What makes a Modern Classic??

These days when it comes down to an age of a vehicle, a car can be one of three things. It can be a ‘Modern’ which as the name suggests is a car built fairly recently or within a certain amount of years, a ‘Retro’ which is generally over 20 years old but isn’t exactly old enough to be a full on classic and then of course you have a full on ‘Classic’. These are classed as being well over 25 years old and are pretty much sought after for petrol-heads. Thing is though, what if I was to tell you that there is an age bracket which separates ‘Moderns’ from ‘Retros’. These are known as Modern Classics and generally sit between 15-25 years old.


Now these might not be nothing new, even though no one hardly talks about them, modern classics are accepted in communities. With this article however, I want to ask a general question and that is this: What exactly makes a Modern Classic and what does it take for a car become one. It’s no lie that I love both Classic & Retro cars, in fact I wrote this article on it a few weeks ago explaining as to why but with some lovely new machinery coming out recently from a plethora of manufacturers, Its safe to say that I like modern cars as well.


Now Modern Classics for me personally are cars which were new when I was young, these can be anything from the original Ford Focus RS all the way up to the Pagani Zonda C12 for example. The reason why I’d consider these modern classics is because they are both at that age where they are kind of forgotten about compared to both newer stuff and also older stuff. Add in the popularity these cars once had, and it’s no surprise that these are becoming modern classics.


The thing is though, not every car can be a modern classic as I’ll prove. Take for example my C70 MK1 and my stepdads Seat Leon 1M, both of these cars were made around about the same time, both of them were relatively well loved which shown both in sales & reviews and they both were replaced by their newer incarnations at around the same time however, for me personally, the Leon doesn’t come across as a modern classic. For a start it’s only a 1.4 so it’s nothing really special. Would I feel different if it was a Cupra or a Cupra R? More than likely but as it’s an everyday model it doesn’t come across as anything special, never mind a modern classic. This moves me onto my C70, while it’s not a T5 which is the one which will more than likely become a modern classic before the rest of them do, MK1 C70’s as a whole are quite rare cars and have a very strange but special upbringing. For a start, all C70’s were engineered by TWR which made them drive rather well for a big Volvo, add in the rivals and the fact that it was at the time Volvo’s 4th ever coupe.


For those reasons you can kind of understand why I have it in my mind why the C70 will be a modern classic and why the Seat unfortunately can’t be. Trying to judge what makes a modern classic isn’t easy, in fact these days a lot of cars you’d never think of being modern classics are starting to become collectible by both collectors & buyers everywhere. Take the humble 5th generation Toyota Celica for example, not everyone is a fan of them and that is understandable but it seems that the years have been kind as they’re starting to raise in value to people in the know.


The thing is, modern classics are different to everyone, take for example a Fiesta RS Turbo from the early nineties. For anyone who was born around that time they might consider that a modern classic whereas I’d classify it as retro instead which can make things confusing and awkward.


You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about the RX’s situation in this debate, well for me, even though the Lexus has what it takes to be a truly special car in years to come. For me personally, it’s not quite old enough yet to be classified as a modern classic. With hybrids still in 2019 being quite a taboo subject, I feel like it’s going to be quite a bit of time before we see our Lexus as a modern day classic.


Some of you may have read my Calibra article a few weeks ago and gasped at the fact that it is turning 30 years old this year, I certainly know I did. The thing is, when I was young and living in London, I used to see these nearly everywhere to the point they were fairly common so to find out that they were going to be celebrating such a milestone it certainly shocked me. They’d been under the radar for so long that even I forgot they were as old as they were and that right there is the typical story of a modern classic.

Opel Calibra

So what exactly makes a modern classic? Age is of course a major factor, now I’d personally say anything from 15 to 20 years old is a modern classic but other people may have more stringent rules on the matter. For me, the car has to be something rather special, whether it’s a small city car or a high end super car, if it is something which is well loved then that’s another sure fire way of spotting a modern classic. Last but not least, for me, they need to be relatively rare. There is no point in trying to consider a relatively modern Fiesta as a modern classic because they are nearly every where these days which kind of defeats the point. Now of course, rarity isn’t everything when it comes to a modern classic however it does help.


So going by that what would you guys consider a modern classic? For me there’s lots of cars which fit that bill, from Ford Mondeo ST220’s all the way to Vauxhall Monaro VXR’s even down to the humble Rover 75 V6, these cars all share something good about them which all make them perfect candidates for being modern classics. Is there anything else which can go on that list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll share my thoughts.


Hope you Enjoy!

By Alex Jebson

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