Thursday Five: which of today's cars will become tomorrow's classic?
The proverbial article about future classics has existed in the motoring media medium for decades, as writers of all colours and creeds would attempt to, effectively, predict the future. Readers would put down their glossy car bible of choice and pick up a Trade and Exchange or fire up their dial-up modem and browse the car listings, in the hope of making a small fortune in appreciated value from their purchase.
I’m not sure it works like that anymore. Not for the current automotive crop.
More and more cars are being designed, built, and sold as mere appliances. Connected handling and lovable charm replaced with Spotify connectivity and an endless list of safety related acronyms.
Then there’s online trading websites, which, when combined with the increasingly consumerist measuring contests of modern motoring makes it all the more easier for Jenny to sell her 2008 Corolla so she can afford the 2016 model for reasons difficult for people like us to discern.
It’s a sad thought, and it makes selecting a post-millennium list of future classics that little bit harder to narrow down. But that won’t stop me from trying, in today’s Thursday Five.
Mitsubishi Evolution X
It’s the end of an era, true. But the death of the Evo was more than that.
Here is what’s arguably Mitsubishi’s crowning moment as a car manufacturer, dragged through an incredibly long and monotonous manufacturing cycle from 2007 until just this past March. For a performance car that’s designed to be a technological showcase, that’s an incredibly long time. Indeed, the previous three Evolutions only needed eight years, and the first six took a comparably brisk 10 years.
For myself and many others, the nine or so years of the Evo 10 have been torture. A brilliant car in 2007 has had to deal with continually evolving rivals over that time, making do with the humble tools it had. Some have crowned it as the poster child of the end of Mitsubishi’s strong focus on performance, as its long-term sparring partner the Subaru Impreza fights on alone.
Its depressing demise will only add to its allure and history years from now, potentially making well-maintained examples a desirable commodity.
Tesla Model S
Those who follow Driven’s Thursday Five column might consider this an odd inclusion, considering my not-so-rosy words on the Model 3 several weeks ago.
But, I still respect the things as machines, and the Model S is the best Tesla machine. Many will remember it as the first example of an electric car to truly transcend car buffs, tech geeks, and those in the mainstream.
Capable of incredible acceleration, and looking a million bucks next to every other ‘green’ rival, the Model S will also be the car people forever associate with the way apps can reshape the way we look at motoring; the overnight introduction of autopilot functionality being a great example of this.
It’s not particularly cheap, but the number of them in New Zealand is growing. While I won’t be buying one — classic or not — their role in Tesla’s history, and the history of the electric car, cannot be discounted.
The 2017 Holden VF Commodore SS / Ford Falcon FG-X XR8
These two cars were the first two to pop into the old think tank, for obvious reasons.
Like the Evo above, it’s a case of ‘end of an era’, and — like the Evo — they’re also more than that.
2017 is going to suck. I get that some people aren’t fans of Australian cars, but there are plenty who are. Australian cars, particularly the Falcon and Commodore, are two of the last performance platforms to stick to their guns. Porsche and Honda have broken their own conventions in whacking turbos on their performance platforms, and BMW, Audi and co have drowned their cars in technology.
But the Falcon and Commodore stubbornly held true to the end — something which probably helped seal their demise as they failed to shrink in dimensions and capacity like many of their rivals. In some ways, they remain just as poetically linked to the Australian psyche; in there, true to themselves, until the very end.
In Toyota's sea of smooth french vanilla, the 86 stands out a solitary nugget of pure hokey pokey wackiness — looking like it grabbed the wrong party invite, but is still entirely happy to be there.
It's a competitive world out there for those after cheapish thrills behind the wheel. The hot hatch market is at a peak, and Mazda's new MX-5 is now out and about. What sets the 86 apart from those alternatives is the modification market.
Already we're seeing 86s getting chopped up and modified in New Zealand. There's at least one Rocket Bunnied example rolling around Auckland, while another competes in the D1NZ National Drifting Championship every so often. Overseas, things are booming even more.
Try to buy a tidy, original Nissan Silvia S15 or Toyota Supra. Hell, try and buy an original AE86. All have become a mission to find cheaply because of the sheer quantity of examples that have been swallowed up by car modifiers, and spat out with Rota wheels and Supercheap Auto pod filters.
The 86 is the next car of our current crop that will encounter the phenomenon.