This post, as well as Jays previous post asking “Who are you saving your classic car for?” brings to mind the recent Apple commercial where a young girl is laying on the grass with her iPhone and an older woman comes to the door and asks “What are you doing on your computer?” and the girl replies “What’s a computer?” The phrase never seemed like it would be uttered by a human, but here we are in the “future” and computers as WE knew them are a thing of the past. Might as well be an abacus, slide rule, or other artifact on display in the Smithsonian.
Many people alive today, remember computers as giant machines that filled an entire room and only NASA and the like owned them. We knew they existed but few ever got to see one in person. They said there would be a day when computers would be in everyone’s home along with the flying car in the garage. Maybe cars arent flying but the auto-pilot feature is now a reality.
Seems like it took forever for them to make a computer fit into a box that took over an entire work desk in your dedicated home office. Think how quickly after that they shrank to fit into a briefcase, then the size of a magazine, then smaller than an old TV remote control (plus they added phones to them), and now into watches which actually have more computing power than ALL the computers on the Space Shuttle COMBINED. Dick Tracy (who’s that, you ask?) had one that he could watch TV and talk on in the 1950’s but it didnt monitor his heart or access the Web. It took 60 years to make that watch a reality and the Gen3 version has already made the Gen1 obsolete in under 5 years. I know this forum is about cars, but they are so connected to computers the newest ones have become that box with wheels for a computer.
With lifespans of humans is getting longer, time seems to be moving faster, making the “recent past” seem much more distant. People complain about Millennials, but they’re the largest segment of the population and will ultimately be the next ones to buy our history (i.e. collector cars) and GenXers as well as Boomers better get proactive. Don’t assume they are going to pick up our hobbies or become passionate about the same things by spending their time online. The hobby has made cars commodities that fluctuate with the market like gold, sliver and aluminum. Blame it on the glamorization by the TV auctions selling some vehicles for insane money. I HOPE (and expect) for my wife to be able to sell my cars for at least what I paid (after I’m gone), but I didnt buy to plan on them making me rich. I bought every one because I had fun searching for it and enjoying the perks ownership.
If the new generations aren’t being taught the intrinsic value of an object sometimes exceeds its monetary value, long after its value as a useful item has been outlived, what do we expect to happen to the objects when its time for us current owners to sell them? Ever look on Craigslist and see how many items once valued as antiques or collectibles are free on “Curb Alert”? Have you checked the collectors market for that old Hummel your mother said was VERY valuable? For the younger ones in the audience: a Hummel was your moms version of Beanie Babies, and they both have about equal value at a garage sale today. Shortly after the birth of his daughters in the mid 90’s, a good friend of mine “invested” thousands in Beanie Babies when they started bringing insane money, in the hopes of selling them to pay for his kids college. At the same time he basically gave away a 1967 Mustang to fund the “investment” because the car was actually worth less than some of the rare Beanies were selling for and the car was taking up too much space just gathering dust. Today, his daughters are now in college on scholarships, he’s looking for an “affordable” Mustang to relive his youth, the Beanies were donated to his Church sale years ago. His daughters miss neither the Beanies nor the Mustang.
Millennials are having a totally different life experience than any other generation. My generation (GenX) was the first to grow up with home technology and it was only available to the fortunate few who could afford to be the original “Early Adopters”. Todays generation takes it for granted because we weren’t fully “connected”, which was the major gamechanger for the Millennials and every generation to come. I had a friend only 50 years older than me, yet he was the only person I knew that remembered when roads had more horses than cars. He never thought he would see the day his saddle wasn’t necessary for daily travel. How many people today actually have seen a horse on the street, let alone rode one to work? When is the last time you saw a steam car even at a car show? I don’t think there is a person out there who knows someone that doesn’t own at least a smartphone, and most houses have multiples as well as tablets, laptops and desktops. None of those devices were even dreamed of in the 80’s yet now are our tethered connection to a virtual world only opened as recently as the late 1990’s which we cant live without today. Ever hear someone complain how their kids cant put the phone down for more than a few minutes? but how many people do you know who own a collector car? Its not just the expense, its the modern day technology-crazed culture which is causing a paradigm shift in the hobby. From all the data I’m reading, Millennials value life experiences over objects, and the cost of keeping a roof over your head (let alone housing a collection) isn’t going down anytime soon which makes the future of collecting anything questionable. My parents know of Shirley Temple the actress. I know of Shirley Temple the drink. My 12 year old nephew only knows Temple Run 2. Oh wait that was last year, now its Minecraft, or is it Fortnite? I was saving my original Atari Video Game Console (mint in the box) for just the right time to sell. Last week I was given an education by a 12 year old just what video games were popular. He never heard of Atari, I never heard of anything he played. It made me feel instantly old and I think I’m going to list the Atari on ebay when I’m done with this post. Hopefully I’ll get the original 1977 purchase price of $199. If not, I got years of enjoyment from it, just like my collection of cars.
Computers or cars, life is moving so fast thanks to technology, EVERYTHING has a shelf life. It just expires much sooner nowadays.
Hopefully nobody will ever utter the phrase “What’s a car?”…