On What Cars Become Collectable

Hemmings Motor News is keeping me busy this week. Today, one of the articles in their Hemmings Daily blog asks “Will some cars never be collectable?” [emphasis added] At the top of the article is a picture of (of course) a car of the 80s – in this case it is a 1980 Oldsmobile Omega.

It is an interesting thought. I own an eighties car that is at least somewhat of a collector car – a 1985 Corvette. There has always been aftermarket support for my car and there is increasing restoration support for it, though very little existed 10 years ago. At the various times in the Corvette hobby, there has been heated discussion on what defines a collectable Corvette. Once the cutoff year was 1962, because the Sting Rays were “just used cars”. Then, the cutoff year was 1967, because the sharks were “too new to be judged”. After that, the cutoff year was 1982, because the C4s were “late model” Corvettes. You get the idea – rinse, repeat.

Of course it depends on what you mean by collectable. I wrote last month about seeing a lovingly preserved/restored first generation Chrysler minivan at a fairly serious local judged show. I’m not sure that a minivan is collectable (though I do think they were significant) but I am sure that I like seeing one in beautiful shape and I am happy that the AACA has provision for judging them once they hit 25 years old.

I think one of the things that makes seeing the not easily defined cars really cool is the degree of difficulty. I know that the folks who restored that Chrysler minivan didn’t have access to the wide range of suppliers that I do and I know that there isn’t (for example) a Minivans at Carlisle show for them to search for parts.

So here’s what I’ll say: every older car that is lovingly restored by its owner is collectable (at least to she or he). There may not be a big market for the results, but, in the end, one more car from a certain era has been saved.

By the way, there is an X-car for sale in Hemmings Motor News as I write this, so folks are at least trying to sell them. It is not a 1980 Oldsmobile Omega, but rather a 1983 Buick Skylark T-Type with 112,000 miles going for $5,000.