As we close out another fantastic year, it became somewhat obvious to the St. Louis Car Museum that our buying audience has been changing over the years, which was something we thought was worth further discussion. Our love for vintage automobiles has been met with smaller demand, leading to inevitable depreciating values. This exceptionally long list of pre-war cars has been growing in marketplace abundance but not necessarily in market value. Even with all of their gorgeous, hand-built qualities coming from various luxury coach houses throughout the world during their production era, it has become a sad reality that many collectors today show minimal interest in adding such automotive history to their collections.
Could we chalk it up to lack of knowledge of the mechanical workings of such vehicles, perhaps parts availability, and possible maintenance headaches? Or is it the road-ability of such a vintage car on today’s streets and keeping up with today’s ever-bustling traffic? Or is it simple fact that today’s collectors would rather admire vintage cars in a museum setting for what they contributed to the motoring world and nothing more? We have come to the overall conclusion that these vintage, pre-war vehicles are generationally specific when it comes to interest level, a group which unfortunately seems to only be getting smaller.
Cars have come a very long way in history, especially in the area of safety and comfort. So, I think it goes without saying that auto manufacturers have spoiled drivers with such an abundance of features that the raw feel of any classic or vintage car may be hard for younger collectors to fully grasp and enjoy. The exhaust smells, the occasional creaks & groans of a wood body mounted to a steel frame, the visceral feel of the actual road underneath you as you grip an oversized steering wheel, or even the ability to properly shift a manual transmission. This full embodiment of actually “driving” a car has been lost on much of a generation, probably the last two full generations to be completely honest.
Mothers and fathers are not likely to teach their children how to drive on grandpa’s old farm truck or an even old VW Beetle today, but we sure wish they would. We believe the overall simplicity of a classic car, and allthat it provides to the senses, far outweighs the need for stimulation in other forms. Particularly by way of what Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or all the social media sites have to offer these days.
So as we make a slow departure away from a certain segment of vintage automobile in the years ahead, perhaps with a stronger focus more set to provide today’s collector more safety features, power accessories & components, and road-worthiness better equipped to handle modern highways and byways, we think our showroom will be changing ever so slightly to meet these new demands of comfort and convenience. Building the next generation of car collectors will require some effort from all aspects of the collecting community.
That being said, we hope 2019 will be full of car shows sponsoring younger audiences in attendance, road tours with collectors riding shotgun while they let their kids or grandkids do the driving, and more private museums opening their doors to the public instead of watching more close their doors forever. We hope to cultivate automotive excitement for the next wave of classic car buyers in the coming years, and look forward to seeing our clients, friends, and future customers on the road in 2019! Happy Holidays everyone, and happy motoring from all of us here at the St. Louis Car Museum & Sales!