2018 top-10 stories: No. 10 — Demographic shift and predicting where the hobby is headed
Editor’s note: As each year draws to a close, the ClassicCars.com Journal polls its editors and correspondents to determine what we consider to be the top-10 stories from the collector car world during the past 12 months. Check out the other top stories here.
The headline must have been shocking for many who read it:
“Gen Xers and millennials are ready to carry the collectible-car torch,” it said on the hagerty.com website earlier this week.
And to support the demographic shift that moved from prediction to reality in 2018, the ensuing article reminded Baby Boomers that once upon a time they were the hobby’s youthful whippersnappers:
“Chances are your vintage vehicle has already outlived at least one or two owners,” the article noted, “and if those former caretakers of your slick machine could see the snot-nosed kid that has the keys now, do you think they would approve?”
We’ve known this day was coming, when boomers would be overtaken by Xers and millennials, and Hagerty’s statistics say 2018 was the year of transition. The insurance and valuation-tracking company notes that even by the end of 2017, Xers and millennials owned half of the collector car fleet, and that figure only figures to have grown through 2018.
So where is the hobby headed? To help provide a road map, the ClassicCars.com Journal asked half a dozen people influential in various aspects of the hobby to share their expectations. We published their commentaries in the week leading up to the annual hobby reunion on the Monterey Peninsula in August.
For the most part, they were strongly optimistic about where we’ll be by 2030.
Just as when you entered the hobby, your interests and tastes likely were different from that of the previous generation. You wanted what you coveted while you were in high school. You couldn’t afford to pay top prices. But over time, your disposable income increased and your automotive interests matured. And now it’s happening yet again.
“Particular tastes and values might shift across generations, but on the whole, the growth that the collectible-car hobby enjoyed over the past few years was not driven exclusively by baby boomers,” the Hagerty article pointed out.
“Gen Xers have reached their prime earning years and collect as enthusiastically as the boomers did before them. We are already seeing the influence of 100-million-strong millennials, who are entering the hobby in greater numbers every day.
“You might not be around to see who eventually inherits your precious collectible, but all evidence suggests that someone out there, someone who might be in diapers or playing video games on a phone rather than doing algebra homework, will want it. When that time comes, that kid, that snot-nosed, pimple-faced phone junkie, might prove to be not all that different from you.”