By on September 6, 2012

The SUV arms race has been over for a few years now, with four-ton, leather-lined, full-framed trucks no longer appearing to be viable as the middle-class commuter machines they were during the SUV-crazed 1990s and 2000s. Oh, sure, you can still buy the things, but Times Have Changed. If we are to draw a parallel between the Golden Age of the Muscle Car (during which Detroit slapped off-the-shelf luxury-car engines and $27 worth of scoops and graphics on midsize commuter cars and made crazy money) and the Golden Age of the Big-Ass SUV (during which Detroit slapped off-the-shelf pleather and Simu-Wood™ trim and $27 worth of badging on full-sized work-truck chassis and made crazy money), then we are now in the SUV equivalent of about 1976. If so, this means that, in another decade or two, nostalgia for Navigators and Escalades will kick in, just as it did for GTOs and Super Bees in about 1985, and— just as with muscle cars— the love of these absurd luxo-trucks will take on symbolic connotations of past glory, an era before nanny-state killjoys, and so on.
The late 1960s actually sort of sucked, with crime rates more than doubling in less than a decade, cities on fire, increasingly quagmiric conflicts in Southeast Asia, and so on. Some of the music was pretty good, but most of it was insipid schmaltz that made you want to install glasspacks on your Super Cobra Jet 428 Torino just to drown it out. Most of the muscle cars of the era were also pretty bad in real life, requiring slicks, aftermarket engine hop-ups, and a super-talented driver to get anywhere near the advertised acceleration figures (and don’t even try to drive on in stop-and-go traffic). And yet… go to any cruise night or car show full of 1960s muscle cars in the United States and you’ll hear about the greatness that was America before the insurance companies, Ralph Nader, and smog-obsessed Southern California politicians threw a big wet blanket over everybody. That means that owning, say, a ’70 Buick GS is a political statement for many. I predict that we’re going to see the exact same process with big body-on-frame SUVs by about 2022. Or not. What do you think?

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105 Comments on “Question: Will Gigantic SUVs Symbolize Freedom and Rebellion In 20 Years, As 1960s Muscle Cars Do Now?...”


  • avatar
    MarkP

    I kind of doubt it. Muscle-car nostalgia is all about aging Baby Boomers trying to recapture their youth. I don’t think the kids growing up with SUVs are going to have the same associations with those vehicles that the kids growing up around muscle cars did. They don’t aspire to own or drive SUVs right now, so why will they in 20 years? And I don’t think a bunch of aging former soccer moms are going to make up for the lack of current adolescent yearning.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      Agreed. Muscle Cars were always about freedom and rebellion. SUVs on the other hand are family trucksters. If SUVs are comparable to any 1960’s era vehicle it would be the station wagon which filled the same market and social niches.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        *This*

        Are people lining up to restore first generation Plymouth Voyagers?

        Maybe a case could be made for the iconic ‘hip-hop’ models (Escalades and H2s) but apart from wood-paneled Jeep Wagoneers and early models that showed off their ‘body-on-frameness,’ the only people who will be driving these things around in 15-20 years are their last owners. Owners who will invariably be as sentimental as any driver whose underbody panels dangle off the intestate.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Yes.

    And my generation will be singing the Simpsons Canyenero song while driving them. Lamenting the appliance like cold efficiency of our aluminum bodied, Lithium Alloy framed Google Driver Enabled podcars that get effective 120mpg.

  • avatar
    radimus

    The thing with BOF SUV’s is that, unlike muscle cars, they actually serve some practical needs. That will probably keep them on the market for a lot longer than most people think.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Isn’t transportation a practical need? Musclecars served that; as does SUVs. What’s the difference? SOME BOF suvs do have capabilities shared with few other vehicles, but so does some musclecars. After all, one of the purposes of a car is to get from A to B faster than walking. So, increased speed is a ‘practical need.’ In some locations, like parts of Sonoma, or the Santa Monica Mountains, a quick car can cut commute times by 5-10 minutes over a lumbering behemoth. And even a handling challenged, powerful car, opens up oportunities to safely pass motorhomes, Priuses and Volvos.

      While the added capabilities of slammed Navigators on 22+” rims that crack if driven over a curb, are pretty slim, indeed.

  • avatar
    raph

    SUVs the not even remotely as cool as a bitch’n station wagon of their time. I think they will be little more than a foot note in the days to come.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Their basic form, BOF and with a low tech, low stressed, large engine; does have potential longevity as a factor favoring them staying around. Particularly if automakers abandon such “old-school” designs for highly engineered, hyper complicated and easily out dated “more efficient” types.

      Once America evolves to something more resembling current day Afghanistan (by way of current day Mexico, then 90s Mogadishu), the ability to fairly cheaply add fuel capacity, some makeshift armor, and the ability to carry enough people and gear to provide for more security fr it’s occupants, may become a positive.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    I always thought that would happen with conversion vans. They will be much more rare as they are crusher food these days, nothing depreciates like a conversion van. Features like indirect lighting, massive amount of oak trim and refrigerator/coolers will seem like bizzar throwbacks.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Anyone that was a child of the late 70’s thought conversion vans were the coolest thing in the world, however outside of men working in childern’s shoe stores, nothing is more associated with pedophiles than a box shaped vans. Any nostalgia, even if subcon, is tempered by this.

  • avatar
    snabster

    I doubt it. Giant SUV were mostly sold to suburban moms. They were not being sold as your first car, or your first dream car.

