The Nextgen Guide to Car Collecting
Book Review: How to Buy, Sell, Live & Love A Collectible Car
Car collecting is a passion/hobby/affliction(?) that can be pursued at many levels of cash outlay and that really should be fun. This book might help us keep it that way.
By Doug Stokes
Fri, Oct 28, 2022 07:35 PM PST
All photos courtesy of the publisher.
...Well, that subtitle sort of gives the plot away here, doesn’t it?
Car collecting, even thinking about car collecting, is something that really looks cool on Jay Leno or the guy who wrote the intro for this one, Mckeel Hagerty: To quote the official webpage: "Mckeel Hagerty is the Chief Executive Officer and driving force behind Hagerty Insurance. Under his leadership, the company has grown from a local insurance agency operating from his parents’ basement to an American automotive lifestyle and membership company and the world's largest provider of specialty insurance for classic vehicles. Hagerty is based in Traverse City, Michigan and also operates in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom."
But, as author Yeager lays things out here, it’s a passion/hobby/affliction (?) that can be pursued at many levels of cash outlay and that really should be fun. If is isn’t … you’re very likely reading the wrong book review, or perhaps you NEED to read it more carefully.
This book is a wide-spectrum sampler of many of the stages of car collecting from the most modest (like, say, my daily driver, a modified 2014 Ford Fiesta. The modifications? A K&N air filter, 16 trick aluminum lug nuts, and a semi-debadging of the car’s back insignia that’s left only a single “F” where “Fiesta” once ruled the décor) to exotic, multi-million dollar, four-wheeled masterworks that many have never even heard of, let alone seen in the flesh.
But such giga-dollar-plus cars as investments are only a small part of this compendium. Quite happily, author Yeager takes some time to point out what he calls the "rising stars" in the hobby.
Three chapters (American, European, and Japanese) line up with some "gimmes" (obvious stuff like Firebirds and Mustangs) and not so obvious units like the Italian-bodied 1983 Cadillac Allante* with the first-gen Northstar 5-liter, double overhead V-8. The comparo numbers seem to favor the thrifty with a current value just under $10,000 for a car that stickered for just 25 bucks shy of $60K when new.
The European top picks are widely-spaced with the pretty much unloved 1967-69 Porsche 912 - an interesting choice because it looks like a 911 but it only has four cylinders out back as opposed to the 911’s more powerful six. One pick that’s a nice one here, is the still sleek/slinky 1954 Jaguar XK120, one that this author reminds us was priced at $3,945 new and that now, 68 years later, sports a "Hagerty average value" of $101,000 today.
Some pretty basic stuff here, including a brief history of automobile manufacturing and a look at the part that quality plays in a car’s eventual "collectability" - or lack thereof. Here’s a whole passel of all good, all real-world, professional advice and consent that easily could cost you far more that this book’s 30 bucks.
The best part of the book is the empowerment that it allows for some people to love cars that other people would not even turn around to look at in an empty parking lot. It’s mantra goes something like this: If you want to collect it, that’s cool, get a good example, keep it clean, tuned-up, and just enjoy the ride.
Extra Credit Section: Opinion / Scuttlebutt / Games
Reviewer’s outside the lines conclusions:
There are a number of cyber-auction sites, including "Bring A Trailer" which the author mentions. Others include "Cars & Bids", "Marqued", and "Collecting Cars" - all of which have a very high eyeball roll and drool ratings, and which often feature spirited (almost) real-time bidding on their offerings. The old saw about loosing one’s mind on a "mental" bet applies well here, fans. Pay the man at the door on your way out...
Anyway, there’s a whole glossary of weaselwords and fauxphrases that are used in internet descriptions of collectible cars on these websites that, very frankly, always get my goat. I’m not going to list them all here, but I can’t resist relating two of the most egregious and downright misleading ones. You’ll find more.
1.) "… said to have (been)" a catch-all cop-out that could easily be a flopdown lie or a seriously intentional vague-ism that allows for a seller to say something about a vehicle that they may not honestly believe is true. As in: "… said to be the actual car that Lincoln was riding in when…". The term self-obfuscates.
2.) The same goes for phrases like: “...The Speedometer indicates XXXXX miles”. And a broken clock is right twice a day whether it’s on the kitchen wall or on the dash of that ‘86 Maserati Biturbo that you’ve been drooling about.
We’ll conclude this semantic whirlwind of questionable catchphrases with one more set of words that should spell the quick end of a reading of even the coolest ever car listing: "There is currently a lien on the car, and the owner’s lender will need to be paid off before the title can be transferred to the new owner..." (RUN, don’t walk, away).
There are many (!) more than the above three yellow flags and the fun in finding these creative (if not wholly misleading) counter-directions is part of the chase in these oft dribbling and likewise cloying "for sale" flights of fancy.
Sidenote: *The Cadillac Allante Review Story
My own experience with reviewing one when the long-promised Cadillac Allante that was introduced to the public in the late ‘80s has two remembrances that stand out and that may well be a hint about the car today:
1.) When the review car was delivered, the two young gents who brought the car to my office showed me how to fold down convertible top. It was not an automatic and, apparently, required some fairly precise, and well-choreographed moves to get the ragtop down and stowed successfully. The nice delivery guys very carefully demoed the procedure and then put the top back up. I said thanks guys, and put my hand out for the keys. They said, “… Now let’s see you do it Mister Stokes…” I said, “Oh, that’s alright, I’ve got it, thanks.” To which they said, “No, we need to see you take the top down, stow it properly and then put it back up before we leave the car with you, sir.” They were not kidding around, the folding top mechanism on the Allante was a real nightmare, and they had already seen a number of ham-fisted reviewers bend the living daylights out of Allante convertible top structures, thus the show and tell double feature.
2.) The other shoe that dropped with the Allante was that it’s super-high-tech electronic system decided that I no longer needed power brakes one evening. I got it home that night and back to the press car wranglers early the next morning using the “legstronger method”, maintaining very generous breaking distances.
So… Ask do around (one-make car clubs is a good start) when considering a "classic". Almost every car ever built (and collected) from the cheapest date going to the insanely-expensive "marque" has a "… and watch out for ..." hanging with it somewhere.
About The Author
Doug has a long and wide-ranging history in the motoring business. He served five years as the Executive Director of the International Kart Federation, and was the PR guy for the Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix. He worked racing PR for both Honda and Suzuki and was a senior PR person on the first Los Angeles (Vintage) Grand Prix. He was also the first PR Manager for Perris Auto Speedway, and spent over 20 years as the VP of Communications at Irwindale Speedway. Stokes is the recipient of the American Autowriters and Broadcaster’s 2005 Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations and was honored in 2015 by the Motor Press Guild with their Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. “… I’ve also been reviewing automobiles and books for over 20 years, and really enjoy my LA Car assignments.” he added.