Of Economies, E-bodys, and Entertainment
The owner was looking a little dejected. The car wasn’t the problem – hey, it was a real 440-6 convertible ‘cuda in a High Impact color with some terrific options. It had come back from the restoration shop in better-than-new shape (which was not difficult considering that era’s quality control, but amazing considering the pile of junk it had once been). However, in the time between it getting completed and the moment, the market on these big-buck cars had changed dramatically. Downward and somewhat below what had been paid to buy the car and get the work done…
“Guess I’ll just have to bury it for awhile…”
Buried treasures. Investments of all sorts have taken a hit lately, as the reality of unchecked credit and poor banking practices finally caught up with the hyperventilating economy. Having worked in world banking for almost a decade, I had been somewhat amazed that things had not begun this dramatic downward spiral sooner. The subprime loan business coupled with an unproved government-pushed dream to give homeownership to the masses became a nightmare for everybody, us and them. I quickly become jaded as I watched the denizens of the ‘Beltway Bubble’ continue with business as usual, as Don Henley says in the latest Eagles album. Since the primary proponents of lax banking laws presently run the congress (Democrats are to banking what Republicans are to the oil industry), the scandalous truth will likely never be revealed.
In the end, we watched the backbone of the world’s most successful economic culture fall into the hands of those same politicians; hundreds of billions pumped into the system from some government press to stave off inflation and depression for another day, and a report today that more billions will be added to take a real ownership stake in the banks themselves. Plus laws that gave the new Treasury secretary under whoever takes over the White House in 2009 huge latitude and power, and an extra $112 billion of earmarks coupled up like Fatty Arbuckle on the emergency legislation ‘just to keep the folks in my district happy.’ The Federal Reserve gets some deserved criticism, but people forget that body was founded to KEEP the federal government from controlling the currency, which had gone through continual boom-bust cycles during the 140 years leading up to 1913. Guess we never learn…
Oh, well, Stunkard the historian will go sleep in the corner and we’ll talk about something a little more to this column’s interest, E-bodies. If there was a shining light in the corner of the falling collector prices over the past 12 months, it was the possibility of affordability. For those of you desiring big-block RB and Hemi examples, though, those cars will likely continue in the upper echelon of collector cars; they have joined the Packards and Porsches in notoriety, and some may still remain in the rarified air of the Duesenburg and Ferrari marques regardless of what happens to the rest of the marketplace. After all, even a 50%+ market correction still put many of them well over $100,000. The AAR and T/A models will still be healthy, too, with condition still being the real barometer of value.
However, it appears that the 383 cars (especially non-convertibles) have seen some downward movement, and there will very likely be some similar changes in what had been a red-hot clone market. It will still take the cost of a new car to buy in, which is better than the cost of a new house (though that has changed to some extent as well). It’d be nice to see a few of these things coming out just for fun on Saturday night, but those of us who are greybeards now sometimes forget that NOTHING that was around 40 years ago is commonplace any longer.