    Will will be nostalgic — absolutely. But it won’t be earning for freedom.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      If anything it would be an example of stupidity, wouldn’t it? With Honda minivans getting nearly 30 MPG highway with V6 engines that can haul all kinds of kids and cargo, there isn’t a place for 20 MPG BOF SUVs that do basically the same exact thing.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Sadly, you’re absolutely right. I remember my LMOA moment with the first generation BMW X5 SUV came out, with less cargo space than the 5 series (or was it 3-series!) wagon, worse fuel economy, worse acceleration . . . you name it.

        Car genius that I was, I sez to myself: “No one will that P-O-S instead of a wagon.” (The original X5 was a two-row SUV, so it didn’t even compete with minivans.)

        But I remember distinctly, a younger woman than I (by about 15 years) saying defiantly, after she had 3 kids: “No way you’re gonna see me in a minivan!” Her vehicle of choice was the Dodge Durango, as rude and crude and thirsty as any SUV out there. Meanwhile, my family was on its second Previa.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        SUVs were always sold on perception and fear. Forget the facts and meaningful comparisons! They were perceived to have more room and be safer. Whether or not they were actually “better” overall vehicles when compared to minivans and wagons could be debated.

        According to my wife, the earth will certainly implode if we don’t have enough space to pack our not-yet-conceived first child’s stuff. Couple that with the fear of not having enough stuff to maintain said child, and all of a sudden you have a room full of stuff that takes an army of Suburbans to move around. The minivan and wagon perception also takes its toll. “I won’t be caught dead in a minivan, and certainly NEVER a wagon. Oh, but my favorite new vehicles are the Venza and Crosstour.”

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        No freaking way. I would never drive a minivan. If I had kids, I would buy a 13 mpg Escalade ESV.

        One can make all the excuses one wants, but driving a minivan is giving up on life.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      What Tuffjeff said plus a Honda Oddy has about twice the usable interior space as a BOF SUV. Thing Ford Explorer

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Nope. No way, ever.

    Nothing beats a ’60s – early 70’s muscle car for desirability.

    Trucks? Uh-uh…

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      I’m not sure where y’all live, but in Texas trucks have had desirability. The prep school kids in Houston don’t necessarily want or have m3s – they have F150s. SUVs do not have a lot of cachet in the enthusiast community, and so we sometimes ignore that in some locales, big trucks are definitely still a status symbol.

    • 0 avatar
      rwb

      Never say never.

      The desirability of muscle cars is tied to a specific, moneyed generation. As the number of those who can remember that period becomes smaller, I think that attitude may fade, and hopefully the price of old Detroit steel comes closer to its true value.

      They’re attractive cars, but to most who did not grow up around them, the current market for them is obscene.

    • 0 avatar
      larrbo

      Actually, classic trucking is a pretty big scene and its probably going to get bigger. Any model before 73 is a popular platform to work on. Big blocks, analog everything, the right noise, light weight, etc. It’s not just pickups, but old blazers/suburbans are popular too.

      But the new gen of SUV’s being a sign of rebellion? Yeah, I don’t think that’ll ever take off either.

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    Hopefully not. Gigantic SUV’s are rarely a smart/sane idea today, and I can hardly believe they were 10-15 years ago, either.

    If you aren’t continuously hauling 8 people you don’t need a three row body on frame SUV. Even if you ARE hauling that many people, you don’t need one, unless you plan on towing something. There are so many other vehicles that fit specific uses i.e. minivans, three row crossovers, etc to haul people, while getting 40% better gas mileage, that it makes literally no sense for an Expedition to exist.

    Even people who legitimately could use an Expedition or Excursion or whatever (it escapes me what the difference between the two are, although my guess is size) could, for a daily driver, get a cheap lease on a compact/mid-sized car and probably make up the difference in a month’s gas cost to afford the second car. And look MUCH less stupid, in the process.

    • 0 avatar
      Arminius

      Expedition is based off the F-150, Excursion is based off the F-250. The Excursion was the stop gap in the lineup until Ford could roll out the EL version of the Expedition to match the extended length Suburban.

      I’m one of the stupid people who drives an Expedition. My requirements were seating for 8, 4WD/All WD and room for cargo behind the 3rd row. The problem with most all CUVs is that there is little to no cargo room (comparitively speaking) when the 3rd row is up. This brought the choice down to Suburban or Expedition. Another factor that went into the decision is that in a vehicle on vehicle accident, it is safer (bigger = safer).

      Do I need all this capacity all the time? No. But often enough that the convinence of having it available outweighs the additional cost of gas.

      As for the specific topic of this thread, there is no way in hell I’ll ever pine for a big BOF SUV in 20 years. It’s like driving a boat. There is little to no pleasure in the driving experience. Very similar to the big American cars of the 70’s whose objective was to isolate you as much as possible from the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Not so fast, Tuffjuff, I did the maths. You have to do 35k miles per year or assume $6 gas or any number of things before the cost of a 50 mpg penalty box overcomes it’s cost in fuel savings. Fo get a boud it.

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      My one year old Golf TDI was struck by a marketing company CEO while she was trying to pilot her Escalade into an empty space next to mine. This was in the older part of town and the parking lots there are often tighter than at your typical big-box store.

      It’s a lightly sprung, wallowing, unwieldily thing with a 39.5′ turning radius (just slightly smaller than a 1963 Mercedes 600 Grosser Limousine, which was also 18′ long). So, no, I won’t be pining away for them twenty years from now.

      Quoting Top Gear (UK)…”And why is it so popular? Well, don’t think it’s because it’s a good car.”

