By on January 28, 2014


We received an interesting email the other day here in the TTAC underwater battle station. As is frequently the case, this one was about a used car. But not just any used car.

is a touring car that took my mother to and from work as a teacher in the 1920s. It stayed in the barn at my grandparents farm until the 1980s when my mother gave it to me. I had the car fully restored by a specialist in old car restorations in the early 1980s, and spent a little less that $40,000 having this done. It has 68K miles on it. I know I will never get my money back from restoring this vehicle, I am asking $25,000 for it now.

This is a typical used car story: my parents drove it to work, I fixed it up a bit, I’d like to sell it. Were this a 1990 Accord, I think it could be sold in a matter of days at the right price. But this is a 1926 Dodge, which leads to all sorts of questions. It doesn’t have any value as a commuter, obviously. But it would be an inexpensive and fully-sorted entry into the world of classic-car rallies.

Everybody says that Duesenbergs and Auburns and whatnot will never lose value because there will always be a new generation of educated, moneyed collectors who want to own them. Arguably, the same is true for fuelie Vettes and RoadRunners and 454SS Chevrolets of all types. What’s going to happen to the 1926 Dodges? The Chevrolet 210s? The orphans? The Model As? Will the demand meet the supply?

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45 Comments on “QOTD: What’s The Future Of Everyday Classics?...”

  • avatar

    The owner of the Dodge would be better off just keeping it. It may not be worth a whole lot on the market, but to his family it is priceless.

    One vehicle I have always considered an everyday classic was the 2002-ish Subaru Outback. It just looks…good and dared to be different when SUVs were king.

  • avatar

    Well, first off, the Dodge is not a true ‘Classic’ or an ‘Every Day Classic’. It is a parade car, touring car, Cars & Coffee car, and will never see use, everyday.

    How about ‘Every Day Collector Car’.

    It is a great old car and should be appreciated and cared for.

    For a definition of a classic car see>

    • 0 avatar

      “Classic Car” so defined is the opinion of one group, the CCA. They like to run around acting like some sort of police, protecting this definition for their own snobbery. They will be heard to say things like “a 68 GTO is just a used car.” The classic cars as they define them are all money cars, and the purveyors of this attitude are all money people. The attitude presented by these folks is just awful.

      “Classic” is an adjective with several meanings, one of which is something that has been popular for a long time.

      Sorry, but I bristle at this snobbery. Owing to the subjective nature of such superlatives, a car is a classic if you say it is.

      • 0 avatar

        I guess we all have our prejudices, Big Olds, but I have never met any American or Canadian CCA member fitting your ‘snobbish’ description.

        And over the years, I have questioned the exclusion of some cars by the CCA, which members can do, it is hard to question the intent and defined requirements for ‘classic’ status. And using the term ‘True’ is appropriate for those who understand what that means, for others, the inclusion of CCCA Classic would have been helpful.

        And if one wants to call a car a classic, go right a head, most terms are severely diluted in these days of 4-dr coupes. But in the world of collector cars, a classic or ‘true’ classic, is a CCCA Classic.

        And owners of classic cars and members of the CCCA also own and enjoy other cars, and attend and display at car events for other types of collector cars, like the ‘Concour’s d’Lemons, Grand National Roadster Show, GoodGuys, etc.

        • 0 avatar

          OK, maybe I came on a little strong. But I have run into snobby types and it gets my hackles up. One of my issues is the CCCA’s use of a common adjective in such an exclusive manner. So what I have heard more than once is an exchange where an enthusiast is talking about something he loves (maybe a 91 Honda or a 78 Parisienne, or for that matter a 69 Chevelle), calls it a classic,only to have some Dusenberg aficionado tell him he’s wasting his time on some old POS, and then proceed to “educate” him on what a true Classic is. At best it’s boorish, and at worst its downright demeaning.

          Based on your reply, I wouldn’t guess you fall into that category, and so I apologize for jumping on you like that.

