[Editor’s Note: If we’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, it’s that life has become less and less predictable. That said, we threw caution to the wind and asked the Hemmings editorial staff to make their best predictions about what directions the collector car hobby will take over the next year. What cars will become more popular? What trends will we see pop up? What economic factors will impact our hobby? Read on, and offer your own predictions in the comments below.]
From Editor-in-Chief Terry McGean:
This isn’t exactly clairvoyant, since a trend appears well underway, but if the past year is any indication, interest in cars and trucks of the ’80s and ’90s will really gain momentum in the coming year. Viewed from one perspective, this is a natural progression—as generations move through time, nostalgia for the things of youth builds, and examples of those things are then sought. Today, Gen Xers are looking back fondly at their younger days, but their Mustangs were of the Fox 5.0 variety, their Camaros were IROCs, and their Trans Ams were more Knight Rider than Smokey and the Bandit.
But really, those classic nameplates are just scratching the surface of the wave of car collecting building momentum right now. A more original facet of this involves the Japanese cars of the ’80s and ’90s that are currently rising in value. At first this appeared to be limited to the handful of high-end performance cars from that period, like the Acura NSX and Toyota Supra Turbo, but other, less exotic models are catching on now. Given how popular so many Japanese cars became in this era, it stands to reason that a new generation of car collectors will be interested in revisiting those models again.
Then, of course, there are trucks. Vintage pickups have long been adored by American car enthusiasts, and the specific years and models being treated as classics are continuing to expand forward. Chevy trucks of the 1967-’72 generation have been hot for many years, and while it took some time for the 1973-’87 squarebody trucks to take off, they’ve now rocketed skyward in interest and value. More recently, it appears the 1988-’97 Chevy “OBS” (old body style) trucks are coming on with enthusiasts, and it makes sense. Not only are they affordable, but they maintain the trim proportions of some earlier models and the styling has held up well. Plus, these trucks left the factory with many of the features gearheads like to add to older trucks: Front disc brakes, overdrive transmissions, electronic fuel injection, and so on.
There are OBS Fords as well, here referring to the 1980-’97 F-series trucks, which are also rapidly gaining popularity and value with enthusiasts. Expect this to continue, and for similar reasons. Good examples of even the latest versions of this era are already fetching a premium.
So, while these aren’t stunning revelations, the useful takeaway is probably the message that interesting cars and trucks of the ’80s and ’90s are coming on strong, so if there’s something in that period you find appealing, now may be the time to snag one.
From Associate Editor David Conwill:
My hobby-car prediction for 2022: The beginnings of a brass-car revival, with Gen Xers and Millennials at the forefront.
I know at least a half-dozen young people (say, born between 1975 and 1995), who would dearly love to own a brass-era car. That’s those cars built between 1904 and 1915, characterized by a near-universal adoption of the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive form, with a hood and a steering wheel–and use of polished brass as a decorative element. Earlier cars, more buggy-inspired (i.e. “horseless carriages”), tended to have their engines under the seat and use horse-drawn vehicle style elements like color and pinstriping, rather than metal, for stylistic detail. The engineering of the car hadn’t yet completely standardized, however, and devices like gearshifts, braking systems, and even steering-wheel position still varied greatly between manufacturers
Because of their early obsolescence, extreme age, and the fact that they were rare to begin with (being largely experiments or playthings of the wealthy), brass cars were valuable early on in the hobby, but interest has steadily slackened over the past 20 or so years, thanks in great part to the reduced visibility of brass cars following the end of the grand transcontinental tours. As the prices of those vehicles come down, however, they often find their way into the hands of younger, more energetic owners like Dan Findlay, who spearheaded the first great tour of brass cars since the 1990s (a 3,200-mile, south-to-north event) just this spring. Look for more younger folks with a taste for adventure to join him soon, repairing and piloting Edwardian antiques on challenging scenic tours.