Passing the Torch: Gen Xers & Millennials Become Majority in Classic Car World

Jan 14, 2019

In the classic vehicle world, 2018 will be remembered as the year that younger car lovers took their share of the wheel from older generations, according to a new book of data from Hagerty, home to the world’s largest community of classic vehicle enthusiasts.

For the first time, Gen Xers and millennials are seeking vehicle values via Hagerty’s Valuation Tools and classic vehicle insurance quotes more often than baby boomers and pre-boomers by a roughly 53-47 percent margin, according to a press release.

Given current trends, millennials-who comprise the nation’s largest generation-will become the hobby’s single largest group within five years.

“This shift was inevitable given the combined size of these generations,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “We say ‘welcome to the club.’ It’s great to see that younger generations are just as crazy about cars as their parents and grandparents.”

Overall, requests for values and quotes from all generations were up 17 percent in 2018 over the previous year, indicating a healthy market and continuing interest in cars and driving across generations, said John Wiley, an analyst with Hagerty.

Last year, a Hagerty survey indicated 78 percent of Gen Xers and 81 percent of millennials “like, love or are passionate about” driving, compared to 79 percent of baby boomers.

The most popular vehicle among boomers, Gen Xers and millennials is the 1965-’66 Ford Mustang. Mustangs, Camaros and Corvettes historically transcend generations, according to Wiley, as do cars built in the late 1960s.

“Everyone loves late ’60s cars,” he noted. “They just have that allure.”

But there are distinct generational differences as well. The Ford Model A, for instance, is the most popular car among pre-boomers (born before 1946) but falls to 38th place among millennials.

Meanwhile, trucks and SUVs are proving to have strong appeal to younger buyers. For instance, 1973-’87 C/K Series Chevrolet pickups are the second most popular among millennials and fifth most popular among Gen Xers. Gen Xers and millennials are 35 percent more likely to be interested in a truck or SUV compared to pre-boomers and boomers.

“Vintage pickups offer a very affordable way into the hobby for a lot of collectors, so it makes sense that as you move from older to younger enthusiasts you see pickups move up the list in popularity,” said Wiley.

American nameplates are, by far, the most popular with buyers of all generations but millennials, in particular, have a soft spot for Japanese cars, quoting them four times more often than pre-boomers.

Similarly, pre-boomers are three times more likely to seek information on British cars than millennials. German cars remain popular across generations.

To foster car love across generations, Hagerty recently launched the world’s largest community of car enthusiasts called Hagerty Drivers Club, featuring member-only access to events, discounts, services and magazine.