Make no mistake about it—the car hobby is going to change.

The question is—how much?

Jerry Sutherland

Start with the elephant in the room. The conventional internal combustion engine is under serious attack because powerful lobby groups have convinced people the planet is on fire. Your Ford Super Duty F-250 gets more bad press than fentanyl drug dealers in 2023–thanks to targeted (conventional and social) media campaigns.

There’s a reason why the 3rd Gen Hemi is going away even though it’s one of the most successful engines of the 21st Century. It’s going away because highly paid eco-warriors won the war, so the next Mopar muscle car is going to need a giant rechargable battery.

New trucks and muscle cars have never been more powerful and more fuel efficient–but that’s not good enough. EVs are the defined-by-politicians future in today’s world—according to politicians–and China. Say goodbye to the rumble of a V-8 and hello to the electric go kart.

That EV trend is the biggest single threat to the car hobby. You can put an electric engine in a ’57 Fury but that’s like putting a car on life support—the body is there but the soul is long gone. 

There are other minefields ahead for the car hobby. The passing of the torch is an issue because today’s kids don’t get the same warm and fuzzy feelings for a ’64 Impala. To them, it’s just a big barge that’s older than their grandma.  

I’ll admit there are kids who see the magic in a 1964 Impala, but they’re swimming upstream in a world full of computer-generated alternative realities–where a kid can conquer the world with a few strokes on a keyboard. Getting your hands dirty in that world means dropping a taco on Mom’s basement carpet.

Another brutal reality is what car shows (if they’re not legislated out of existence) will look like in 20 years. Spoiler alert—don’t look for classic Camaros and Mustangs. You’ll see Camaros and Mustangs but they’re going to be the late 90s-early 21st Century versions, because a car guy who was born in 2000 is going to be a 40-something, middle-aged guy pining for a time when he was younger, cooler and life was a lot simpler. I know this because that’s why the hobby exists today.

There’s another big shift coming in the future of the car hobby. You’re already seeing a shift to Japanese and European cars because the North American car market started a movement in the 70s builders from other countries. 80s kids didn’t grow up with the Big Three (Ford, GM & Chrysler)—they grew up with the big 20 (VW, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Audi, Subaru, Datsun, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, etc., etc.)

These cars are already becoming a big force at car shows, so look for rows of Honda Civics instead of ’57 Chevys at future car shows. Older guys resist that trend, but all they have to do is remember what their grandfathers thought of a ’32 Ford hot rod.

Is there a future for the car hobby? Yes–because car guys are renegades at heart, so wherever there’s an open road and a vehicle with an engine that relies on internal combustion, you’ll see a car guy.

No amount of state control will ever change that—just ask Cuba.     

Jerry Sutherland

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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