Origin: At The Wheel

An introduction to Classic Auto Appraiser's blog "At The Wheel" and the purpose behind this weblog.

Daniel Curtis

1/22/20243 min read

Not every appraisal is chock-full of dream roster vehicles. After all, if the roads were swarming with angular Ford GTs & GT40s, Lamborghini wedges, and timeless Porsche 911 silhouettes those cars would be less special and not nearly as sought after. They'd become homogenized in the smattering of tonally lacking gray spectrum vehicles we get from the daily commuter A to B crowd favorites. In a world of concrete levels of color and enthusiasm it's always exciting to get a blur of color. For me I get the most exciting bursts of color when I'm called out to appraise or inspect a vehicle. Going about my day to day life and getting called in to experience something special, something which evokes emotion and creates a nice break from the grayscale automotive landscape. Special isn't always indicated by a six-figure price tag or a "one of one" rarity claim either. Many of the cars I come across are special for entirely different reasons.

As a child of the 1990s it may be odd to most to hear that I love 1960s era Mustangs (loved them so much I've owned quite a few of the glorified Falcons). The majority of Mustangs, by the numbers, aren't that special. What tends to make these high volume production vehicles special and interesting are the ripples they create in time. Much more tangible though is the significance of the vehicle to the person who owns it. Their perception of the vehicle, their memories and stories created around and in that vehicle, make it memorable and make it special. While I do have to say on the front end that value derived from personal feelings for a car generally don't translate to an increase in monetary value (generally the value most closely associated with the industry.). However, those feelings for awe inspiring vehicles do create value when that response is generated on a massive scale. The easiest way I explain up and coming collector car value trends is to look at the retiring generation and the cars that painted their landscape, and their memories, of their first years driving. These are generally the cars cementing themselves in the mind of their respective generations and driving the collector market. For the baby boomers many of them buy and enjoy late 1950s to early 1970s American cars with a large focal point on 1960s muscle cars. You'll find quite a few folks drawn to the cult classics like a 1955 Chevy 210 (dolled up to Bel Air trim quite often) or a British roadster (MGs, Morgans, Triumphs, Sunbeam Tigers, etc.). These cars to the boomer generation break the general mold and would be considered outliers when looking at the bulk of their generational interest (you'll have cars in every generation that transcend their original audience). The general observation is the majority of a generation is going to gravitate to what they had or what they wanted in their early adult life. This can be seen even now as we see the resurgence of 1980s and some 1990s vehicle values currently. From the fingers of this appraiser though I'd like to relay monetary value isn't everything, to most of us it's just the barrier to entry.

Most of the really special vehicles to the majority of "common folk" are cars that are historically, in the broadest sense, insignificant. But that doesn't seem to deter us from buying the cars we've always wanted because our main purpose in owning (or aspiring to own) these vehicles, more than collecting or restoring them, is to enjoy them. And while we all have varying definitions of enjoyment I think it's encouraging to see every day in my work as an appraiser that this hobby transcends ages, creeds, ethnicities and manufacturer allegiances. There's a worry that the car hobby will die with the current generation of collectors but I would encourage those who are feeling uneasy about the future of the hobby to look around next time you're at a stop light. The cars may not look the same as the ones you grew up with but at the end of the day when you stop and look you can still find people who want to remain at the wheel. And those who are at the wheel are the ones we will be entrusting the car hobby to for future generations to come. And that is exactly where you'll find me come rain or shine, driving what I enjoy and hopefully making some others at the wheel smile too.

"At The Wheel" is geared towards automotive enthusiasts, collectors, and people who have a general interest in four wheeled (and two wheeled) machines. Our goal is to share with you through this Blog industry insights, automotive passions, and stories surveyed from the automotive landscape we get to experience everyday. Want to contribute a story to "At The Wheel" email Daniel at Daniel@ClassicAutoAppraisal.com.