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pint4
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I collect Packards from the 30's. It sems like I see less and less of them on the road and at shows. Lately I have also seen lower prices for these fine automobiles. Some good prices on classics from the 30's and even at these lower prices, nice cars are not attracting buyers. Some speculate it is an aging group of collectors who own the vintage Packards and the hobby is not attracting enough new younger collectors who want the cars from the 20's and 30's. There are always exceptions but there seems to be a trend. Do others see these changes?

Thanks,

Bob

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The economy is horrible. Other than the top top Classics all segments are down. Packards are doing better than most muscle cars. As for the aging thing, there is always another generation of collector that comes along. Most vintage Packards from the 20s and 30s are expensive cars, you need to be further along in life to be able to afford one. It's not something most 25 year olds have disposable cash for.

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Yep, agree with A.J. there will always be a strong market for good cars - look at people my age (47) and younger who are into brass cars. I know my friend Tom Laferriere has been pretty busy the past 12 - 18 mos. and a lot of it Packards, jr. and sr..

We would like to move up at some point but it's a good jump to a Full Classic, especially a '32 - '34 or even a closed Super 8 up to '38 or earlier. I know now is a good time though, due largely to the economy. I think the "hot finds" now are older restorations that can be enjoyed with some servicing. You get the best of both worlds - a good deal but having a car that is pretty much ready to go - as most know is actually cheaper, and there is usually something to do to satisfy that urge to get greasy now and again!

If I had a lot more funds I would have no qualms about investing in Fuill Classics especially open cars - Packard or otherwise, while return does not drive me, that is about as safe a place as you can put money if you are going to put it in cars. There will always be people making their way into collector status for these cars both by acheiving the financial means and becoming educated, interested collectors.

So the flip side is there seems to be some pretty good Packard and non Packard deals out there, patience and careful research is the key. The economy and the fact that some collectors are aging is a factor right now for sure. I also think the internet has opened up the market for sellers but also given buyers more choices.

So far though, I have been upable to find a '34 Super 8 Club Sedan for $25K ;)

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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Well I'm a collector...of projects! I have 3 currently, all Classics ranging from 29 to 47. I've done the muslcecar thing and I'm over it. I'm 54 and I've been exposed to these fabulous cars since my teens. As rare and premium as they are I would guess that having been in it all these years would be the norm for such things. You guys have already spoken of the market and economy so I won't go too much further, except that I see more "will" in the game of heavy Classics. By that I mean the smart guys who know serious cars will always have them in their lives. Even going through a total restoration at today's costs, they still make for a better long term investment than anything I've seen in 40yrs. How many folks do you know who were really pissed about their 401Ks over the last 3 or so years? How many "players" have we heard of who lost their asses paying too much for some of "our cars" to get in on it?

As generations change so will the cars and their venues. A concours is always a good place to play with the car and make good contacts. It's like golf for those of us who don't play :D Are there deals on some of the bigger senior Packards? Define deal. The 8cyl closed cars never did bring long money but you take the rate of inflation from say 85 to now, look in some older Hemmings or Old Cars Weekly issues, you'll see they moved at least at that rate and maybe a couple percentage points more. The low priced cars are always done with synthetic upholstery mat'ls, cheapo paint work, stick-on woodgraining, and very little attention to authenticity. A really good car will rise at the rate of inflation at a minimum if it's recieved the proper care and feeding over the years. If it's a V-12, fuggedaboutit...

Hey, look at Duesenberg prices. They were $10K+ new. Adjust that for inflation from say 31 to now.

As for who's next, I think that's going to be somewhat a family thing. Heirlooms or whatever, if you were in to these in your youth you're in to them now most likely. Still, the CCCA is getting up there in years and not too many new and youthful members are diving in. AACA? I guess it will always be what it is. That's the nice thing about having a diverse taste in cars. Sorry to ramble on, just throwing out some of my random thoughts in no particular order.

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I saw a '34 Packard Super 8 phaeton with an older, but still very nice older restoration, sell at the Mecum auction last weekend for just over $100,000, which completely shocked me. I wish I had the means to put my hand up on that one.

