How do you define what constitutes a Classic Car? Is it an era? An age? A body style? I have asked myself this question many times over the years, most recently a couple weeks ago. I had spotted a 1992 Ford Festiva at a local supplier’s shop and thought it was worthy of admittance here at Curbside Classics. Then later, upon reflection as I was cruising back to my project, the definition of a Classic Car came, once again, to mind. I mean this longrooffan remembers when Ford Festivas were plentiful out in the wild back in the late 80’s and early 90’s and I didn’t even give them a second thought.
I am certain that everyone asked the question “What is a Classic Car?” will come up with a different answer. While, admittedly, I hang with some relatively auto centric friends and family, I did an extremely unscientific poll of some of them asking that same question. My research finds were varied and, at least to this longrooffan, educational.
My first stop on this quest was at my neighbor’s home. Bert is an 89 year old WWII veteran who lives alone in one of the units of the triplex condo I call home. Interestingly enough, (well at least to me anyway) Bert was a fertilizer and feed salesman in my growing up neck of the woods, the Ozark Mountain region of southwest Missouri. One of his accounts, back in the day, was our local general store in Halltown, Missouri my buddy Steve Matherly’s family owned. Incidentally, it also served as the US Post Office….Haven Lee Farms was box 107 BTW. Anyway, Bert is about as car neutral as anyone I know. He no longer drives but his last car was a 1992 Toyota Corolla built at the, now occupied by Tesla, NUMMI plant many moons ago.
When I posed the “Classic Car” question to him he, in the way I have come to know he responds, replied, “Jooohhhnnn, that is a good question. I guess I would have to say that a ‘Classic Car’ would represent an era. Now by that I mean that a time in which generation of automobiles were defined.”
Yeah, Bert, but to you what is a “Classic Car?”
“Well, Jooohhhnn, I am going to say that the definitive ‘Classic Car’ would be a 1934 Chrysler Desoto Airflow.”
What? I just about died when he mentioned Chrysler’s debacle. Bert, you are talking about one of the biggest flops in the automotive industry.
“No John, the biggest would have to be the Edsel.” Again, I was flabbergasted. But why the Airflow?
“Well John, it was designed in a time of great depression and suffering and it was thought to be a grand change in car design. The fact it turned out to be totally rejected by the general population didn’t make it any less ‘Classic’.”
Man, was I floored by his response. But I think he is correct.
So in further exploration of the definition of a “Classic Car” I approached my 18 year old just graduated from high school nephew who I affectionately refer to as “the Kid”. Now I must clarify this. the Kid has grown up as the son of my brother, thejeepjunkie, and thus has a somewhat distorted view of vehicle ownership. Hell his first car was a 1966 Jeep CJ5. “Man, john john, that’s a tough one,” he replied. “The first thought is a mid 50’s Belair but then an early Mustang is just as much a ‘Classic’.”
This longrooffan has a terribly disgusting addiction to both nicotine and the Florida Lottery, needs met at my local stop-n-rob. I usually pass by later in the day and often times the same staff is working. They are a dude driving a 92 Saturn and the other is a young lady driving an 88 E30 sedan, like my former oleragtop. We have often struck up conversations about automobiles as I am prone to do. The Saturn owner got some advice about coolant in his oil while the E30 owner was the lucky recipient of some cast off parts from some of my ragtops. I posed this question to them and the Saturn owner said “anything before the 1970’s” yet the young lady’s reponse was definitive. “A 1962 Chevy Bubbletop.” I just about fell over in surprise at the response of this early 20 years of age woman.
I presented this question to my buddy, TheKenMan, who owns something like 14-15 Mustang Shelbys, at least one Avanti, a GM roll back flatbed, a couple old street rods, a trio of tri-5 Chevys, one of which he was driving as we were having this Wisconsin/Florida cellular conversation. “Hell, longroof, to me it will always be the ‘Gangster Era’ cars of the mid to late 30’s. I know everyone thinks my 57 Belair is a classic but I’ve always liked those old open fender beasts from way back.” Yeah TheKenMan is showing every bit of his 62 years.
This is not a whole Hooniverse Asks type of question, hell the commenters here on the Curb are vocal enough. But, here I am back at the same dilemma I have been facing for the past couple weeks. This 1992 Ford Festiva, one of which I cannot remember seeing in the past decade, and I would have noticed, doesn’t even qualify for the blue plate special here in the state of Florida. But it is such a rarity to see this automatic seat belt, Costco visiting early 90’s hatchback out in the wild that this longrooffan believes it does constitute a ‘Classic’ and I’ve decided to include it here during what might just become Ford week on Curbside Classic.
Plus I finally found a “beater” to go with the trailer queens I have been posting recently. And here’s to hanging on the curb with all ya’ll. Thanks for having me around.