Millennials and Zs eager to enter collector car community

Hagerty’s biennial survey reveals healthy future for the hobby

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Hagerty
Younger drivers are among those most interested in become owners of classic and collector cars | Hagerty charts

Millennials and Gen Zers are more — not less — likely to want to own a classic or collector car than their parents or grandparents, according to a survey of 10,000 U.S. drivers by Hagerty. 

Hagerty, the insurance and car culture company, does its “Why Driving Matters” survey every other year. 

Major findings of the 2020 survey include:

  • “Gen Z and Millennials are most likely to report owning a classic or collectible, although Boomers and Silents are most likely to be true collectors.”

Hagerty explains, “This may reflect buying power as income peaks in a person’s 50s, and many younger cannot yet afford a car they don’t drive daily.”

It adds that among classic car owners, 25 percent are Millennials, 22 percent are part of Gen Z, 19 percent come from Gen X and 13 percent are post-war Baby Boomers.

  • “Younger generations of vehicle owners are more interested in owning a classic or collectible vehicle than older generations, showing the potential for growth.”

The details: 57 percent of Millennials are interested in owning a classic or collectible vehicle. The figures are 53 percent for Gen Z, 49 percent for Gen X and 33 percent for Boomers, Hagerty reports.

“Much of the ‘death of driving’ handwringing by the media in the wake of the Great Recession was based on data showing younger generations were getting their licenses later, buying their first vehicle later, and buying fewer vehicles compared to previous generations at the same age,” Ryan Tandler, survey lead, is quoted.

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“This conflated buying power with demand. The recession hit younger generations harder and delayed a host of major purchases and life milestones. As Millennials aged into greater buying power and started families, their purchase behavior looked more and more like other generations.

“The lag was due to the disproportionate blow the generation took in the recession and the unique burden of student debut. It took them longer to recover their buying power, but not as long as it has taken the myth of car-hating young people to die.

“As the data shows, driving remains popular with young people, and we find more driving enthusiasts among Millennials and Gen Z than their parents.”

Perhaps because they tend to use their classic and collector vehicles and also have less discretionary income, the survey found that younger generations are more open to using less-expensive replica and 3D-printed parts in maintaining their vehicles.

Tandler noted that while such parts might lower the value of a vehicle, “in a broader sense it increases the value of the hobby by making it accessible to more people.”

The 2020 survey also found that classic and collectible owners are more, not less, likely to want vehicles with higher levels of autonomy, “suggesting excitement about a new feature and not a fear automation will run their hobby.”

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That said, across the board, 90 percent of those surveyed want to retain the option of the driver rather than technology being in control.

Extrapolating the survey findings, Hagerty proposes that among all 250 million Americans, 88.2 million consider themselves to be driving enthusiasts, 92.2 million are interested in classic car ownership and 38.1 million actually own classic vehicles, with 17 million qualifying as true collectors. 

“Active” enthusiasts belong to a car club; take part in events such as autocrosses, off-roading or racing; have taken advanced performance driving instruction; attend car shows or auctions, etc.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I can hardly wait for all the Millennial-bashing comments by the older crowd that insists that younger people simply are not interested in cars anymore.

  2. We can only hope that the prices crash on these cars so the younger generations can enjoy them . Right now the prices are stupid because of Dealers controlling most of the inventory and auction site hype . Prices are so artificially inflated we need a good recession to put these guys out of business .

  3. Being on the other side of the hill, and 77 years a car fanatic, my math skills are suspect. Question: where did the number 250 million come from?. And, the word extrapolation is always suspect. As proven by Washington.
    My take is that the younger generation (s) that buy into the “car culture” tend to do so based on financial capability coupled with such an event being a token demonstration that it’s a) a throw away, b) a visual that they are the entitled elitist.

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