I guess bargains are relative, but at that price, I would have purchased two! I also think I got a screaming bargain on my '29 Cadillac given how nice it is with a little TLC. I had to invest quite a bit into it to get it road-worthy, but I think I'm still money ahead. I'm a firm believer that fair deals can still be had if you're patient.

Steve, I also dream of a '33-34 Super 8 or V12 of one kind or another. I don't care what body style, but I'm determined to own one before I'm too old to enjoy it. I recently found a gorgeous '34 Super 8 club sedan in chocolate brown with a very high quality older restoration. The owner has promised to give me first right of refusal when the time comes to sell, although I recon the purchase price will be at least two, maybe even three, times what I paid for the '29 Cadillac. Worth it? Probably...

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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"As generations change so will the cars and their venues. A concours is always a good place to play with the car and make good contacts. It's like golf for those of us who don't play"

Highlander, I play just enough to remind me why I stick with old cars!!! :)

As to aging collectors and no interest from the younger generation, well, using this thread as an example with the exception of Pint4 (unknown) I believe we are all under 55, right?

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Well, these Full Classics are not my cup of tea. I collect 46-49 and have plenty to choose from for very little. Not Fords or Chevys either but 8 cylinder or special interest cars.

The 30's are drying up project wise. Solid, complete 30's Packards are hard to come by. Matt, you did get a good price on your Cadillac.

I will likely never be in the rare air of the Pebble Beach crowd so I do the best I can. I will say this, a LOT of baby boomers go the Hot Rod or musclecar route because it is what they grew up with.

I don't see many upper middle classers getting Full Classics.

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I saw a '34 Packard Super 8 phaeton with an older, but still very nice older restoration, sell at the Mecum auction last weekend for just over $100,000, which completely shocked me. I wish I had the means to put my hand up on that one.

That wasn't a phaeton, the money got was probably right on.

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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Kind of like the 1930 Packard 734 boattail speedster that just sold at the RM sale. It was a former Harrah car, with a teir one restoration, but only brought about half the value. Unlike Duesenbergs, body/chassis/engine swaps don't go over big with the Packard crowd. While nothing was said, "those in the know" knew.

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I drive my 32 903 coupe roadster every week in good weather and even some in bad weather. However at shows I still see people who like the hot rods assembled from aftermarket parts I.e. Replicas. At shows some of these are voted best of show. Don't understand it.

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From first post above:

"It sems like I see less and less of them on the road and at shows."

NOTE the part that says "...on the road..."

Much of the younger set (those under 60) have no interest in a car that they can not drive reliably WHICH means the car must have a reliablitiy level to allow it to be driven under CURRENT service demands.

1. the car must be able to successfuly use MODERN gasoline.

2 The car must be able to SUSTAIN no less than 70 mph for normal interstate operation.

3. In some cases of classic cars the brakes mite be an issue. Conversion to hydraulic brakes is a must (NOT necessarily disk brakes).

4. Avaialability of parts with reasonable service life expectations (the old 6 volt vs 12 volt arguments for one example).

5. Air conditioning wheather original or not. AC is a must for me and many others.

That's all i can come up with rite now.

In the end no one is looking for a family heirloom.

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So how do you account for the popularity of brass era vehicles? Most of them couldn't hit 70mph if you dropped them out of a plane. And most/many of the parts have to be fabricated.

This whole argument is nothing new. Ultimately when there is a market for a 73 Gremlin there will always be someone who wants that Packard. Will the values fluctuate? - Sure. But I laugh when people talk about generations dying off leaving nobody to care for that 32 Deitrich.

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Law of supply and demand is a ficticiuos law. But i'll use it anyway:

The number of collector cars is far greater than the number of owners or potential owners willing to own/buy them as show pieces only.

The argument that collector cars should be used "in the same manner as were used in their day" is very weak at best. No ??? Ok. Then leave your cell phone and GPS at home!!!

Just try it with your high points show winner.

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Yes, brass era would be the exception as well as perhaps some 1930's to 1950's collector cars that were originaly offered in the lower priced car line of their day. But the lower priced car lines such as Willies and some models of studebaker for example will get SBC conversions today.

I don;t know, but really doubt that even the most radical of hot-rodders would ever think to transplant an SBC into any brass era car.