          But I reserve my right to ire for those who DO think that way.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks, BigOlds.

            I should mention that I appreciate your knowledgeable and informed comments, here on TTAC.

            The CCCA essentially created the term ‘Classic Cars’ back in the day(early post war) when nobody called cars that. They recognized that some cars were exceptional when most just considered them junk and past their time. They don’t own the term, but collectors understand what the term imputes.

            My Dad was and early member of the CCCA and restored his 37′ Packard ’12’ cabriolet and showed it at some of their very first West coast meets. He would probably be a bit miffed if he knew his cherished Merc\'(MB) 300SL never gained ‘Classic’ status, but would understand why.

            Regards … Tre

            From Wiki
            The CCCA is considered to have invented the term classic car, which was coined to describe the vehicles covered by the Club’s interest. While the term is nowadays used to describe any interesting old vehicle, many in the US consider it only properly used to describe vehicles considered eligible for the CCCA. This may be considered analogously to the correct usage of ‘Classical music’ to mean only from a specific historical period, even though many people use the term to mean any orchestral work.

    • 0 avatar

      Obviously, the CCA and you are entitled to their opinion but saying that a 1926 Dodge is not a classic car is a pretty extreme position. If you want to take it further, why would one consider anything not eligible for the London-Brighton run as classic?

  • avatar

    Put it in a museum.

  • avatar

    Id daily drive it

  • avatar

    It will be really interesting to see what happens to the prices of all classics when self driving cars begin to dominate.

    My guess is that in 40 years, driving your own car will be like riding a horse – something you can do, but something most folks won’t even bother to learn. Then even today’s cars might be relegated to parade status or use on racetracks, etc. There are a lot of cars out there, and there may not be nearly as many people who want to drive them.

    The rapid decline of manual transmission sales is already showing how few people really think of the act of driving as a pleasurable activity.

    • 0 avatar

      “imag” nailed it. Folks of my generation (old boomer) lust after cars in later life that they lusted after when they were much younger and couldn’t afford. Or sometimes we are drawn to a car that was in the family or known to us as kids. My grandfather had a 57 Buick that was the nicest car I ever drove in as a kid. I’d like one now, but my kids who are just edging up to their 4th decade think all old cars are ridiculous–ugly, not safe, stinky, and slow. And yes they can hardly wait for cars that drive themselves (one works for Google and the other for EA sports.)

      I think this bodes badly for the future value of muscle cars and fifties “classics”. It won’t be long before old farts like me get too old to care, and it doesn’t look like gen X and Y give a damn. Most don’t seem to lust after any cars–just electronics, maybe old computers and game boxes.

      • 0 avatar

        Grumpy_ As I read your comment I’m watching ‘Chasing Classic Cars’, Carini is giving a twelve year old a ride in a 65′ 427″ Cobra, the kid is thrilled and all smiles. There will be plenty of kids, and particularly, kids from car enthusiast families, that will desire and have the means to purchase collector cars as adults. And as the third world economies develop, the demand will increase on a limited, diminishing supply. Already, Brazillians’, and others, have entered the market in a big way as their economy expanded.

        The collector car market is growing>
        The collector car market is, once again, alive and well! The collector car auction beat several records last year: largest number of No Reserve vehicles offered at one auction; largest-ever number of cars sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction; the largest offering of Shelby vehicles at one event; record attendance of 300,000 people. >

        True classics, exotics, muscle cars, and rare collector cars, will always be a solid market. It is the pedestrian cars that will lose value in a diminishing market.

        The real danger for the future of collector car values could be the degrading environment, cost of fuel, and diminished income expectations/reality. If people get scared and turn away from cars, I expect the general interest in car collecting to collapse. And museums will only be able to take on so many cars and high grade those. Most are already beyond their financial limits and are having a hard time keeping their doors open

        I don’t see the market collapsing anytime soon, unless the environment and world economies take a serious nose dive.

