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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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February 2005 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
Golden Eras
By Robert McLellan
 

When you were a teenage you viewed cars from a different perspective than your parents. Thoughts of a driver's license and a hot (cool?) car added up to fun — not transportation. A nice set of wheels would impress your friends and make you popular. Consequently, almost any year over the last century had cars that were exciting and cars that were dull. It is all relative because some periods had more great cars than others.

 
1900-1914
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The Brass Era cars were spectacular. Only the wealthy could afford a nice one. The Model T Ford was supposed to be the average man's car, but few could afford a new one. Most everyone still drove a buggy. It was a time of intense interest in the automobile and the literature was very impressive and is now very rare. In the 1930s car clubs like the Antique Automobile Club of America were formed to preserve these treasures. Most of those collectors have now sent their cars and literature to museums and they are rarely seen at auctions, swapmeets or club events. In America, the Horseless Carriage Car Club, in particular, caters to these cars and their owners.

 
1925-1948
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The Classic Car Club of America refers to coachbuilt cars of this period as "Classic Cars". Over the years since the 1950s this restriction has loosened up. Today the more desirable makes and models are included whether coachbuilt or not. In addition, there are many desirable antique makes that have not been forgotten. Any Ford of this period has a large following and most any car is collectible along with the literature.

 
1949-1974
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After concluding that anything built before or directly after World War II is collectible, you may wonder how postwar cars compare. Older collectors were appalled at all the chrome and fins of the 1950s and 1960s cars, but youths of that period loved them. Now the largest group of car/literature collectors look at this period as the current golden age. Naturally that is because all of those in their 50s and 60s are nostalgic for their youth. From superb handling sports cars to chrome plated boats with fins to tire burning high performance models, there was something to appeal to everyone. The cars and literature are expensive and, with high demand, prices will increase rapidly.

 
1975-1985
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Many collectors dismiss this period as having few good cars to choose from, but that is exactly what the previous generation of collectors said. Not all makes and models were hurt by the high oil prices and inflation. Sure, horsepower fell to compensate for fuel economy, but there were still many interesting models to choose from. The Japanese, Germans, Italians and English, in particular, were building some nice cars. Don't overlook Rolls-Royce, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Jaguar, Mercedes, Datzun's Z and Mazda's RX-7 to name a few. Meanwhile, in America, many models took on hippy styled paint jobs and interiors with psychedelic art and decorations. Literature collectors are now discovering previously overlooked brochures and dealer albums that reflect the "Flower Power" generation.

 
1986-Present
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Another golden age? No doubt about it. Each year a better selection of cars and their literature has become available. Technology made the difference in performance, handling, engineering, quality and reliability. Cars and trucks are better than ever and there is more to choose from. The sports car is back. The SUV and minivan were created. Will this golden age continue into the future or will hybrids take over? Picture the 2010 Mustang as a hybrid or a 1,000 H.P. ultra performance car. It is something to think about. If the hybrids take over, collecting literature and cars from the last 20 years may be an investment for retirement. The literature from this period is already increasing in value, but is relatively inexpensive. The best cars will provide the best literature and will be the best long term deals. Today's young people will be 20 years older when nostalgia kicks in and this will be their collectible literature.

 
 
 
LITERATURE INVESTMENTS
 
Literature Life
Looking Both Ways
Good Investment? - Yes!
Buying For Tomorrow
Good Investment?
Profitable Portfolio!
Unanticipated Investment
Today's Bargain Can Be Tomorrow's Treasure
What Is It Worth?
 
 
 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the "Automotive Chronicles" are those of the writers' exclusively. Information contained in the articles has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness. When considering literature as an investment keep in mind that past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Some literature will not increase in value, and other literature varies in potential and results. Condition and desirability are important factors in considering any literature for investment.

 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, February 2005
 
 
 
 
 
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