Many, many times I’ve heard folks of the elder generation express a genuine concern for the gradual decline of the automotive hobby, fearing that once they’re no longer around to appreciate and maintain the cars of their childhood, enthusiasm for these cars will wither away into obscurity. Common thinking is that this incoming era of electric and autonomous cars will numb the youth to automotive enthusiasm, and that point of view is justified and easy to understand. However, as somebody who would be classified as of the younger generation, I’ll take a stab at putting those concerns to rest; the proliferation of the internet has empowered communities of automotive enthusiasts more than ever, and engaged and inspired the youth within the hobby. In part due to the upkeep of certain webpages, which I’ll outline in the coming paragraphs, the state of the union of classic car enthusiasm among the younger generation is strong and only getting stronger.
While the internet has opened up the classic car hobby to the youth, by providing a steady stream of interesting and relevant content, the hoopla surrounding upper-level auto auction figures and stories of outrageous ROI has perked the interest of financial investors, now diving into an industry previously made up of just the true gear-heads. Today’s classic-car audience is the culmination of all these different groups, experienced gear-heads, young enthusiasts, and return-driven investors; all these different sides of the industry making it that much more interesting as a whole, with online and print content-creators given a variety of angles with which to approach automotive news coverage.
As a 20something-year-old classic car enthusiast, and someone who has made a living within the industry, I know that the sites on my bookmarks tab are partially to thank for the knowledge base that I’ve accumulated over the years. These sites have not only provided hundreds of hours of entertainment, but have broadened my automotive horizons and had a heavy hand in sculpting my taste as I know it. The following sites have long occupied my bookmarks tab and, at least in my eyes, are must-frequents for any like-minded classic car enthusiast.
Bring A Trailer
I remember discovering BAT way back when it was a low-rent site that posted links to interesting cars that admins found on Craigslist. In no way affiliated with the sale, admins would post Craigslist links then folks would comment with their thoughts on the car and whether or not it was a good deal. Many of the long-time BAT members will tell you that this was the golden age of BAT, when the site’s limited following meant there were less eyes on the bargain deals. However, even I, someone who bought a beautiful 60,000 mile bone-stock BMW e12 for $1,000 in the early BAT days will tell you, it didn’t have the same community feeling or excitement as the recently-introduced, auction-heavy format. A few years ago, when traffic to the site was growing rapidly, BAT realized that there was an untapped market within the classic car community – a simple and interactive online auction marketplace where automotive enthusiasts alike could buy, sell, and discuss cars. The new BAT format has exploded in popularity, with over 100 auctions live at any given time. And these aren’t the junk cars we commonly associate with online auctions, these are collector-level and often rare cars being bought and sold by genuine enthusiasts. Listing your car for auction only costs $99, a bargain considering the newfound breadth of exposure both domestically and internationally. This interactive, auction-style selling method has thrown a monkey wrench into the world of online classic-car sales. BAT’s tremendous increase in traffic has stimulated the comments section beyond belief; any given auction will have an informed, and generally respectful back-and-forth between bidders and viewers. Sellers are encouraged to be active in the comments section, which adds tremendous value to the medium. Sellers can answer questions posed by bidders, and that allows bidders to have some insight into the owners themselves, as well as their personal history with this particular car. This back-and-forth adds a personal element to the sale, something that has always been missing from the auction-style format. BAT also features a search bar in the upper right hand corner, where visitors can search to see previously-sold listings. The search bar feature is a tremendously helpful tool for someone like me, who buys and sells classic cars for a living. The previously-sold BAT listings, and particularly their informative comments section, provide excellent insight into the state of the market for certain cars. In short, BAT is a great resource with a personal touch that offers an in-depth look into the current state of the classic car market. If there was one bookmark-worthy site for a classic car enthusiast, this may be it.
Rather than being purely sales-focused like BAT, Los Angeles-based production company Petrolicious offers phenomenally high-quality classic-car-specific photo, video, and written content. With a staff of skilled writers, photographers, and cinematographers, Petrolicious is a content-generating powerhouse. Content includes everything from exhilarating on-board edits of canyon-carving vintage exotics to informative personal interviews with motorsports legends, with some more personal, experience-driven reader submissions thrown into the mix. Petrolicious truly is the cream of the crop in terms of online vintage automotive entertainment. Writers are particularly well versed, and their unwavering passion for the automotive hobby shines bright in every article and video feature. Petrolicious has also recently dipped their toes into the vehicle marketplace, by offering a small selection of cars on behalf of sellers. These cars on offer tend to be stunning, hand-picked, top-of-the-market examples, and Petrolicious’ photographers turn the listing into more of a gallery and model bio than a for sale posting. If you’re looking to kill a few hours online, look no further.
BarnFinds occupies it’s own corner of the online automotive marketplace. While not quite as well-trafficked as Petrolicious or BAT, BarnFinds’ followers are like-minded and enthusiastic about cars that not everyone may appreciate. BarnFinds is specifically geared towards, just as the title says, barn finds, or cars that are in a state of neglect or disrepair. BarnFinds is the perfect medium for sellers to present their unique or rare cars that are in need of restoration, cars that, if not presented to the right audience, are likely to waste away into oblivion. I’ve actually sold a number of cars on BarnFinds; and for the extremely-reasonable list price of $50, there’s really no better way to get eyes on these formerly-neglected cars. $50 gets you a featured listing with a brief write-up by a BarnFinds staff member and a link to your eBay ad, as well as a share on BarnFind’s Facebook pages, which has nearly 300,000 followers. I just recently sold a ‘63 one-owner Triumph TR4 with extensive rust in every body panel through BarnFinds. While undoubtedly a cool car, the restoration would be a tremendous undertaking and as a result, I figured that the car would be a seriously tough sell. Within a day of the post going live on BarnFinds I had four offers for the car, one of which ended up taking it home.
Speedhunters caters to an interesting corner of the automotive hobby, tuners. Featured builds tend to be extreme, with often logic-defying powertrain configurations and massively individualistic final results. Speedhunters serves to highlight those creative and skilled enough to bring their visions to life by way of metal fabrication and mechanical know-how. This tuner-friendly, customization-heavy portion of the automotive hobby is where much of the hobby’s youth dwell. While tuners and big-power builds may not be everybody’s cup of tea, there is a level of commitment, individuality, and craftsmanship that must be respected. Speedhunters also does an excellent job covering many of the world’s largest and most significant tuner-heavy shows. There are always interviews with builders, inside looks at the development processes of certain cars, and tremendous high-speed photography. Purists beware, but for fans of modified cars, Speedhunters may very well find its way to your bookmarks tab.
With all these online resources, one thing is for certain, the future of the automotive hobby is bright. With all these websites catering to every corner of the automotive community, enthusiasts can have instant access to interesting and relevant content, as well as like-minded individuals, no matter what aspect of the automotive hobby they’re passionate about. Keeping tabs on these aforementioned webpages not only provides endless entertainment, it enriches your knowledge base while simultaneously refining, or in some instances broadening, your taste.
Written by: Jake DePierro