        I roughed out a story for TTAC about a dystopian world where car enthusiasts risk huge fines and loss of their coveted cars in secret attempts to drive them. Hope it never comes to that.

        And for myself, I will probably be chasing a car when I drop dead, probably the rare barn find Cisitalia coupe or ‘Nuvolari’ Spyder by Carrozzeria Garella

        For a better understanding of the collector car market, subscribe to ‘Sports Car Market’ and ‘American Car Collector’ magazines, and follow the auction results and e-Bay’s past sales.

        • 0 avatar

          In Brazil I have seen this actually happening. In the past you’d see these old cars, but usually just on weekends, clearly toys. Nowadays you see them in rush hour or parked in front of companies. Recently I have seen a Fiat 147, Ford Escort from the 80s. I have also spotted a Ford Corcel and Beetle from the 70s. All in rush hour traffic. Also have seen, parked in front of a big company, a 50s DKW. Have also seen a Karmann Ghia, but this one was not really a restoration, but more like a restoration with some modern touches. All shiny, looking new. Obviously used, at least part time as daily drivers.

          Being that most Brazilian cars were of the pedestrian type, I think this type of car has some future here. I can see the market growing. Specially for 70s and 80s cars, but as evidenced by the DKW, even older cars can come into this.

          Near me there is a body shop that deals on the side in this market. He buys the old cars, fixes them up, then places them in front of his store. He has gone through 3 cars, as far as I can tell, in the last 8 months. First there was a Corcel that sat there for at least 5 or 6 months before disappearing, then a Chevette that surprised me that it was gone in about 2 months and now a Beetle.

          There is also a growing market for older cars, but with some modifications. Small things like rear disc brakes, fuel injection, even AC. As far as I can tell, these modifications, specially the AC is key to really get this market rolling.

        • 0 avatar

          That is a really good point. Even if interest declines tremendously, world development and population increase will continue to keep prices high.

      • 0 avatar

        Don’t forget that any old car can be expensive to maintain, insure and store; vehicles are expensive toys. Many new homes/condos have very little or no room for one daily driver, let alone a rarely driven toy. Indoor storage facilities can run into the hundreds of dollars per month for a space big enough (and secure) for a car. These are expenses that are hard to justify for most middle class people.

        The Dodge above is a great example: the owner spent $40k on a restoration and hopes to get $25k for the car. How many people want to flush $15k on a toy? That’s what boats are for, and at least with a boat you are in the company of nearly naked women :)

        Combined with declining interest in cars in general I think the market for all but the most valuable older cars will slowly drop. Lots of us love to look at them, but fewer will want the responsibility of ownership.

      • 0 avatar

        The 2014 reality is that the gas, oil, and other petroleum products are unsuitable for these old cars. SAE readily acknowledges anything older than 1990 is at risk with the products that are typical on the market today. The EPA forced the removal of the very additives that these drivetrains require.

        This Dodge? It cannot be run on today’s gas and oil.

  • avatar

    That’s a very nice, well-preserved car but unfortunately it’s only worth about $10-15k. Unless they need the money, might as well keep it.

  • avatar

    This is a good thread .

    IMO , 1920’s & 1930’s cars are for younger people ~ when I was young I bought , fixed up and daily drove every one I could afford .

    They were O.K. in In Town traffic , not safe nor wise on the open highway even after I fitted overdrives and decent brakes .

    No matter how you slice it , older vehicles like this are *very* maintenance intensive , designed that way when new .

    Not difficult at all but , you do need to keep after them .

    I’ve forgotten now what year in the 1920’s Dodge added the combined starter and generator but it was a very big deal at the time .


  • avatar

    My guess is that the value of everyday classics probably peaks at the time that people who were adolescents when the car was new are between roughly 50-75, and falls off after that, since the biggest driver of the value of everyday old cars is probably nostalgia.

