Back in 1960, my pal Frank and I talked at length about finding a car for him while sitting at the coffee shop where I washed dishes part-time. I had recently purchased a 1947 Chevrolet for $25. I was able to get it running, and he wanted to do the same. Neither of us were (teenaged) men of means by any means, but we liked cars, we were willing to get our hands dirty, and we could read a shop manual.
The waitress interrupted to say that she knew where to find an old car we could have for free: It was in her mother’s backyard, and she wanted it out of there. We wrote down the address and drove over. The waitress’s mother showed us to the yard. At first, we couldn’t see anything; weeds and trees had grown up around the car. We finally bushwhacked our way in to discover a 1937 Dodge D5 four-door sedan.
The tires were nearly flat, the windows were delaminating, and the gas in the tank had a disgusting smell. We drained the tank, then picked up a new battery and some fresh gas. We changed the oil, put in water, and put a teaspoon of oil down each cylinder and turned the engine over with the plugs out to pump around a little bit of the oil. We then primed the carb, and after a lot of struggling and coughing, the old flathead inliner caught and ran pretty well.
We pumped up the tires and pulled the old sedan out of the backyard jungle and into an alley; we cruised to an intersection and tried to stop, unsuccessfully—we nearly collided with another car. The brakes were just a memory. However, we made it to Frank’s house —much to his mom’s chagrin —and pulled onto their manicured back lawn. We knew our time to get the car roadworthy was limited before Frank’s mom would have enough of us sullying the grass and washing our greasy hands in her laundry sink.
I won’t say we did a restoration. It was more of a recycling, and an amateurish one at that. The old Dodge would have elicited chuckles at a car show, but Frank drove it through four years of college, and we even made a couple of trips to Mexico in it. The Dodge never let us down.
A random assortment of collectibles through the decades
Today’s Friday, which means it’s time to pick several cars on AutoHunter to highlight for your reading enjoyment. No particular theme here except that they each have something that has piqued my interest. Do any of them pique yours? Let’s hope you’re entertained!
The similar 1940 used regulation sealed-beam headlights, but I’ve always fancied the way the earlier ones looked with their lantern-like teardrop lenses. This one is a two-door coupe — sportier than your usual sedan — that also features Offenhauser aluminum heads and intake, dual Stromberg 97 carburetors, modern 12-volt electrical system and electronic ignition. Sign me up!
1969 Dodge Super Bee Truth be told, I much prefer the Coronet R/T for the taillights, but none are currently on AutoHunter, so why not this Super Bee? The front styling is the same, and they both have that slightly mean look without the ugliness that came the following year (admission: I like the 1970s too). Though I never was a fan of the standard power-bulge hood — the Ramcharger hood is cooler — “Y2” Yellow is a hue that I’ve always been partial to even though many seem to feel otherwise.
This Super Bee is a Coupe, which means it has a B-pillar and pop-out rear side window. This is more in keeping with the econo-muscle car formula a la Plymouth Road Runner. Look inside and you’ll find that formula continues with the bench seat with column-shifted 727 TorqueFlite harnessing the standard 335-horsepower 383 Magnum. While I wasn’t alive in 1969, I’d bet this is a typical example of the many Super Bees that were prowling the street back in the day
Want to know something kids today can’t get enough of? Dogs. Especially really cute ones with sad eyes. Gen-Zers are also into—get this—hot drinks on cold days. Some like cilantro, but others hate it. Spend enough time on TikTok and you’ll get the sense that many teens—gosh, this is so weird—crave the approval and affection of others.
OK, I’ll stop. My point, in case all that wasn’t obvious enough, is that lots of people tend to be into lots of the same stuff, regardless of age. The ballyhooed “generation gap,” although grounded in certain realities of our fast-changing world, is largely a figment of marketers’ imagination.
Hagerty’s demographic data tell a similar story. When someone calls us about insurance on a particular car, we ask for basic details like their age. Since we get thousands upon thousands of these calls every year, we have a pretty solid sense of what enthusiasts in each age group are into. Turns out that whether the caller is 16 or 101 (actual ages of our youngest and oldest callers) there’s a really good chance they’re asking about a Chevrolet Corvette or Ford Mustang.