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    More likely to be seen in the same light as the überbarges of the 70s. Tons of unnecessary steel with pasted on personal luxury goodies. I’m sure some people will look back with good memories, but I don’t see a bidding war breaking out at a car show for a first year Navigator.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Freedom and rebellion? No. Will there be a healthy classic car market for Navigators and Escalades – I’d say yes.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Nope, simply because SUVs were never aspirational vehicles for young people.

    • 0 avatar
      Opus

      Agree. However, it begs the question – What WERE the aspirational vehicles from that time? I’d guess it would include the Mitsu 3000GT, Toyota Supra, Honda NSX, Corvette.

      What say others?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I went to college in the late 90’s and new high school graduation gift Range Rovers, Discoveries, Grand Cherokees, Explorers, etc. were where it was at in 1996. They were what all the cool kids were driving.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        jmo, the Cool Kids were driving those cause their parents let them have their old SUVs so they could turn their house into an ATM and purchase another.

        Muscle and Pony cars are still a statement, though I question the Political aspect of driving one. I’ve registered my ’95 Hardtop Convertible Cobra with the Greater Mustang Club of Kansas City and do cruise nights and shows all summer long. A large amount of people stop, gawk slack-jawed, and state how much they wish they owned one, regardless of year. The Mustang continues to keep its value and its place in American fantasy thought of the open road.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “their parents let them have their old SUVs”

        They were often new.

        they could turn their house into an ATM and purchase another.

        I’m almost certain Prince Faisal’s dad didn’t need a refi to buy a car.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Just to back up what jmo is saying, I also saw lots of people making their first big paychecks and buying luxury SUVs in the late ’90s and early 2000s. About 50% of the 20-something single guys I worked with at investment banks were buying X5s, Grand Cherokees, Tahoes, Land Cruisers, or Discoveries instead of CLKs, 528is, or M3s. My military pilot friends’ shopping habits were the same in their late 20s.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      You’re obviously not a Hip-Hop fan, are you?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I think there will still be a small market for BOF SUVs on 20 years. A dedicated few will be buying them to actually haul horse trailers, boats, campers, etc. Want a Suburban/Denali, Range Rover, or even a unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee? Go to the dealer and buy one. How about a statement of truth, I haul four people in comfort and my trailer/boat/camper too.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Sorry, Murilee, but you totally missed on this one.

    For one thing, old muscle cars are like Harleys now. Overpriced status symbols for silly boomers who can finally afford them–after decades of working for the man. Freedom and rebellion? Please.

    And don’t large trucks and SUVs still sell well? Really well? In fact, they sell far better than retro pony cars that more readily plug into the muscle car mystique. The sanctimonious Prius hipster crowd will have a lot of gray in their fauxhawks before a big 4×4 on the road is a rarity.

    And one last, most importan thing: There’s just nothing passionate or visceral about a Lincoln Navigator or Ford Excursion. I just can’t see anyone waxing nostalgic over these things. People got excited about 60’s muscle in the 60’s, it’s not something we invented in the 80’s.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      tell me there’s not something passionate about an Escalade. Okay… there really isn’t. but seriously that s*** is blingy. Like it or not, people are going to want those things twenty years from now just as people now pimp out LeSabres and DeVilles

  • avatar
    NN

    man, a lot of naysayers here, and I think they’re all wrong. My brother and I, recently in Colorado, watched an early 90’s Suburban, two-tone paint, laboring around an old ranch as a work truck. We both mentioned how the lines were classic on that truck, and how they will age well, and in the future, well kept versions will be collectibles. There is nothing that defines the American automotive landscape–or at least differentiates it from the rest of the planet–like a Suburban, and these will stand the test of time. I kinda want one, rather than a modern and more practical/safe minivan, as my next family car.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      The 68-72 suburbans were my favorite–Just like the 72 Cheyenne is my favorite truck design of all time.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      As much as I’m not exceptionally pro-behemoth, the GMT400s are aging nicely. If I had obscene amounts of space, I’d be content to keep one around as an occasional stuff hauler. But, they’ll probably only be barely more collectible than Suburbans have ever been.

  • avatar
    skor

    There in no comparison between the putative “muscle car era” and the SUV craze of the 90s/double aughts. First off, the muscle car era wasn’t all that muscle-y. The legend of the muscle cars was largely invented by Barrett Jackson after they ran out of real collectible cars to sell. The car rags jumped in, and a myth was born. Sure, a lot of cars had 400+ cube engines back in the day, because lots of cars weighed two and a half tons, and needed an engine that big just to get it moving at a reasonable clip.

    Take for example the Mustang, the seminal “muscle car”. They were all built with dual-quad 427 cammers right? Not a single Mustang was offered for sale to the public with a factory 427. Fact is that 1/3 of fist gen Mustangs left the factory with wheezy little inline 6 engines that produced less power than a Prius running off a single laptop battery. True enough 2/3 of Mustangs were built with V-8s…..small block, 2 barrel setups that can be easily smoked by dad’s new Camry. 85% of the V-8 cars were of the above configuration, only 15% were “high performance”..that’s if you want to call a 390 boat anchor lifted from a Country Squire station wagon a “performance” engine.

    The car companies offered the big block 4 barrels/dual quad/triple deuce setups for proposes of advertising. It was about bragging rights, to lure people into the dealership, and then sell them something reasonable. The original muscle cars were not very popular back in the day…the target demographic being unmarried 20-30 something males. I know a man whose father owned a Dodge dealership back when. He ordered a half dozen Superbirds for the dealership. According to my friend, his dad cursed the day those Superbirds were delivered to his dealership. It took over a year to rid of them all, and he ultimately lost money on every one.

