Last week, I forecasted the end of the classic car
, thanks to my gloomy belief that today's digital technologies are tomorrow's impossible repairs.
Yet, even as I wrote that, I wondered, "Why would anyone covet today's cars 30 years from now?" Don't they all just seem like soulless, disposable consumer electronics products, cobbled together from a corporate parts bin, trying to win our financing signature with a parade of proprietary systems--SH-AWD, VANOS, MDS, DSC, and VDC--that we can barely understand? I can just see the car buffs of tomorrow, hanging out at a show, uttering low whistles as they encounter a really cool digital climate control or voice-recognition system. Yeah. On the other hand, I wonder how many original owners of, say, a 1939 Cord found it hard to believe that anyone would ever want to collect that cheap, garish Ford Mustang when it first came out? And for Pete's sake, could anyone have predicted a Chrysler Cordoba club
? So let me take a more charitable scan of the cars being made today and offer these future collector classics.
Acura RL: The first production car that's all about technology. The Acura RL also packages those digital goodies in a body shell and a dashboard design that are distinctive today but will probably be quaint tomorrow.
Collector's hot button: The XM-delivered, Navtec-powered NavTraffic live traffic navigation system. It's the first of its kind in a production car.
Collector's headache: At least one part of that complicated NavTraffic data network will be out of business in 30 years, so future collectors will just have to describe how the thing used to work.
Honda Insight: The first production hybrid sold in the United States--enough said. It's truly analogous to the arrival of the Volkswagen Beetle. Plus, the Insight isn't luxurious or gadget-laden, which can be a real blessing as a car ages.
Collector's hot button: Aside from its place in history, the Honda Insight has styling that looks like something out of a Syd Mead painting.
Collector's headache: Just try getting parts 30 years from now for a car that sold all of 600 copies in 2004. Even 1950s Maserati owners will feel lucky they aren't you.
Cadillac Escalade: Just as the '59 Cadillacs signified the zenith of the fin era, the Escalade will probably come to symbolize the peak of the big, luxurious SUV.
Collector's hot button: eBay will be filled with all manner of hip-hop ephemera that celebrates your car, depicting it strewn with hoochie mamas and gentlemen with gold teeth. It'll make for a nice display at your club car show.
Collector's headache: Thirty years from now, there is a good chance it will be illegal to put fuel in one of these things. You'll need a hybrid flatbed truck just to take it to shows.
BMW Z4: The Z4 is (hopefully) the low-water mark for BMW's Bangle era of design. Luckily, it's a fabulous road car that, ironically, has a very attractive interior. Great car--from the inside.
Collector's hot button: Let's face it, this is the Edsel of Bavaria, so it will have the same counterintuitive collector's appeal as Ford's ugly duckling. Plus, no iDrive means you won't have to chase parts in 2035.
Collector's headache: It still won't be pretty in 2035.
OK, I know, you drive the cool collector's car of tomorrow. What is it?
This car is already cultish, so it goes without saying that collectors will gobble it up in the future. Everyone will remember it. And luckily Toyota is selling big volumes of its Hybrid Synergy Drive, so many drivetrain parts may actually be available in 2035.
Collector's hot button: With a tasty blend of a radical drivetrain, a goofy dashboard layout, and unique body styling, it's like the Citroen DS-19 of today.
Collector's headache: The Prius is the anticar, appealing mostly to people who don't like cars in the first place. When you show your 30-year-old classic Prius, you'll probably get a bigger crowd at a vintage "PC Faire," not a car show.