Where have all the car buffs gone? For many, the allure of that new car smell is fading: Figures show new-vehicle sales are down 38%, and despite warranties lasting 7 or 10 years, 40% of last year’s trade-ins were less than 4 years old. But recession is only partly to blame for the decline of the "tuner, motor head, speed freak, buff, nut and zealot," Kevin Helliker writes in the Wall Street Journal.
Depreciation rates have doubled since the 1970s, and automakers aren’t as generous anymore with new-car incentives and leasing options. Some auto aficionados even feel unfairly targeted for their passion, compared to fashionistas and globetrotters, who are celebrated for spending big bucks. Still, one frequent car buyer says he’s incorrigible: “When the mood strikes, heaven help me, get out of the way because I'm going to do it.”