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Thread: Modern classics?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Modern classics?

    This is just my cranky opinion, but I believe that, as a general rule, few modern cars (other than a handful of exotics and so on) will ever be collectible - because they will be economically impossible to maintain/restore 25-plus years down the road.

    Pre-computer/pre-emissions cars are all pretty basic machines; a total rebuild/resto is thus a relatively inexpensive process - and the typical backyard mechanic with hand tools and some basic knowledge can keep such a car running almost indefinitely.

    A modern car, on the other hand, is a highly system of integrated components orders of magnitude more complex than the typical "old classic."

    Even today, it is not at all uncommon for a late model car that has a sound body and a basically sound drivetrain to become uneconomic to repair. For example, replacing the SRS/air bag system on a 10-year-old, 150,000 mile Corolla that's worth perhaps $3,000. Imagine the cost of rehabbing/replacing just the fuel injection system and its related components, including the wiring harness, ECU and emissions gear, on a 2007 model vehicle (any 2007 model year vehicle) in the year 2037. The cost will likely be absolutely prohibitive - assuming parts are even available. (This gets into a Catch-22; if the parts are very expensive, few people will buy them. If few people buy them, there's little incentive for the aftermarket to produce them. Etc.) And the skill/knowledge and equipment necessary to service - just basic service - any modern OBD-equipped car is already driving the "backyard mechanic" into the history books.

    Modern cars are wonderful machines, but they are disposable machines that will likely not be feasible for the average person to keep running or restore in the decades to comes.

    I believe there will be a few well-preserved "originals" in the hands of collectors - but that the hobby of working on and restoring cars will become one of working on and restoring older, pre-emissions/pre-computers cars.

  2. #2
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    Re: Modern classics?

    I agree with a lot of what you say, however, I believe that the automotive aftermarket is pretty strong. In addition, automakers do tend to commonize parts, even in today's day and age. Let's hoe that big money stays in the vintage car market.

    The cost of printed circuit boards, microprocessors and firmware tends to drop over time. As a result, it may not be as complex for more technically inclined people to do car restorations in the future provided there is a market. Provided that a certain amount of software expertise remains in the future (a big questioni..), I don't think it will be as daunting as you imagine.

    Who would guess that five years ago, we would have aftermarket companies able to break into OEM software and change parameter settings on powertrain control modules? For that matter, we have been doing it for quite a while.

    While the future doesn't look quite bright, as long as there is a demand to change vehicle performance characteristics in the aftermarket, it may not be as bad as it looks now.

    I don't believe for a minute that it will be as easy as it once was, but I believe that there will be a small number of companies that address the problems you describe.




  3. #3
    mrblanche
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    Re: Modern classics?

    It is possible to build a standalone electronic fuel injection system, etc. Whether that will ever be economical is hard to tell, but replacing the factory stuff is prohibitively expensive, as I mentioned earlier when one tiny sensor I can hold in the palm of my hand, costing $85, went bad on my F150.

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Modern classics?

    "The cost of printed circuit boards, microprocessors and firmware tends to drop over time. As a result, it may not be as complex for more technically inclined people to do car restorations in the future provided there is a market. Provided that a certain amount of software expertise remains in the future (a big questioni..), I don't think it will be as daunting as you imagine."

    Here's one interesting example of the problem:

    Mid-'80s Corvette with the 5.7 liter TPI engine. Some key components of the TPI are no longer available, so those hoping to keep a car operating must either find serviceable used parts (getting harder and harder to find) or graft on aftermarket replacements - which cost (according to a friend who dealt with this) upwards of $3,500....

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