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Millennials and Gen Z care about classic cars after all

It’s a common assumption that Millennials and members of Generation Z are less interested in cars than previous generations. But according to Hagerty survey results released last week, these younger drivers are more likely—not less—to want to own a classic car than their parents or grandparents.

Of the 10,000 United States drivers surveyed, Gen Z and Millennials were most likely to report currently owning a collectible or classic car. One quarter of Millennials surveyed said they owned a classic car, as did 22% of Gen Zers surveyed. They were followed by Gen X (19%), Baby Boomers (13%), and the so-called Silent Generation (11%).

In addition, members of the Gen Z and Millennial generations who don’t already own a classic car expressed more interest in owning one than older generations. Of the Millennials surveyed, 57% expressed interest in owning a classic car, and so did 53% of the Gen Zers surveyed. About half of Gen Xers (49%) also showed interest in classic cars, while numbers for Boomers (33%) and the Silent Generation (19%) were much lower.

Hagerty said these findings were consistent with previous data. Since 2017, Millennials and Gen Xers have sought classic-car insurance quotes and valuations at much higher rates than older generations, according to the company. Hagerty didn’t provide any details on what constitutes “classic” or “collectible” for the purposes of its surveys, but the past few years have seen cars from the 1990s and early 2000s—those most likely to trigger Millennial nostalgia—attract more attention from collectors.

More broadly, the survey found continued enthusiasm for driving across all generations.

Nearly three of four Americans (73%) surveyed said they enjoy driving, regardless of generation. In addition, 38% of survey respondents described themselves as active “driving enthusiasts,” defined by Hagerty as belonging to a car club, taking part in off-road or track driving, and attending car shows or auctions.

Attitudes toward driving by generation (from Hagerty 2020 Why Driving Matters survey)

Attitudes toward driving by generation (from Hagerty 2020 Why Driving Matters survey)

“Much of the ‘death of driving’ handwringing by the media in the wake of the Great Recession was based on data showing younger generations were getting their licenses later, buying their first vehicles later, and buying fewer vehicles compared to previous generations at the same age. That conflated buying power with demand,” Ryan Tandler, the survey lead, said in a statement. “The recession hit younger generations harder and delayed a host of major purchases and life milestones.”

Millennials are now catching up and, as the nation’s largest generation, they could become the collector-car hobby’s biggest group in the near future, Hagerty predicts. That is, if the economic fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic doesn’t put them right back where they were a decade ago.


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