    While it was mostly a legend, it is a legend that appeals to young men, or men who want to be young again, and that’s why the SUV will have zero appeal to car collectors. The SUV craze was just that, a real craze. Many more SUVs were produced and sold than were muscle cars, and the owners of these SUVs were more likely to be soccer moms than 20-something males suffering from testosterone poisoning.

    When people think back to the cars of the sixties, they think of the legend…..Steve McQueen double clutching his gorgeous highland green Mustang fastback after a couple of bad guys driving a black,coke-bottle bodied Charger. When people think back to the 90s/00s what will come to mind? They will be reminded of reality, of hypocritical Republican soccer moms, hooked on oxy, while they wheeled around Particle Board Estates in a Suburban.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      All I can think about when I see muscle cars is the screwed on hood scoops, didn’t do anything (other than produce some drag), were just screwed on to the hood with open/unpainted screws that allowed the rust monster in a few years early.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “They will be reminded of reality, of hypocritical Republican soccer moms, hooked on oxy, while they wheeled around Particle Board Estates in a Suburban.”

      Wow, Skor, that’s about the coldest thing I’ve read on here since “VanillaDude” was in his heyday. Are you related?

      The rest of your post I pretty much agree with.

      Where I used to live in the STL area back in the 60’s in the muscle car days, few, especially 20-30 year old males or females could afford those things. The glamorous 2- and 4-door hardtops, yes, but lots of sedate sedans, too. Even fewer convertibles.

      They sure were dreamed about, though…

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      I agree with your sentiment, but remember, almost no one who was into muscle cars kept with stock. It was nothing to swap out the rear end, throw some wrinkle walls on the back, oversized carb, big cam, intake, and headers, and create a car worthy of the name “muscle car”. Of course, they ran like shit, rusted away, or often broke down from abuse, which people tend to forget.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Not quite true. The GT500 and Boss 429 were both factory cars with hi-po 428s and 429s, respectively. But yeah, the vast majority of 60’s Mustangs were pretty tame. I had a ’65 with a V8, it was not particularly quick, I’ll bet my Element could beat it to 60.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “When people think back to the 90s/00s what will come to mind? They will be reminded of reality, of hypocritical Republican soccer moms, hooked on oxy, while they wheeled around Particle Board Estates in a Suburban.”

      Holy cow, Skor, that’s cold. Are you related to Vanilla_Dude? Other than that, I agree with everything else you say! Made me laugh.

      FWIW, too many muscle cars found themselves wrapped around trees or telephone poles for their own good…

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Anyone who believes that only Republicans drive big SUVs really does need to visit my town, where you’ll see plenty of big SUVs with bumper stickers supporting various Democrats.

      Several muscle cars were actually popular at the time, and had plenty of muscle. The GTO sold very well, as did the Chevelle SS, Road Runner and the second-generation Charger. The Dodge Charger Daytona (and Plymouth Superbird) was a special case, as it was very expensive and its looks were controversial even when new.

      The offerings from Buick, Oldsmobile, Mercury and AMC didn’t sell all that well, primarily because most buyers looking for a muscle car weren’t going to frequent their dealerships (particularly the AMC dealerships).

      The first Mustang was not promoted as a muscle car. It was promoted as a “fun” car that could be virtually anything the buyer wanted.

      With the success of the GTO, Ford tried to stay in the game by hyping the high-performance 289 V-8 in the Mustang GT. But the Mustang outsold the “Goat” many times over, and that was because it appealed to a much wider audience.

      Starting in 1967, Ford tried offering big V-8s in the Mustang, but they upset the balance of the car, and were therefore not too popular.

      At any rate, most Mustangs were “Secretary Specials” or a second car for mom. That is why Mary Tyler Moore drove a 1970 coupe in the opening credits of her show. Most people at that time didn’t think of the Mustang as primarily a muscle car. They did think of the GTO, Road Runner and Charger as muscle cars first and foremost.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      The legend of muscle cars comes from what came before and after. When Delorean turned the Tempest into GTO, he really just did what thousands of hot rodders had been doing for decades. But now it was available from a major manufacturer, and anyone could own one.
      After the craze ended people were driving heavy cars with detuned engines, small carbs, and pushing exhaust through a single constricted pipe. They remembered 0-60 times that weren’t measured with a sun dial. They may not have been as fast or powerful as drivers remembered, but they were so much better than what they had.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        +1 Not the best, but better than what came after due to regulatory and insurance pressures.

        Car makers are finally figuring out how to not only make good, but excellant cars with the current regulatory environment.. just as the regulatory environment is about to change again. Smaller, Greener, More Efficient are the bywords of the day.. which from a consumer perspective generally translates as cramped, uncomfortable and underpowered.

        We’re already seeing ‘classic’ trucks and SUVs climbing in popularity on the collector market, in 20 years I can certainly see the flow of traffic with it’s gleaming acres of suppository-shaped Googlemobiles being disturbed by a willful anachronism driving a Yukon Denali.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    All the giant SUV’s will be remembered for is that Americans are stupid and will continue to buy cars they think they want, not the cars they need.

    The endless prattling on about how CUVs are “needed” is an obvious extension of the idiocy of when we were all convinced that we need a ladder-framed 2.5 ton off road vehicle, that owners then NEVER took off road.

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      Says the guy with “LandCruiser” in his name….

      ..seriously now, if Jane Housewife is super-duper happy with her Sequoia, what gives you and your FJ60 the right to rain on that parade? I’d think that you of all people would understand what she sees in that truck, and maybe even offer her tips on how to hit the trail.

