The draw of celebrity has a shelf life, for both cars and people


I was in Las Vegas about three years ago at the old International Hotel, which is now the Westgate. They were closing the big Elvis show and carrying out the memorabilia. I asked one of the guys there why, and he said, “Nobody knows who he is anymore.” I was stunned. Well, maybe it’s true. The papers reported that the show lost money. If you’re 30, Elvis died more than a decade before you were born, and a lot of new pop acts have come and gone since. In fact, where the Elvis show was they now run a show called “Purple Reign,” a tribute to Prince. I guess everybody is replaceable, even the King of Rock and Roll.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/03/the-draw-of-celebrity-has-a-shelf-life-for-both-cars-and-people


Not only is there the shelf life. People’s taste do change.

I turned 60 this year.

When I was 16 I thought the model A and Ts were great.

My first car was a 67 Cougar. 2nd a 1970 calypso coral white interior Mach 1 with a Cleveland.

When I turned 50 I thought a 65 tbird was nice. Now I regret not getting another Mach 1

And I do have an eye for the rum runners cars.

In a few weeks it will be something else.

The chase is the fun part I think. Not the getting.

Phil G
Burlington Ont Canada

Ps. Jay. When are you going to see the Lancaster in Hamilton?

Took my wife’s uncle there last year. He crewed one after the war.

The museum took us on a full tour. Crawled through the Lancaster nose to tail.

They made him feel so important. I am still impressed.

Thank goodness he went went he did. He passed away this summer.

Not only do they treat the Lancaster like a state treasure. They treat all the people who served better.


My wife and I own a 1965 Ford Mustang which was owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. We’ve owned it for 18 years. When we first got it, I would tell people about that and everybody was amazed Ned owned it. Now, 18 years later, when I tell people he owned it, a LOT of them don’t even know who he is. So I ask them if they have heard of Dale Jarrett. And most say yes and I say Ned is Dale’s dad. Wow how times change.


We were recently at a car show when a young lass, under 30, said she had no idea who Steve McQueen was. neither did my two daughters-in-law. The Bullitt Mustang better sell fast !!


So true. Reminds me of the saying that ‘antiques’ are something your grandfather owned and ‘classics’ are something you lusted after in high school but couldn’t afford. It’s a sliding scale of vehicles that changes with each generation.


You’re so right, Jay. My favorite car in the world is a "47-48 Cadillac Series 75 limo. It is so stately and roomy, but most of today’s collectors have no notion as to what that is let alone want one. Another favorite is a 1937 DeSoto convertible rumble seat roadster. My uncle owned one and it was the first car I remember riding in (born in 1940).
The old car hobby is about memories, the pleasant ones we had growing up.
I watch your show all the time. Keep up the good work!!


@fridays- I haven’t heard that saying, but it seems to hold true. Not a bad thing.


I used to think that you couldn’t loose money collecting cars… They would always go up in value with time. Obviously not so.
When I first started going to car shows in the 70’s there were lots of brass-era cars, Model Ts, Model As, and tons of pre war cars.
I own a '41 Plymouth. When I go to car shows now, I frequently win trophies since there are less and less pre-WWII cars at the shows. Often there are only two or three cars in my judging class.
As the people who connect with the older cars are dying off, the values of these cars will decline. We have even seen that car museum collections are being sold off.


I told my wife recently the same thing. I have a 46 ford coupe that my 2 sons will have sold before my ashes have cooled!


@mesievel- It’s easy to be doom and gloom about pre-war cars, but we haven’t seen that be the case lately.

Read more about that here- Prewar American cars are still in demand based on the 2018 Monterey auction


Thanks for the write up Jay. Very entertaining. I always enjoy reading your columns.


I had seen this article. It is interesting but it seems to apply mostly to high-end prewar cars: Auburn, Cord, Stutz, Dusenberg, Packard, Pierce Arrow.


I remember Andy Devine and his raspy voice - of course, I’m 68 years old. Wasn’t he on a kid’s show where he used to say “Twang your magic twanger, Froggy”? (I know, more innocent times.)


I just turned 50, just bought a 1929 Cadillac 5 passenger sedan. My 22 year old son is thrilled with this car. I think maybe some people just appreciate the technology and the era a car represents, not just nostalgia.


1971 DB Cooper (yeah, they won’t know him either) disappears with his $. My Dad was 46, wore black glasses, worked for the Air Force, and bought a brand new Cadillac! Yes, our last name IS Cooper. What if I owned DB Cooper’s car AND he was my Dad…Coolest thing ever.


My “Bluesmobile” replica was my daily driver from 2003 to 2014 but as the years passed I’d get more and more blank stares from people at traffic lights and gas stations when they’d ask "What’s THAT?" and I’d answer "The Bluesmobile! You know… The Blues Brothers movie… Dan Aykroyd & John Belushi… We’re on a Mission from God!!!…??? No…???"__

Never thought that I’d see the day! But, it was fun while it lasted!


Absolutely correct. Even “cool” has a shelf life. Will a Sinatra-owned car bring the same money it might have 20-30 years ago.
“Smokey and the Bandit” Trans-Ams have seen a bounce the last few years, but now, when anyone under 35 asks “Who’s that?” when you mention Burt Reynolds’ name, you have to wonder if investing in one of those iconic Trans-Ams is wise. Ditto Knight Rider Firebird conversions or “Miami Vice” McBurnie Ferrari Daytona replicas.
As in all things, buy it because it brings you joy, not necessarily a profit when you’re done with it.


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?”…


Well, there is another side possibly. I recently became the caretaker of a 1929 Cadillac sedan and for a couple of reasons, have it parked out front in a suburban neighborhood. It is surprising at how much interest there is in the car from adults and children. Even 8-9 year old boys and girls recognize the era of the car and have lots of questions. Many children attach it to gangland Chicago. Several of these children of today have said they’d like to have a car like this one. Maybe the movie cars may lose their direct tie, but I think cars that are good touchstones to a certain era will always have interested buyers. As an aside, I just turned 50 and if you are going strictly by demographics, I should have bought a “Bandit” Firebird or something like that. Don’t read too much into the age groups, but then I also thought of Shirley Temple as an actress…


@mbrienza - You get it! I’ve been saying this for years. Look at the price guides for 1940’s and 1950’s cars. Even ‘59 Cadillacs are much more affordable now. Younger people have no idea who Elvis or Marilyn is/was, and even my Blues Brothers replica “Bluesmobile” would get more and more funny stares at traffic lights until I sold it a few years ago. When I first built it in 2003, I couldn’t go to a gas station or stop at a convenience store without someone shouting a movie line, or saying “Hey Elwood!”. In 2015 just before I sold it I’d get strange looks from people unless I was actually at a car show or in front of a House of Blues.
PS - We connected my original Atari 2600 to my sister’s 60’ TV last Christmas and played the VERY 2D “Space Invaders” for hours. Try it before you get rid of it. My college aged nephew (normally an XBOX freak) LOVED it.