About 40 years ago, Road & Track published a neat little piece of automotive fiction called “A Nice Morning Drive.” It was a dystopian look at the future of classic car ownership, told through the eyes of an MGB driver named “Buzz.” In this future, new cars had gotten ugly, slow and ponderous, but so safe, (able to withstand 75 mph head-on collisions) that there were few consequences of being careless or distracted behind the wheel. Some maliciously bored drivers even went looking for older cars, (like Buzz’s MGB) to harass. Unable to co-exist with these “Modern Safety Vehicles,” drivers of classics simply gave up and put them away for good.
While the story was a decent yarn – a cautionary tale about a future where there was no place for classics on the road – it missed predicting the rise of the autonomous vehicle or “AV.” In all fairness, who could have foreseen the irony at work here? As the automotive industry builds the best drivers’ cars ever, in parallel, it’s also developing technology designed to dispense with drivers altogether.
But do AVs spell the eventual doom for the notion of owning and using the cars we enjoy? Perhaps not. The current automotive golden age personified by 707 hp Mopar Hellcats and 650 hp Camaro ZL1s might eventually peter out with a whimper, as demand for non-autonomous cars as primary transportation slackens. But if it does play out that way, it’s going to leave a legacy of some incredible cars that will make the classic car scene of around 2050 pretty damned rich.