How Covid-19 caused a boom in the classic car market

ovid-19 may not be all bad news for the specialist automotive industry, as reports show a huge upshift in classic and specialist car fans saying: ‘if not now then when?’ and voting with their wallets, purchasing some of the most famous and lusted after vehicles after the pandemic.

Classic and vintage vehicle insurance specialist, Footman James Explains why, due to the pandemic, car collecting is on the rise, the average age of enthusiasts is down and how younger people are investing in classics…

The classic car industry was among a select few sectors that saw a boom over the past two years, with showrooms, auction houses and traders reporting impressive sales figures for second-hand and classic cars. Worldwide microchip supply shortages resulted in higher demand for older vehicles, as manufacturing was hindered and waiting lists were extended. Additionally, “the nation’s appetite for old cars is being fueled by a combination of pent-up demand, the proliferation of online auctions and a rise in many people’s disposable wealth,” as John Evans of Autocar explains. The combination of these factors has not only led to increased classic car values, but a noticeable shift in the UK classic car market.

Car collecting, a term now encompassing far more than just high-end and exotic vehicles, is on the rise. With the widespread increase in disposable income following lockdowns – by the Bank of England at over £100 billion collectively – enthusiasts are able to purchase their dream classic cars. Online auction platforms also played a role in this during the pandemic. The ability to offer enthusiasts their dream cars for auction online, in a time when so many people were at home during lockdowns, was unmatched and allowed websites such as The Market by Bonhams to report record sales figures and even expand into Europe.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also had an impact on which classic cars remain popular, as Car & Classic reportsaffordable classics like the MG MGB and Volkswagen Beetle are being overtaken by more iconic cars such as the Porsche 911, now the website’s most-searched-for vehicle. Car & Classic’s head of editorial, Chris Pollitt explains, “The searches highlight how the pandemic is driving and accelerating change in the classic car field. For some, it has meant more time to start a new project, for others, money saved not going on holiday could mean now buying the dream car they always wanted to own.”

There has also been rising interest in the classic cars of the Eighties and Nineties, known as ‘youngtimers’ or modern classics. As detailed by Car & Classicthe E30 BMW 3 Series is now the third most searched-for car on the website, with iconic Japanese models such as the Toyota Supra or Mazda RX-7 featuring in the top 16. Enthusiasts, particularly those born around the same time as these Modern classics, seem to have the mentality of ‘if I don’t do it now, I never will’ in taking the steps to purchase their dream cars.

To corroborate this, the Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance recently discovered that the average age of automotive enthusiasts has fallen from 58 to 54 years old. While seemingly a small difference, it supports the notion that younger individuals are investing and enjoying classic and specialist cars.

This newfound interest in specific and dream cars means more people are looking to purchase specialist insurance for their classics. Established in 1983, Footman James offers a multitude of insurance policiesfrom single vehicle, multi-million-pound car collections, multi-vehicle packages and tailored insurance for private clients. For private clients Footman James specialises its services to suit when they make investments in the classic car market, especially when vintage car values ​​are experiencing a rapid rise.

David Bond, Managing Director of Footman James, explains that the provider currently insures £1.45 billion in its Private Clients team alone, and that “each private client has a dedicated account handler who can look after any needs throughout the lifetime of a policy.” Bond and the Footman James team are passionate classic car enthusiasts, and that makes them “happy to be able to ensure that someone’s pride and joy stays well protected under our care.”


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