    The first car I ever drove legally was a 1965 Peugeot 404 station wagon. That’s the first classic car I’d buy today, and probably the only one–although I could be tempted by several others, including a 1960 Valiant, or several of the Volvos that being manufactured in the ’50s and ’60s.

    I think that styling peaked in my youth–roughly the second half of the ’50s and the first half of the ’60s. But I suspect that a lot of other people from different eras would say styling peaked when they were young.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting point about when people think that car style peaked and that most would relate it to some time in their youth. I think you’re probably right. However, things change over time. I’m 42. For me the cars of the 70s, when I was a boy, looked very ugly by the time I came of driving age in the late 90s. About 10 yrs ago that started changing and I started thinking they were all kinds of cool. At first I thought mainly th Europeans, but by now I’ve come aroud to thinking even the big ole Yank tanks from the 70s look at least interesting. I like some cars from the 80s, 90s. In my mind, most cars from today, though infinetely better, are quite boring and too agressive ith their angry faces, “muscular” creases everywhere, oversize wheels and aerodynamic non-flush lights. I think that as we get older, we do tend to scoff at what’s around us and sort of retreat into the past.

  • avatar

    “But it would be an inexpensive and fully-sorted entry into the world of classic-car rallies. ”

    I’m not truly in touch with the value of rare and antique cars, but $25K feels like a steep price of entry to a classic car rally.

    • 0 avatar

      That Dodge is probably worth about $8-$10,000, $12,000 on a good day, if it is well sorted with no real issues. I recently bought a rare one off 31′ Hudson coupe with dual side mounts for $12,000, and they are far more valuable then this

      • 0 avatar

        Took a better look at the Dodge offered.

        If the pic is representative of its present condition, and it being a Touring Phaeton, it is probably worth $15-$18,000, if, you connect with the right buyer. As Model ‘A’s increasingly escalate in value, as they are, it will pull up the values of other like cars.

        That being said, the interest in collector cars is generational to a large degree, but we are seeing a lot of money being put into widely ranging private collections, and this car, if in exceptional condition, could attract the interest of that type of collector.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny you should mention it…

      The entry page for the 2016 Peking to Paris had me perusing ads trying to figure out how much it would cost to participate.

      $15k for a sorted, running, clean, only-need-to-fix-it-as-you-go car is a bargain, considering it’s hard to find a car worth rally-shape restoring (especially a large one) for less than ~$7500. It’s a downright steal if it’s a rotisserie resto, and even better if it’s been driven once a month since the job. While you may look a little shabby sitting next to the Duseys and Rolls, you will knock the socks off anyone driving anything made after 1935.

      • 0 avatar

        Reg; “how much it would cost to participate.”

        The entry fees for cross country/continent races, is usually quite high.

        But the Dodge would be a good vehicle for a ‘Great Race’ contestant or the La Carrera Panamericana and ‘One Lap of America’.

        But according one poster, it could never happen with anything older then 1990. I guess those promoters better quit selling entries to those events.

  • avatar

    Neat as hell, but what do you do with it? I didn’t search too hard and its not like there are a bunch of them for sale, but I doubt there are many people looking for them either.

    The only people still alive that would have any significant memories of driving them would be as very well used cars back in the 40s and perhaps early 50s.

    Closest thing I found, I cannot imagine this one is worth twice as much although its a few years older:

  • avatar

    Keep it.

    I’ve sunk unrecoverable money in a car that I’m afraid may not run again (waiting on the summer to diagnose an electrical issue). I don’t regret it. But I would regret parting with the car and not being able to resto mod it.

  • avatar

    This very topic was discussed earlier today in the cube alleys at my workplace – the fact that full-blown auto restorations today can easily get into the six-figure range.

    It’s very possible to sink many multiples of a car’s restored value into its restoration. I have seen this done countless times with predictable results. You can spend $80K on restoring a 1958 Edsel, and be darn lucky to get $15K for it afterwards (rarity does NOT equal value, but desirability does).