Edited by PackardV8 (see edit history)
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One of the major problems we are now facing is the diminishing number of automotive machine shops. This seems to be happening all over the US. Middle tennessee and the Detroit area i am familiar with. Fewer and fewer automotive machine shops or automotive specialty shops such as brake and clutch reliner.

That 32 Deitrrich will always have owner. Yes. But the car will have to change.

It's not our fathers Packard because it is not our fathers roads. It is not our fathers gasoline. It is not our fathers service parts avaialbility. It is simply not our fathers world any more. Like it or not.

At some point we have to arrive at a reasonable compromise with respect to modifications. Otherwise that 32 Dietrich will become a "wall hanger" like slide rules and buggy whips.

Edited by PackardV8 (see edit history)
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It could be a 7 pass touring, which some people feel is less desireable. Tom Moretti did one that beat out cars some would think more desirable at lots of shows including Pebble. You just seldom see one done well. Also the earlier versions like pre 32s are a bit more out of proportion to the early phaetons than the 34 - 36s. Dave Kane also has a 36 Super which most people really like. They are rare and I think one problem is that you seldom see one that is well done. Oh well, I like sedans and town cars, so I am just a little off.

I agree, it is still a good price for an open 34 Super 8 and a nice looking car with a great history. A good story can really make owning a car more fun. Nimitz may not be a household name anymore, but at least Eisenhower is still fairly well known.

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BTW. Well set up power mechanical brakes work well. Most people who complain about them don't do the minor let alone major adjustments to them and don't service the power systems. My 34 V16 weighs 6985 lbs and has mechanical brakes.

Sure it is easier to drive a vintage car if you don't live in the big city, and taking a car into the city for a show is most safely done with a trailer, which limits some people from going. I was just in downtown Milwaukee and after the show saw a 1940 Buick sedan that was at the show on I 43 about an hour away. He was doing 55 or 60 (not 70 or 80 both illegal in IL or WI) and had a big smile on his face. I would say the bigger problem is not that my cars won't go highway speeds or stop well enough, or even start well enough - it is that some are hard to see out of. My 41 convertible is terrible with the top up and forget about seeing back with the V16 with blind quarters. However, in my small town I drive an old car almost every nice day and I am not the only one in town who does.

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I recently took my 34 Cad to the Cad LaSalle Club national meet and I knew going in that most of the cars would be from the 50s, 60s and newer. I was surprised that there were guys polishing up a 2009 Escalade swb. There were a lot of cars there and mostly 60s and newer. There were a few cars from the 20s and 30s and a fair number of 41s. There were only 2 V16s, and it is safe to say that almost everyone there had a much, much newer car.

All that said, I was absolutely amazed at the interest in my car. I parked it on the show field at about 8am. I was not able to get away from the car for more than 4 hours, because there was a constant stream of people asking about it and looking at it and wanting to see the interior or engine. I like the car better with the hoods closed, so I leave them down, but when someone would ask to see the engine put them up and a crowd always formed around it. There were always people taking photos of it, from people in their 80s to teenagers, men, women, all sorts of people, from all walks of life. I let little kids sit in it and saw the delight on their faces, (as well as some adults too). It was really fun to have the car there that day. I really had no idea that there would be so much interest in that car. I have to say that it is not all restored either, it is about 75 % original, so it is far from perfect. I came away with a different feeling, and I don't think that there will be a day when no one cares about these cars. To some people they will always just be old cars, but you could see that some of those kids thought it was special. Someday someone like them will grow up and own it and be it's caretaker for a new generation. I think they will love it like I do. I am 50 years old and didn't grow up around these cars and didn't get to them from muscle cars or hot rods, but to me they are special.

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Definitely a 1934 Super 8 phaeton:

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTZFaqiz7b5D4fPnqS8LeoY7xUe8XBIyBvwcVt5-MG4NVYXlpad0w

It's a 7-passenger touring. Mecum's site even calls it a Tourer. At about the $125,000 figure, it's about topped out retail-wise in that condition, so in my opinion, they hit a home run with the price they got, and the new buyer will not be flipping it anytime soon (not for profit, anyway... which is totally my opinion).

http://www.mecum.com/auctions/lot_detail.cfm?LOT_ID=CA0811-113507&entryRow=192

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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I actually prefer the look of a club sedan over a touring, or maybe phaeton. I do like dual cowls. There is too much open space in a touring and usually the roof sits high when up.