      As for me…
      I don’t need to drink fantastic aged single malt scotch.
      I don’t need to go out and enjoy long contemplative walks through the woods.
      I don’t need to hear Beethoven, or Led Zeppelin or Elvis music.
      I don’t need to eat a juicy cheeseburger.
      I don’t need to drive a huge SUV.

      But, you know what? I do all of it anyway (the scotch and the SUV are not done together, for obvious reasons) because I want to.
      If that makes me stupid – well then, guilty as charged.

      Dumb and…happy.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    A friend of mine once made an interesting observation. One will always feel nostalgia and fondly remember whatever cultural icons… at the time we were in our formative years.

    As someone who grew up during the late 60s, I feel nostalgia for: “muscle cars”, The Beatles, Woodstock, 8-track tapes, the Moon landing, that kind of stuff.
    But the decade was very violent: The Vietnam War, a president and a presidential candidate assasinated, a very real possibility of Atomic anhilation, Civil Rights battles, Kent State.
    Other than deep fear and hate about the Soviets, America was othewise very divided at the time.

    I believe Billy Joel has summarized this particular feeling neatly in several of his songs.

    So…I predict that -even with all its faults, SUVs will be remembered fondly. Specially those fom the “golden days” before 9/11

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Almost certainly.

    The automaker bailouts did make things difficult for angry reactionaries though. Do the most inefficient, gas guzzling Government Motors (ha ha ha, so funny), Chrysler and Ford (took Fed money) products represent the true freedom that only existed in this country prior to women’s sufferage and desegregation, or do they represent North Korean style Communism?

    The ultimate symbol of freedom may be a transplant Toyota Camry made by non-union autoworkers. At least until Chinese cars become available.

    Really we have never truly had freedom, with the government owning most of the roads. In 20 years hopefully all of the roads will have been privatized, with private companies constantly tracking usage through GPS tolling, and strictly controlling what kind of cars are allowed on their roads, with private security companies like Academi (its latest name) providing traffic enforcement. Then we will be free at last, free at last, thank god almighty we will be free at last.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It depends on how the car market evolves.

    I firmly believe (hope) that most of the new CAFE laws will either be repealed, or enough loopholes will be granted that if an American wants to buy a large SUV, they still can.

    But if the current CAFE rules actually go into effect without changes, and the new full size SUV is a Prius with a 3 inch longer wheelbase, then I see these big SUVs becoming a symbol of freedom and prosperity, similar to a ’59 Cadillac with the huge tail fins.

    I’m not an SUV fan at all, but I definitely think people should be able to buy what they want, just like I think people should be able to decide where to live and how long their commute should be.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      Agreed. Old bof suv’s will be in high demand if and when the 55+ mpg rules kick in and all that are left are vehicles the size of Smart cars. There will likely be restoration shops that will specialize in those. There is already one that restores old Jeep Grand Wagoneers, and they demand a high price.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I think they will be, in spite of the ample reasons for wishing them off the face of the earth mentioned above. The 30-something idiots of today (my generation) that grew up with them now thinks of these things as being “tough” or “good-looking” and see sports cars as ridiculous. This idiocy can be seen in the development of the cross-over/CUV/Cute-ute segment. Same styling, less of the phyiscal drawbacks.

    So, as unfortunate as it may be, yes, these gigantic piles of garbage will be nostaglic by 2025. They will symbolize the conspicuous consumption/guilt-free consumerism of the bling-bling pre-2008 era. And will be worshipped by those who never lived through it, but desire a lifestyle based on dreams and credit rather than living within ones means.

    If anything, they may be closer to the 1920s/1930s luxury barges of the Depression-era, symbolizing wealth and freedom from consequences, which will no doubt be desirable for those growing up in the post-2008 era of low growth and hard work.

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    No. They will have similar prestige to malaise era personal luxury cars, which I’m still conviced that SUV’s are the direct descendants of. I’m sure there will be a tuning fad in Japan at some point to make a contemporary Kei-car to look like an Escalade.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    No, its going to be Civics, Integras, WRX’s and the like that become classic cars for my generation. Alot of people say we are currently in a golden age of cars and I agree. Cars like the current MustangCamaroChallenger will also become classics. But SUV’s are not included in that list, unless its an X5 M, SRT8 Grand Cherokee or something extremely sporty like that.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    It’s about the numbers. I can see Excursions becoming valuable, especially if gas skyrockets, just because of rarity. Mid 70’s Caddy and Town Cars will be too. Expeditions/Escalades, not so much. Too many and not special enough.

    As with the muscle cars, rarity trumps all. If you go buy a Boss Mustang Laguna Seca and store it for 20 years it will be worth something. Worth not driving it for 20 years? That’s a gamble.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      Picking up a car based on future value is at best risky. Just ask the speculators who were sure they’d be able to retire on the money they were sure to get when they sold a low mileage Viper or Prowler.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I don’t think so because just like driving cars from the ’60s, these giant SUVs suck to drive. They are hard to park, terrible milage, terrible stopping power, terrible handleing, etc, and absolutely zero offroad cred. They were poor fashion statements when they first came out and continue to be poor substitutes for trucks and cargo vans.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I think there is a big distinction to be made. The replacements for the SUVs are superior in almost every respect. An Acadia looks better, drives better, hauls more stuff and people, is faster and more comfortable and gets better MPG than a Yukon/Tahoe. A Mustang II is an abomination. It was worse in every way imaginable, except MPG and emissions. This was true of almost all the mid 70’s and early 80’s cars.

