Restorations and the Future

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Slash

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Being an avid fan of classic vehicle restorations, be it car or truck, especially when done by the average Joe has always fascinated me. To be able to bring back something from nothing, be it by pulling it out of the weeds or fixing salt damage and rust with fresh steel, or getting satisfaction from finally finding that one hard to get part everyone wants, is very satisfying.

These days there is so much on the market that you take a bare chassis, even from scratch, and build a brand new car however you want.

What's appealing about this is how easy it is to do. Anyone with basic mechanical knowledge can build an old carbureted car.

What scares me in the future, and for the future of restorations is how complex modern vehicles are becoming. There have always been trade ins, and the mentality that are car is meant to be used and replaced like an appliance and that will never go away...which is why restoring an old car is fun.

But what happens when cars being released now become 40 years old. When electrical work becomes too complicated for the average person. When the computers inevitably quit working. Wiring harness and parts become scarce. When that 2016 Camaros ends up in someone's bushes. It's hard enough finding things like that for say, a late 80s pickup. There were millions and millions made yet parts availability for some things is scarce.

There will be people who try to fix them no doubt. But I feel that the days of restorations on anything newer than 1995 are numbered, greatly. Thoughts?
 
2,710
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GTP_Cyborg
It seems everything these days is built to be disposable, whereas you look at things like your dad's/grandpa's tools that he's held onto for decades and they still work great. With my current specific interest being the '90-'93 Accords, I've seen that Honda has already begun discontinuing a lot of parts, and yet early '90s Civic/CRX nut-and-bolt restorations have started to become a thing these last few years. It gives me some hope that as long as a car has some sort of enthusiast following, those enthusiasts will find a way to keep that chassis alive through coming generations. Companies have been created solely to cater to certain classic vehicles, creating parts that have long since been discontinued by the OEMs. Surely we could see something similar down the road with computer parts.
 

homeforsummer

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There will be people who try to fix them no doubt. But I feel that the days of restorations on anything newer than 1995 are numbered, greatly. Thoughts?
Not in the slightest.

Restoration technology moves along to match the market.

Decades ago people said that things like EFI and ECUs would kill off the small, independent garage. Instead we've seen the opposite - businesses springing up specifically to deal with some of the more unique and challenging aspects of various vehicles. As an MX-5 owner, I've long heard people say that you can't "chip" these cars for more power, but these days who cares when there are companies out there creating whole standalone ECUs for things?

Throw in techniques like 3D printing - that theoretically let you recreate pretty much any OEM part out of pretty much any material - and I don't see anything really changing. Expense will always fluctuate - 3D printing isn't cheap at the moment - but then a Moore's Law-type scenario means we'll probably all have 3D printers in our home costing a couple of hundred bucks in a decade or two anyway.

The rise of manufacturers supplying parts for their older cars can't be ignored either. Carmakers are becoming very aware of their heritage these days and understand the importance of putting resources into recreating parts for their older cars. Perhaps this won't happen for everything (Jaguar will sell you parts for an E-type, but might not bother with an X-type) but the aftermarket will always be around to fill in the gaps.

I also disagree with @CyborgGT that everything today is built to be disposable. I'd say the opposite - standards of build quality and longevity are potentially better than ever, but it's consumers themselves that treat things as disposable more than they used to, so the chances of cars surviving probably haven't change that much.

One problem will always exist for the survivability of older cars and their restoration potential - that phase in a car's life where it's simply not desirable because it's neither new nor a classic, potential enthusiast's vehicle, where repairs are too expensive to justify and parts are scarce - but any car surviving this value and desirability dip will have a decent chance of being saved and restored on the other side.
 
21,632
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TexRex72
I like to think at least some of the joy derived from restoring a classic is due to just how approachable it is. Sure, it can be considerably more difficult (in scarcity of resources, not the process itself) when very few or even no additional examples remain, but subjects such as that either aren't being produced or, if they are, they represent a valuable commodity that may well be cared for better than, say, a Kia Rio.

But hey, where there's a will, there's a way.
 

Dennisch

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I expect wiring harnesses to become cheaper in the future as they will be the main culprit for failing cars of the future.
 
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Unless you’re going for a factory-correct restoration, I don’t think electronics are going to be a huge issue with restorations. I’m sure stuff like infotainment and what not is going to age terribly, but at the very least you should probably be able to get a car that runs and drives alright.
 

Joey D

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Unless you’re going for a factory-correct restoration, I don’t think electronics are going to be a huge issue with restorations. I’m sure stuff like infotainment and what not is going to age terribly, but at the very least you should probably be able to get a car that runs and drives alright.

Even then, you'll be able to retrofit either a unit from a company like Pioneer or Alpine for infotainment. Looking through high end auction catalogs it's not even that uncommon to see something that's been fully restored with a modern headunit. The Aston I did for this week's Wednesday Want even had, what looked like, a Pioneer unit in place of the stock radio.

iPad and other tablet integrations will become easier to do too. I know several people who've gone and done that to replace their aging or clunky infotainment system. It won't work exactly the same, but at least it's a touchscreen that does a fair bit of stuff.
 

Slash

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It's not even about that so much as getting everything to work properly. Oil life, TPMS wiring etc.
 
12,584
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It's not even about that so much as getting everything to work properly. Oil life, TPMS wiring etc.
I have a feeling that people in the future are going to be ripping out whatever complicated electronics newer cars are using and replace them entirely with something simpler (assuming smog laws, inspections, etc will allow this).
If you’re going for factory restorations however, you’re probably screwed. :irked: