While classic car auction prices seem to be constantly on the rise, we also hear a lot of hobbyists complaining about the high cost of collecting old cars today and especially the high cost of a restoration. The same complaint was afflicting the hot rod niche not too long ago and then the “old school” craze caught on and grew huge.
Hot rodders complained that prices were soaring and the true spirit of old time hot rodding was lost. Then, people started building cars that looked like the hot rods that people built from salvage yard parts in the early ‘50s. It wasn’t long before rust popping up under paint became cool. Navajo Indian blanket upholstery and recapped tires were suddenly “in” things. Chrome plating and billet aluminum parts were passé.
Well, we started wondering. If the salvage yard look could become the “thing to have” in hot rodding, why can’t we back up the quality of restoration work to how it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s when a restored car didn’t have to be flawless. Collectors in those eras had just as much fun with old cars, but they didn’t have to trade in their retirement fund to pay the fix-‘em-up bill.
Back then, hobbyists bought old cars because they were cheap. They were happy just to get them running—not get them ready for Pebble Beach! More likely than not, paint was applied with a spray bomb… or even a brush. No one needed 220 electric service, a giant compressor and the latest and greatest HVLP gun to paint an old car. They did it at home with the tools they had.
If we are interested in bringing more people into our hobby — especially younger people in the minimum wage range — why not honor the early days of the collector car hobby by giving extra credit for “amateur restorations” done the way people restored cars decades ago. Car shows could have special classes and awards for such vehicles.
We all know that the old school movement revitalized the hot rod hobby because it brought more “entry level” hot rodders in. So, wouldn’t the simple practice of honoring old school restorations revitalize the old-car hobby as well?