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Five Cars That Probably Won’t Become Classics

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By Chris Pollitt

When you’re in this ‘writing about classic cars’ game, one question you get asked on the regular is ‘what’s going to be a classic?’ As such, the internet is awash with articles on which the glowing prose spills out for the usual contenders; the MX5, the 205, the… you get the idea. In reality, it’s a very difficult question to answer, as nobody really knows what is going to be a future classic. It’s speculation at best, opinion based on past trends. A guess. 

What’s easier to answer is the question of what’s not going to be a classic. There are cars out there that are simply going to either fade into obscurity, or they’re just going to forever be ‘a car’ in the most basic sense. We might look back now on the cars that have vanished, but were they classics? Or should we say, would they be classics if they were still here today? Probably not. Looking at you, Talbot Togara. 

With that in mind, here are five cars that despite their current image and following, will probably never be classics. Before you get your keyboard in a twist, we like these cars for the most part, and with that, they’re largely decent, too. But being good and decent isn’t enough to open the gates to Classicdom, as we’re about to explore. There are of course exceptions to the rule for each car, which we have included. Enjoy…

The Current Ford Mustang…

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Make no mistake, we adore the current Ford Mustang, especially in 5.0 V8 flavour. It’s big, it’s brash, it makes the best noise in the world and it’s a looker to boot. However, it won’t be a classic. 

The only Mustangs that will ever be classic are those built from ‘64 through to ‘69. Anything else is generally rubbish. The only exceptions are the current Mustang and the generation before it. Prior to that, we had the woeful SN-95, the Foxbody, the Mustang II and the boat anchors of the ‘70s. They were all terrible. It’s only in recent years that the Mustang has found its footing again, but in doing so it has become modern and unapproachable. 

Take your ‘68 and you can drop in a new motor, new transmission, new suspension, new wheels. Whatever you want to change, you can. All you need is the space, a couple of mates and a fridge full of Bud. You can’t do that with a modern Mustang, so even though they’re back on track with what a Mustang should be, they’re no longer cars we can bond with. Too many electronics, too little opportunity for home tinkering. The current Mustang, despite its noise and gorgeous lines, errs too far into the territory of generic car/white good. Sorry. 

The exception to the rule:

Any of the Shelby models, or perhaps even the limited run Bullitt edition will break into the classic arena thanks to their rarity, but that’s all. 

The Vauxhall Insignia…

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Look at it. No.

The exception to the rule:

The VXR with all-wheel drive and 325bhp care of a turbocharged 2.8 V6 is rare, blindingly fast and actually quite captivating. It’s actually niche enough to become a classic one day, maybe. 

Any Tesla… 

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Take his potential for being a Bond villain out of the equation and there is no denying that Elon Musk has done more for the future of the car than anyone else. He has revolutionised the concept of the electric vehicle and he has done so by making cars that are not only kind to the polar bears, but that are also desirable. Electrics cars before the Tesla were full of compromise and completely devoid of any style. The Tesla range, with the exception of the frankly hideous Model X, changed all that. The Model S, as pictured above, was and still is a sexy machine, one you’d be happy to have on your driveway. 

But there is a catch, a big one. Classic cars get to be classics because they last for decades. A Tesla, any Tesla, will not. They are engineered to have a shelf life. The batteries will one day give up, and while there is talk of them being replaceable, that reality isn’t here yet, or it isn’t in any sense of being affordable. Plus, Teslas aren’t built particularly well, and that’s not going to help them stand the test of time. 

Crucially though, the Tesla range isn’t aimed at car people. It’s aimed at the type of person who wants an electric car, not an exciting or charming car. As such, there is little for us dyed in the wool petrolheads to bond with. Can you imagine restoring one in twenty years time? Exactly. The Tesla is an important car in terms of the history of the automobile and its evolution, but a classic it ain’t. 

The exception to the rule:

There isn’t one, sadly. 

The Rover 75…

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Oh we so desperately want it to be. And really, it should. It was built in a nuts and bolts age, it has classic lines that echo the looks of the legendary Rover P6, it should be a classic. But it won’t be. Why? Because Rovers of this era never will be, there simply isn’t a big enough following for them. 

There is a following, and a passionate one at that, and that’s wonderful. However, passion is no match for numbers, and the following for the Rover 75 is small. The chances are, if you see one on the road, it will simply be someone who has either had it from new, or who bought it because it was cheap. The chances of being driven by someone passionate about it are slim to say the least. 

Rover is a brand that is so very unfairly overshadowed by its reputation, despite the cars actually being decent. Look at any ‘90s Rover. The 75, the 45, the 25, the 800, the 600… all can be bought for under a grand. None of them have a wide following, just a niche group who are keeping those models alive. The Rover badge, at least from this era, will never breach the wider classic car world, and that’s a shame. These cars are important to the UK’s motoring history. 

If you are passionate about these (much like our Editor who has a Rover 800). Keep on doing your thing. It matters deeply. 

The exception to the rule:

In a moment of lunacy, Rover made the 75 rear-wheel drive and dropped a whopping great V8 into it. These cars already fetch five times more than a clean, low mileage ‘normal’ 75. 

The EV Classics…

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Just no. All that happens when you wedge an electric motor into a classic car is that you remove the very essence of that car. We understand the angle and to a greater degree, the novelty of doing this, but in reality it’s not a long-term solution. It is just that – a novelty. Electric vehicles, as evidenced by the Tesla above, are the work of billions of pounds of research and development. Every part has to be in harmony with the next. The whole car has to be one unified exercise in design and functionality. 

Furthermore, nobody needs an electric classic car. It’s a vanity thing, a ‘look at me aren’t I special’ thing. And that irks, because the people that want this are so desperately seeking validation and approval for being cool and retro, but without any of the work that goes into owning a classic car. Having a classic car is like having another relationship, you bond with it, you learn its idiosyncrasies, you adapt and overcome as your time with a classic develops. 

You can’t do this with a classic that’s been converted to be electric. You have robbed it of its essence, you’re not driving a classic, you’re driving the carcass of an old car that now has a Duracell shoved up its bottom. It’s no longer a proper classic. It’s a pastiche, a mockery of a classic. But most painfully, at the expense of a car that could have existed as a classic – because let’s face it, nobody is doing an EV conversion on cars that needed full restoration. They’re plucking good cars out and gutting them, and that’s wrong. 

The exception to the rule:

There isn’t one. Buy a Leaf.

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