Prewar Car Market Looks Healthy to Me

John Gunnell |
   Who says that interest in prewar cars is dying off?  It must be some “hobby expert” quoted in the general press, probably a collector-car dealer or an auctioneer.  It might be true that these folks don’t see a lot of prewar cars, but there’s a couple of reasons for this. First, such cars tend to sell privately these days, because real collectors prefer to deal discreetly. Secondly, people are buying prewar cars, but they’re not selling them again. Instead, they want to hold onto them because they know they are getting rarer and worth more to true collectors.

   I went to four hobby events in August and three of them were just loaded with prewar cars. Some of the cars that caught my attention at these shows included a Willys-Knight, a Model A roadster pickup, two ’41 Lincoln-Continentals, a Duesenberg, an Auburn boattail, a Bugatti, a Lagonda, a dozen Stutz’s, a 1936 MG, several Pierce-Arrows, a Brush runabout, a 1929 Alfa-Romeo . . . the list goes on and on.

   Keith Matiowetz, the managing editor of Old Cars Weekly, often says that he’d like to start a magazine exclusively for prewar cars. If he did, I’ll bet it would be a gigantic success.  Don’t get me wrong . . . I like postwar cars, too and I even have ’80s and ’90s cars in my collection. However, there is nothing like the classiness and build quality that went into a car made back in the days when America set the manufacturing standards for the world.  You can tell that such cars were put together by workers who had pride in their skills and cared about workmanship.

   I just wished I had purchased more prewar models back when I started collecting cars in 1972.  Today, most of the Classics that I would like to own are way out of my reach. That’s why I say that the prewar car market looks healthy to me. My pocketbook tells me it’s so.

One Response to Prewar Car Market Looks Healthy to Me

  1. Jeff Brown says:

    Dear John,
    I enjoyed reading your piece about pre-war cars. I also agree with Keith Matiowetz that a PRE-WAR OLD CARS WEEKLY would be a good idea. I’m in my fifties and don’t date back to the pre-war era at all, but as someone with an eye for auto design, I just can’t get as excited about post-war cars as those from the teens, 20′s and 30′s. If I were to have my Ultimate Car Collection, it would look something like this:

    1. 1900 Peerless Motorette 1 cylinder
    2. 1910 Buick Raceabout 4
    3. 1912 Peerless 60-Six 6
    4. 1922 Duesenberg Model A 8
    5. 1922 Leland Lincoln 8
    6. 1927 Packard Sedan 6
    7. 1927 Peerless 6-80 Sedan 6
    8. 1927 Pierce-Arrow Mod 80 6
    9. 1930 Ford Model A Town Car 4
    10. 1931 Peerless Custom Eight 8
    11. 1931 Auburn 8-125 8
    12. 1936 Cord Beverly Sedan 8

    13. 1953 Corvette 6
    14. 1955 Ford Thunderbird 8
    15. 1963 Studebaker Avanti 8
    16. 1968 Lamborghini Miura 12
    17. 1972 Lamborghini Espada 12
    18. 1989 Lamborghini LM002 12

    Technically, only seven of the above are Classics Cars — but they certainly are all collectible. One of ‘em has an 824.8 cubic inch engine, one of ‘em won at Indianapolis and one of ‘em’s a truck. Only about six of the autos would be Really High Dollar Cars that I couldn’t afford as an editor of the new pre-war car magazine pulling down a high five-figure salary.

    Respectfully yours, Jeff Brown

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