[CR] 1970 prices vs. 2009


Example: Framebuilders:Norman Taylor

To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
From: Bianca Pratorius <biankita@comcast.net>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 04:57:26 -0500
Subject: [CR] 1970 prices vs. 2009


I went to the inflation calculator and found out that one should multiply the 1970 price of something by 5.5 to get the modern equivalent. I'm sorry but this doesn't really work in the real world. In 1970 I took a summer job full time when I just finished my junior year in high school. It took me about one week of half hearted looking for a job in NYC and I ended up working in a mail room of a Japanese Import company called C. Itoh. I took home $79.00 a week after taxes as did my friend in school who ended up with a similar job in a mailroom of a law firm a few blocks away. That low end salary was also earned by my co-workers in the mailroom - a fifty something year old gentleman and a newly wed man who lived with his wife in Queens. With that salary I could afford to buy lunch every day at a restaurant, go to movies, save a bunch of cash and buy a Peugeout U08. Plus I could afford a variety of nice clothes that I purchased new and even a few bags of illegal smokeables. I was still living at home because I was only 16 but the newly wed guy lived with his wife in a nice clean apartment and he didn't look like he was suffering much either.

If I multiply 79.00 times 5,5 I get roughly $430 which nowadays will not earn you enough per week to live in any NYC apartment nor can one afford a Miami apartment (the city I live in today). My gut tells me that the multiplier doesn't quite work. The price of electronics and clothing has gone down relative to 1970, but the price of rent, and subsistance living has gone up. During the early 70's and even 80's I met many artists and bohemians who were able to live, eat in restaurants and even travel by working near minimum wage jobs or barely working at all. Nowadays I meet couples who both work responsible full time jobs and can barely survive. They can purchase all the cheap Chinese made do-dads and clothing they want but the essentials are practically or actually out of their reach.

As far as the price of high end bicycles go - the multiplier also falls short. When one purchased a PX-10 for $200 back in the day or an all Campy Colnago for $450 he was buying hours of skilled labor as part of the deal. A super bike now is made with substantially less skill and the proof of that is that so many of these bikes are being churned out which are identical, symetrical and perfect in every way. I'm just guestimating here but an old Colnago took hours and hours and hours of hand shaping, brazing, clean up an assembly while modern CF bikes fling off the assembly line by the truckload every day. Somehow I just know that a modern superbike represents many less hours of hand work per bike than even something as quickly made as the old PX-10. Back in the day you were purchasing someone's skilled hand work and their time while now you're getting some computer driven machine made commodity.

When one touches, sees or rides an old Italian bike he feels the heritage, the breeding, the extraordinary gift to society that that represents. When one does the same with a CF wonderbike the love affair is not there ... neither is the romance nor the intrinsic value.

Garth Libre in Miami Fl USA