Getting Back to Basics

by | May 2017

Commentary by Cam Ingram

I had originally set out to write an article for this month’s magazine about the changing demographics in the collector car world and the possible future ramifications. This slowly changed while we were prepping customer cars for the Pinehurst Concours with a reassuring epiphany about classic cars that prompted me to change the subject matter all together.

That being: Classic cars are inherently cool, fun, and make you smile.

In short order, I experienced the thrill of 1968 Mustang 427 Cobra jet with all it’s magnificent torque. There’s a visceral satisfaction when throwing a Hurst shifter into second gear and feeling the massive front-end lift with the V8 ruckus in full song. I also ran a Ferrari 330 GTC through the gears and understand why so many tifosi claim it to be one of the best driving Ferraris of the era. It ticked all the boxes of elegance and power in a usable package. Then lastly came a drive back from Pinehurst in my oldest brother’s 1979 Mazda RX7. Everything felt right about the RX7 during the drive… from the simple ergonomics of the greenhouse while driving, to the deft touch of a lively transmission that provided instant confirmation of gear selection. The little rotary-powered sports car simply made me smile. It brings to mind the universal gear head slogan, “slow cars that feel fast are so much fun.” 

These revelations are certainly not new and have often been highlighted when a market correction finally swings the pendulum in the opposite direction. It brings to mind the old diversification euphemism: “You can’t drive your stock portfolio.” Life is short as we fundamentally understand the older we get. When I’m asked, I recommend to people to buy a classic car first because it will fulfill a passion and then as financial strategy second. In some ways, the success of the Luftgekühlt events are perfectly aligned and relevant for the times. The idea of an anti concours or air cooled happening that promotes total gear head camaraderie reminds me of a time when we had less distraction in our daily lives and made attempts to go drive with people we enjoyed to create memories.

The Porsche segment of the collector car market has had a meteoric rise across the board. With that, the current market correction will stabilize after those average condition examples and faux rare models adjust to realistic numbers. At which time,  the abiding gear heads will re-enter the market and we will start the cycle all over again.

The difference in today’s market or cycle is that the economical forces of some of the new buyers represent a totally different demographic mindset. Will a new Porsche 918 Spdyer and 911R owner eventually experience and appreciate the tactile drive of a 356 Speedster? Sure, it’s a new life style paradigm that drives the upper 1% of the market, but can they transform into car guys? We’ve seen evidence of it, and I hope it continues. After all, each self-professed gear head had to start off with something to encourage the journey down the rabbit hole.

My father often says, “The cars are the stars,” and it’s the fundamental connection through these different man-made machines that provides the classic car market its lifeblood. I think of the famous character Charles Foster Kane from Orson Welles celebrated movie “Citizen Kane” and of his famous dying quote of “Rosebud” to illustrate the other alternative approach to the classic car market.

I realize that I have a different role to play with some of our newer clients and that I’m not the youngest guy in the room anymore. Hopefully, I will be able to help foster some connoisseurship and perhaps just smile as we connect over a fundamental experience like a proper burn out!

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