On the air cond/ power steering/ power brakes. If I need to ride in luxury I'll use a late model car. That's not really the point of a collector car. I look at them as functional artwork (hence my predilection for 30s classics.) Personally, I get joy from simply looking at them, hearing the engine run. Sure it's fun driving too, but I don't necessarily need to drive my cars 1000 miles a year to justify in my mind having them. Justifying them requires mental gymnastics no matter what anyways (and the same is true for a hot rod with air & power everything).

Dave, I didn't know you owned a V16, could you post some pictures.

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Nice responses, a nice diverse collection of outlloks that still have a common bond. On usage, I insist my clients drive their cars as much as they can or wish to. With today's paints and coatings you almost can't screw em up. What minor "patina" (damn I hate that term!) does happen is either easily fixed or well-earned. They were driven when new so, why not? While I get the idea that this started out as a "market/future" discussion we can't avoid the rest.

With regard to modern amenities I'm with als on that one. Most of out most loved Packards already have power brakes. Why upgrade? A savvy restorer can take an earlier 8cyl and do insert bearings vs babbitt pretty easily. Most Packards have no need for hardened valve seats. I'ma let you all do your research on that score. They sell additives for oil and gas for a reason. Air conditioning? No comment. Freeway speeds? Anything near 60 is a no-brainer. Restoration cost is tricky. What would it cost to do all of the chrome and stainless, leather, gauges, engine and mechanical on the average "big 50s-60s" car? Way more than the average Packard 8 or Super 8, don't you think? If it sounds like I'm laying out reasons not to avoid a classic Packard, you're right. More later...

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So how do you account for the popularity of brass era vehicles? Most of them couldn't hit 70mph if you dropped them out of a plane. And most/many of the parts have to be fabricated.

I think even though brass cars are on the up-tick, they are still a drop in the bucket compared to the "big picture". YOU and others see them in a defined atmosphere such as a club event or auction and see a few buyers going over what might be expected to buy them but compare that to the Mecum and other auctions held around the country selling musclecars, Corvettes and such for much more then those brass era cars are going for.

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I recently took my 34 Cad to the Cad LaSalle Club national meet and I knew going in that most of the cars would be from the 50s, 60s and newer. I was surprised that there were guys polishing up a 2009 Escalade swb. There were a lot of cars there and mostly 60s and newer. There were a few cars from the 20s and 30s and a fair number of 41s. There were only 2 V16s, and it is safe to say that almost everyone there had a much, much newer car.

Dave

I was waiting for a real world example like yours to show the transition in the hobby. This is just my opinion and antecdotal at best, but I think those that own the classics or pre war cars are gravitating away from their marque clubs and I suppose they show and get involved in the AACA, CCCA and similar situations.

I went to one of the Packard Club's National meets 4 years ago in Des Moines, Iowa and I don't think there was a pre war Packard except a couple of Clippers. Certainly no high dollar CCCA full classics.

As a Buick Club member the show field is predominantly 50's to 80's. I went to the CLC Grand National in Des Moines 3-4 years ago and noted what you did. Big emphasis on 50's to early 70's.

Pontiac and Oldsmobile is even worse. (Worse not meaning bad) Due to the muscle car craze, some of the OCA and POCI meets look like anything older then 1964 is "out of touch". Granted these cars are not in the Packard class, but the lack of pre war entries is eye opening.

The clubs are reflecting the interest of the members. I try to say I have a stewardship aspect to my collecting meaning I try to collect cars that might get parted or are not part of my age group. I'm 47 years old. You are 50. We should be falling in line and marching to the same beat as others in our generation and buying and showing the muscle cars or 60's to 70's cruisers.

I'm not a fan of conformity. But I can't stop the masses from buying what they want.

So, to put this argument in reverse, why aren't the owners of the CCCA Full Classics routinely taking their cars to marque Nationals? Are they afraid to mingle with the post war crowd?

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I think you bring your car to a show that is appropriate for the car. If you will have the only prewar car at a meet, you probably won't go. Full classics tend to end up at CCCA events and Concours.