Of course, there are differences, and we’ll get into some of them below. In the interest of presenting a fuller picture, I’ve shown two metrics for each generation—first, the vehicles that age group calls about the most, and second, the cars for which it represents the highest percentage of interest. The latter metric helps us spot trends early on but it also, in isolation, can be very deceiving. For instance, looking solely at generational share, you’ll see that Gen-Z represents 44 percent of insurance quotes for the 1989–1994 Nissan Laurel. Woah! Before you start filling warehouses with the JDM sedans, though, perhaps I should tell you the raw total of calls that represents: 24. In contrast, somefive thousand kiddos called us about Mustangs. (Note: In the interest of avoiding such misrepresentations, I have in the sections below excluded vehicles for which we received fewer than 100 calls from a particular age group.)
Read on to see what each generation craves, but don’t forget the key takeaway: What we share in common far outweighs what separates us.
These shouldn’t surprise anyone. Not only are both cars, um, old, but they’re also the two archetypes of the attainable classics favored by younger generations. In the Ford Model A, we have a passenger car that, due to its ubiquity, charisma, and association with a time and a place, found its way into enthusiasts’ hearts. The MG TD, meanwhile, was the sports car that made Americans love sports cars—every Corvette, Miata, and Boxster produced owes it a small debt.
On that note, we all owe a debt to these older collectors. They founded the car-collector hobby and, to a large extent, created car culture as we know it in this country. The greasers who popularized hot rodding, the tweed-wearing East Coasters who brought over British roadsters, our pantheon of American racing greats, including Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, and Mario Andretti—all of them hail from the generation born before 1945, and all continue to resonate today.
This generation also continues to throw a lot of weight around the collector car market. Although its ranks, sadly, are thinning, pre-baby boomers are still more numerous in our insurance quote data than
If you’re reading this article, based on our stats, you’re likely a baby boomer. For all the obsession with the growing youth contingent, baby boomers still represent the lion’s share of interest in cars: Nearly four out of every ten people who called Hagerty for a quote on insurance in the past year come from that generation. This is to a large extent a by-product of wealth—baby boomers control more than 50 percent of it in the United States, per the Federal Reserve—yet there’s no denying that the generation which came of age in the 1960s has a unique connection to the automobile.
When it comes to what these enthusiasts crave most, there’s no contest. It’s all about Corvette. The most-produced Vette, the 1972–1984 C3, naturally tops the list, but the C2, C4, and C5 all make the top ten.
What sets American baby boomer enthusiasts apart, however, is their fascination with British sports cars. The folks who grew up with The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who have a special relationship with the cars from that country. Four out of the ten cars for which Baby Boomers represent the highest share of insurance quotes are Brits, topped by the venerable Triumph TR6.
The period following World War II was an amazing time of optimism and prosperity in the U.S., with industry booming and technology advancing rapidly. Meanwhile, Americans were feeling good about life in the free world and many were flush with cash thanks to the strong job market. This all meshed to create a perfect storm of consumer demand that was advancing beyond the need to obtain products that hadn’t been readily available during the war—now, people were buying to satisfy desire as much as need.
The domestic automakers were perfectly poised to satisfy that demand, coming off of war contracts that had been followed by frenzied car sales after years of halted automobile production. The war had also pushed the development of technology, and style was once again a primary criterion for car shoppers. Detroit spent the decade trying to outdo itself, yielding some of the most ornately styled and trimmed cars of all time, while also recognizing that even truck buyers thought about aesthetics. Meanwhile, European automakers were pursuing their own versions of performance and style, creating some landmark designs as the decade unfolded.
This period would shine brightly, but relatively briefly, as trends continued to evolve rapidly and the 1960s would see its own characteristic features. By the 1970s, cars of the ’50s seemed like artifacts of a long-gone era, and nostalgia for that time kicked in with substantial force, driving collectors and restorers to latch onto the remaining examples to keep the memories alive. That drive hasn’t ever fully subsided, and cars and trucks of the 1950s are still very popular with car enthusiasts and collectors, including many who hadn’t even been born when those models were new.
Yet, ’50s cars still make for an excellent enthusiast ownership experience. In many cases, parts are available, and if not, strong networks of fans and specialists are ready to help locate spares to facilitate restorations or even just to keep these models on the road. Speaking of the road, cars of this period tend to be decent drivers, as the highway system was coming online and the ability to cruise smoothly at 60-plus mph became more the norm.
We wanted to illustrate that there are models from the 1950s that are also still attainable by gathering a selection of examples that are enjoyable to own, fun to drive, and still affordable. In this case, we’re considering anything costing $25,000 or less in good, presentable, and driveable condition to be affordable—that seems to be what the market thinks, too. Ponder these examples from a fantastic period in automotive design and let us know what else you think ought to have been included
The gleaming classic looks to be in exceptionally fine condition
With evocative aerodynamic styling and powered by an L-head V12 engine, the Lincoln Zephyr was conceived by Edsel Ford as a midsize luxury craft for the very well-to-do, with hand-crafted production beginning in 1936.