    You’re going to have to find the right buyer for this one to get your price, which could take a year or longer. Heck, it could even end up being purchased by a wealthy foreign investor – it seems that a lot of desirable cars from our shores are going this route (I’m thinking of 1950s fin-and-chrome esp. convertibles, going to Europe).

  • avatar

    There are few things that make me happier than any opportunity to drive a vehicle from a bygone era.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, Jim, it is a truly unique, even exciting experience. Luckily, I get to do that quite often.

      This Summer I was invited to go on a tour in an old Phaeton from the late teens that had leather band strap brakes on the rear axle only. You had to plan your stops.

      The valve train on that vehicle was fully exposed and a delight to watch when the engine was running, and even more fun to hear peoples comments when watching it. In these days of power plants covered in plastic covers, seeing the actual mechanical elements of an IC engine in action, is a rare experience.

  • avatar

    Myself I would rather see the hobby driven by self enjoyment rather than being considered an investment. If you liked the Dodge then the restoration is worth it and you should keep it. Plan to sell at a future loss. If not, why restore it?

    You need to look at the goals and objectives of the vehicle you want.
    Here is the ultimate question:
    Do you buy an older 70~90s Porsche 911 for the same money as the new 2014 Stingray Corvette? The Corvette will kill it in every checked box except your desire to own a 911.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, TrendSetter? Fun and enjoyment shared with others, should be the overriding goal of collector car ownership. I often hear the comment, ‘your cars are worth a fortune’. To me they were never about that, they are and always will be about fun.

      A well bought car can be a good investment. With exceptions, I don’t see a lot of money being made on collector cars these days. The buyers market is pretty sober these days, so it is a good time to buy.

  • avatar

    Except they no longer make air cooled 911s and they are still capable cars that retain some measure of durability.

    People forget just how important drivability is in owning a classic. Example, if you are uncomfortable with 4 wheel drums on a 75mph highway in the rain at night with 35w sealed beams then you might find yourself regretting the experience/purchase. Even if one plans only sunny day drives, scenarios like this WILL happen if the car is somewhat enjoyable to drive.

  • avatar

    Ha! People complain that all cars look the same, now. Well, it’s nothing new. Take a good look at the 1926 Dodge. Other than the emblem, what distinguishes it from a Chevy or Ford or whatever? This was an everyday car – an appliance – like 99% of cars now.

    This car should be kept, however, as it has been well-restored. A “classic”? Perhaps not, not in the high-value world maybe, but to someone who loves old iron, it is representative of an era.

    A very pretty car, to be sure! It deserves a good home.

    As to the question of “everyday” cars worth being preserved? Strictly a labor of love to an owner.

    • 0 avatar

      You bring up a good point. When I hear people say “all cars today look the same, cars from X decade were distinctive”, I find they’re usually comparing that one car from the 60s they saw a few months ago in a sea of cars from the past decade. By comparing in that environment, the 60’s car is distinct. If they found that same car on a used car lot circa 1969 and they’d say, “all these cars look the same”.

      Ditto for the teens, 20’s and just about any other decade, styling follows the trends of what’s popular. Every now and then a new trend setter emerges and everyone else converges.

    • 0 avatar

      “All cars look the same” is true for every generation of automobiles. Even with my extensive experience around antique cars, I’m unable to pick out a make from 20 meters unless its something with unique styling to that make: Packard’s radiator, Pierce Arrow’s headlights, etc.

      Late 20’s/early 30’s are the same. By the late 30’s only a couple of cars really stood out – Cord’s, Sharknose Graham’s, Hupp Skylark’s. And they all have one thing in common: They failed in the marketplace. Which makes them unique, rare, and coveted.

      “All cars look the same” because once a manufacturer comes up with a style that succeeds with the buying public, all the other manufacturers immediately copy it as closely as possible while still making the design their own. If you want to sell in great numbers, you design what you already know will sell.

