In 2010, I was at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and I was sitting under that big shade tree in the middle of the fairway.
An older gentleman sat near me and peered around.
“There are no young people here,” he said. “No one will want to come to Pebble Beach 10 years from now.”
Less than two weeks ago, I was back at Pebble Beach. As the Linkage crew drove to the mists and doughnuts of Dawn Patrol, I thought about what that man had said 12 years ago.
I also thought how wrong he had been on that day.
Thousands of people came to Pebble this year, and quite a few of them were younger. In fact, I think the crowd at many car events is getting younger every year. And if Pebble is getting younger, that means we no longer have to worry about the car collecting life shriveling up and blowing away.
Some car events are mostly filled with younger people. I’m talking about those impromptu gatherings of Japanese car enthusiasts in Portland, Oregon. I’m talking about the legions of overlanders who gussie up their Jeep Wranglers and Toyota Tacomas with winches, rooftop tents and axes.
I’m also talking about the young woman who rode on the running board of her family’s 1910 Auburn Model R Baby Tonneau as it chugged onto the fairway at Pebble Beach just a couple of weeks ago.
I saw more families showing cars — or just walking around and admiring cars — at every event during the 2022 Monterey Car Week. Families got into their favorite car and cruised downtown Monterey every night — and gave the gas a little stomp when driving past the RM Sotheby’s auction.
I guess people have been predicting things are about to fall apart for centuries now. I suspect someone said, “Well, there goes the neighborhood” when the first wheel burst upon the prehistoric scene.
I bet some of the people who used to wonder if younger people would ever show up at fancy car events now wish those kids had stayed the hell away, what with Youngtimers driving el cheapo Porsche 944s onto golf course fairways — although not at Pebble Beach (yet).
Yes, front-engined Porsches were never supposed to be collectible, but here we are. So, let’s enjoy this. Let’s see what cars come to the forefront. Let’s see how ThirtySomethings will navigate the perils of collecting cars in a changing world. Let’s see what Pebble looks like in another 12 years. I bet some of today’s Youngtimers will be polishing Brass Era cars and hoping for a Best in Class win.
Our funny little world of collecting cranky old cars is getting younger in every way.
I think it’s going to be really cool.