Deteriorating speakers -- Class A today, C Tomorr

I have never been able to find an article adressing the aging of speaker cones -- a'la long term road test -- to see if the sound after the break-in period deteriorates over the years. This is of great importance to me because speakers that I lusted for 2-5 years ago are now appearing on the used market for prices I can afford.

Can any tell me if a speaker such a the Jmlab Utopia, Wilson Maxx, etc., sound as good after years of usage, or is the reason that the upgrade addiction sets in is to offset the aging speaker cones.
If I could expand on the question a bit ... when do the speaker manufacturers design for the optimal sound to be heard? Immediately out of the box or after an extended break-in?

All speakers will "give" differently over the course of their lives. I've re-coned speakers before (AR-14's, so not a true high end set) and didn't notice much difference so this could be a moot point and the difference in mechanical resistance over time may be trivial.

I've heard that the capacitors in the cross-overs do need to be replaced after 10 years or so. I believe that the longest speaker warranty is about 10 years (e.g., Thiel), so I would be safe in assuming that 10 years is a reasonable expected speaker life. If it still makes you happy after that, more power to you. Replace cones, replace some of the electronics and away you go! The box may need to be tightened too, I guess. Wow, there's a lot to consider once you think about it.
All speaker drivers, as well as the internal wiring and crossover parts need at least 100 hours of usage before they reach 90-99% performance level. Especially the driver suspensions need to be loosened up in order to move in and out rapidly and uniformly. I've owned over 20 pair of new speakers in the past 15 years, designed and built even more, and all have sounded worse then a broken in set of demo speakers, and did not have the proper low frequency weight or high frequency speed, delicacy or extension until about 100 hours or more. Also, the wiring, resistors, and film capacitors need to be "burned-in". As far as the effects of old age on drivers, as long as the surround around the edge of the cone is not foam, (deteriorates rapidly), cloth or butyl rubber will last and remain consistent in performance indefinitely. The spiders surrounding the motor/voice coil also tend to hold up indefinitely in my experience, however, they can wear out with heavy usage and allow the voice coils to be off-center, which is rare with high end audio gear/usuage.
Also, with use the driver and other mounting screws can become loosened and require tightening from time to time, which can also improve performance.
I have to say it. Many of us just have to change our system because we just get bored with it, not because it changes, but because we change. This happens because we either hear something better, more exciting, or we just plain want something new. So, if we wait long enough (usually anywhere from 6 months to as long as 5 years [when the speaker warranty usually expires]) we can get to the point to where we're willing to sell our gear at whatever price -that's where the price ends up going down, in order to sell it faster. Bottom line, whether there is one or not, many of us are always searching for that "utopia" in sound. It's fun (and expensive)!
As dombubble above, I've found that speakers can last a very long time. As Oz notes, some parts may need replacing, but generally they perform. Technology, however, doesn't seem to last that long, and materials & parts improve -- or at least, become cheaper & thereby what was found only in giga$ models yesterday can be had for just(!) mega$ today. In that sense, "overpowering time" is a blessing.
(But the Grande Utopia are mega performers, today too, IMO.) Maybe we shouldn't worry because as W says, we usually change them before they kick the bucket... Cheers
I own a pair of speakers made around 1979 and other than replacing the foam surrounds they are all original. I don't know what they sounded like in 79 but they sound superb in 2002.
I have gone and auditioned some pretty high end gear and compared it with my system at home, the Infinity IRS V for my mains and I have some very low serial number betas as well. They still sound class A to me.
Humphry - All of the above posts have mentioned some very valid points to consider. Personally, I've probably had only 7 or 8 sets of speakers over the past ten years; and can't honestly think of any problem I've ever had with any used speakers I've bought. In fact my Thiel 3.5s, which I bought from the original owner, are about 10 or 11 years old and sound better than ever. (Partly due to better sources and electronics over the past few years!)
Mostly what I would be concerned with is the past user's treatment of the speaker. Does he/she play music at high levels? Listen to lots of rock/rap/heavy metal? Do the speakers look like they've had a rough life? (Probably a good reason NOT to buy them!) Let's face it - in this hobby of ours - condition counts for a lot! Do your homework, and by all means if you're going to make a speaker purchase listen to them BEFORE you buy. Just because a speaker is highly rated by TAS or Stereophile doesn't necessarily mean that it will sound great with your equipment. Good listening!
I have speakers that were originaly built in the 80's.
They have been re-foamed and are by far the best sound I have ever heard. The newest version sells for over $20K and even if I had the money I can't imagine being tempted. Well okay maybe:-). But my point is that technology may improve but I am not convinced the sound does. Just think how many older speakers still have first class sound. Snell A's, Original OHM F's and many others.
Would anyone ever pay $10K for used speakers on this site, without having the opportunity to hear/see them?
I agreed to buy a pair of used speakers for MUCH more than $10K here a while ago. I went up to listen to them driving a U-Haul. I got home late that night and set up my pair of Infinity IRS V.

I would not have paid for them to be shipped without listening to them first.