Monday, September 19, 2011

Should Vintage Cars Be Landmarked?

A post by Paul Stenguist on The New York Times Wheels blog raises an interesting question: should vintage cars be listed on the National Register of Historic Places? The Historic Vehicle Association is lobbying for federal legislation that would protect cars from alteration, such as changes in upholstery or paint color. Would collectors welcome the change? Discuss.


  1. As much as I love old cars (I have the empty bank account and the full warehouse to prove it) I am opposed to this. It's nothing more than an attempt to control private property. If I want to repaint a Porsche or Ferrari or Lotus that is mine, why should I be prohibited from doing so, or apply for someone's permission? Plus, it would be impossible to enforce and therefore a joke.

  2. That is the worst idea I have ever heard. I am no libertarian big-government-fearing crackpot, but that seems like an outrageous over-reach of power that infringes individuals' rights to do what they please with private property. As someone who lives in a historic district, and can't even pick my own housepaint color, I would hate to see that extend to cars. Would kill the fun of the hobby even more than the concours judges already do...

  3. Having read the article, I see that the idea is actually for people to want to register their cars as being "correct" to factory specs. I don't know if this is necessary, as many brands have their own certification process already (like the Jaguar Heritage Trust) to verify engine numbers and color combos, etc. This seems to mainly be a ploy to increase the values of cars and has a good likelihood of being abused by unscrupulous people who could use it to sell "authenticated" cars to the less astute buyer. With or without this certification, the only way to buy a significant classic car is to do major research and to have a good paper trail proving originality and provenance. Without these things, how could any sort of certification hold any water in the first place? Also, I might point out that many "concours" cars such as Ralph Lauren's entire collection would fail to meet this certification because he has painted most of his cars incorrect colors and "over-restored" them past a point of originality. Does that make those cars less desirable? What if a famous original owner (like Elvis, say) painted a car an incorrect color and put in whaleskin upholstery? Should the car be able to be certified without changing it back? I think things are best left as they are...