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See Article— USA Today

What Makes a Car a Future Classic?

Published by Tamar Hela.

What's in this article?
  1. Rarity as a Key Factor
  2. Historical Significance
  3. Landmark Designs are Remembered
  4. Pioneers of New Segments
  5. Avant-Garde Innovation
  6. The Importance of Firsts
  7. Overall Feeling of "Special-ness"
  8. An Intangible yet Crucial Quality
  9. Icons that Exude Specialness
  10. Cult Classics Worth Remembering
  11. Memories that Endure
  12. Final Thoughts
What Makes a Car a Future Classic?

The concept of a "future classic" car refers to automobiles that are predicted to attain classic or collectible status within decades after their initial production.

While their value may not be fully realized for years, these vehicles display qualities that distinguish them as worthy investments and designate their prominence in automotive history. Identifying potential future classics allows enthusiasts and collectors to appreciate notable designs earlier on and preserve examples that will come to represent their era.

Several key factors determine a car's likelihood of achieving future classic status, from its rarity and historical significance to its production numbers and ability to evoke a special feeling. Let's explore what attributes make a car a strong candidate to become a revered classic of tomorrow.

Rarity as a Key Factor

Rarity is one of the biggest factors in predicting a future classic car. Cars that are not sold everywhere to everyone start in higher demand due to the limited supply. Then as the years go on, these cars may become more rare, driving up the demand and eventually making them a classic.

  • Rarity is Paramount- Rarity plays the most pivotal role in propelling a vehicle to future classic status. By definition, limited availability commands significant collector interest and demand appreciation as production numbers dwindle over decades. Rare models hold a fascination for their uniqueness and historical singularity preserved in each surviving example.
  • Scarcity Breeds Desirability- As the sole remaining original copies become increasingly scarce through accidents and modifications over 50+ years, undamaged survivors take on immense significance. Opportunities to acquire a genuine piece of automotive history have become increasingly rare in their own right.
  • Pinnacles of Production Restriction- The ultimate rarities that exemplified this, like the 106-unit 1990s McLaren F1 and 253-unit 1950s BMW 507, attained instant collectability due simply to their microscopic production restrictions from the start. These ultra-scarce figures were certainly not lost on enthusiasts and sealed their enduring future classic statuses.
  • Celebrating Milestones with Limited Editions- Anniversary-edition models commemorating significant dates for brands also bolstered rarity and cachet when produced in limited batch sizes, like 1000-unit runs. Concept cars transitioning to similarly small production batches furthered uniqueness.
  • Originality is Crucial- Collectors prize authenticity and completeness above modified condition. Special editions like BMW M cars, limited-run final model year specifications, and unique prototypes all inherently amplified rarity through bespoke original equipment unavailable elsewhere. This exclusivity distinguished them from their generic mass-production counterparts.

Historical Significance

Cars that reach new heights set new standards, or introduce cool new features are contenders for future classics. This is because cars that do something for the first time may become collector's items.

Landmark Designs are Remembered

Models that make significant contributions to automotive history and innovation stand the test of time as classics. These landmark designs hold inherent cachet for representing pivotal moments in design, technology, and culture. Their impact transformed the industry and stimulated progress.

Pioneers of New Segments

The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette established America's first true sports car segment. Its revolutionary fiberglass body and 6-cylinder engine format enabled affordable performance motoring. The Corvette paved the way for decades of two-seat thrill-makers.

Avant-Garde Innovation

The 1952 Citroen DS brought avant-garde pneumatic hydropneumatic suspension and revolutionary monocoque "unibody" construction to the masses. Its ride comfort and handling transformed perceptions of what an ordinary family car could be and influenced future safety features.

The Importance of Firsts

Firsts like mid-engine layouts on the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and early aluminum construction pioneered on the 1963 AC Cobra secured their places in history. Revolutionary technical achievements are forever linked to these landmarks.


Overall Feeling of "Special-ness"

The in-tangibles or x-factor must be accounted for when trying to figure out which car could be a future classic. Cars that give their owners special memories and feelings, can instill a sense of nostalgia or admiration that makes the car appealing to future generations.

An Intangible yet Crucial Quality

A defining trait of the most beloved classics comes down to intangible qualities of specialness beyond objective measures like performance specs or statistics. Certain vehicles achieve an ineffable aura, character, and emotional resonance with their drivers and the public that elevate them beyond rational assessments. There is a je ne sais quoi about these cars that captivates the soul and imagination. While tough to define, this magic spark is easily perceived and a huge factor in securing a model's future classic status.

Icons that Exude Specialness

The intangible quality of specialness is discernible in enthusiast favorites like the Ford Mustang, Porsche 911, and Nissan Skyline GT-R. Iconic images from movies, television, and pop culture of these cars ingrained them in the public consciousness. Memorable commercials and advertisements imbued them with a feeling of freedom, adventure, and style.

Winning major automotive awards at their introductions like Car of the Year further cemented their special statuses. Even decades later, the mystique and visceral appeal endure in the eyes of fans, securing these names as revered classics.

Cult Classics Worth Remembering

More obscure Japanese sports cars of the 1990s like the rotary-powered Mazda RX-7 and inline-six Toyota Supra also command devoted followings thanks to their intangible cool factor.

While not always quantifiably supreme, these models resonated strongly with certain demographics through accessible price points and tuning culture potential. Enthusiasts still champion them for stirring emotion where pure performance alone did not. This appreciative enthusiasm keeps communities of fans hunting far and wide for unrestored survivors to maintain their cult classic statuses for future generations.

Memories that Endure

Another element of specialness lies in the nostalgia and feelings evoked when encountering certain nameplates. Triggers ranging from visceral engine notes to sleek styling cues awaken fond recollections of the car's era and one's youth. These sentimental intangibles ensure models forever stay embedded in the collective memory and psyche, retaining cachet for all who experience sparking their interest and joy again after years away.

Nostalgia serves as a powerful motivator for future classic appreciation and preservation.


Final Thoughts

By considering these factors together, discerning enthusiasts and collectors can identify worthy candidates deserving of long-term preservation today. Though their full value may not be actualized for decades, future classics embody the passion, innovation, and memories integral to the automotive experience.

Appreciating models destined for greatness sooner honors the automotive history and inspires continued enthusiasm for the cars that move us literally and figuratively. The models anointed future classics all deserve recognition and safekeeping to represent highlights from their native eras.

For those looking to preserve a potential future classic, professional transport is key to protecting your investment. A1 Auto Transport can safely ship your vehicle anywhere in the country using an enclosed shipping carrier.

With over 25 years of experience in auto transport, A1 Auto Transport has helped thousands of owners ship domestically and internationally across land, air, and sea. Get a free quote.

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Tamar Hela is one of our featured writers at A-1 Auto Transport, researching everything from AI auto shipments out of China to what paperwork is required to move long distance. We can safely say she's become well versed in all things shipping and logistics while making the information easy to digest and understandable. 

Tamar has been a copywriter for over 16 years and was trained in the 7-Figure Copywriting Accelerator course through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI). She's also an incredibly seasoned copyeditor, having previously been the Chief Editor and Publishing Director for Cosby Media Productions, based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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