Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Toyota Corolla of Classic Cars

When someone says "classic car" the first things that always come to mind are two-tone paint jobs, excessive chrome accents, sweeping compound curves, and enormous tail-fins. While there have been many cars that fit this description, there is no more common an example of it than the Chevy Bel-Air.

 While the Bel-Air remains a beautiful example of the artistry of fifties car-design, the question that has to be asked is: What is the purpose of owning a classic if everyone else on the road has one just like it? Every person who has some money and decides to spend it on vintage cars, appears to begin their collection with a fifties-era Chevy. 

Part of the reason for this is that the car was exceptionally popular when it was new. From 1954-1957, more than 2,630,000 cars bearing the "Bel-Air" monicker were produced, according to This makes parts comparatively easy to find, and therefore makes the cars easy to restore. However, there are problems that arise as a result of this. Part of where antique cars get their value is from something called the economy of rarity, wherein the fewer of something there is, the more that thing is worth. 

This concept applies to intrigue as well. The more of a certain type of a thing there is floating around the more likely people are to think, "oh another such-and-such" and thus diminish the curiosity value of that thing. The Bel-Air appears to be in severe danger of falling into this category. This doesn't have to be the case however. There are plenty of other cars from around the same era that are possessed of just as much integrity and virtuosity of styling as the Bel-Air, and which should be able to curb our obsession with it.

The stately Chrysler, for example,

monstrously befinned Plymouth,

regal Buick,

or imposing Mercury.

This is a call to action for classic car owners and lovers, shift your focus away from the Chevy Bel-Air and instead spend all the time and energy that goes into restoration on some of these more unique and unusual, but no less beautiful and quintessential classics. In so doing you will rescue the Chevrolet Bel-Air from being relegated to the "meh" column of history, as well as foster some appreciation for other hallmarks of automotive design.

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