New value index and the return of RADwood UK reflects a change in demographics and ‘modern classic’ perception

The demographic of classic car drivers is getting younger, with more than a quarter of them now aged under 40, according to research from Hagerty. And with more Millennial and Gen Z buyers out there, there’s been a shift in the way so-called ‘modern classics’ are perceived – as reflected by the return of Hagerty’s RADwood festival celebrating 1980s and 1990s machinery, plus the launch of new value index from the company charting the values of such vehicles.

Hagerty’s findings show that 27 per cent of classic car buyers are aged under 40, up from 21 per cent four years ago. And that information is not taken from a small sample; Hagerty insure around 2 million classic and collectable cars worldwide, and this demographic data is from those insured clients.

“In terms of other data, we also send out various consumer surveys each year, both in the UK and US, which shows the same trends,” said John Mayhead, editor of the Hagerty Price Guide UK. “Also, anecdotally, we’re seeing younger people attend our events and demand for younger, ‘80s and ‘90s cars.

“These cars were for many years called ‘modern classics’, almost as though they weren’t really eligible for true status as collectable cars, but things have changed.”

The RADwood index joins five other Hagerty’s UK price guide indices, including ‘Gold’, ‘Classic’, ‘Best of British, ‘Hot Hatch’ and ‘FOTU’ (for Festival of the Unexceptional contenders). To make the index reflective of the 1980s and ’90s ‘RADwood’ average, Hagerty carefully chose 50 cars to track the values of.

BMW is represented in the index more than any other manufacturer with the E34 M5, the E30 and E36 M3, the 850CSi and 635CSi and E30 325i all monitored. Other iconic cars selected include the Renault 5 Turbo 1, Volvo 850 R Estate, Lamborghini Jalpa, Fiat Coupe 20v Turbo, Alfa Romeo SZ and TVR Cerbera Red Rose.

Japanese performance icons like the Subaru Impreza are included in Hagerty’s RADwood index

Icons of Japanese performance are also well represented with the Subaru Impreza, Lancer Evo, Toyota Supra and the Nissan Skyline, while the halo vehicles like the Sierra RS Cosworth (both three-door and Sapphire) and Lotus Carlton are also recognised. More affordable vehicles include the VW Corrado VR5, Ford Fiesta XR2i 1.8, Mk1 Toyota MR2, MG Maestro Turbo and base-model Mazda MX-5.

To highlight the correlation between younger owners and modern classic desirability, the percentage of Mazda MX-5 NA owners under 40 has risen by 22 points over the last four years, while the average ‘Excellent’ Hagerty Price Guide value for the model has increased by 30 per cent during the same period. Interestingly, some cars on the list are most attractive to older, or younger, buyers: The Porsche 944 is a hit with those in their 30s, and the XJS is a firm favourite of those over 55.

Some cars – notably the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, have risen by a huge amount in value over the last few years. However, plot the RADwood Index next to Hagerty’s other indices and it shows the second-lowest average growth (14 per cent) since 2018. Hagerty reckon that’s not a bad thing – although the lockdown dip, post-Covid spike and following correction are still evident with RADwood, they are less pronounced. That shows stability and steady growth, and that signifies a healthy market.

Hagerty will update the Index every quarter, and the expectation is that this group of cars will continue on a steady upward trajectory with the very best examples, especially low-mileage, high-spec cars, becoming increasingly collectable.

This September’s RADwood UK event will take place at The Historic Dockyard Chatham

This September’s RADwood UK event will take place at The Historic Dockyard Chatham

Fans of 1980s and 1990s cars also have the RADwood UK event to look forward to, which takes place on September 7 at a new venue – The Historic Dockyard Chatham, in Kent (above). In a celebration of the era’s lifestyle, the event will blend period correct dress with music, culture, and cars built between 1980 and 1999. Authenticity and originality count for much, but period-correct modifications are also welcomed.

Mark Roper, Managing Director of Hagerty International said, “As cars of the ’80s and ’90s are becoming more popular in the enthusiast and collector market, Hagerty felt it was important to provide owners with robust market valuation data and a great annual event at which to celebrate them.

Launching the RADwood Index and the 2024 RADwood event shows our dedication to this growing sector of the market, and we hope owners enjoy them both.”

Tickets for RADwood are available to buy now, starting at £15.

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