Some cars are cool and some have all the sexiness and desirability of an old shoe. Car history is littered with dismal failures that were ugly, slow, badly made, drove like donkey carts, or were just plain awful. Some of us are old enough to remember – Morris Marinas, Austin Allegros, Ford Pintos, Trabants, Triumph TR7s, Toyota Cedrics, Volkswagen K70s and Yugos. That such mediocre vehicles actually made it into production will always be a mystery, but the public wasn’t fooled and proved it by buying these clunkers in tiny numbers. Cars like these will always stand as monuments to how the automotive industry occasionally gets things dramatically wrong, but mercifully, sometimes, they get it right and produce cars that become hugely desirable icons of cool.
Some are breathlessly fast, some are pinnacles of clever design, and some set new technological standards. But all possess the magical allure that makes us want to own and drive them.
The world’s appetite for cool cars has never been greater. The market for curvy classics is red-hot and hardly a month goes past without another auction price record being broken for an elderly Ferrari or an Aston Martin. Old cars that a couple of decades ago were changing hands for tiny amounts of money, have now increased in value as much as a thousand times and become a better investment than gold – literally.
Many classic cars are so cheap it seemed criminal. The selling cost of E-Type Jaguars and Aston Martin DB4 were so ridiculously low. Aston Marting DB4 and Ferrari Daytona for around $100,000 in 2003, the pair would now be worth more than a million and a half today. In a little over a decade the desire to won distinctive and rare classics has become an unstoppable market force worth many billions.
But our obsession with cool cars doesn’t stop at the old stuff. The market for high-tab, glamorous new cars is red-hot, too. And the car market is cooking all over the world. Typically, premium cars that need extra protection come with bulletproof car windows, door panels and undercarriages protections. Modern Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Maseratis and McLarens have almost become celebrities in their own right.
There are waiting lists for Jaguars and Range Rovers, over-list premiums being paid for Ferraris and lines of desperate buyers chasing used luxury and sports cars. And given that the world is suffering under the worst recession since the Second World War, this simply should not be happening. Our desire for distinctive sexy wheels is probably the most powerful it’s ever been in the history of the car and many of us are willing to spend all the money we haven’t got just to get behind the wheel of a cool ride.
What is even more surprising is that a blizzard of anti-car legislations, dire warnings about climate change, growing congestion and pressure from environmentalists hasn’t really changed our attitudes. Most people with a soul, when given the choice between a Toyota Prius hybrid and a BMW 3 Series, will always go for the BMW. The Prius may be an enormously smar car but it just can’t tickle our hearts with the same delicate fingers as the BMW. And that’s because a cool car defines who are in the social pecking order.
No other symbol in society changes other people’s perceptions of us like cars – they’re mobile, they’re visible, and they’re a currency that almost everybody understands. And if your ride is cool, onlookers just sigh in admiration. Being bland and predictable won’t get you those coveted looks of warm approval. IT doesn’t matter if your cool car is ancient or modern; you will be making that very important statement that you chose to be different from everybody else.
Our love of cool cars isn’t going to go away anytime soon so if you’ve got the cash, think about buying yourself a cool classic car. There are very few things that you can buy in life that can offer the same level enjoyment and fun as an old car that steadily increases in value over the years.