      • 0 avatar

        in the 20s all cars looked the same because often the bodyes wer built by the same coachbuilder. and even when mass production started there were more functional elements to develop before the body shape. so mass produced cars were very similar.
        original designs from factory was only on very expensie cars: auburn, cord, mercedes ssk, bugatti, tatra, jaguar ss.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. Cars from the late teens to early 30’s were all vertical everywhere except the fenders.

        Funny you mention those three cars. My Girlfriend inherieted a 41 Graham Hollywood from her grandpa. For those that don’t know, Graham and Hupp built a RWD car based on the bodywork of the Cord: the Hollywood and Skylark. Very futuristic for the time. The running gear of the Hollywood is very similar to the Sharknose.

        It’s in great shape- has the wear of a 10 year old car. We’re trying to get it running now. Here’s a video of the first start…

        (not sure if the link will paste in. YouTube “1941 Graham first start”)

        Despite its unique styling and rarity I doubt it is worth more than $25k, even though her dad seems to think it’s worth more like $100k. We’re kind of afraid to drive it as we don’t know a ton about carbs, points and such and it’d be impossible to fix if it gets damaged. We’re both in our 30’s and I don’t think most people our age would get a car like this. I agree that the value peak is the age where people of retirement age get nostalgic for the cars of their youth, and then drop off. I remember Model T’s were expensive in the 80’s.

  • avatar

    american cars of that era were much much more modern than european ones: elettric starters, pedals in the correct place, engines with torque enough to move the thing, better steel. so i think there will always be someone who want them.
    i know fords are allready popular, some body shells are still being manufactured. those cars can be easily resto-modified using non-original parts, you loose originality but save alot of money and get a more usable car.
    duesenbergs, buick, cadillacs, lancias, alvis… the famous cars will became more and more expensive so enthusiasts will start to buy cheaper things, so they will at least keep theyr value. obviously the cost of restoration can never be recovered in the sale, because buyers usually can’t properly valuate the quality of the job.

    once i drove a ’30 fiat: it was a terrible car, the engine was a 1.5 i think with no HP at all, no brakes. still it was a great fun, after a 15 minutes riding i laughed 1 hour. and no doubt that dodge is better
    so had i have money to spare i’d buy one of that fo sure.

  • avatar

    Well, I’m 31 and have been daily-driving a ’64 Falcon for the last 4 years. Both on a long (80mi RT) and short in-town (10mi RT) commute.

    I’d probably retire it to Friday/weekend duty if I ever had to do a long stop-and-go slog, as with manual everything it’s fatiguing and not particularly enjoyable in that situation.

    Aside from abysmal crash safety and lack of creature comforts, it’s still functional on today’s roads. Not sure if you could say that for a pre-war car.

    I think you need to find someone who’s into these, who knows what they’re worth and would be happy to have it. I’d guess the Hemmings or Dupont Registry crowds know what to do with it.

  • avatar

    Several at Classic Cars On Line:

  • avatar


    We shipped a VW Karmann Ghia to Brazil about 2 years ago. Gentleman brought the car for his fathers birthday present. My son-in-laws family came to the USA from Russia via Brazil after the 2nd world war and spoke with the buyer of this car. He asked us to fill out a special form supplied by the local Police dept to show full details of the car. We even had to list the manufacturer of the tires. Just wondering if this could be the same car. I like to buy older cars myself. My best find was a 1991 VW Cabriolet triple white which i found stored in a barn on Long Island. Had this car for about 5 years and put about 25,000 miles on it. I would say it was the most fun filled car i ever owned. Someone offered me twice what i paid for it and sad to say i sold it. Now i have a 24 year old Miata that i enjoy during the summer.

  • avatar

    About 60 years ago at age 14 I had the amazing experience of learning to drive a Model T Ford. I lapped the neighborhood at about 25 or 30 bone shaking miles per hour. Best laps of my life.

    Keep ’em rolling!

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