The Lost Years, have arrived again.
The “Lost Years” of automotive production is a period generally recognized to be between about 1974 and 1985. That is when the music died in high performance automobiles worldwide. I was unfortunate to be very present for this, and in a place that it was most painfully felt, I grew up in SE Michigan (much closer to Eminem’s home than Henry Ford’s) where I started driving legally in 1971.
The fall of high performance cars was a sad thing to watch. There were some exceptions of course but for the most part cars were just plain and simply engineered quickly/badly/and extremely expensively in hopes only just to make them function. High performance was nearly nonexistent. Not that everyone didn’t try to do better, but it was a monster job getting that era of technology to meet the numbers. The Domestic automakers were crippled with stiff, albeit long overdue EPA regulation and safety standard requirements. The European and Japanese makers simply just withheld many models that they felt wouldn’t sell enough in the US to warrant the extensive separate for the US engineering and development work. But let’s be clear here, everyone from all parts of the globe had big problems making cars run correctly to those specs. In fact several companies quit Exporting cars here all together and haven’t yet returned.
The Lost Years cars have arrived here again, though. I’m of course referring to the fact that many of the cars from that era are starting to become seriously collectable. I suppose it is only natural that as people age into their 40’s that they start looking for cars of their youth and this starts to drive the market a bit. In addition we see cars that were the later low horsepower low performance versions of their predecessors like Mustangs, Firebirds, Corvettes, etc. that are seeing some interest. My god, even the horrible Bricklin and DeLorean have followers now. In the European car market, of which we follow closely has seen a strong market of that era in, Ferrari, Porsche, and even Mercedes. But the interesting trend I see that is strange to me is how things have changed a bit in what we will accept as authentic.
First of all complete 100% correct restorations are just fine as always. But in this era of cars it seems much more acceptable to update or backdate the power-trains to a level that offers better performance and reliability. You see this most notably in 1974+ Porsche 911 as they had a particularly bad engines in terms of reliability in that era for the US. I personally think that is great, especially if the original parts are accounted for or in tact separately. The other phenomena I see is that the so called “black market” cars once totally forbidden as ever being collectable are becoming much more acceptable, if they meet other criteria like, being from this era, and they are also popular as collectables in the US versions. Lastly it seems okay to re-bumper some of these models to make them more attractive. Yes, in a sort of “this style sucks, so off with it’s bumpers” re-creation style seems to allow some fairly major changes. And yes, for sure, buggy bumpers were/are a bummer man!
So, here are a few examples below that may be interesting for us to watch and a car for every price range.
The first car is a 1975 911 Carrera 2.7 This was a European only car at the time and the successor to the 1973 Carrera RS. These cars were not warm at all 5-8 years ago but now can bring to $100k+ for a super nice example in the US or Europe!
Next we have the American equivalent. The 1974 911 Carrera. This one has been nicely upgraded with the more modern engine and nearly period correct modifications. These cars were overlooked 5 years ago but are now on fire. The 1974-1980 911 is now the entry level 911 collectable.
Not all from this era have become popular. The BMW 6 series coupes from this era were great cars but they are yet to be appreciated nor have they appreciated in value. This may be your chance.
Last but not least. The W123 series Mercedes Benz 1977-1982 may well be the best car ever built in terms of durability and reliability. This, best I have seen in a while, low mileage 1982 300CD Coupe recently sold for just over $25k.