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Will 70s-80s cars ever be "classics"?

I’m a twenty-something-year-old guy who enjoys classic cars, anything from Model Ts to muscle cars. I’ve always been under the impression that part of the mystique of classic cars was nostalgia people have/had for their first car, or maybe the family car they remember riding in for so many years as a kid. However, I have no particular affinity for the cars I had growing up-- I learned to drive on a '88 Cutlass Ciera, and while in hindsight it was a nice car I never want to own one myself or have any aspirations of restoring one. I found it very bland with an unappealing exterior and nothing that made it standout from the crowd.

Now that these cars-- which include Vegas, Pintos, Mustang IIs, K-cars, Omnis-- are nearing the age where they are considered “collectible” or “classic”… will they ever really be regarded with the same esteem as, say, a 1965 Mustang, or a 40s chevy coupe? Will Hemmings Classic Car ever do a covery story on a Chevy Citation? For my money I’d rather have a pre-1970s car if I was in the market for a “classic”.

I realize they’re might be some exceptions to this rule, like DeLoreans or Camaros/Firebirds that have some measure of cult status among enthusiasts. I learned to drive stick on a beater '83 280ZX, and I would buy one in a second… but I would still take an earlier 70s model 240/260Z instead.

So what do you think? Will these cars ever be true “classics”?

Most of those cars were nothing special and will never be collectible or classic. This 1971 Hemi Cuda convertible, however, is one exception.

I won’t argue about many early 70s cars, especially the Hemi Cuda… it’s been a dream of mine to own one. When I say 70s cars I’m more along the lines of late 70s (1975-older) vehicles, after the muscle car era died.

From '73 to late '80s is the ‘lost generation’ of cars, next to none will ever be ‘classics’. Of course, people ‘collect’ just about anything, bottle caps, whatever. So some of those cars will be collected. But they’re just ‘old’ to me.

I recently noticed a blinged out K-car at cruise night. Who am I to judge what’s classic and not classic? Eventually they’ll be quite rare because everyone tosses them out when they are worn out so there area less and less of them. They could become more rare than any mustang.

I think in the 1980s, there was a gorgeous Corvette Stingray that ran like crap because of emissions equipment which, at the time, was brand new technology. If I could get one and put a crate engine in it, I’d love to own one. The same goes for the Camaro and Trans Am of that era. There were a lot of very attractive sports cars from the 1980s, but good luck getting and keeping them running with their original engines. Generally, even the most attractive cars of that era ended up in the scrap yard because they were unreliable, but even when they were running, they ran poorly and broke down frequently. There were exceptions, like the Chevy Cavalier of that era, which was a very reliable vehicle, but it’s hardly worth preserving as a collector’s item.

I don’t think many cars of that era including the '90’s models will ever be classics. I think that they will just be old cars. Some of the Corvette C5’s should make the list maybe even the C4’s.

What about a 1980s Ferrari Testarossa or or 512BBi? Or a Lamborghini Countach? 911 Speedster form the late 80s?

It is a nostalgia factor in my book, I guess I feel all cars are worthy of being a classic car based on their age. Sure a pinto is not as desirable as a corvette of the same year but it is still fun to see them, and they are a part of the history of automobiles.

A CRX might, but it’s unlikely.

Any vehicle from that era that would be considered classic/collectible already is. The Ferrari, Lambo, Porsche, Mercedes, Lotus, Rolls,.

Some of those expensive foreign cars, yes. But most Rolls, Porsches, or Mercedes from that era can be bought for a fraction of their original price. Some limited production/very high performance cars are collectible/classics. And Porsche 911s have stopped depreciating. But that’s a small number of cars.

The 70s and 80s certainly was the nadir for automobiles. But even in that awful time there were a few interesting cars. I think that sportscars are more likely to become classics. They were always more about handling than power. Consider them bargain classics.