    I still recall my dad’s 77 Cougar XR7. A 351W putting out 185 HP? Seriously? That is the definition of backwards and technical incompetence.

    Now if the government nannies force us into Nissan Leafs…there will be nostalgia and a backlash. But instead we are mostly getting better cars. I can say that I prefer the 3.0 straight six in my 328 to the turbo four, but if this were the equivalent of the 60’s to 70’s transition, they would have shrunk the 328 to the size of a 1 series and fitted it with a 130HP NA 4 cyl and skinny tires. Instead it is bigger, has more power and gets better MPG.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Absolutely, there will be people still wanting BOF SUVs 20 years hence.

    Yes, yes. I know a minivan hauls the same amount of kids n’ cargo and achieves twice the MPGs as a Ford Expedition, Excursion, or Chevy Suburban. But have you ever tried to tow a horse trailer with your Grand Caravan? Or your toy trailer (motorcycles, PWCs, ATVs, etc)? Or a boat of any size? Or your company’s tool trailer? Or a trailer loaded with a your business tractor/back hoe/Bobcat?

    In fact, I know of several friends seeking to get their hands on good condition diesel Excursions right now. They’re not even waiting 20 years. If you need a 4WD with room for six crewmen and the grunt to pull heavy machinery, or if you have a big family and need to tow along your recreation, you need a full-size BOF SUV.

    No, not everyone who bought one’a these monsters needed the capabilities or exploited their capacity. And that proved kinda dumb, and symbolic of our national excesses during the early oughts. However, some situations demand this type of vehicle. Get yours before they’re gone forever.

    • 0 avatar
      gator marco

      Agree with you 100%. In Ocala, Florida horse country, lots of the farms use Excursions, Suburbans, and Jeep Commanders to drive the crew around and haul horse trailers. You can buckle up 8 people with gear and still take a 2 horse trailer along.
      I don’t feel any nostaglia for these big BOF vehicles. I see lots of the 20 year old Expeditions and Explorers driving around the various farms in Central Florida. These things will eventually become work horses for people who need that capability, and we’ll leave the pretty CUVs to the city folks.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The thing is, the number of people who actually USE the additional capabilities of these tanks is miniscule. How often do you see them actualy towing anything, or hauling more than 1-2 people? It’s like all the people buying AWD cars – sure, there are a handful of people who live on top of a mountain, or in an area where not having AWD means chaining up, but for 95%+ of the buyers it is a waste of money.

      Now if you truly, madly, deeply, simply MUST have an ExpeditionSuburban to drive solo to work or to drop your 2.5 dumplings at daycare, more power to you. But do NOT whine about the price of gas to me, or I will smack you upside the head.

      Just like in the 70s and 80s, there will always be a small market for these things, and they will always be available. But the days of the Suburban-driving Soccer Mom are nearing an end.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    People associate late-1960s muscle cars with “freedom and rebellion” partly because people associate the late ’60s with “freedom and rebellion”.

    I don’t think people two decades from now are going to have quite the same view on the early ’00s.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    Who, in 1969, would have predicted that the 1957 Chevrolet would become a classic car icon? There’s nothing particularly special about them. Even the Bel- Air convertibles weren’t considered all that special. Starting in the early to mid ’80’s classic car collectors took notice of them. They burned through the more desirable convertibles, hard top coupes, and Nomads. Now even the pedestrian sedans and 4 door wagons are desirable.

    We are at the exact same point in history when it comes to judging the 2000 Caddy Escalade or Lincoln Navigator and their ultimate desirability as collector car icons that people were in 1969 when it came to the 1957 Chevrolet.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      People were seeking out clean 1955-57 Chevrolets in the late 1960s. They were not being treated to ground-up restorations (that began happening in the early 1980s), but people recognized those cars were special even then, while most other 1950s cars were either in the junkyard or headed to it.

      The only other 1950s cars that were being sought out and preserved at that time were the 1955-57 Ford Thunderbird and, believe it or not, the Edsel. People were restoring those Thunderbirds at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Diesel Fuel Only

        My great uncle had his 57 Bel-Air when I was a kid (twenty-five years ago now). Black and white.

        I think that I read somewhere that the 55-57 Ford Fairlaines outsold the Chevrolet but now there are many more Chevrolets around.

        This is because the Fords looked good but with Robert McNamara and his bunch rescuing Ford financially after the mismanagement of the 30s and 40s they were spending money on marketing and cost-cutting on the stuff you didn’t see from the showroom point of view, so the Fords – which started out more numerous – just didn’t hold up, and that is why there are so many more 57 Chevrolets around these days.

        The Inline 6 version is less collectable now but then it was a very good value and a dependable, good-sized family car.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        There aren’t more 57 chevies around because they were better cars than the 57 fords. The reason there are more 57 chevies in existence than 57 fords is because many more people held on to the chevies because they liked the styling, and more people started restoring the chevies than fords.
        The ford Y block was a much more durable engine than the small block chevy, even though it wasn’t as powerful. 57 was also the year that ford came out with their timeless and bulletproof 9 inch rear and, several times stronger than the peanut sized rear used in the chevies.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    No!

    I was a young car enthusiast in the late ’60’s and car enthusiasts knew then that certain cars of that era were destined for a sort of immortality (and we knew many were not!). By about 1976 or ’77 it became even more apparent.

