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Studying the classics

Published: 20/04/18

Studying the classics

Few can fail to be wowed by the classic car, whether your choice is the Ferrari 250 GTO or a Citron 2CV, you've got a barn find or a family heirloom, the appeal is infinite.

Auto Express newsletter tells us that the classic car market shows little sign of slowing and that prices paid for the rarest cars have sky rocketed in the last few years. Every example on the top ten most expensive classic cars bought at auction was bought after 2013.

Specialist classic car insurers ERS have produced some interesting research into attitudes about classic car ownership. They tell us that classic car ownership is not “getting from A to B, it's about passion and enthusiasm”. They also pose interesting questions about what makes a car classic and what might be stopping more people from driving them? Their questions were put to both classic car owners and non-classic car owners.

What makes a classic?

For classic car owners style was the most important feature, followed by age and rarity. It's very much a case of external looks are far more significant than what's under the bonnet. Respondents use words such as 'nostalgic', 'distinctive' and 'stylish' when asked what best describe a classic car. “Driving a classic car is about being noticed, standing out from the crowd and celebrating the past.”

Whilst many classic cars may lack modern comforts – 40% of classic car owners say that they are fun to drive and it's this driving experience that owners love.

Respondents were asked at what age is a car considered 'a classic'? From an insurance point of view, a car can become a 'modern classic' from the age of 20 years old and 35% of the classic car owners agreed with this. Non-classic car owners (25%) perceive the entry into classic car status as being older than this, with cars aged 50 years plus. ERS says: “This may mean that they see classic cars of out of reach, when in fact, modern classics can be very accessible.”

Both groups were asked about whether classic cars should be preserved or adapted and generally they were in agreement that they should be preserved, but when questioned further classic car owners were more open to the idea that classic cars can be marginally modified and still retain their appeal. “Classic car owners seem prepared to adapt to keep the cars they love on the road”.

Non-classic car drivers were asked whether they would like to own a classic and over half (52%) said that they would. This group was then questioned further about what stops them owning a classic? Cost of the car, maintenance and insurance all scored highly, but also lack of time to work on it and lack of expertise were significant factors. ERS says “Cost is clearly the main factor, but this doesn't have to be the case. For instance, a modern classic can be picked up at a relatively modest price, significantly less than a brand new or even second hand car.”

MOT?

In May 2018 cars over 40 years of age will not be required to pass an MOT, more classic car owners agreed with this, while non-classic car owners were less convinced.

Despite this, Steve Simpson, Senior Classics Underwriter at ERS does not think that this will greatly change the status quo, saying: “We believe that many owners of classics over 40 will continue to MOT their vehicles irrespective of this change. While not an insurance requirement, we know that an MOT gives these owners a regular opportunity to ensure the running and roadworthiness of their vehicle, particularly if they haven’t been driven for a long period outside of the seasonal peak. Many already take their cars to specialists who offer care packages for classic vehicles alongside their MOT checks and so it is often part of the care and attention a cherished classic receives. I don’t believe the non-mandatory nature will trigger any great change in this behaviour as classic owners by nature will want to protect their interests.”

ERS were keen to learn about the insurance requirements of classic car owners and what's most important to them is agreed value insurance which guarantees the vehicle's value in the event of a total loss. They also rated flexibility, with the option to choose their own specialists repairer. They also asked the classic car owners if they agreed with the following statement: “Insuring a classic car is cheaper than I expected.” 73% agree, and of these, 31% say that it is significantly cheaper than they expected.

In terms of how classic car owners used their cars, most of them drove their car in some way or another with only a few being kept purely for investment.

“61% of drivers take them out on day trips and 14% have the confidence to take their cars abroad. 45% say they drive them for ‘everyday’ activities such as trip to the shops. Such opportune use, especially in good weather, is very much part of the enjoyment of owning a classic vehicle.”

Future classics?

Predicting future classics is not an exact science, but their senior Classic Car Insurance Underwriter, Steve Simpson, who has spent years studying classic cars gives us his views on some of the most important classic car hallmarks

  1. Vehicles manufactured by niche, British or marques that no longer produce vehicles
  2. Manufactured in limited-edition/low numbers
  3. Sports/performance cars
  4. Quirky styling or interiors

In conclusion to their research, ERS says:

“Classic cars are clearly loved by those who own them but also are admired and respected by many non-owners who can still appreciate what these vehicles represent. While there are hallmarks that signify a classic, what owners and buyers look for is clearly much more personal and emotional than the age or pure value.”

They go on to tell us that ownership should not be viewed as inaccessible or exclusive and that there are “moderately priced ‘modern classics’ as a point of entry...that classics can adapt to the requirements of today”

Specialist brokers, such as Flint “are a vital part of this network, enabling owners and buyers to get the cover that’s right for them...classic car insurance is a key part of protecting both the vehicle and its value at significantly less cost than the most expect”

And for the future:

“We are on the cusp of change. Heritage brands, such as Aston Martin and Jaguar, are already exploring the possibilities around the electrification of classics (Jaguar have even produced a prototype of an electric E-Type). Legislation, such as the Clean Air Bill will see some classics have to adapt to stay on the road, where both their owners and admirers want them to be. The next few years will be very interesting, but one thing is clear, even in age of automation and digitalisation, the enduring love and nature of the classic car is alive and kicking.”

Flint Private Clients work with ERS and other specialist classic car insurers, if you would like more information on insurance for your car and or your home please call us on 0208 309 3434 – we are here to help.

 

 

 

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