Enough fans, friends and family members suggested starting a blog to discuss, inform, rant and publish information about the automotive hobby beyond the scope of my weekly collector car column “Sound Classics” that I finally gave in. So welcome to the all-new “Four Wheel Drift.”
While “Sound Classics” is governed by the unwritten rules of newspaper automotive section (meaning: never say anything bad about an advertiser,) “Four Wheel Drift” operates independently. The bottom line is: if you want to know what I really feel about specific new, used or classic cars, or the people who created, collected, sold, serviced, or raced them, this is the place.
So we’ll start with a short rant:
Say what you want, but I think the “retro” craze is the worst thing that has hit the American automotive industry. Don’t get me wrong, I like the look of the current Mustang, the forthcoming Chevy Camaro and the Dodge Challenger concept, problem is that the decision to go this route will just add new nails in the coffin to the struggling American producers.
Look at it this way: retro appeal is based on nostalgia. The core demographic for new sports coupes are people aged 20-32, also known as single people and young couples with no kids. In other words, it’s really tough for the core group to feel nostalgic about pony cars when they weren’t alive to see them dominate the roads.
Retro looks good to us car crazy enthusiasts. Honestly, how many of us are going to buy a new Mustang, Challenger or Camaro? At this stage in my life I need a large sedan to haul my kids. If I’m going to buy another new sports car to replace my 2002 Corvette, it will be something with the requisite balance, refinement and style — traits lacking in these tire-roasting straight-line racers.
Some enthusiasts will inevitably rush out and buy the new models. Others, however, know that it’s a better financial move to buy an old Mustang, first-gen Camaro or early-seventies Charger to quench a thirst for nostalgia. Certainly the new cars are superior, but the old ones give the right feel to go with the look. The originals also usually cost about half the price of the new, and three years down the line are worth more… courtesy of little things called depreciation versus appreciation.
Every retro car has had trouble maintaining sales volume. PT Cruiser, New Beetle, Thunderbird and Mustang have all “jumped the shark” after the second season. Added power and special editions continue to delay the inevitable, which is that sooner or later the schtick wears itself out.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the demographic continue to buy imports like the Acura RSX, and Honda Civic. Nothing retro about these…just cutting edge design for people wanting to live in the now.
And in forty years, the car shows will be filled with Integras, Preludes, Civics and Scions. I just hope Ford, GM and Chrysler will be around to realize their business mistake, but judging from the horrible decision making in Michigan, I’m guessing they’ll get nostaligic for the days of retro, and make retro retro cars.