Buick Grand National / GNX
Ford Mustang SVO
Chevy Monte Carlo SS Aero
Merkur XR4Ti (Ford Sierra Cosworth)
Dodge/Shelby Omni GLH
1989 Trans Am Turbo
Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo
Toyota Corolla AE86
Mazda RX-7 Turbo II
Triumph TR6/250/TR5
Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe (1989)
Saleen Mustang
Chevelle SS LS6
El Camino SS LS6
Hemi Cuda
Corvette ZR1/ZR2 LS6 (C3)
Corvette LT-1 (C3)

It is not age alone that makes a car a “classic”. Lot’s of old cars never made classic status. It takes something unique about the car to give it a chance at being deemed a classic. A car with excellent styling (Chrysler Air Glide), great technical features (the Cord, also had styling), limited production numbers ('60’s muscle cars), total package (Porsche 911).

Some 2000 era cars might be classics; '02-'05 T’bird, Camaro’s, Mustang’s, Charger’s produced today might someday be classics.

Nothing about an '88 Olds Cierra will ever make it a classic.

They will never become classic but plenty will become collectible cars. It goes without saying the muscles of the 60s-70s are but keep in mind VW Karmann Ghias and Nash Metropoltans are now collectible.

I have asked this question myself in the past and wondered if they will and I believe some will but it will take time for this. I am confident car buyers of the 60s were asking the same question of thier brand new cars.

Cars started getting strangled in 1973 due to regulations but there are still a fair number of the mid 70s and up that are collectible or even downright desireable.

Other than the ones mentioned previously, there’s the one year only 1977 Pontiac Can Am, the Trans Am SD455s, the 4th generation Camaro SS and Pontiac W6 Trans Am, Monte Carlo Aerocoupe, etc.

The only US cars from the '80s that I can envision as ever attaining “classic” status are the Buick Reatta and the Cadillac Allante.

If nothing else, their extremely low production numbers and extensive hand-finishing make them somewhat rare. They both had production figures totaling a little over 20,000 over a period of several years, but for some reason I haven’t seen a Reatta for quite a few years. By contrast, I do see an Allante…perhaps once a year or so.

About a year ago, I sold a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon 4-4-2 that I purchased brand new in 1978. People told me to hold onto the car because it would become a “classic”. By 1978, the 4-4-2 was just a trim package. The engine in my Oldsmobile was a 260 cubic inch V-8 and the car had an automatic transmission. When I researched the value, I realized that it wasn’t a classic. To restore the car would have taken an investment of at least $10,000 and I would have wound up with a car worth about $8000. There weren’t many of these models made with the 4-4-2 designation, but that didn’t make it a classic. It did give me reliable transportation for 240,000 miles. In 1977, I bought a 1948 Dodge sedan with the idea that I would restore the car. I had the engine running very well. However, I soon realized that the bodywork would cost a fortune. I purchased the car for $600. Twelve years later I was driving down the street and a person followed me home and offered $700. That person became the proud owner of the Dodge.
I have a friend that buys and sells collector cars. He claims that the best way to do this is buy what a person between 40 and 60 would have thought a great car was one that the person thought was a great car to drive when he was a teenager. I had another friend that purchased a restored 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air hardtop with the V-8 engine and the three speed manual transmission. He brought the car over for me to drive. Now, as a teenager, I would have gone ape over the car. As an old geezer, the car didn’t really impress to the point where I would want one.
My wife had a 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with the 400 cubic inch V-8. It took a lot of gasoline. We had body work done, but I could see that the rust would reoccur. It wouldn’t be a car I would want today as a daily driver.

What about the Buick Regal T-Type or the Grand National or the Monte SS or Ford’s T-Bird with the Turbo or the Super Coupe

I bet a person can buy the majority of the cars listed so far for less than they originally sold for. That’s my yardstick separating ‘interesting’ cars from the cars the market thinks have real long term value. Might they become ‘classics’ in the future? Sure, some of them will.

Most of the American cars listed are really the last gasp of the '60s, with front-engine rwd through a live axle. There are next to no fwd cars that will ever be considered classics, and that’s the vast majority of cars in the '80s and later.