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Classic Cars: Art of Preserving Autos & Market Share

Stats are in - classic car market far from dead but could be in the future.

By Audrey Davis
February 20 2023
A rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR just became the most expensive vintage car sold at auction. (ForbesLife/Twitter)
According to a recent study conducted by insurance company Footman James, less than half of respondents who identified as millennials or Gen Z said that they would consider buying a classic car at some point in the future. Of course, that statistic alone isn’t super alarming – for starters, the study was conducted in the U.K., where public transportation is generally much better. And it’s not new to assume that the majority of modern drivers are going to want a modern car, especially in their youth, but the age breakdown here actually indicates that the youngest respondents are not the prospects the industry needs to be most worried about.   
Luckily, classic car meetups are still alive and well. (Hagerty/Facebook) 

Breaking down the demo, the interest in classic cars amongst the millennial demographic alone drops to a dismal 35 percent, indicating that the industry needs to better attract this demographic if it’s going to survive the difficult years ahead. Let’s not forget that many potential car buyers who were wary of EVs in the past have since been won over, their confidence boosted by automakers’ recent pledges to switch over to electric. And those who are still shopping primarily for gas-powered vehicles are often just doing so to get a better deal, which is especially important to millennials bogged down by student debt. So, how do you engage with an audience that either can’t afford your product or thinks it’ll soon be obsolete? 

Millennials and Gen-z love for classic cars. (Shutterstock)

In the Footman James report, the big takeaway is the need for more diversity and inclusivity. Car collecting is a hobby that’s typically associated with older men, but targeting a young, female demographic could help combat stereotypes and bring new fans into the fold. It’s a focus shift that’s already well under way, with scholarships and diversity initiatives being offered by the non-profit arms of big industry players like Hagerty and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  

Pebble Beach is looking to attract younger, more diverse visitors. (Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance/Facebook) 

But appealing to women and other diverse audiences isn’t going to solve the classic car conundrum on its own. To do that, the majority of millennials and Gen Z need to be convinced of the vintage automobile’s place in our collective cultural history, marking it as something that deserves to be preserved and valued for future generations. How do we achieve that, you might ask? One simple solution is for those who already own classic cars to make them more visible and engage with the public on how they’re driven and maintained. We’ve already seen the effectiveness of this strategy in the steadily increasing traffic of automotive influencers, who can stir up interest in their collections from anywhere in the world at any time. So no, classic cars are not going anywhere anytime soon – but the industry does need to lean in to preserve not only the autos, but the customer base that sustains it. 



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