MAY 27, 2015: WHERE HAVE ALL THE OLD CARS GONE? LONG TIME PASSING…

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Peter, Paul and Mary had a great big hit back in 1962 when they released ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”.

 

This was basically a beatnik/folkie antiwar song about things that were lost to the past thanks to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

 

The song was really about the passage of time-something car guys run into every day.

 

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Most veteran car guys will tell you the biggest thing about then and now is access to great project cars and parts at a reasonable price. You hear stories about mint ’55 Chevy posts back in the day for 100 bucks.

 

Mopars were a dime a dozen 35 years ago so a solid project ‘Cuda could be had for 2000 dollars. There’s no doubt these stories are true because old car magazines confirm this reality but perspective is everything.

 

Back in the late 70s and early 80s you could live solidly in the mid-range of the middle class for about 25-30K a year. That wouldn’t make you rich by any standards, but you could pay your bills and do a few frivolous things like buy a decent project car for a decent price.

 

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Supply and demand is the key to the equation and 35 years ago there were a lot more interesting cars available to buyers. This was long before TV auctions turned sellers into dreamers and schemers with insane asking prices for rusty junk.

 

Cars like Road Runners, ’32 Fords, ’57 Chevys and ’68 Chargers still commanded a better than average retail price but they were attainable in most cases. Less desirable cars like station wagons were almost free for the asking.

 

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Times changed, more cars were baled, and now you have a situation where a ’69 Camaro that’s more rust than metal will cost you several thousand dollars. Supply and demand is a cruel mistress.

 

This won’t change. Reproduction parts will help you build a project but perversely, it also means the price goes up for formerly doomed cars because you can start from next to nothing with a large catalog of parts.

 

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Younger car guys have the biggest advantage in 2015 because they can look backward or forward.

 

They’re not limited by the search for what was because they can also focus on what will be. 40 years ago there were some incredible car crops in virtually every neighborhood because…it was 40 years ago.

 

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Now you have to look at what’s out there now and gamble on what will rock the car world 30-40 years from now. A ’68 Road Runner is going to look like a Model T in 2045 but a sporty little car from the turn of the 21st century is going to rock someone’s world in ’45.

 

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These cars may have to run on some kind of fermented beet juice for fuel but they’re going to look as cool as a ’49 Ford to a kid in 2045.

 

Where have all the old cars gone long time passing? They’re out there now down any given alley.

 

You just have to wait a few decades.

 

Jerry Sutherland

 

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