Never Stop Driving #78: Treat yourself this holiday season

James Lipman

You deserve a Lamborghini—don’t we all—and Hagerty has just released data to justify the purchase as more than a passion play. A special edition of the Lamborghini Countach is one of 10 machines on the 2024 Bull Market List, our seventh annual roundup of cars that we believe will increase in value over the next few years. So go ahead, buy without guilt. Even if you don’t make a long-term profit on your car purchase, you’re unlikely to lose money, which means a Lamborghini fling could be nearly free. If there’s a more cost-effective and extraordinary experience than cars, I am all ears.

We are in a fantastic period where older cars often increase in value. We’re not suggesting anyone should ransack their 401K to build a car collection, but the Bull Market List highlights how the total ownership cost of the cool car you’ve been dreaming about can be incredibly low. After six years, our data team’s track record is shockingly good. As I’ve written before, I’m not a fan of the car community’s obsession with car values. Perhaps we’re feeding that. I hope not. Our goal is to help people enjoy the hobby and make smart decisions. For more background on this year’s list, tune into my new podcast where I go over the choices with Hagerty’s chief data wonk, Brian Rabold. It’s on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube.

The end of the year is always a good time to reflect. When ChatGPT debuted in November 2022, I thought the new artificial intelligence tool would accelerate autonomous vehicle (AV) development. The issue for AV tech seems to be the software, with confused car computers trying to function among unpredictable humans—we’ve all seen the headlines that result. AVs are just a matter of time, their advocates tell us, because the more miles the prototype cars drive, the smarter the electronic brains become. If you say so. Perhaps the software is smarter, but the business case for this technology gets murkier by the day. GM announced that it will dramatically reduce spending at its embattled AV company Cruise. Tesla just recalled nearly every car it has produced to install safeguards that aim to prevent drivers from over relying on its misnamed “Autopilot” system.

In my fantasy crystal ball, I envisioned AVs removing the steering wheel from the throngs of clueless and texting drivers, so I’d worry less when my kids are traveling by car. AVs would bring automotive transport death rates closer to those of commercial air travel. I also fantasized that AVs would unsnarl traffic, clearing a glorious path for me and my cherished stick-shift analog cars. My big revelation for 2023 was just how naïve I can be!

taco coupe lead image
The “Taco” Ford Coupe, before and after. Brandan Gillogly/Nick French

This year, I also suffered from the extreme shortage of mechanics and craftspeople to maintain and fix cars, as my various restoration projects were delayed again and again by my inability to find shops to do specialized work like painting. The gap between retiring automotive professionals and people to replace them numbers in the hundreds of thousands every year, so I’m especially grateful for the folks trying to correct the situation. We recently wrote about a high-school shop teacher in Oregon who inspired his students with a project to resurrect a crushed old Ford. Another teacher, from Texas, helped his students modify a Mercedes that won a slot on the Hot Wheels Legends tour. We need more shop classes and more trades teachers, but it’s going to take a wholesale rethink of vocational education in America. I’ll continue to be on the front lines of these discussions and hope you will, too.

We’re doing our part with our Redline Rebuild series that teaches viewers how engines work while also entertaining them. In the latest episode, host Davin Reckow masterfully disassembles a seized Ford V-8 while clearly and compellingly explaining how he determined the cause of the failure. Fascinating stuff. In other recent engine news, the latest Ford V-8 crate engine is a 615-hp monster you can buy for just 23 grand. We truly are in the golden age of horsepower.

Have a terrific weekend!


P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment below!

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    Actually, the business case for AVs is still sound – IF the tech ever gets to a level where it’s safe and reliable. There are plenty of people that could benefit from AVs – people who are a bit too old/medically incapable of driving, but still able to get around and shop, for example. Sure, they could use a taxi, but it would be potentially cheaper and easier if they had their own vehicle. Also, long dull highway drives would be better and safer if these things could be made to work. But I’m still not sure we’ll get there, at least in my lifetime.

    I’ve noticed a new genre on YouTube—guys taking a failed motor with no known history and disassembling it to determine the cause of death.

    I love watching them. When I first started racing my vintage car I was afraid to take the valve cover off. It’s videos like this that took away some of the mystery. This year, with the help of an experienced builder, I completely built a new race engine from the oil drain up. Modifying parts and systems.

    It’s starts with getting familiar with what failed and taking things apart.

    I love the look of the 97-06 Jag XK8 and XKR (Aston Martin clone). Eyeing a 2006 XKR now I better buy it quick before folks read this. I know Ford was heavily involved in the development and use of Ford parts, however is that a bad thing?

    Apparently, the car-publication game is paying a little better these days. I’m from an era where $23,000 would buy your a 4-bedroom HOUSE. A decent engine (and I mean a REALLY decent engine) might be twenty-three HUNDRED, and more than likely, that included the rest of the car. Remembering the day I made Foreman and got $1000 a month [a thousand dollars! every month! we’re rich!]
    I’m with William B Graham. I’m glad I’m from the era I’m from, and not this one…

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