Also, as a general comment, musclecars (of which I have owned a bunch and still own a couple) and other mass produced cars may seem to be very popular in that the are more prevalent, hence seen more. They operate under the same market dynamics as the prewars. Only a small percentage really bring big money and they have taken a bigger hit in the last few years than the prewar Classics.

I've been listening to the "Prewar collectors are dying and so is the interest in prewar cars" argument for 30 years and I just think it's bs.

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I think you bring your car to a show that is appropriate for the car. If you will have the only prewar car at a meet, you probably won't go. Full classics tend to end up at CCCA events and Concours.

Also, as a general comment, musclecars (of which I have owned a bunch and still own a couple) and other mass produced cars may seem to be very popular in that the are more prevalent, hence seen more. They operate under the same market dynamics as the prewars. Only a small percentage really bring big money and they have taken a bigger hit in the last few years than the prewar Classics.

I've been listening to the "Prewar collectors are dying and so is the interest in prewar cars" argument for 30 years and I just think it's bs.

Right on. This idea comes around about every 8-10yrs. It also surfaces when the economy starts circling the drain. If you cared to go back and look, every time the economy was in the crapper, a year or so later a boom of sorts will surface in collector cars. On the newer 60s types, the mid range cars hurt people the most. That 327 4bbl Powerglide Malibu lost money but the L-79 4spd (?) Nova might have even picked up a bit if not held close to it's core value. Will we ever see the price of an L-88 Vette drop? I've never seen it. Some folks got hurt and the market re-invented itself when the housing bubble burst. Guys were paying as much for tributes and modifieds as what the real thing was, and many borrowed or refinanced to get in and play. They lost money or they have a car that they better really like for the next 15+yrs. There's so many dynamics that drive things and it's best to ignore the market and follow your inner desires. On the other hand, if anyone reading this needs to "dump" that no-interest early 30s Packard or other Classic, hey I might be interested!

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So how do you account for the popularity of brass era vehicles? Most of them couldn't hit 70mph if you dropped them out of a plane. And most/many of the parts have to be fabricated.

.

I belong to the local HCCA, Packard and had belonged to the local CCCA club. The HCCA with ther pre 32 and older cars are the most active of the three clubs. They do about a tour a month plus dress up for these tours.

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I tend to agree that, over time, the inflation-adjusted value of 1930s cars is likely to decline. The audience of buyers will be smaller. My sense is that this has generally been the case for awhile: I was looking not long ago at some classic car classified ads from the mid 1980s, and the cars from the 1930s had inflation-adjusted asking prices in the 1980s that were above the typical asking prices for cars today.

Of course, there will always be some sort of market, and perhaps 1930s cars will enjoy a resurgence in popularity akin to what has happened with brass cars. But my sense is that inflation-adjusted prices are pointing in the downward direction on average.

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Interesting direction and diverse views for sure. I think part of what clouds things is the huge growth in this hobby due to many factors, including a larger universe of collectible cars that grows natually as time goes on and many strong economic years. So I figure that may make those with prewar interests more and more of a minority, but from a dollars perspective many businesses do fine with a 5% share of a growing market. This is why specialized events are popular, we have a couple here in CT focused on prewar that are growing, not shrinking each year. If the question is not about value but more about declining interest, I never really care much about what the "other guy" is doing anyway, and so far it has worked out ok.

It is true value is one way to look at it, but you really cannot make that assessment by auction results alone. Many times very well known cars and not so well known cars change hands privately, another subject but I never can understand why so much emphasis is placed on auction results.

On an earlier comment omment I totally disagree with the notion that a prewar car (Full Classic, Brass, antique whatever) needs mechanical upgrading to remain desirable. In addition to originality the driving experience of something from another era is a big part of the allure for many, even if we don't log thousands of miles a year. Whether the crowd grows or shrinks people who will like these cars in the future will like them for the same reason people do now.

