Thursday June 30, 2016
It’s a very exciting time for classic car clubs of all shapes and sizes; as both the traditional, old school clubs and their newer and more digital-savvy counterparts look to alternative ways to attract new and progressively younger members to swell their ranks.
The gap between on and offline clubs has narrowed of course, as younger enthusiasts take to the web to quench their thirst for classics, while the more mature among us become increasingly tech savvy, out of either necessity or a desire to fit in.
But will there come a time when the digital world wins out?
And will the work, the character, the love and (sometimes!) craft that goes into producing the club magazines that we get though our letter boxes each month die out, like a 70’s ceramic-coated Mercedes Benz hubcap, replicated in plastic by a 3D printing machine in Beijing?
Speed or comfort?
We live in fast paced times. Everything moves more quickly. Maybe too quickly for some.
Before the arrival of the internet it would take several people quite a few weeks to organise a club meeting or a run, and staging a hill climb would be out of the question without months of planning.
Baby You Can 'Like' My Car
Today, such is the power of the internet, we can decide to organise a meet on Thursday and have a field full of Minis on Saturday.
To the old-school among us this seems slightly absurd. Taking your car out for a club meeting requires a degree of planning, maybe a bit of carb-tweaking, and not least some polishing!
But to the younger classic owner the immediacy of the whole thing is what makes it so attractive; they’re the ‘Now’ generation, empowered and enthusiastic, and this is where it gets interesting for the classic car industry as a whole.
Because these young turks are getting a whole lot more use out of their cars than we are, and ergo a whole lot more pleasure out of them too.
Isn’t it about time we joined them?
Classic car fixation is like a bug. Once it’s in the blood there’s no cure apart from the purchase of increasingly more ambitious and expensive projects, and today’s younger classic car driver, whether currently in a Spitfire, Morris Minor or a Mk 1 Golf GTi, is more than likely going to be the custodian of something rather more exotic in later life. It stands to reason really.
We all wanted something more exotic at some stage – like a DB5, a Porsche 356 Speedster or a Berlinetta Boxer, and while we may never have achieved such huge ambitions we usually manage to get our hands on something a bit special eventually.
And it’s here that ‘owning it’ comes in - because we never really do.
Sure, we pay for it, maintain it, restore it and drive it, but ultimately we’re just the current (and temporary) custodians of whatever piece of gloriously patina’d nostalgia currently sits in our garages and lockups. That Mk. lll Jaguar, Boat Tailed Alfa Spyder or whatever will belong to someone else some day, and they need to know how to look after it like you did.
The ‘Old Ways’
It’s really encouraging to see so many classic car clubs engaging with younger audiences through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. It’s no surprise either that Instagram and Pinterest both have huge classic car followings. The younger enthusiasts are what’s driving this sudden explosion of classic cars into the digital world, and because classic cars are such wonderful eye candy the bug is only likely to spread further.
Add to this the low cost of classic car insurance and tax exemptions and the additional safety of learning in and driving a classic and the demand for old cars can only increase, which in turn can only help to sustain values and ensure a real future for our industry.
For clubs who really care about preserving our motoring heritage these youngsters are the future, and some are already embracing it, like Lancaster Insurance Services, who have access to membership concessions for young drivers and arrange specialist policies with insurance companies to help these young drivers on the life-long adventure that classic car custodianship really is.
The future of the classic car is already here, and it’s up to us to ensure it’s rosy.
Because if we don’t welcome these youngsters into our clubs and teach them ‘The Old Ways’, they may well end up passing on little more than a barn find!
And we wouldn’t want that now, would we?