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Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile

Alex Brown’s Olds reminded us that now is the time to invest in ‘70s cars.

Alex Brown’s Olds reminded us that now is the time to invest in ‘70s cars.

Alex Brown of Milwaukee had his 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Brougham in the foyer at the 52nd annual Milwaukee World of Wheels. If you stopped to think about it, the amazing thing is that the show was more than twice as old as Alex’s car. Or another way to look at it is that collector cars keep getting younger.

It was not long ago that I heard people saying that cars of the ‘70s would never be collectible. Yet, I have a customer in my shop who collects mid-‘70s Pontiac Grand Villes. He has four of them and he’s working on getting a fifth. And none of them are convertibles. He is just finishing restorations on two of the cars.

This collector loves loading his cars up with rare factory options. Did you have any idea that Pontiac made an adjustable pedal system for ’74 Grand Villes? Not only are such accessories rare; so are the more common components that you used to buy at the corner auto parts store. Some can be special ordered, but many 1970s parts are already “unobtanium.”

A lot of the scarcity of parts has to do with the growth of computerized parts inventories, just-in-time inventory controls and planned obsolesence. When automakers built these cars, they did not envision them lasting for over 25 years. By the same token, the rust-proofing techniques used in the ‘70s did not keep the tin worm at bay for long either. Cars of that era had a generally shorter life cycle and who wanted to manufacture spare parts for rust buckets?

It may be true that ‘70s cars are not going to survive in the same numbers that ‘50s and ‘60s cars did. However, the cars of that decade that did manage to find caring owners who preserved them well are really starting to get attention. Alex’s Cutlass Brougham was not only in nice shape, but it also had all the right “goodies” from its white vinyl half top to its factory-issued spoke wheels.

My prediction is that cars like this are going to be coming on strong in the hobby over the next few years. If you want to buy low and sell higher, you better start looking for a nice ‘70s car to put in your collector car portfolio. If you wait too long, chances are pretty good you’ll be talking about all the ones that you let get away when prices were on the low side.

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