Porsche 911

Porsche 911 and Rebecca in Colorado

We see cars on the road today and we take them for granted, but classic cars were a sidekick all of their own. As a result, when they accompanied their owners on life events the car became very much a member of the family, the companion.

Classic cars always have a story to tell about what they have accomplished in their lives. And we can always argue that if there is something wrong with the upholstery or it requires a lot more trips to the mechanic, these are battle scars rather than imperfections, or patina if you like. They add to the character and become major milestones in the car’s life.

We can see this with modern car makers that really play on the fact that their brand has a major heritage or pedigree that they use to advertise their models and tie them to the history. But this can grate heavily on those that were there the first time around. The classic cars are the things that truly define the heritage and establish the brand’s reputation. How can Tesla handle this? They certainly do not have the prominent history of Mercedes, Ford or even GM.

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada in Carmel, California

Classic cars are limited in supply and therefore they have a greater level of individuality and exclusivity. If you are on the hunt for an Iso Grifo say, the fact is that someone who owns one is not going to give it up easily. Part of the thrill of owning a classic is the hunt to find just the right one for you because the best ones may not be for sale. Of course, some models are so rare that a potential buyer cannot be too choosy or they could wait years before another one comes along.

Mike Gulett and Iso Grifo

Iso Grifo and Mike Gulett at The San Francisco Presidio

Have we seen the love of classic cars fading? In a word, no. A classic car exists on a completely different plane than many other things. The classic car doesn’t just focus on efficiency or speed, but on the entire package; the uniqueness, the experience, and the craftsmanship, which are all special to that car, not just that car maker. Classic cars don’t just appeal to those who own them, but they appeal to people who are intrigued by the notion of car design, the history of engineering, and also history itself.

A classic car is not just something that’s for a specific type of person. It can seem like an exclusive club, but the fact is that a classic car is something that will endure. Those who want to invest in a piece of history that gives them a sense of satisfaction will be happy with classic cars.

Do we need to reassess our relationship with classic cars? If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Iso Grifo and AC Cobra

Iso Grifo and AC Cobra Mk IV in Carmel, California

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini GT 5300 and Mike Gulett in Monterey, California

Summary
Why Do We Like Classic Cars So Much?
Article Name
Why Do We Like Classic Cars So Much?
Description
A classic car is a beautiful thing and is a symbol of a bygone era where designers created elegant shapes with a lot of care and craftsmanship.
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Comments

  1. Glenn Scott Krasner says

    Hey, Mike!
    Thanks for the classic car commentary and cool photos! What is that neat looking blue vehicle in the garage of the first picture! Attached below is a picture of me in front of Elvis’s 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II, displayed at the Lincoln pavilion at the New York International Auto Show, which closed yesterday. This was displayed among Lincoln’s SUVs – Lincoln no longer makes a sedan or coupe – perhaps to give them some nostalgic cachet. Each Mark II sold for $10,000 in 1956,. and was basically hand built, at a cost of $20,000, for a $10,000 loss on each car sold. Henry Ford II wanted to build a prestige car on the order of an American Rolls Royce, even if it lost money.
    Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

    • Glenn,

      That blue vehicle in the garage in the first photo is my Dad’s ‘40 GMC pickup. We drove that truck from Los Angeles to Dayton, Ohio in 1966. A few years later I helped my Dad install a 350 Chevy engine, transmission and diff. I drove it a lot after that to high school. I wish it had stayed in the family.

  2. Arthur Salo says

    I really enjoyed this article, probaly more so because I own two classics. My 1980 Porsche 911 SC Targa sits in the

    driveway under a cover because the Targa top has some water leaks. The 1957 Triumph TR3 (small mouth) is in the

    garage where I’m restoring it to be, essentially, a brand new 1957 TR3 This car was my very first sports car and I

    bought it in 1967 for $450 and drove it when I was in college. It got a bit rusty since I live in the north east. I

    probably have at least $50,000 invested in it now, but I’m not going to add up the money I’ve spent. The car came

    from Orange Cty, , Ca. and will return there when I die since it will pass to my daughter who lives there.

  3. Rob Krantz says

    Great article and pics of your cars Mike! Thanks for sharing. Back in the day these cars, such as the TR6, were cool but in retrospect, they have become so much more unique and special with time. There are few cars being produced today that will elicit fond memories in the future.

    • Thanks Rob,

      I also had a Triumph TR7 that I bought new in 1975 in Dayton, Ohio and drove it to San Diego the next year. I do not have good photos but I will search.

      Here is another of the Alfa Spider that I found with me driving.

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