The venerable publication Car and Driver recently published an article that imagined a post-apocalyptic hellscape where there are no more Baby Boomers to buy classic cars. Gasp! Sounds terrible doesn't it? Thousands of Z/28s, Mach 1s, and Hemis left to rot as teenagers zoom around on their iScooters and play with their xStations. It's hard to believe, considering their reputation, that Car and Driver would fall into the same trap as many other stories about cars and Gen-X/Y/Millenials. They assume that younger people aren't interested in classic cars or cars in general, which has proven false again and again.
I have no idea where the notion came from that all of the children born after the Baby Boomers hate the car and all that it stands for. It's an idea that seems to be based solely on ownership numbers and sales figures while ignoring socio-economic factors such as the fact that none of us have any money…or jobs…or hope. Just kidding! On that last one at least. I'm sure that plenty of my friends would love a new car (or a classic car for that matter), but it's hard to justify buying a new car when you're still working for tips and living in your parent's basement. It's not that Gen-X/Y/Millenials have no interest in cars. They just have no money for cars, especially ones that are going to break down all the time while guzzling gas that costs more per gallon than our hourly wage.
Now, Car and Driver has fallen into the same lazy rhetoric and it's pretty disappointing. Just because most classic cars are owned, not surprisingly, by the people that can currently afford them, doesn't mean that a new generation of younger professionals won't want to buy a Challenger when they can afford to. C&D does admit that the Millenials have a population size similar to the Baby Boomers so the problem of unsold classic cars could be alleviated, but they followed it up with this enlightened comment: "It's questionable whether they will care about the cars of their grandfathers…or any cars, for that matter."
The death of the classic car industry is greatly overstated. Although the Baby Boomers are advancing in age, those on the younger end of the generation are just now getting to a point of financial solvency to afford expensive luxuries like a $100,000 car with drum brakes. The article also fails to mention the way the classic car industry changed in the years since World War II. After the war, many of the parents of the baby boomers began buying pre-war cars as a way of preserving their heritage, but Baby Boomers bought a different type of car: the one they always wanted as a teen. This meant the price declined on Duesenbergs and increased on Hemi Cudas. Of course, interest will and has risen on "new" classic cars such as the NSX and even unmolested STis, but there is more residual interest in younger generations for the classics of our fathers.
Things change. It seems the automotive industry should understand that by now, but automotive journalists seem to have a hard time grasping this. Yes, demand for classic cars are down, but not because no one is interested in them. Demand will change with economy and the tastes of consumers, but cars aren't going anywhere and classic cars will always be in demand. Now stop saying we don't want to drive around in a '68 Camaro SS (black with white racing stripes, please!), Car and Driver. We love cars just as much as our fathers and their fathers and their fathers.