    I don’t know anyone in recent times who has ever pined for a SUV in a nostalgic sense or waxed on prophetically about how they will be missed and appreciated in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      I was a teenage car enthusiast in the early 1980’s. By this time Pontiac GTOs, Shelby Mustangs, Hemi Mopars and Hurst Oldsmobiles were already blue chip collectibles. Prices were nowhere near today’s astronomical levels, but the rarity and historical significance of these cars was recognized and they were already being actively collected, restored and shown.

  • avatar
    Jimmy7

    The Hummers, yes. The others, not so much. Lots of kids had a toy Hummer in the last ten years.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Agreed. The Hummer H2 was unique enough to warrant collector status down the road. But the Explorer/ Tahoe type of SUV’s are as ubiquitous as Dodge Caravans, and not any more collectable.

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    I do believe the Jeep Wrangler will always have a classic place in the SUV world. Not a gigantic vehicle like the Navigator or Escalade but BOF construction, 4wd and a convertible. What could be more classic than that? They hold their value amazingly well in the used market too.

  • avatar
    George B

    Probably not with the possible exception of Hummer and 2 door variants like OJs Bronco. If you’re looking for “freedom and rebellion” the vehicle can’t be associated with hauling children. The big BOF SUVs are like large 4 door family sedans and station wagons from the past. There’s a lot of metal to repair and repaint, demand is low, and all that metal is valuable as scrap.

    There might be a nostalgia market for short bed regular cab pickup trucks from just before the supersize me extended cab era. Lots of 90s pickup trucks got destroyed with cash for clunkers. Somewhere along the way pickup trucks lost much of their actually manly work truck practicality and gained “mine’s bigger than yours” height and mass.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    The only real base for SUV love will be people looking to make a rude/shocking statement. Like swastikas on a biker. And this excludes actual off-road vehicles, such as the majority of Jeeps.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      That’s complete BS. While someone driving and Escalade or H2 is making a statement, it’s not just to piss you off.

      People buy them because they are very useful and capable, probably moreso than they could ever need. It’s no one elses job to identify and decide for these people what they actually need however.

  • avatar

    Smog obsessed? Is that what I am for actually enjoying the view of the mountains surrounding me instead of just seeing thick brown clouds?

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Yes, you are, if you live in a unique micro-climate that serves as a natural smog-trap and use that as license to push regulations upon me and mine out here in the wide wild wilderness with more clean air than we know what to do with that keeps us from having mechanically and electronically simple vehicles that don’t need a 100-mile trip to the dealership whenever things go ploin-shaped.

  • avatar
    econobiker

    Only at 25 to 30 years out will the most pristine un-driven, highest equipped (AWD, largest engines, etc) and with the highest end leather interior versions will be collectable- the rest will have been shredded already and recycled into some Chinese car.

    Think about what Jacob Coulter said above:
    jacob_coulter
    September 6th, 2012 at 12:05 pm
    “But if the current CAFE rules actually go into effect without changes, and the new full size SUV is a Prius with a 3 inch longer wheelbase, then I see these big SUVs becoming a symbol of freedom and prosperity, similar to a ’59 Cadillac with the huge tail fins.”

    The ’59 Cadillac was looked on as the biggest white trash P.O.S. example of 1950’s chrome excess and gas guzzling land barges in the 10 to 20 years after 1959 – 1969 to 1979. Only after hitting the 25 year mark in 1984 did opinion start to sway back to it being a collectible type car. And by the 30 year mark it was en-shined as a collectible car of note of the classic 1950s.

    It will take the rich adults of tomorrow to conserve and restore the SUV’s of today which they will fondly remember as being toted around in as children or remember their grandparent’s driving.

    The extreme downside of this restoration happening is the difficulty of maintaining emissions components, the electronic/digital/software related components, and the plastic interiors as the parts age.

    And that these vehicles currently continue to maintain a decent value hurts them for the potential of non-use. The cars of the 1950s only were considered usable for up to 5 years and then discarded/parked/barned/garaged/back 40’ed. And then the muscle cars of the late 1960s and 1970s had their value tank in 1974 with the gas crisis that jacked gas prices up and their value down due to miserable gas mileage abilities leading to their being discarded/parked/barned/garaged/back 40’ed.

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      Absolutely correct.

      These things are collector items in the making.
      I own one and I love it, but I know there are lot of folks who look down on me for it.

      I still don’t care.

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    Muscle cars were hated by many back in the past as well.

    SUV’s are derided by many now.

    Neither of them is a practical or sensible as an economy car, but they’re a lot more fun – and that’s all that matters.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVXIK1xCRpY

    One day, there will be a video with a big ol’ gas guzzlin SUV just like the above, hopefully by a band as good as Audioslave.

    Big SUV’s have soul, man.

  • avatar
    DuVoe

    I think it really comes down to our desire to be nostalgic for the current era. More so than the current view of the 1960’s, I think a better parallel would be a 1950’s society’s view on the 20’s and early 30’s. During the depression, the excesses of the roaring twenties were blamed for everything. However, with a brighter future becoming reality after the war, it didn’t seem so terrible to remember the fun times of the twenties, because those problems were seemingly having the books closed on them once and for all.

    If, in 20 years, the problems of today are seen in the eyes of society to be solved, or society at large perceives solutions, good times, and happy days to be on the way – polarization stops, cohesiveness and ability to reach a consensus opinion becomes possible – we may very well remember whatever fun we had during these times, and attribute these SUV’s to that. Todays problems will seem a bit more benign if answers seem within reach, so the social ills that we attribute to these vehicles won’t look as daunting.

    If in 20 years, we aren’t out of the woods, we have 20 years of negative growth, and there is no end in sight, you can bet that the vilification of these cars will continue.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Well, Jeeps will certainly keep their enthusiast following.

