There’s a low rumble that will cause you to stop in mid-sentence and turn in its direction. The roar of a big block V-8 that lets you know what’s coming even before you see the stark, long lines of a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino.
A vintage car, in the narrow definition of most collectors and car enthusiasts, must actually come from the period between 1919 and 1930. Most people however, when talking about vintage cars, often mean what is in fact, by definition, a classic car, although varying definitions around the world still make a clear distinction difficult. Generally, a vintage car is understood to be an older collectible, the kind that makes people stop and stare, with awe, respect, and a little envy. It’s an emblem from the past, raised to iconic status in the present.
Nothing compares to Audrey Hepburn alongside an Alfa Romeo convertible in Rome or Steve McQueen racing through San Francisco in his 1968 Mustang GT. Although seemingly on opposite ends of the spectrum, what unites these images is an untouchable character of style and class, seldom found in modern cars. Many other cars have become famous in their own right, often through Hollywood. Among the most memorable are James Bond’s Aston Martin, the 1966 Ford Thunderbird from Thelma &
Louise, the Gran Torino from Starsky & Hutch (of which about ten were destroyed during filming), and of course, Doc Brown’s legendary DeLorean.
Classic car owners are not concerned with fuel efficiency or airbag safety. They make a commitment to their vehicle, take pride in its constant maintenance and bring a passion to working, cleaning, fixing and modifying their baby. They’re willing to invest great amounts of time and money into a hobby that can equally bring joy and frustration. For them it’s about something more: history, beauty, and the experience. From a tiny VW Beetle to a five-metre Cadillac, from the soft, curving lines of a Shelby Cobra to the harsh, angular grill of a Dodge Charger, each car is unique. Testament to the lasting dedication of car enthusiasts is the number of clubs and meetings around the world, committed to showcasing their members’ treasures.
Starting in 2004, the muscle car revival has tried to recapture the fascination of some of the most popular classic cars, such as the first generation Dodge Challenger (from 1970) or Chevrolet Camaro (from 1969). The manufacturers have attempted to revive the essence of these high-performance sports coupes by imitating some
of the defining original design elements. But the whole point behind a vintage car is that it is just that: vintage. A modern replica, no matter how well-crafted, safe, or powerful it is, will never evoke the same special feeling of a different era.
Some people say that vintage cars are the best investment in the world, better than gold even. This is an investment that you can park right in front of your door and take out for a spin, rather than having it locked away in a distant vault in Switzerland. It is the symbol of a lifestyle and commitment to an image. Owning a vintage model lets you identify with your car in a way that is unequalled in today’s driving culture.