As baby boomers age out of the game, the market for classic cars is changing.
Collecting is a deeply human pastime, passed down by our ancestors who collected supplies to survive. Fortunately, modern marvels like grocery stores and e-commerce have rendered this kind of collection obsolete, but the instinct persists. As a result, our world is filled with collector communities trading in the things they love most, be it stamps, action figures, pure-bred horses or classic cars.
Some might consider collecting classic cars a rich man’s game. It used to be, but this is changing. The classic car market is currently undergoing a seismic shift. The baby boomer generation long reigned over the classic car scene, but this old guard is leaving the game. A new generation with a taste for all things retro is taking over. This new breed collects cars from the 70s, 80s and 90s like the BMW M3s, the DMC DeLorean, or the Mecedes Benz SL. These “new classics” or “new oldtimers” are great cars that still inspire that nostalgic urge quintessential to collecting, but they aren’t nearly as rare as their older counterparts, and are thus less expensive.
Why People Collect
All collectors have a mix of emotional and financial reasons for why they do what they do, and car collectors are no different. Simply put, most collectors are driven by nostalgia. They don’t necessarily value vehicles for technical merit, but for that certain ineffable quality that, for whatever reason, just feels so good. Owning the perfect car gives collectors a soothing sense of control that, once felt, can become irresistible. Some collectors will move heaven and Earth for their dream cars. This means, what makes classic cars emotionally compelling is also what makes them great financial investments.
What are Collectibles?
A collectible is anything that collectors perceive as desirable. Collectibles may be items of immense value, like jewels or art, or common things like sand from far-flung beaches. Cars are no different. They have no inherent value, so a car only becomes a classic when collectors perceive it as one. This can happen for a variety of reasons, like aesthetic qualities, historical or pop cultural significance, technical quirks, or just plain old rarity.
Car connoisseurs can debate which models have the most value until the sun comes up. But at the end of the day, desirability is the only true measure of a collectible’s value. However, collectors can take measures to augment their collections’ desirability.
Oldtimer vs youngtimer, what’s the difference?
First of all, oldtimer and youngtimer are German terms. British and American car enthusiasts stick to the catch-all: classic cars. The difference is simple. An oldtimer was first registered over 30 years ago, and a youngtimer was first registered over 20 years ago. These terms are more than just car-lover slang, they are official designations. Not all old cars deserve to be called youngtimers or oldtimers. A car must be in great condition to qualify.
This emphasis on condition is tied to value, but also comes from the passion most collectors feel for their vehicles. Tweaking, tinkering and rigorous maintenance are the heart and soul of collecting cars. Through this work, collectors transmute their passion into something with real value. If the right car is well-maintained, it will become more valuable every year.
New Collectors for New Classics
By definition, the new generation of classic cars are beginning to qualify for oldtimer and youngtimer status. And that’s precisely why it’s a good time to start collecting classic cars. The retro classics of the late 70s, 80s and 90s, are still considerably cheaper than the classics of the 60s and earlier. However, their value will appreciate as long as they receive the proper vehicle maintenance. What’s more, German oldtimers come with tax breaks, which makes this new generation of classic cars even more attractive to new collectors.
People will always collect beautiful cars, even as the metrics of desirability change. The market for collectible cars will always exist, but it is currently in a phase of transition. It’s the perfect time to jump in.
Organise your Collection
As a classic car collection grows, it can end up becoming increasingly stressful to maintain. Getting organised about vehicle asset management is crucial, therefore. To maintain and grow a car’s value, its owner must document its history religiously and keep up with all scheduled maintenance. All this can be a headache, but the Gapless car app makes it easier. The Gapless app is the perfect control centre for car ownership, essentially a car-specific asset management software. Assemble all documentation, scheduling, and logistics on one, intuitive platform. Everything you need, always at your fingertips. No more piles of paperwork, just your smartphone.