Affordable Classic Cars of the Future

Everyone loves a classic car. Even died-in-the-wool eco-conscious tree huggers have to admit that a properly tuned and running 1957 Chevrolet Belair is a sight to behold, and does less damage to the environment than many of today’s most economical new cars. But, has the era of classic cars really ended? While it’s true that many of today’s vehicles are nearly impossible for an average do-it-yourself mechanic to self-service, there is something to be said for timeless designs that resonate today and will resonate twenty, thirty, fifty years down the road. So, what of today’s cars will be the cars that people find tucked away in barns and old storage sheds? Are there any? Setting aside future collector dollar value, which of today’s cars will be worth cherishing and passing on? Which ones will be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren? While that’s a question for the ages, we can still make a pretty good guess at which cars will be tomorrow’s affordable classics.

2012 Mazda Miata

The Mazda Miata is one of those timeless cars that, while you really don’t see very many of them on the road, still are identifiable and attractive to many people. It has all the necessary ingredients, after all. The 2012 Mazda Miata is a roadster sports car, easy to drive and handle, that is as at ease on long, curving mountain roads as it is driving around town. Primarily based on the popularity of the great British roadsters of the 1960s, the Miata builds on what those vehicles lacked- primarily reliability. Kept clean and in fair condition, the 2012 Mazda Miata is one vehicle that is destined to be a future classic.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Although one of the more expensive vehicles on the list, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro SS deserves mention simply because of the heritage behind it. While it isn’t as technologically advanced as the new Camaro ZL-1, the analogy should be the 1969 Camaro SS to the 1969 Baldwin-Motion Camaro. The SS is the performance car for the masses, built to counteract the intense popularity of the new Mustang, just like in the old days. In the future, look to the 2012 Camaro SS to be one of the pinnacles of classic motoring thanks to Camaro collector clubs that will help owners to preserve and cherish these cars well past the point when other cars and trucks find themselves forever relegated to becoming mail boxes.

2012 Ford Mustang 5.0 GT

The resurgence of the Ford Mustang from the relative obscurity of the 1980s Fox-body mustangs through the forgettable 1990s is nothing short of one of the greatest triumphs in automotive history. The resurrection of the vintage styling served as a catalyst for other manufacturers to begin revisiting the classic styles of the 1960s and incorporate those design themes into today’s mass-production automobiles. Originally, the new Mustang was fitted with a 4.6 liter V8 engine, a perfectly adequate engine in most regards, but it just didn’t have the panache that an engine should have. It wasn’t long before Ford engineers determined that the best of the 1980s that could be wedged into the 1960s would be the legendary 5.0 liter V8 engine. Although it’s a far cry from the original, the new 5.0 has just the added punch that the Mustang needed to really bring the Mustang full-circle.

2012 Dodge Challenger R/T

The pony car wars of the 1960s might have been dominated by the Mustang and the Camaro, but the Challenger was a formidable vehicle in its own right. Today’s Challenger R/T may not be quite the brute that is found in the SRT-8 version, but the historic badging gives it a special place in the future of motoring history. The R/T or Road and Track version of the Challenger should be the one that you see most at classic car shows. Very few SRT-8 versions will likely see the light of day, but the popular, slightly smaller 5.7 liter V8 kicking out 376 horsepower is destined to be one of the greats.

2012 Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is a car that is universally panned across the board by critics, Consumer Reports, and even the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Something about the lack of fixed doors just seems to put people like that into a tizzy. For collectors, however, the Jeep Wrangler is something more. It is one of the longest-running production vehicles ever in existence, and there is a core group of enthusiasts that not only buy and restore the old versions, but that eagerly buy and drive the new Wranglers, as well. The Wrangler traces its roots all the way back to World War II, and the Willies military Jeep. It’s safe to assume that the Jeep will continue in production for as long as people enjoy exploring and trekking through the woods.

2012 Mini Cooper Works

The Mini Cooper, as resurrected by BMW, is the sort of small car that you might not have given much thought to in the 1960s. They were small, cramped, and notoriously finicky. They were also fast, agile, and an absolute terror on racetracks around the world. Building on that heritage, the 2012 Mini Cooper Works is more comfortable, faster and more reliable than the original Mini, but still maintains the character that made the original Mini so popular. These cars are just as at home on the racetrack as they are on city streets, a feat that isn’t easily accomplished without shelling out major-league dollars for popular sports cars like the Corvette and Porsche. While it’s true that both are more powerful and much faster, it’s also true that a good driver in a Mini will trounce a novice that doesn’t know how to drive a Porsche around a track. That’s what makes the Cooper Works a future classic. that its a forgiving car that can be had for about half the price of a track-worthy Porsche.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

The last iteration of the New Beetle was certainly a popular incarnation, particularly with high school girls and women seeking to relive their youth. Frankly, it didn’t leave much for ordinary, everyday drivers to fall in love with, thus limiting its appeal. The 2012 new Volkswagen Beetle, on the other hand, is a different Bug entirely. It’s a more pleasingly-shaped car than the bubble and wheels format that came before, and has a distinctively retro styling theme that is similar to the design updates incorporated into the Camaro, Mustang and Challenger. Simply stated, the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is more like the 1960s Beetle that many people fell in love with. Like the Wrangler, the Beetle has enjoyed an extremely long production history with a largely unchanged central design- that of a two-door automobile with a simple, straightforward and efficient design. Volkswagen engineers and designers did themselves a favor when they decided to take the Beetle Retro again. Here’s hoping that the other automakers follow in their footsteps.

With today’s emphasis on designing efficient cars, it’s important that manufacturers realize that we don’t want to drive ugly cars. The Toyota Prius, for example. While it is in all respects a truly groundbreaking automobile, you likely won’t see very many of them on the road in thirty years. The reason? They are designed to be economical and recyclable, but not particularly attractive. Once they’ve lived out their usefulness, the batteries, aluminum and plastic will be remade into something else. While that in itself is a good thing, you’re just not going to see kids in twenty or thirty years with a poster of a vintage Prius on the bedroom wall.

Mazda: Mazda Miata:
Chevrolet: Chevrolet Camaro:
Ford: Ford Mustang:
Dodge: Dodge Challenger:
Jeep: Jeep Wrangler:
Mini: Mini Cooper Works:
Volkswagen: Volkswagen Beetle:

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