The Pick of the Day is a 1940 Lincoln Zephyr convertible, widely considered to be among the most elegant model years, and which represented something of an end and a beginning for the Ford division before the war years intervened.
The Zephyr was the final pre-war design for Lincoln, with the Zephyr name dropped once production resumed after the war. But 1940 saw the beginning of the Continental nameplate, another Edsel Ford concept, which became Lincoln’s longest-running brand. Along with that came the rear-mounted spare tire on the Zephyr that became an enduring feature of Lincoln design.
“Edsel Ford rebelled against his father’s mass-market sensibilities by building a car for people in his substantial wealth class,” notes the Lutz, Florida, dealer advertising the Lincoln on ClassicCars.com. “He emphasized design, which means these first-generations show their boldness with sleek lines rather than adding chrome. This was the car he could have proudly driven in Europe with its waterfall grille, lowered stance, and deleted running boards.
“These were both beautiful and expensive, and so only about 700 examples were hand-built in 1940.”
Restoration expenses once again far outstrip the value of the finished product
If there’s anything that owning a “project vehicle” has taught anyone, it’s that restoration work almost always ends up being much-more expensive than originally anticipated. And while it’s rewarding to be part of an extreme makeover, sometimes it means taking a loss when it comes time to part ways and offer that vehicle up to the collector marketplace.
Many classified listings these days include some variation of the phrase, “You can’t build it for what I’m asking.” And that statement rings painfully true in many cases
A private seller on ClassicCars.com in Longview, Texas, is offering an 80-year-old custom Ford at a fraction of the investment that it took to restore. The Pick of the Day is a red 1941 Ford Super Deluxe two-door coupe complete with receipts totaling $100,000 and a selling price that is significantly lower.
“The price to build was right at $100k,” the listing states. “Invoices are available which will list all of the individual components plus the shop labor hours.”
The rebuilt Jasper flathead engine alone, now having accrued only a few hundred miles since installation, reflected an expenditure in excess of $10,000, according to the ad.
Sisters Olivia Gentry, 20, and Genna Gentry, 18, of Newnan, Georgia, became the youngest winners of The Great Race, winning the 9-day, 2,300-mile cross-country competition for vintage vehicles. The 2021 time-distance rally, which began in San Antonio, Texas, ended June 27 in Greenville, South Carolina.
The sisters, competing for the fourth time, earned $50,000 for their performance in a 1932 Ford 5-window coupe. Olivia drove and Genna navigated. They had finished seventh overall in 2019.
The competition drew 120 entries in the time-distance rally that precludes the use of modern navigation or electronic devices while competing in various stages at precise time and speed averages. Teams can use only a map, stopwatches and “old-fashioned reckoning,” event organizers note.
“We are thrilled that the Gentry sisters won the race after several impressive showings over the past few years,” Wade Kawasaki, president and chief executive of event owner Legendary Companies, was quoted in the post-event news release.
“These young ladies and their beautiful ‘32 Ford have shown that the spirit of competition, a drive to compete and excellent math and navigational skills live on in the youngest generation.
So here’s how the story goes: Henry the Deuce’s grandfather established Ford of France in 1929. In 1949, Henry II commissioned Italian coach builder Stabilimenti Farina (not Pinin Farina but Pinin’s brother’s company) to design and build a luxurious sports coupe on a Mercury chassis. That Farina Mercury became the prototype for the French Comete (Comet) built by Ford of France with bodywork supplied by Facel Metallon (yes, as in the Facel Vega).
Further information here at Classic Cars.com Journal
Ah, Oldsmobile, how we miss you… Pity that when General Motors decided to pull the plug on one of its brands, you had the fewest dealers to pay off, so it didn’t matter that you also had a better fleet of vehicles across the board than any of your fellow GM divisions.
You introduced the Hydra-Matic transmission way back in 1940, and the Rocket V8 soon after World War II. In 1995, you gave us the Aurora, perhaps the last great American car design. And in 1966, you introduced the Toronado, the first full-size American car driven by its front wheels since the 1936 Cord.
The Pick of the Day is a 1969 Oldsmobile Toronado. The car got some styling updates that year and a power upgrade with an optional 455cid V8 rated at 400 horsepower