While collecting classic cars is still an active hobby in this age of fuel efficiency and alternative fuels, millennials have taken up more and more of a share of the demographics involved. Just like every generation preceding it, the millennial generation of car collectors is focused on a different type of vehicle than their previous generation, Generation X. This article intends to correct any misconceptions on how old millennials are, touch upon what they consider to be collectible cars, and also address the millennial attitude about cars in general.
What is a Millennial?
As descendants of boomers and Gen X, millennials range from 22 to 40.
What is a Classic to a Millennial?
Most of the machines that draw a millennial’s eye are pickups, SUVs, and the performance cars their parents may have driven from the late ’60s to early ’80s. Sedans, hot rods, and the like barely hold any sway over millennial car enthusiasts.
If you want some specific examples of popular models, look no further than the Cutlass Supreme, Mazda RX-7, Datsun 260Z, or VW Corrado. This generation has hit the point where it can invest time and money into the acquisition and restoration of collectible cars.
The general definition of a classic car is any vehicle that is at least a quarter-century old; one man’s ’69 Pontiac GTO is another’s ’89 Nissan Skyline. This trend is the same reason why so many domestic muscle cars were so prominent two decades ago; Boomers and Gen Xers had the right income and time to seek out the cars they believed to be the essence of cool in their youths.
Pop culture is certainly a potent force for influence collectible cars; the DeLorean, made prolific through the Back to the Future franchise is an otherwise unremarkable vehicle. Similarly, The Dukes of Hazzard was instrumental in driving the appeal of the ’69 Charger.
While the classics of previous generations are hardly vanishing, they are fading from the limelight of auto shows and museums. This trend will likely repeat itself with future generations a decade or two into the future. The good news for the “old guard” of enthusiasts is that some of their classics are still being sought by millennials: chiefly Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros, and VW Beetles from between 1949 and 1980.
What Do Millennials See in Cars?
The average millennial is more interested in using his car to drive around than to work on it within a garage. If any sector has been especially hard-hit by this approach, it would be old British cars. The unique demands of British vehicles have sent many a millennial looking elsewhere in the hope of finding a car that just seems fun to drive around in; hence the apparent appeal of SUVs.
One challenge with some ’80s classic cars will come in their innovation. For example, Buick’s Riviera featured a CRT touch screen that will likely drive some enthusiast up the wall in searching for replacement components to that feature.
The definition of a “classic” is always revolving, and millennials are just the current generation that is changing the status quo in the car industry. Recreational dealers should pay close attention to how perceptions evolve over the coming years.