    Masochistic enthusiasts will keep flocking to Land Rovers.

    Escalades and Navigators will become ironic and kitschy.

    Expeditions, Tahoes, etc.? Do 1960s/1970s passenger vans and 1980s minivans “symbolize freedom and rebellion” (*) today? Not that I’m aware of…

    * Exception made for turbo Chrysler minivans.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I fully suspect that old fullsize SUVs will supplant GM B/C bodies as the donk/hooptie of choice amongst urban types.

    Anyone who dismisses the appeal of SUVs amongst teens and twentysomethings really doesn’t have a clue. They were THE aspirational vehicle of the ’90s and early ’00s. Just because your mom drove one, doesn’t mean they weren’t cool. High gas prices certainly hurt their popularity and I couldn’t tell you what appeals to today’s lazy, narcissistic, ennui-filled teens and college students, even though I’m not that much older.

    They won’t approach the appeal of ’60s muscle cars, though. Nothing will. That’s a Baby Boomer phenomena. Cars have changed and people have changed. We’ll never see the likes of that again, for better or worse.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I wasn’t aware that muscle cars represented anything in particular. Sports coupes with convertible roofs and the most powerful motors tend to become collectible, because people who like collectible cars seek out such attributes in a car. The lower power models would have generated most of the sales volumes, which makes them less unique and, of course, less rare.

    I doubt that most SUV’s will become collectible. If I wanted to buy tomorrow’s collectible today, then I’d be inclined to buy a couple such as a Shelby Mustang or an M3. The SUVs of today are largely destined to become beaters and makeshift work trucks.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    I think so. Fitting this demographic, I said for many years before starting a family that i’d buy a Suburban/Expedition the moment my other half and I were ‘expecting’.

    Now, this has happened, and thanks to $4+/gal gas, this idea has been put on hold.

    Having made fun of SUVs, changing oil on them back in my late teens, never thought i’d say this, but I MISS big, thirsty, SUVs roaming the freeways and streets. And no question, ‘crash zones’ in small cars notwithstanding, mass wins in a crash. If I can help it, i’ll be buying a ten year old-ish SUV in the next couple of years (if gas doesn’t hit $10/gal and the feds outlaw them first).

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    When I fist saw my first Suburban In Australia, in the mid 1990’s, it looked huge. Now it looks slightly bigger than normal as hulking SUV’s have become the norm. Unlike in the US, they do take them off road.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I think there were will definitely be some nostalgia for big honkin SUVs, but not muscle-car like enthusiasm. The most sought after models will likely attain a the status of a Nomad and be kind of a neat thing to see in pristine shape crossing the block at an RM auction.

    There will always be those who covet them. No matter where you are, you stil see a lot of very well kept mid late 90s Suburbans and Tahoes when lesser vehicles of that era are already hitting scrap yards due to their diminished value.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    The first thing I did when I got a bit of money was to buy a Grand Cherokee Overland. SUVs are still very much the thing for me and a lot of other people my age (early 20s).

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    If some of you guys actually think that SUV’s will some day be big time collectibles like musclecars then maybe I should buy a few of them,store them, look you guys up in 20 years and sell them to you. I can also get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge, and some prime real estate in FLA.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I believe their will be similar collectability but only for the most outrageous examples. Like Escalade ESV with the 6+ ltr engine, Navigators and expeditions with V10s and ones with torque monster diesels will have some desirability just like a 460 powered Lincoln Town Car or a 8+ ltr Caddy from the 70s.

      So maybe not muscle cars but definately like land bardges of yore.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverHawk

        I agree. The vast majority of collectors are people who own just one vehicle that they prize for nostalgia sake. They network with people of similar tastes to join clubs or organize gatherings to compare notes with other owners. I can definitely see the potential for some BOF-SUV collecting, and on the scale of the Tail-Fins, or Land Barges sounds about right. We are already seeing the trend develop.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    The last time I checked Lincoln Town Cars from the 70’s were not high dollar collectibles. The best examples go for around 10-12k in Hemmings, the same ballpark they sold in when new. Same for most 70’s Caddies. I have seen a few top notch Mark V’s go for 20k, that’s alot for a late 70’s land barge, but that hardly puts it in musclecar territory.
    It doesn’t take a car person to understand the reasons that musclecars are held in such high regard in the automotive world. They were part of what was considered the most colorful and exciting times in automotive history.
    They represent evenings at the burger joint, drive in movies, cruising the boulevard looking for chicks. Cruising around looking for someone to drag race, going to the drag strip on the weekends, working at the corner gas station anticipating getting that next paycheck so you can buy that set of headers you’ve been wanting for the past month.
    They are about the wild colors, stripes, scoops and graphics, the cool looking engines you see when the hood is popped. SUV’s don’t represent much of anything exciting, when people look at them 20 years from now they will mostly recall suburban housewives dropping their kids off at school and gangster wannabes cruising the ghettos wth spinners.
    I’m sure there will be a few that will be worth a few bucks, but certainly won’t be anywhere near musclecar territory. Most musclecar owners would puke at the thought of even mentioning an SUV in the same sentence as a musclecar. Also, there is a huge difference between a collectible and just a nice old car.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverHawk

      Well, in answer to Murilee’s original question, your right, they will never approach the popularity of muscle cars.
      Your second paragraph describes my youth to a “T”, and my interests revolved around Mopars as well. I recently repurchased a 74 Cuda that I sold years ago. It’s now a mess (I hate myself) and will take a long time to restore. So, I guess I’m just proving your point. All the best.


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