What’s next for the classic car market?

Written by Simone | 8th May 2019

From a stable, hobbyist market to a cash cow to the austerity years; the classic car market has seen as much fluctuation in the last 10 years as the market for cryptocurrency. With so much ongoing change, it’s difficult to see what the future will hold. We sat down with our classic car expert, Jan-Bart Broertjes, to see how the market is doing today and to discuss trends for the future.

Overall trends

There seem to be fewer people on the market looking to invest in expensive cars. Jan-Bart explains: “We are seeing that the higher value end of the market (anything over €120k) is a lot harder to sell than four or five years ago. In contrast, the more affordable end of the market (€6k to €17k) is flourishing. Between 2010 and 2014 there was a lot of media hype concerning classic cars, with the media telling people to invest in classic cars instead of putting their money in the bank. Of course, there are only so many classic cars around, which caused the prices to skyrocket. Now, these people have moved on from investing in cars, and the market has returned to the hands of actual enthusiasts.”

“In the future, the environment could have a big impact on the classic car market. Emission reduction is becoming increasingly important and governments are starting to take measures against vehicles that don’t meet certain environmental standards. This means driving a classic car could become incredibly expensive. We’re already seeing that the demand for pre-war cars is in decline, which could be a reaction to these measures.”

The rise of the millennial

One of the biggest changes in recent years is caused by the influx of millennials on the classic car market. “Enthusiasts tend to buy the car they dreamt of when they were younger, which is why the demand is shifting to more recent models and pre-war, 50s and 60s cars are going out of fashion. Younger buyers are forgoing the traditionally ‘cool’ (and expensive) muscle and sports models for cars they are familiar with and, perhaps most importantly, can actually afford.”

Unexpectedly, it appears that video games might have contributed to the popularity of certain models. “A lot of people born in the 80s or 90s grew up playing video games like Need for Speed, Gran Turismo and Forza, creating an emotional connection with certain cars from a young age. Now, they’re old enough to drive and, if they’re fortunate enough, can actually buy their younger selves’ dream car.”

Need for Speed (1994)

No reserve

Auctions have always been part of the classic car market. In recent years, however, the auctions have moved from physical places to the online world; opening up the market to a worldwide audience. Sure, shipping is slightly more challenging than when bidding on, say, stamps, but if you really want to find the car of your dreams, it’s much easier to locate when the world is your oyster.

Something that has always been part of the car auctioning world is the reserve price. This is the minimum price that is set by the seller of the car, usually done to guarantee it’s sold for the price the seller thinks it’s worth. An emerging trend, both offline as online, are cars without reserve prices. Cars that are auctioned without a reserve price are seen as accurate indicators of the actual current value of a certain car; an honest snapshot of the market. Sellers sometimes have unrealistic expectations of what their vehicle is worth, which cause them to set high reserve prices and the car not selling.

“While it is understandable that sellers like the comfort of a reserve price, it can also be seen as a restriction that encourages collectors to bid cautiously. Or not bid at all. Cars without reserve prices attract more bidders which opens the possibility for a bidding war that could lead to even higher prices. It’s a risk for the seller, but a risk often worth taking”, Jan-Bart advises.

Trends on Catawiki

Catawiki organises weekly online classic cars auctions and monthly no reserve auctions. Mercedes is the brand that gets sold most, followed by Fiat, Jaguar, MG and Alfa Romeo. The cars that get the most search hits on Catawiki are Porsche, BMW and Ferrari. Barn finds – cars that need some love, attention and restoration – are also very popular.


Want to find your dream car? Check out our classic car auctions.

Discover more classic cars | automobilia | Mercedes

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