As to understanding paying a high price for fine art, but not cars - well, Ray Dietrich is probably my favorite "old master" ;) I absolutely believe it is a mistake to confuse any hobby car with an investment but I also stand by my earlier statement that a well chosen Full Classic is still a pretty safe bet.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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Restorer, no, and I am sorry to have missed that. I do know he was pretty involved in the hobby and when he passed his wife said she was thrilled his work was recocnized during his lifetime. I believe otherswho lived to see their work recognized included Tom Hibbard and Gordon Beuhrig, and Howard Darrin (who I understand was a little less friendly..).

We were Hershey attendees in the late 70s, then I did not return for around 20 years, this is year 10 or 11 consecutive now.

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I was young when we started going to Hershey in 1968 and have fond memories of seeing Mr Dietrich selling drawings, Bill Harrah wandering the flea market and Henry Austin Clark "holding court". Of course at the time I had no idea how those folks fit into the old car game. There I go again changing the topic, sorry.

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I can understand using value toward the core topic. I don't think it has as much to do with indicating the levels of desireability as some place on it. Auction prices are another dynamic in themselves. RM might get more out of a Packard than Mecum due to what they're primarily known for. There's also a lot that happens in the background that many will never know or understand. It's a game I don't like to play and it doesn't like me either. It's a Jinx for me.

Back on track, I'm pretty passionate about kustoms and hot rods along with my fondness for most things Packard. I've actually used some of Packard's practices and engineering in some hot rod builds in the past. Even now, We're building a Ford streetrod and I used the same method of hanging the front fenders that was done on the 33-4 Packard. If one were to take up the cause of pushing interest in the 30s cars, especially the big stuff, there's a topic in itself. Designs are easy to see but what's inside, what makes it tick, how was it trimmed, all great stuff that a casual observer can easily miss. I love the look of amazement I get when I describe how the Duesenberg instrument panel indicator lights work and what they tell the driver. Kool stuff man, too kool. Darrin and T. "Bob" Gregorie were instrumental in giving vision to some of the best known customizers in history. A Continental is chopped, channeled and sectioned. A Darrin is, well you've seen em, you know. Even more radical.

So what does this part have to do with interest and desireability? Like I said, it's another topic to push that desire as a cause. Then again, why? The CCCA was founded to keep the air of exclusivity alive for generations. "Always the best..." was their creed when founded as many of you know. For the heavy iron we could quote the late Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. "If I gotta explain, you wouldn't understand." There really is that intangible aura about a classic era Packard, isn't there? 20s or 30s, even 40s, how could you really put words to what it is? As long as that's alive there will always be interest. Do you have a 30s Packard? Take someone for their 1st ride in it, then maybe they would pick up what you try to tell them about these awesome cars. I took a "kid" ion his mid 20s for a ride in a 34 12. "I'll have one of these before I die." was his reaction. Next...

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Interesting thread. A bit more speculation/random thoughts/opportunities to predict the future:

1) I agree that there will always be a market for old cars. The number of old cars is essentially fixed; some will get parted out and others will be restored, but the basic number is roughly constant. There will always be some people who own these cars who want or need to sell these cars, and always some people who want to buy them. As a result, the question is whether the market value of a particular set of old cars will go up or down in inflation-adjusted dollars, not whether there will be a market for the cars at all.

2) I think the changing value of cars tends to be hidden in part by inflation. For example, imagine you bought a car 10 years ago for $10,000, and today you determine that the car is worth $12,000. You're up $2,000, right? Well, no. Adjusted for inflation, $10,000 ten years ago is the equivalent of about $12,500 today. So the value of your car has actually gone down over the ten years, not up.

3) On a year to year basis, the market value of old cars is going to fluctuate together with the market in other luxury goods. In particular, the old car market seems to roughly track the art market.

4) My own sense is that the inflation-adjusted value of old cars often tends to track the number and wealth of those who remember the cars from when they were kids. If you were a 10 year old who just LOVED the Car X, and vowed to get one when you were older, then you can probably start to afford a Car X -- and be willing to invest in buying one -- when you're around 40. And as you get a lot older, eventually you'll begin to look around to sell because you're not going to be around forever. If I'm right about that, old cars should pretty predictably go up in value when they're around 30 years old, peak a decade or so later, and then should very slowly drop in value (in inflation-adjusted dollars) from that time onward. My sense is that this is often what happens, at least within the confines of point #3.

Anyway, those are a few random thoughts.

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