Pick a Year

Written by John Hansen of Michigan Auto Inspection Service

I saw a survey on social media recently asking readers about their opinions regarding the best model year for cars. The premise was simple: if you could go back and pick any year to buy a car (or cars), what year would you pick? I noticed that the overwhelming majority of respondents to the post picked this year or last year; their argument being that cars have never been faster, more refined, and easier to drive than they are today. I suppose there is truth to that, with 0-60 pulls in the sub 4-second range available for less than $50k. For instance, every car guy I know won’t shut-up about the performance of the new Dodge Demon, (and my condolences to those owners who were planning to moth-ball their 15 mile Hellcat’s- you should probably start driving your cars now that Dodge has made something even faster). ZL1 Camaros, GT500 Shelby’s, to say nothing of the new Ford GT, ZR1 Corvettes, Veyrons, La Ferraris and speed from all the other exotic manufacturers Americans can’t pronounce properly, but hear Jeremy Clarkson say perfectly. (Koenigswhat…)

There’s no shortage of speed available to buy today. And to top it off, the interiors are comfortable, the cars have real warranties, they’re safe if you crash, and easier to drive than ever with Mother Stability always looking over your shoulder, ready to yank your leash if you get too far out of hand. I read some very convincing arguments for keeping it modern.

Still, I pondered the question a few minutes and my preferred year came to mind- 1965. I argue that all the classic cars you could ever want to round out a sound collection of speed and style were being made in 1965. To make my case, I present the following evidence.


The Mustang was a half-year old, and you could (and should) get the fastback. And really, why not opt for one of the 108 Shelby GT350’s or even rarer (only 13!) GT350R’s?


Not a Mustang fan? Plymouth introduced the Barracuda as their first entrant into the Pony car wars, complete with funky wrap-around rear window. For ’65, they introduced the Formula S ‘Cuda, with a high performance 273 Commando with 4 barrel, higher compression pistons, aggressive cam and solid lifters. The Corvette, continually refined and updated since the launch of the C2 in ’63, finally got disc brakes at all four corners.

You still had one more year to get fuel-injection, though few did, as the 396 big-block was available for the first time that year; more power than the fuelie, and for less money. The face-lifted for ‘65 Pontiac GTO was making a name for itself, with Tri-Power equipped models pushing 360bhp and 430 lb-ft of torque.


Across the pond, there were plenty of interesting choices as well. Although already in production a few years, you could still get a good-looking E-Type; the Series 1.5 was still a few years away. For ’65, the 3.8 six was bumped out to 4.2 liters. No additional horsepower, but gains in torque. The 4.2 cars also benefit from better brakes, better seats, and a full synchro gearbox, ditching the old Moss box used on the 3.8 cars. The MGB’s were beefed up that year, with stronger five main engines, and you could still get the good looking dash for a couple more years.


1965 was also the first year of the beautiful MGB-GT, and I’ll take one of both, thank you. Another alternative that got a nice update in ’65 is the Triumph TR4, which received independent rear suspension that year, when it became the TR4A. If you wanted something more minimalist than the MG or Triumph, Lotus introduced the Series 3 Elan, for the first time in fixed head configuration. If that 1600lb lightweight was too heavy for you, Colin Chapman was also still building Sevens, coming in around 1,100 pounds. Of course, if you happen to need room for more passengers and it has to be British, there is always the stunning Jaguar MkII Saloon. This is probably one of the best looking four door sedans of the 1960’s.


Have a need for raw, dangerous power? 1965 also brought us MkIII 427 Cobras, ready to shake pavement, with the fastest models delivering top speeds up to 185mph. Not fast enough for you? Then you could be one of the select few to pick up a MKII GT40, but only with enough coin and connections.


1965 was the first year of the 911 in the US, or you could pick up the very last of the disc brake 356 C’s produced (or why not one of each.) If German engineering with a desire for comfort was your priority, Mercedes was producing the ultra-luxurious 600 for the likes of Hef, John Lennon, George Harrison, Jack Nicholson, Elvis, and an array of small time dictators who wanted to ride with authority. Need something Italian? Sadly, I miss the Lamborghini Miura by a year, but I’d rather have a Ferrari 275 GTB anyway. Less likely to spontaneously burst into flames. Don’t have Ferrari money? Get the new for ’65 Alfa GTA. 1965 was also the last year you could pretend to be Sean Connery in your brand new Aston Martin DB5. The car was still popular, with its brief appearance in Thunderball that year.


