I’m always trying to figure out what cars today will be worth a lot in the future. I mean, at one time, you could buy a Hemi ‘Cuda for $4000 off of a used car lot. Now you could sell it for up to a million dollars. So the numbers game fascinates me, but more than that, I want to believe there will be classic cars from this decade that young guys thirty years from now can enjoy. I’d hate for a whole hobby to die because of lackluster American designers.
I don’t have enough time to talk about all my theories about what makes a car a classic. It would take hundreds of pages. But one thing is for sure, if people don’t like the car when it comes out, it has little chance of being a classic in the future. Just because it’s old doesn’t make it a classic. There are acres of cars from 1957 rusting away in junkyards across the country. But it’s hard to find a 1957 Chevy in a junkyard because they’ve been pulled out, dusted off, and restored. Why? Because people loved them then, and because of that, they love them today.
This theory fails when you consider the Ford Taurus of the 1990s. People did like them then, but I would bet my life savings that nobody will be scrambling to buy a Taurus off the auction block in thirty years. So a new classic has to be more than popular, it almost needs to have mythic proportions. Celebrity status. When you say the name, an emotion needs to flicker in people.
So I’m betting that it will be the 2002-2006 Cadillac Escalade. I know skeptics would argue several points, like the fact that an SUV has never been a classic. (To them I could point to the Toyota FJ’s, early Land Cruisers, but I admit those are niche collector cars.) They could also point out that they aren’t rare. (I’d remind them that neither were muscle cars.) They might even argue that they don’t like the crowd who drives an Escalade. (I’d point out that the muscle car owners were an unruly bunch, and kids in chopped ’50 Mercs raised hell too.) And didn’t it have a lack-luster beginning? (Yes, but have you seen the early Barracudas?)
What makes this pick for a classic most difficult is that it’s popularity comes from hip hop culture. And most car collectors now don’t get the hip hop culture. But all of the toy cars in the stores are from hip hop culture. They sit on huge rims. They are status symbols of wealth and power and cool. I don’t like that it’s all about looks and not about performance, but that doesn’t seem to bother people. Another thing that I don’t like is that the Escalade is just an upgraded Chevy Tahoe. I would like a classic to be a stand-alone success. But not many people seem to mind, so I guess I shouldn’t either.
Most car people would agree that the Dodge Viper will be a classic. It has all the standards you look for: it made a big splash, it’s rare, it’s very fast, and they just look terrific. I don’t know enough about Vipers to tell you which edition will be the most collectible, but I predict all Vipers will be worth a good chunk of cash in 20 years.
My other two picks aren’t as much of an underdog as the Escalade, because they are still relatively new. If things continue to go well with the Chrysler 300, they could become classics too. It helps that they can have a huge engine, but more than that, high school boys are lusting after a four-door sedan. It takes a lot to make that happen. My buddy in minor league baseball says that most new players are buying 300s and pimping them out. That’s a big deal.
My other pick is the Dodge Magnum. It has mixed reviews today, but it’s still a special car with a big engine. Yes, they are wagons, but they are badass. If you roll up in a Magnum with dark tint and 22 inch rims, everybody knows you are cool. I see it as a new classic station wagon, the Chevy Nomad of today. I think I just talked myself into getting one.