Will Anyone Care About 1910s Cars in the Coming Decades?

Every year when I walk around Monterey Car Week, I’m struck by a realization about some of the ultra-old cars involved: Nobody in my generation has any interest in any of these vehicles. In fact, nobody in the generation older than mine has any interest in any of these vehicles, either. This line of thinking leads me to the following question: In 50 years, is anyone going to be left to take care of these things?

Here’s what I mean. Whenever there’s some event during Monterey Car Week that shows off the really old stuff — cars from the 1910s or 1920s, for instance, ones you drive with some bizarre operation of hands and feet that practically involves doing a dance each time you want to go anywhere — I always think about how I have no interest in these cars. For me, these are barely cars. They’re usually fully open; they often have wooden wheels; they go like 12 miles per hour. Who wants these things?

Well, the answer is "the people who are currently operating them" — but that never seems to be anyone young. Mostly, people in Monterey driving cars from this era are pretty old themselves, and they likely appreciate these cars because they had them in their youth, when the cars themselves were already starting to be considered "classics."

But for younger people — anyone under 70 or so — the classics from our era were muscle cars, or maybe the tail fin era of the 1950s, or the amazing cars that came out of the 1960s from Italy (Ferrari 250) and Germany (Mercedes-Benz SL Pagoda). Certainly, the cars we lust after aren’t the curved-dash Oldsmobile models, or the Hupmobile, or any other "horseless carriage" vehicle that seems to offer neither speed nor beauty, and a lot of headaches over finding parts and operating the vehicle at all.

So what’s going to happen to these cars? I honestly, truly wonder what the answer is to this question, as I think most younger people today won’t have much interest in keeping them around. They may end up in museums, or maybe a few private collections where the owners are indeed interested in the old stuff — but my guess is values will go down as these vehicles age out of the era where most buyers are interested in them. That’s a shame, but also probably a simple fact of time moving on — and for all I know, in 50 years, we may be saying the very same thing about 1960s Ferrari models.

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