I do understand appeal of the modern car sports car. They start all the time, leak nothing, are easy to drive, and frankly, from an engineering and technology standpoint, are stunningly superior to anything built even ten years ago. They’re also difficult, if not sometimes impossible to repair by anyone other than factory trained technicians. More than that though, they’re just common, and to me, they just don’t offer the same driving experience, and certainly don’t elicit the same appreciation for style and design as my favorite cars of the past do. I can easily waste hours pacing around E-Types, MGA’s, Mirua’s, C2Corvettes, Gullwing Mercs, Ferraris and the like. Taking in their lines, often noticing something different every time I see one. Just a couple weeks ago I had an opportunity to spend some time photographing both a Veyron and Enzo. While I appreciate that they are technological marvels, and among the fastest cars in the world, I found them both vastly less visually interesting than most of my favorite cars of the past. I spent some time last year photographing a very nice recreation of a Jaguar XKSS (because I haven’t been next to a real one yet,) and was much more enthralled with that subject than either the Ferrari or Bugatti. I don’t think cars will ever be as stylish as they were in the 1960’s. Given the chance to pilot a 275GTB or an Enzo for an afternoon, my choice would be the 275 every time- no question.

I’ll also point out one other unfortunate truth- for the price of the Veyron, I could assemble a very nice collection of many of the cars I pointed out- almost all of them in fact. For the wealthiest among us, this point is of no significance, but if I could have 5 of my favorite cars from 1965 but be forced to pass on a chance to own a Veyron, I would. Who knows, perhaps one day our children will be writing about today’s supercars in the same way I’m writing about my favorites of the ‘60’s.  

Happy Motoring.   

Michigan Automotive Inspection Services provides professional vehicle appraisals and pre-purchase inspections for all types of vehicles, including late model pre-owned cars and trucks, classic cars, antiques, street rods, exotics, muscle cars and motorcycles. For more INFORMATION: www.michiganais.com

Build a Crowd Outside Your Door

Marketing in the car business has become more confusing than anything else. There are a slew of options for advertising and most will not work for your business. If you know the right way to go about it and know the pitfalls, it can be predictable… even engineered. Let’s talk this through.

Why can it be predictable? To start, car guys are predictable. Most of them are open books and behave similarly. They like to talk about their cars, show their cars, tell you what they have done to their cars and what they will do next. Few industries have the advantage of marketing to an audience like this, so let’s all feel good about that.

With some good news often comes some bad news. And here it is: There are too many options for getting in front of cars guys. This is the root of the confusion. Like most marketing, a majority of the options will have a horrible ROI.   

Traditional advertising like magazine ads, trade organizations newsletters, car shows and broadcast are ok for branding and modest response, but they are not going to make your phone ring or email inbox come alive. These marketing methods are very hard to measure for success and you have to be more committed and consistent than most can afford to be.

So let’s talk about digital marketing methods. Most car-related businesses have a website, many do some basic email marketing and some dabble in digital advertising like Google, LinkedIn or Facebook. Nowadays, the idea is that you can do most of these yourself. You can build your own site with Wix or Squarespace. You can send newsletters via Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. Facebook LinkedIn and Google will even try to make you feel like you can do it yourself… but you shouldn’t. There is a learning curve and a ceiling you will hit (fast) unless you have analytical marketing skills. In the end, the only advantage is that you can track you terrible ROI.

The best option is to “build a crowd outside your door.” You can engineer an ideal audience that will generate customers. It’s call lead nurturing and scoring. While it sounds complicated, it is rather simple.

Across the largest and most sophisticated industries, marketing experts are tracking your every move. They are tracking what emails you open, what you click on and what content you are reading. These activities produce analytics that allow them to categorize you and then score you. What does your score tell them? It tells them what you are likely to buy and when you are ready to make the purchase. This is lead nurturing and scoring. You are their lead and they are scoring you. It’s pure gold for marketing and growing sales.

The good news is that lead programs like this are becoming available to business below the enterprise level. The results are predictable and engineered. You can build a list of car owners who own the exact year, make and model that you are targeting. You can even select where they live. Most important, they are scored so you know when they are ready to be your next customer.

At Block Chaser, we offer our Partner Program to bring this very targeted and predictable marketing service to the collector car industry. Let us know if we can build an audience outside your door. Check out our webinar for more information or feel free to schedule a free strategy call to see if your business is a fit.  



Block Chaser is a powerful online resource for buying, selling and owning collector cars.

Fueled by the latest news and market data, Block Chaser empowers car enthusiasts to spend more time enjoying their cars and less time spent dealing with the challenges of buying, selling and owning a collector car. Car owners (members) get access to the resources they need, while businesses serving the collector car market (partners) gain access to car owners who need their products and services. We supply next generation marketing services that grow and transform businesses.