Monday, 22 March 2010

Classics; The Next Generation.

Who says the young are apathetic towards classics?

Almost one in five classic car owners feel that a lack of interest from the young is the greatest threat to the classic car movement, according to a 2009 Practical Classics/Footman James poll. That's right. The apathy of youth ranked second only to the fear of draconian 'green' policies banning the use of classic cars save for to travel to the odd show. A greater threat even than worries over parts. Now I'm sorry, but I refuse to accept this - for not one, but two very strong reasons.

Firstly, there is a surprising support for classics amongst the young. I know people with Peerlesses, with MGBs, Austin 1100s, old Land Rovers, you name it - and all these people are under 21. All of what I would call undergraduate or college age. There's a clear answer to this obviously; that I know all these people through old car communities and forums; that we met because of our love for old motors. As such, it's hardly representative of the views of the man on the campus. Not the case. A friend of mine was recently out driving his MGBGT when he came across a young woman driving a Triumph Spitfire. I know a chap with a Sunbeam Stiletto, whose girlfriend owns an Imp. A chap I was at college with had a Bond Equipe 2-litre and a Reliant SS1. And another presenter on the student radio station to which I contribute drives, I found out the other day, an Applejack Green Austin Allegro.

The second point is that the classic car movement is gradually evolving. What makes a car a classic to us? A topic oft-debated down the pub over a pint of best, but I think we can quite easily codify it. My personal definition of a classic car is one which evokes particular memories for the individual. Therefore my fond memories of holidaying in Wales with family in a Rover 827 mean that for me, the car evokes a feeling of nostalgia. If someone feels that with, say, a MK3 Escort (a car I cannot bring myself to desire) then to that person the family Ford is a classic. And if that same person sees a Rover 800 as a soulless barge with no right to classic status, then fine.

Take a look at the people who buy classics now. I know a man in his late fifties, who spent time working for both Triumph and Jaguar in the 1970s. He owns a Daimler Double Six S2 and recently restored a Dolomite Sprint. I know a chap whose first car was a Rover 2000TC - he's bought another P6 thirty years on for the memories. Cars that meant something to the individual at the time will one day be exhibited for the misty eyed to roam amongst at shows.

A mate of mine is selling his late 90s Honda Civic Coupe; a car into which he's put much time, love, and money. He's heartbroken, but he cannot afford to keep it whilst at university. When he's got to where he's going in life, he'll probably buy another as a hobby car and weekend toy. Another friend has a Fiat Punto which he adores, and wants to keep for when he has kids, and they wish to learn to drive. He'll end up keeping it as a second car, mollycoddling it and caring for it almost as one would for a pet, until then. These are the sorts of car we'll find on the show field in, say, 2035.

My point is this; as long as people love their cars and cherish the memories, there will be a classic car community. Yes, the number of us who love cars of the 60s and 70s will decline, but then look how few (relatively) old car fans prefer pre-war motors to those of the 1960s and 1970s. The young don't pose a threat, more that people of my generation represent the future of the hobby.

And regardless about how it may make you feel, it's going to happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment