My son is three. I’ve always had dreams about passing down my AE86 to him someday. But by the time he turns 16 in 2035, a car built in 1986 will be nearly 50 years old. That would be like me, who came of age in the 90s heyday, inheriting a car from the 1940s when I got my license. And I can tell you that I had zero interest in a pontoon-fendered streamliner at 16. I’m hoping that my son will transfer his love for Hot Wheels into love for real cars, and that he’ll have one that teaches him the joy and art of driving in a fun and safe way. If gasoline and human-driven cars have not been outlawed by then…
What will my 3-year-old’s first car be?
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “Should being celebrity-adjacent add to a car’s value?“.
Last week’s question spawned some interesting debate in the comments. The result was split pretty evenly down the middle. In the “yes” camp were arguments like letting the market decide, as j_c said. A case could also be made that all’s fair in marketing and war, as r100guy asserted. However, as speedie cautioned, the value added by a celebrity will diminish over time as more and more people forget about them.
It seemed, though, that those defenses of the “yes” side had an underlying current of “that’s the way it is, but it’s not the way it should be.” Voices on the “no” side were a lot more emphatic. Mark F. Newton-John had no patience for famous asses. Nigel‘s one-word answer said it all. Jim Klein came up with a brilliant idea for Nissan that would’ve wiped out years of financial woes.
The winner this week, Ginkei Garage, explained both sides in a well thought out response that identifies a key split in car culture today:
To be honest, I think it all comes down to what is automobile to you? Do you love cars for what they represents socially and what social status they give you or is it for what they fundamentally are, pieces of engineering and mechanical devices that allow you to move freely, with added emotions and sensations?
I have the strong feeling that a large part of the internet era automobile culture fan belongs more in the 1st category. They love what social status cars give them. Symbol of wealth, taste, and a tentative way to differentiate themselves from the herd, would it be through overpriced hypercars, unobtanium made JDM “legends” or highly coveted 60’s-70’s childhood crushes. So, assuming the fact that those people are high and intoxicated on the hype and the internet spread distorted vision of automobile culture, they have a very biased approach on cars, filled with “legendary statuses” and other exaggerated beliefs like everything is awesome just because some very emotional content editor said so in a blog or YouTube. So yes, for those people it really matters if the car in question has some pedigree and some celebrity association because it adds to the myth around which their imaginary world revolves. Add to this the sub-category of that crowd, which are the “investors”, who make profit on the rest of the group beliefs.
Then there are the others, who love cars for what they are, the sensation they bring and the human connections they allow us to build and the experience they allow us to live and share. Not by maintaining fantasies and storytelling, but simply by driving them, working on them, sometimes breaking them and then repairing them. For that category, who I think I’m part of, the relationship is with the car itself, not with the idea of it. We can love a car that’s not incensed by the hype because it’s awesome in real life, and not have any interest for another that’s considered a legend, because in real life conditions, it’s far from being anywhere near enjoyable. So, we could not care less about which celebrity once put their asses on the driver seat, nor in whose garage they were left unattended during 20 years. If it was only for me, the value of a car should be the reflection of its real qualities, what it essentially is. Anything else than that is just storytelling and marketing, and that’s a big part of the reason why the actual market is gone totally mad (increasing scarcity in older cars and the lack of new offers in some car categories doesn’t explain everything).
The fact is, as humans we’ve always been attracted to storytelling (for good and bad outcomes), so this is not going to end anywhere soon. The mass will always think that some celebrity endorsement or previous ownership will bring more value. Sellers know that and they will always capitalize on that.
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!