Press Releases

Classic Cars – a changing market worth billions

Frankfurt am Main, 14 September 2018

VDA, ZDK and VDIK present extensive study on economic importance of market for new and established classic cars

For the new study “Classic Cars – Milliarden-Markt im Wandel” (“Classic Cars – a changing market worth billions”), the consulting firm BBE Automotive investigated the market for new and established classic cars. The study was carried out with support from the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), the German Federation for Motor Trades and Repairs (ZDK) and the Association of International Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (VDIK). The other partners actively contributing to the study were the Automobilclub von Deutschland (AvD), the testing organizations FSP/TÜV Rheinland, and Bosch, Vredestein, Württembergische Versicherung, Classic Data, Oldtimermarkt and Santander.

According to the authors, the market for genuine classic cars comprises around 2.2 million vehicles. These classic cars are at least 30 years old and they are joined by the “newer classic cars” at least 20 years old that people use in their leisure time – adding up to a market volume of about 10 billion euros. The number of classic cars on this market is set to grow in particular due to the addition of less expensive vehicles. However, the market volume will stagnate because younger owners spend less money on classic cars. But the authors of the study are not worried about new generations of owners not materializing. The IfD-Allensbach classic car analysis, for example, found that 15 million people in Germany were interested in classic cars.

The Beetle never goes out of fashion

The VW Beetle remains the most popular classic car, with more than 50,000 cars still on the roads. It is followed by the Mercedes-Benz W 123. But the VW Golf, the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W 124) are waiting in the wings with large numbers of vehicles that will soon join the “mature” vehicles aged 30 and over. The classic car segment is largely dominated by German brands – 70 percent of all classic cars over 30 years old bear a German group badge. They are followed by the Italian brands accounting for 7 percent, British and US vehicles on 6 percent, and the French brands with a share of 5 percent.

New target groups

The historic vehicle sector has to adjust to new target groups. The classic cars of the future will no longer be solely the premium models that in the past always became more expensive. Volume models from the 1980s and 1990s are becoming more and more attractive. Fans buy these cars for the same emotional reasons as the more expensive classic cars: they are fun to drive and are a reminder of old times. All the same, people’s willingness to spend money on acquiring these classics of the road has a limit. The study also revealed that the purchase prices of premium classic cars are cooling off. The prices offered for classic cars such as the Mercedes SL and the Porsche 911 are under pressure. On the other hand, the prices of historic volume models such as the VW Beetle are rising.

Annual growth of 70,000 vehicles

The authors of the study expect the coming years to see annual growth of around 70,000 vehicles reaching the significant age of 30. Alongside premium brands, there are many convertibles, coupés and sports cars, and also East German and East European brands, which have their own communities of devotees.

Regional bastions of classic cars

The study also investigated the regional distribution of the new and established classic cars. Bastions of historic vehicles are clearly located in regions with high purchasing power. The German “classic car capital” is Munich, with nearly 20,000 registered classic cars, making up 2.7 percent of all passenger cars-on the roads, as compared with 1.5 percent for Germany as a whole. High proportions are also found in the Neuss district, and in Mannheim and Offenbach. The study also found regional concentrations of individual vehicle types.

VDA Managing Director Dr. Joachim Damasky said: “Germany is regarded as the birthplace of the automobile. The automotive industry is consciously upholding its tradition. Classic cars make ideal brand ambassadors. They stand for quality, longevity, innovation and design. The VDA works to ensure that in the future historic vehicles can still be used on public roads without facing obstacles. Classic cars cannot and should not be forced to adapt to the latest standards. They should be allowed to keep their original character. The technical gap between current models and historic vehicles is tending to widen and for this reason exceptions will continue to be necessary for classic cars.

In the years to come we will be able to admire even more historic vehicles on our roads. The trend remains unbroken. Classic cars are being discovered by new target groups, especially by younger people. This means that historic vehicles are becoming more popular all the time and arouse the interest of more and more people. We want to maintain this positive image.”

VDIK Managing Director Dr. Thomas Almeroth commented: “New and established classic vehicles are an ever more important part of the German market. For our member companies in the VDIK, the representatives of the international automotive brands in Germany, this market has growing economic importance for the aspects of brand formation, brand management and brand loyalty. Many of these vehicles have been favorites among classic car fans for many years – the English, Italian and French brands, and also some American cars. Of course this is due not least to the fact that new vehicles from these countries have been sold in Germany for more than 70 years. This is also a topic of growing interest for Asian brands, as many of them have now been present on the German market for 30 years or more. Several international OEMs have even opened automotive museums in Germany to highlight their automotive brand tradition, and support their customers and workshops by providing advice and practical help.”

ZDK General Manager Dr. Axel Koblitz said: “The market for established and new classic cars is also becoming more significant to the specialist workshops in the German motor vehicle trade. The ZDK reacted in July 2009 by introducing the ‘Specialist in historic vehicles’ seal of quality. This involved determining certain standards for the maintenance and repair of historic vehicles, which a workshop must satisfy if it wants to display the seal. So far around 700 firms have qualified.

Another important area is securing and maintaining the expertise and skills needed for repairing and servicing historic vehicles in our workshops. The additional qualification that was available in period from 2009 to 2016 called ‘Motor vehicle mechatronics engineer for established and new classic cars’ and during this period around 200 participants successfully qualified at eight sites. Now the Akademie Deutsches Kfz-Gewerbe (TAK) training center in Bonn has taken over the training and offers a course to become a ‘Servicing specialist for established and new classic cars’.”


  • The German classic car market for genuine new (leisure-time) and established historic vehicles has a volume of around 10 billion euros.
  • The market is currently growing primarily due to keenly priced vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s. They include many volume models.
  • The sector must, however, adapt to new target groups that pay more attention to a good cost-benefit ratio than their predecessors did.

The study can be downloaded here.

Eckehart Rotter
VDA – Press Department
+49 30 897842-120

Thomas Böhm
VDIK – Press/PR
+49 6172 987535

Ulrich Köster
ZDK – Press spokesman
+49 228 9127270


Eckehart Rotter
Eckehart Rotter Head of Department Press

Tel: +49 30 897842-120 Fax: +49 30 897842-603
Nach oben springen