Don’t be a car snob!

You know who I am talking about: the on-line know-it-all who states with great conviction that one mark (insert your choice, be it corvette, ferrari or mg) built before a certain year and only with a particular set of options is the only one worth a damn.

By April Chadwick 

If you are unlucky, he may even own an example. Sorry guys (it usually is a guy), in which case the affliction I like to call car snobbery will be even more severe. The automotive hobby in North America seems rather close-minded compared to that in the U.K. and other parts of the world. Here we seem to limit ourselves, with few exceptions, to cars built prior to 1971. On top of that what is considered collectible is dominated by a small group of vehicles made up of muscle cars and a few foreign exotics.

As a means of illustration, I present one of the more egregious examples, the Corvette snob. In their opinion, any Corvette built after 1973 – the last year for chrome bumpers and the onset of smog control – is not worth buying, restoring or owning.

If we look closely at one of the socalled malaise era Corvettes we can see how misplaced this snobbery is. The late 1970s L-82 small blocks produced between 220 and 230 bhp, the same as a 327 mid-1960s ‘Vette when horsepower is calculated in SAE net as opposed to gross bhp.

Prior to 1972, engine output was measured at the flywheel with no power-robbing belt driven accessories, open headers and performance adjusted carburetion and ignition timing. Really, this apples to oranges comparison should be the subject of a future rant.

It is also important to point out that these Corvettes shared their excellent chassis with every Vette back to the 1963 split-window Stingray. Contemporary Corvette designers have also pointed out that the soft polyurethane bumpers found front and back on the ’74 and up models was more in keeping with the original C3 design concept.

According to the Corvette snob the ’74 to ’82 is worthless. Having driven a few I can tell you they are great cars and that the general public loves them too.

The up side is that prices are artificially low and that a beautifully styled sports car is available at used Kia prices. As a side note the 1984-1996 Corvette C4 has also suffered much the same fate, derided as a mullet, trailer-park ride by the socalled cognoscenti. The good news is that an eighties era world class performance car is a screaming bargain…you heard it here first. Time to get one now before the prices inevitably start to climb.

Don’t be limited by what TV auction shows say you should like. If they had it their way, we would all be driving one of three cars: a ’57 Chevy, Hemi Cuda convertible and a Ferrari of some kind. All fine cars that I wouldn’t mind in my own garage but really are they everyone’s favorite? Demographics can be troublesome and the high-priced muscle cars that dominate the hobby’s collective consciousness may soon disappear from the scene like the 1930s classics before them.

Do a quick tally at your next cruise night; cars from the 1920s to the 1950s are becoming rather scarce as the fan base has aged. Muscle cars are primarily enjoyed by those who drove them new or desired them when they were kids. As the baby boomer generation begins to die off, these cars will continue to be appreciated but replaced in popularity by a new era of collectibles. So why not get ahead of the curve?

There was a time when I gave up on cruise nights and car shows, driven to despair of seeing anything other than row after row of Camaros, Mustangs and Cudas.

I am glad to report that things do appear to be changing, eighties cars and nineties cars are starting to gain some attention and a new generation of enthusiasts are using social media and YouTube to spread the message of affordable fun. Witness the proliferation of RADwood car shows across the US and Oblivion in Toronto dedicated to 80s & 90s culture.

There is a whole world of enthusiast, special interest and collector cars out there. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Drive what you love!

What about the investment angle? Shouldn’t I buy with an eye to what will be worth more in the future? Leave the investment decisions up to the Bay Street sharks. I have bought formerly unpopular cars that became classics and whose value performed better than my meager RRSPs.

And don’t listen to the so-called experts, including me. Buy what you really want. If the car in your garage is not your dream car, perhaps it’s time to sell and find what you really lust after. A true car guy or gal appreciates anything with an internal combustion engine. Keep your options open and you will enjoy the car hobby a heck of a lot more.

There are still cars I want to own, amongst them a boat-tail Riviera, a C4 Vette, a Datsun/Nissan 280Z and that Fiat Abarth sure is cute. My want list changes every day and I am always open to suggestions. Anyone know where I can find a Russian Zil limousine? Please consider this editorial a public service message. Friends don’t let friends become car snobs.

PS. Even if you store your special interest car during the winter months, moisture and corrosion can still take a toll. A visit to your local Rust Check dealer will keep rust at bay for another year.

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