Millennials and Classic Cars

Millennials and Classic Cars
16th December 2020 Ed Barton-Hilton
Classic Cars Millennials

Millennials and Classic Cars

The link between a vinyl record and a classic car isn’t immediately obvious. What binds them together is an analogue experience devoid of electronic interference. For the same reason that vinyl has proved popular in recent years, the same could be true for classic cars.

It is said that the resurgence of vinyl amongst millennials is based upon the desire to step back from the digital world of Instagram, TikTok and smartphones. They instead wish to explore more analogue experiences that liven the senses – the groove of the record and the physical movement of the cartridge create something that clicking play on Spotify can’t replicate. A millennial family member has a record player that takes pride of place in his living room, I asked him why he has it. “There’s a purpose to using it, you’re not just putting on background music on. It feels purposeful and wholesome”.

This desire for a lack of technology isn’t something that’s limited just to millennials, or records. At the time of writing the three cheapest Ferrari 360s for sale are all F1 transmission, the three most expensive are all manual. That is by no means scientific but it supports the anecdotal conversations in the marketplace – even older buyers in the modern classic market want something pure, mechanical, tactile. They want to know that the inputs they’re creating are being acted upon by a piece of machinery.

Millennial’s taste for authentic experiences not only go some way of explaining the resurgence of vinyl but craft brewers, food markets, artisan producers, Etsy, Not On The High Street and The Cambridge Satchel Company. Trends are moving towards products that have a unique story behind them and that have been touched by human hands or artisans, that have crafted them to into a one of a kind item.

The clothing manufacturer Patagonia is a brand that’s been selling well with millennials.  When you buy something Patagonia you buy it for life as there’s a repair service to keep the item maintained, or if you just don’t like it anymore you can then can resell it or recycle it. This isn’t fast fashion; it’s creating something with care that is going to survive for years and can be passed from owner to owner.

With the recent announcement that new petrol and diesel cars won’t be available in the UK after 2030, how as an industry do we move to protect the sector? A child born during 2020 (Generation Alpha) may never drive a car with an internal combustion engine. That means that they would never drive a manual car, go to a petrol station or know how to check the oil. The more pressing issue before this is how do we engage millennials and Generation Z enough to keep the industry going until then? Does the answer lie in the electrification of classic cars? Or do changing tastes and government regulation mean that there is no place for anything with an engine in another twenty years? Will vehicles instead become pieces of art?

Millennials are buying from brands that are putting out all the same signals as the classic car market but no one is bringing the two sides together and drawing the parallels. There’s no one campaigning for the industry and extolling the virtues, even though the signs are there that millennials are ready to listen.