Will it be economically impossible (or just too complicated) to maintain/restore late model cars 25-plus years down the road?

Consider it:

Pre-computer/pre-emissions cars are pretty basic machines. The entire engine in a '60s or '70s-era car, for example, can typically be rebuilt to as-new condition for about $2,000. Or less. And it's a task that can be handled by an Average Joe backyard mechanic type. No special skills or training are needed.

The fuel system in a car of the '60s or '70s consists of a simple, easy-to-rebuild mechanical device - the carburetor - an equally simple fuel pump, some steel lines and a gas tank. Even if you were to replace every single component with a brand-new/reproduction part, the total cost would be in the neighborhood of $1,500 or so. And again, the work is fairly simple and can be handled by an Average Joe, given some patience and a shop manual.

The transmission in an older car can be rebuilt/replaced for less than $1,000. It, too, is a basic device.

The "electronics package" in a '60s or '70s-era car typically consists of an AM/FM radio (perhaps with a tape deck or CB and maybe four speakers) and a basic wiring harness - which can be easily and inexpensively replaced, if need be. There is no ECM, no ABS, ESP or TCS. No wheelspeed sensors, "drive by wire" throttle or microprocessor-controlled "climate control" AC.

A backyard mechanic with some basic tools can can keep such a car running almost indefinitely. Necessary parts are generally easy to get and fairly cheap, too.

A modern car, on the other hand, is a highly complex system of integrated components orders of magnitude more complex than the typical old classic. Anything beyond the most basic routine maintenance is already beyond the ken of most Average Joe, do-it-yourself types. The skill/knowledge and equipment necessary to competently diagnose and repair a modern OBD-equipped car is driving the "backyard mechanic" into the history books.

What will it be like when such cars are 20 or 30 years old?

Remember, most old car hobbyists are self-taught tinkerer types - not professionally trained "technicians" with several thousand dollars' worth of specialized tools and equipment at their disposal.

It's one thing to figure out how a Holley four barrel works - and learn, using books and trial-and-error, to disassemble one and put it back together competently. It's a whole different ball game to tear into a modern car's digital multi-point EFI system. A few self-taught types might be able to get there; the average DIY hobbyists probably won't make the cut. Then he'll have to pay someone else - and that gets into money. And paying someone to fix your car defeats the point of being a car hobbyist.

But complexity aside, it's the economics of it all that will likely be the nail in the coffin.

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 driver/passenger-side SRS/air bag system on a 10-year-old, 150,000 mile Corolla - a car that's worth perhaps $3,500. Replacing the air bags is a $2,000 job. Hello, crusher.

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.)

The problem is already manifesting itself. For example, owners of mid-'80s era Corvettes with Tuned Port Injection (TPI) are having difficulty locating parts - and the parts, when they're even available, are often massively expensive - on the order of $3,000 dollars for a complete TPI set-up (or aftermarket-equivalent replacement).

And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What about new/replacement catalytic converters? (The Corvette and many late-model cars need at least two - sometimes as many as four, depending on the model of car.) The EGR system and its related hardware and plumbing? The MAP/MAF/TPS, wheel speed and coolant temperature sensor(s) and their related plumbing? The multiple O2 sensors? Then there's the ABS system, including its sensors and controller, plus the ABS pump. The electronic traction control, the stability control system, the computer-controlled "lock-up" transmission, the electronically controlled climate control, the GPS, the onboard "entertainment system," ECU itself - and the hydra of multiplexed wiring that connects it all together?

Who wants to even think about messing with that - today? Just imagine wading into a worn out "modern" car a quarter-century down the road. Would you wish that job on your worst enemy?

Modern cars are wonderful machines that run better, longer and with less fuss than any of their forbears. But they are disposable machines that will likely not be feasible for the average person to keep running or restore once they've reached the outer limits of their service life and begin to require comprehensive replacement/restoration of their major parts and systems.

There may and probably will be a few well-preserved "originals" in the hands of collectors. But the hobby of working on and restoring cars will become one of working on and restoring older, pre-emissions/pre-computers cars.

At least, for the average person.

Late model "classics" will either be too expensive - or just too much hassle.