Musical (car) Chairs
In recent years, no automotive segment has had anywhere near the disproportionate buzz as electric cars - in this case copious amounts of press coverage compared to a puny market share. Electric cars have been reported to be as low as 2% of the total cars sold in the U.S. yet they SEEM to be everywhere, and nearly all that anyone talks about.
There are many things that have to be in place before the supposed electric takeover. Infrastructure, charging network, resources to make batteries in the quantities necessary, etc. Yet there are so many who will claim the gasoline engine is disappearing in a matter of just a few years. Honestly, I don’t think it’ll be that soon, but nobody REALLY knows so the buzz that is created is infectious.
Whenever a high-horsepower or just large engine-d gas powered car/truck/SUV is reviewed, ultimately some variation of these phrases are tossed around:
“All this is going away”
“They’re not going to make this stuff anymore”
“End of the I.C.E. as we know it”
It’s almost as though every journalist is trying to “call their shot” by correctly announcing the end, but these monster vehicles that gulp fuel a gallon a minute just keep coming. Ultimately, they’re all probably right, but it does get a bit silly when people have been saying the same thing over and over when the new releases show no end in sight.
Who knows when new cars will be most or ALL electric, if ever. I’m sure it’s further out than the media would suggest. Either way, the shift is in that direction and that puts car people in an odd and unsettling situation. When do they buy their last gas-powered car? How do I get to my current enthusiast dream car in as little steps as possible?
Most car people have something of an idea of their garage plans for the future. They may have a clapped out Civic now, but next will be a WRX, then perhaps a BMW and SOME DAY their dream GT-R.
I’m just making that path up, but it surely rings familiar to you if you’re reading this. We all have a penciled-in trajectory of sorts. It may change over time as our tastes change and new things come out and replace the dream cars of yesterday. But I'd wager most motoring enthusiasts have a muli-step plan of sorts in mind. Either way, these “warning shots” that the electric car buzz gives have not gone unnoticed by the enthusiast community. We are all a tad nervous and twitchy.
Maybe gas cars are going away in a decade, cutting our time short for new stuff coming out. Or maybe the impending doom that is change will drive up the price of desirable machines to the point that we won’t be able to afford our dream cars if we don’t act soon. Throw in a supply chain strain over the past couple of years that has thrown the market into a tailspin of its own, and you have a really weird time.
Regardless of the cause, the effect has been tangible on car purchases. All of these aforementioned reasons have people accelerating their plans where they can. People are worried that if they keep waiting for that S2000/911/etc. that they’ll never afford one by the time they can save a bit more. Just a few short years ago, our car plan may have been really long-term with no sense of urgency. But now? If the constant barrage claiming the end of cars as we know it is true, we all have to scramble to get a place to rest because we don't want to be left high and dry.
I’ve likened it to playing musical chairs as a kid.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, the game is simple. Everybody playing the game is standing in a circle around a formation of chairs. There is always one less chair available than people participating, which is the key here… When music is played, everyone rotates around the chairs. When the music stops, everybody scrambles to claim a seat, and ultimately one person per round is left standing and loses. They exit the game empty handed, and one chair is also removed, leaving the remaining players with the exact same dilemma where there just isn’t enough desirable seating to go around.
I admit that I did something similar recently. It wasn’t purely conscious to the degree I mentioned, but there was some factor of musical chairs involved in this shift of my garage. When I decided I would sell my FRS and move on to something else, I ended up replacing it with a Corvette. It was a substantial jump in every sense of the word. There were thoughts a year or so ago about selling the Scion and using the money to pay other bills, etc and then start saving for a cash purchase of the eventual replacement - but there definitely was a “musical chairs” tune playing in my head, and if all of a sudden car prices soared even more I didn’t want to be left out with nothing - so I held onto the FRS until I was ready to buy the next thing.
Also, during that time I had entertained a few other cars that I’d describe as intermediate steps - not as huge a jump from the FRS to the Corvette. Nissan 370z, 987 Boxster S, amongst a few others. I loved the idea of stair-stepping with one or more of these intermediate cars before just going from a scalpel momentum car to a sledgehammer of v8 torque and fury. However, there was a glimpse of worry that being “stuck” with one of the intermediate cars if options dried up wouldn’t leave me in a place I wanted.
Those other cars are AWESOME, as was my FRS - i was already lucky to have such great choices here for ‘forever cars’. But with the various strings pulling the car market around with no end in sight, I stretched my budget a bit more to get to secure a place where I’m 100% fine staying put indefinitely. If I had made a minor step up to a 370z I'd have been thrilled but would still feel like I was still playing the game immediately after getting the keys to it. I have always tended to do this - buy a new vehicle and already have an idea what the next one that would follow was going to be.
So ultimately the Corvette was the car I'd be most “content” with if the music stopped and didn’t start back up again - I will have a proper long term review of it sometime soon, I promise. In the meantime know that not only am I happy I went this route (I adore the car), the values of similar corvettes have risen nearly 20% since I bought it 6 months ago and are already out of my affordable range - meaning if I hadn’t bought it then, I couldn't have bought one now.
With the car market as insane as it has been for the past year or more, I honestly am not sure if there’s a single car that is both interesting and affordable that COULD be an eventual replacement for it. Honestly, at this point though, I couldn’t care less. The Corvette is awesome, and I’m happy to have cashed out of the game for the foreseeable future and am wonderfully content sitting on my chair without a tune playing.
I feel like I played musical chairs and won big... and that doesn't happen very often.
I write and I know things. I am also the resident motorcycle expert at Everyday Driver - check out the Cycle Report - www.thecyclereport.com - on our YouTube channel. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.