14th June, 2019

Is owning a classic one of the most important things in your life?

According to new research from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, classic car enthusiasts are spending an increased amount on their hobby, driving their cars further and ensuring that more remain on the road. 21 million people in the UK believe classic cars are an important part of the British institution and there’s even more good news: interest in owning historic vehicles is most prolific with younger generations, ensuring that the enthusiasm for carburettors, crossply and coachbuilding continues.

The results, compiled from the Federation’s 2019 National Cost of Ownership Survey, demonstrate an underlyingly positive attitude towards classic cars. It states that not only are there more historic vehicles on the DVLA’s database – 1,241,863, up from 1,039,950 in 2016 – but that owners are more willing to use them as manufacturers’ intended: the average mileage covered for historic vehicles almost doubled in the three-year period since the last survey in 2016, up from 1,124 miles to 2,214.  

The results are perhaps evidence that cars from an era that utilised more modern technologies, such as fuel injection or electronic ignition, are achieving historic status and encouraging more frequent use, but it’s representative of the UK’s attitude towards older vehicles. For example, the survey suggests that 11.3m people believe that historic vehicles should be exempt from the emissions-based restrictions imposed on more modern petrol and diesel machines. This is in stark contrast to the attitude towards new vehicle emissions and an acceptance of the limited environmental impact made by historic vehicles over the few miles they cover each year.

‘The survey suggests that although younger people are more interested in older cars, they are not necessarily as well versed in the pitfalls of historic vehicle ownership’

Vehicles relevant to this survey are owned by 9.8m people in the UK so the country’s appreciation stretches far beyond the comparably few numbers of dedicated owners. The figures suggest that one of the reasons encouraging this appreciation of older vehicles is the perceived lifestyle that accompanies classic car ownership. Regular events, club socials and the rise in prominence of marquee events such as Goodwood Revival contribute towards this image, and 3m people surveyed attend historic vehicle events each year.

How long can it last?

Romantically – and perhaps rather disconcertingly if you’re related to these people – 60% of enthusiasts state that owning a historic vehicle is one of the most important things in their life. It’s indicative of the passionate attitude of petrolheads towards their pride and joys and is perhaps one of the reasons the younger generation’s interest transcends the current focus on reduced emissions and alternative, electrified powertrain.

The survey suggests that although younger people are more interested in older cars, they are not necessarily as well versed in the pitfalls of historic vehicle ownership, mechanics and the continued tender loving care required. Indeed, 5.1m of those surveyed stated that they were put off historic vehicle ownership by the costs involved.

This represents a fantastic opportunity to encourage the nation to further embrace our hobby. Greater education and understanding of the maintenance required by historic vehicles is essential to ensure that the positive figures regarding registered vehicles, miles covered and ownership, continue to rise. Basic mechanical knowledge can save costly garage repair bills and help prevent part failure, and classic vehicle insurance policies can help protect your investment. The next survey is to be conducted in 2021 and it would be great news for the market if we continue to see more classic vehicles on the road, enjoyed by a wider spread of people and driven further than ever before. Well, maybe further than in the last 30 years or so…

Is owning an historic vehicle one of the most important things in your life? And, if it is, tell us why in the either the comments section below, on our Facebook page or the Footman James Twitter feed.