I like to think about car stuff even when I’m not working on car stuff because the car hobby is an obsession—not a mere hobby.
Most car guys I meet are the same way because 98% of the conversations I have at car shows are directly related to cars—not politics or flavor-of-the-month celebrities.
The first one is about the legendary Corvette Sting Ray.
Not just any Sting Ray—the 1963 Corvette split-window coupe. This is not about how iconic these cars were when they debuted back in ’63. This is about what happened after a few proud new ’63 Vette split-window fastback owners drove their car for the first time.
History taught us that the split part of the Corvette rear window obstructed the driver’s view so much that some owners had them cut out and replaced with the cleaner ’64 Vette pillarless look. History also taught us that the ’63 Corvettes, as a collective, are some of the most valuable Vettes in the world.
The 1970 Plymouth Superbird was another example of what people thought about a car when it was new versus how it did decades later as a collectible.
Reviews were mixed on these cars back in 1970 because the Superbird was a bold statement car. There’s little doubt some married guys had their brides sold on the concept of a new car until the wife saw a Superbird in person. The world’s best sales guy couldn’t cut that deal.
Dealers sat on these cars into 1971 and beyond because they were so outlandish. Some Superbirds lost their wings and noses because dealers could sell a regular ‘70 Plymouth hardtop a lot easier than a ‘bird. Insurance companies treated Superbirds like toxic waste and Saudi Arabia was about to hold up the world on oil prices, so these cars had targets on them.
We all know what happened decades later. The Superbird is a 200K+ win at most auctions, so the guy whose wife red-flagged the deal back in 1970 has a boatload of I-told-you-so in 2023.
The 1947 Lincoln Continental is not on very many car guy’s wish list in 2023, but I think it’s one of the coolest, most understated cars ever built.
These Lincolns were the cars of bankers, corporate leaders and other movers and shakers in ’47 as the world recovered from World War Two. The average guy was happy to get a stripped-down Ford in 1947 because the car builders were just ramping up production again so you took what you could get—Lincolns were way out of reach.
The tide has swung the other way because a mint or modified ’47 Ford Tudor will out-leg most ’47 Lincolns at most auctions. Turns out the guys returning from WW II had a good sense of value.
The PT Cruiser is an unlikely addition to this list but it’s here for opposite reasons because unlike the Superbird, the PT Cruiser had a waiting list of willing buyers when it debuted in 2001.
They couldn’t build them fast enough in the first year, but when the PT Cruiser run ended in 2010 everyone who wanted to own one did own one. The party was over for the PT Cruiser, but not before Chrysler built 1.35 million of them.
PT Cruisers are disappearing faster than the passenger pigeon did, but they also developed a cult-like following. You’ll see custom PTs at Mopar shows, but they are infinitely more common at a wrecking yard—unlike the Superbird or ’63 Vette.
The last car I thought about was the last-gen Ford Crown Victoria.
They built these workhorses from 1991 to 2011 and used them to haul people in cabs and police cars. A Crown Vic was a go-to sedan because they were a long-term car that could take a pounding.
That same pounding meant these cars are going away at warp speed, but you’ll still see some of them hiding under the skin of a vintage Ford truck. Speed guys like the affordable power and handling of a Crown Vic-especially if they had the police package.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.
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