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More than 200,000 Brits have joined the classic-car movement since 2016, according to the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs’ latest survey, which was brought forward a year to avoid results being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ordinarily the comprehensive questionnaire is released every five years, but comparing to 2019 would be a true representation rather than to a year when travel, events and the economy have been so restricted.
The FBHVC says the number of classic owners leapt from just shy of 500,000 to 700,000, a 40% increase in the four years.
It believes there are 1.5 million classics registered with the DVLA, which also represents a big increase of nearly 50% from 1,039,950 to 1,538,927, though 56% are currently listed as SORN. The FBHVC defines a historic vehicle as one produced more than 30 years ago.
Spending on classics also rose markedly, to £7.2 billion from £5.5bn, and it claims more than 4000 companies combine to employ in excess of 34,000 people in the UK – a similar number to the previous release, when the FBHVC stated in C&SC at the time that there was scope for 10,000 more jobs in the next five to 10 years.
Climate impact is an important battleground currently for the FBHVC, with cities increasing costs with low-emissions zones, but owners appear to be taking it upon themselves by contributing to or considering programmes that offset their carbon footprint. As many as 35% currently pay or would do so, and the Federation says it is an area it is investigating.
Vehicle usage has remained relatively static, with around 1200 miles a year put under the average classic’s wheels – compared to 1124 in 2016 – and the number of sub-£10,000 cars has dropped a couple of percentage points to 51%.
In the 2011 edition of the survey, that number stood at 70%, suggesting a rise in values attributed to popular classics as time goes on.
The FBHVC believes the survey paints an overall positive picture of the classic-car sector.
“The significant value to the United Kingdom that the historic-vehicle industry generates simply cannot be ignored by those in power,” added chairman David Whale.
“We face the most challenging times ahead over the next few years and these results give us the justification to ensure that our freedoms to enjoy our transport heritage continue unhindered.
“As a sector we cannot be ignored and will be instrumental in the recovery of our nation’s economy post-Brexit and post-COVID-19. The most heartwarming news was that there are more enthusiasts than ever who are immersing themselves in our community and that is really positive for the future.”
Full results of the report are expected to be released in December and you can read the FBHVC’s summary here.