Survey reveals those under 30 are passionate about car collecting

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Youthful visitors to a car show at the Petersen Automotive Museum in the summer of 2019 take a close look at the most recent Future Classic Car Show-winning Subaru | Daniel Nikkhoo photo

There is a belief among the senior citizens of car collecting that young people don’t appreciate such vehicles and that the hobby likely is in its waning days. But does that perception reflect reality? To find out, The Classic Car Trust has conducted what it believes is the first scientifically organized survey. 

In the past year, interviews were conducted with 500 people attending classic car shows in Italy, England, Germany, France and the United States. Interviewed were 250 people yet to reach their 30th birthday and another 250 ages 55 and older.

“The young are much more passionate about them (collector cars) than the old tend to think, and all of them — the aged and the youthful — are confident about the future role of collecting, and indeed are prepared to promote the preservation and appreciation of our four-wheel heritage,” the survey revealed.

However, the summary adds, “They (the young) need to be involved first hand in events that tie in with their expectations and language.”

Both age groups expressed strong passion for cars and optimism about the hobby, though perhaps for different reasons.

“Age is… not decisive in appraisal of the future of car collecting,” the survey discovered. “All are convinced of the role of classic cars in preserving a historic heritage and the way collecting expresses a true passion for automobiles.

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“Another common consideration is the fact that the more cars become self-driving, the greater the appeal of driving the ‘real’ cars of yesterday will be.”

Regarding passion, the survey found while the 55-and-over contingent’s passion is driven by memories, the pleasures of driving and the taking part in events, for the younger generation, “classic cars bear witness to a cultural heritage to discover and preserve,” as well as bearing witness to the evolution of style and technology and “speaking for what are perceived as happier years.”

Young people also see ownership of “non-contemporary” vehicles as a way of being different, “of getting out of the mainstream.”

Those interviewed were asked to list their favorite collector vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” topped both lists, with the Lamborghini Miura and Aston Martin DB5 among the top 4 on each group’s favorites list.

Early Chevrolet Corvettes, the Jaguar E-type and “Pagoda” Mercedes also were among the favorites of those 55-and-older while the younger audience preferred the Porsche Carrera RS, Lamborghini Countach, BMW 2002 turbo, Ferrari Testarossa, early Ford Mustangs and Lancia Delta Integrale.

Among Bugattis, older interviewees preferred the pre-war T35 while the younger audience preferred the EB110 of the 1990s.

As you might expect, younger people preferred vehicles more recently produced than those favored by their older counterparts.

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The interviews were conducted at Retromobile in Paris, Retro lassic in Stuttgart, The London Classic Car Show, the Los Angeles Classic Car Show and Auto e moto d’epoca in Padova, and the summary was reported in the recently published 2019 edition of The Classic Car Trust’s magazine, The Key.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

10 COMMENTS

  1. This has to be the ultimate BS article! I’ll just go into a bar and ask the patrons if they ask alcoholic drinks? Wow! 97% of the people asked say they like booze. Therefore 97% of people like booze.

  2. As Advertising Director for Keeneland Concours d’Elegance I just today posted photos of each of our class winners from the July 20th event. Almost immediately the comments started coming in on the winner of our Loud & Furious class. It is clear that the passion of the younger generation is making its place with at least one concours community.

    https://www.facebook.com/KeenelandConcours/photos/a.117179662938/10156539683647939/?type=3&theater

    I invite you and your readers to read the comments on this link, then look through the other photos of class winners and the comments there. Not only is the younger generation passionate about their cars, but the management team of our event is also passionate about them.

    Thank you,
    David

    • Hey David, Congratulations on another great Concours. Next year I promise to get Oscar Gamble and his ’32 Three Window there.

  3. This was not a “scientific” study. “…interviews were conducted with 500 people attending classic car shows…”
    Well of course they like classic cars, they are at a classic car show!! This is probably the most biased research study that I’ve ever seen in print, I’ll use it when I teach my statistics courses as an example of what not to do. Thank you!

    • I’m less harsh on this self-proclaimed “first” study, and not surprised at the age to preferences ratio. It’d be interesting to learn how today’s youth spread their asset wealth among desired long term investments (ie. would they buy a collector car over real estate? Is it considered more attainable? A better long term investment (à la the Ferrari 250 GTO’s stratospheric climb at auction?)

      • Yes, now THAT would be great to study! I’d be interested too on where disposable income will be spent, by generation. By gender too. (As an avid classic car lover, I’d like to see more women out here too … of any age!)

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again. The collector car hobby is not dying at all. Rather it is alive and well and merely undergoing a transition as it gets passed from one to the next. This means that some cars will gain in value and some cars will drop in value but this happens all the time and is nobody’s fault.

    • I agree with you
      What you all are also forgetting another form of classic cars collecting will always live on and it’s already happening what I call new art
      In Hong Kong they collect cars and are for show in their own homes to freinds and pure satisfaction , in Melbourne Australia the 1st Residence apartment Buiding called Sky garage is being built to take your classics cars in a lift to your highrise living room for display I am a true collector and handing mine over to my children the next generation
      I see autos like My 20,000 mile Deloren will become display art and my 58,000 1968 mile Shelby GT 500 will be driven as a Shelby just must be kept alive Jason

  5. From what I have seen all ”young” people are interested in is Uber and Lyft and Free . Delivery and rides and most everything done for them. Cars ? Most don’t even have a Drivers License into their 30s…
    As with anything, there are exceptions.

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