I am using this column to answer the numerous general questions I receive about the collector car market, which continues its strong growth trends. Today, the popularity of the collector cars, older pickup trucks and muscle cars have expanded to include not only the baby boomer generation, it’s spreading to much younger groups who are finding the excitement of the hobby serves them well.
Some of the questions I receive concern investing in collector vehicles as a business, but I’m glad to say that most communications about the collector car market come from those who love cars. Granted, there will always be some investors who buy pristine cars hoping for a nice return on investment (ROI), but most hobbyists enjoy the cars for what they are, i.e.: windows to the past and a doorway to recapturing years gone by.
The media plays a big part in not only sustaining the hobby, but attracting new collector car enthusiasts. From television shows that run regularly to the hundreds of magazines that zero in on the hobby, if you’re a fan of collector cars and trucks you have lots of outlets to take care of your desires. Notable are the television auctions, half-hour and hour-long collector car programs and the major print publications.
As for the vehicles the enthusiasts buy, everything from a lowly Studebaker Lark to a rare L88 Corvette attract attention at the car shows. Whether you have $3,000 to invest or $30,000, there’s a car out there for just about anyone who wants to enjoy the fun of owning a car and attending the shows.
These collector car shows deserve extra mention, as they come in several flavors. The major car shows, like the ones they hold Carlisle, Pa. every year, are wonderful exhibitions of thousands of cars and trucks. However, and just as important as the big shows, the smaller hometown car shows are sometimes just as much fun as the “biggies,” and usually are connected in some way to a local non-profit group, like an area fire company or Rotary Club. As for “cruise-in” events, many are held weekly throughout the warmer months and offer an excellent avenue for involvement.
Perhaps the best indicator of the popularity and strength of the hobby comes in a two-fold example.
First, the number of companies out there catering to the collector car hobby are countless and growing. Everything from tires, interiors, paint, wheels, body parts, complete bodies, engines, flathead parts and more are readily available to one and all.
Second is the strength of the car collector hobby when it comes to politics. Thanks to organizations like the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the rights of collector car owners are properly defended when it comes to political correctness. Thanks to the strength of its government affairs efforts and the proper use of lobbying and working with congress, you can rest assured that the quickest way for a modern day politician to lose his or her run for office is to come up with a bill that limits the rights of a collector car owner. Thanks to SEMA, things like emission compliance for the older cars is just one area of the hobby they involve themselves in. (See SEMA.org for more and to join).
I personally own several collector cars, none of which are big money vehicles. Included are a 1994 Trans-Am, 1998 Z-28 Camaro, 1959 Edsel, 1972 Challenger 440, 1998 BMW 540i and a 1980 AMC Concord. All of these cars have a personal meaning, and I like to work on them regularly as best I can. I again point to the fact that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get into this hobby as the AMC Concord, with just 27,000 original miles, has about $2,700 invested total. Included are a new exhaust system, brakes and shock absorbers. I found it on eBay.
And speaking of eBay, let’s end with a bit on social media and its impact on the hobby. Every car collector knows they can go to eBay or YouTube and pretty much entertain themselves for as many hours as they want. From investigating the major collector car insurance offerings, buying a model car kit, checking Auto Round-Up online magazines, or trying to find a 1968 Roadrunner for sale, there is always a bevy of offerings awaiting the hobbyist. And, just as important as all the print publications, the growth of social media helps spawn new enthusiasts.
Here’s hoping that more and more people join the collector car hobby this New Year. There’s so much fun for the entire family awaiting new enthusiasts, especially when everyone gathers for weekend car show that offers not only cars but usually a DJ, food vendors, a flea market and so on.
Have fun and continue to spread the word how much fun this hobby really is.