Take a drive down memory lane with Barry Knight

3rd March

To coincide with the launch of the new classic car extension on its Executive Motor product, Covéa Insurance’s resident motor enthusiast Barry Knight takes a drive down memory lane and reflects on what really makes a car a classic.

Whilst wandering around the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in November it struck me just how much the classic car ‘scene’ has changed over the last 15, 10, even 5 years.

We’re now seeing displays and owners clubs for cars that many would still consider ‘modern’ and are actually still in production today! I wandered past the Mazda MX-5 owners club and tutted to myself, ‘classic? yeah right’.

Then it hit me….the MX-5 was released in 1989……1989! That’s 28 years ago!!! Firstly, where did the time go and secondly, of course it is a classic, it is 28 years old. The fact that the model has evolved and is still being produced and sold in significant numbers shouldn’t detract from where this car started and how popular it’s been over the years.

Evolution. That pretty much sums up the classic car market. What was a normal, run of the mill car 10 or 20 years ago could easily be a classic now.

I remember my dad’s Austin Maestro back in the 90’s (and I’m not talking about fondly remembering!). It was a heap even back then. Always breaking down. Dad spending the weekend underneath it trying to work out what was wrong this time. Surely this ugly box on wheels could never become a classic in anyone eyes.?!

How wrong I was. Stand 4-765 – Maestro and Montego Owners Club! Not only did enough of these rust buckets survive to make it to an owners club but more shockingly, enough people like them enough to class them as classics!

My mother-in-law has frequently regaled us with stories of her old Vauxhall Chevette which she owned in the late 80’s. ‘Lovingly’ referred to as the ‘shove it’ as it spent so much time being pushed on and off the drive. Two owners clubs! Two separate owners clubs for the Chevette!

This evolutionary development of the classic car market means that it’s growing and changing each year, pushing the boundaries of that image of classic cars we have in our minds.

Of course, at the top end of the market we still have and will always have those beautiful Italian classics, the sweeping lines of the Ferrari, the angular, muscular looking Lamborghini.

We also have the ever popular (and ever increasing in value) Great British cars like the E Type Jaguar and the Aston Martins.

But we’re now seeing these new categories of classics. 80’s family cars being collected and displayed at shows and also a rapidly growing market for 90’s cars.

That’s right, the 90’s. The decade the brought us Spice Girls, Oasis, WWF and bum bags is now bringing us classic cars.

90’s cars appear to be a booming market with buyers looking to secure a bargain now before the prices really start increasing. You just need to look at the front pages of any classic car magazine in the newsagents to see headlines including ‘90s heroes to buy now’ or ‘The hottest 90’s hot hatches from £2-£15K’.

These cars are being purchased as investments, but we’re no longer looking at middle-aged businessmen paying out £150,000 for a classic Ferrari that will increase in value at over 10% a year, the investors are as different as the cars.

Working in the HNW Insurance market, I hear so much about ‘emerging wealth’. The HNW individuals of the future may not yet be in a position to throw big money at an investment car but when you can start ‘dabbling’ in the classic car market for as little as £2,000 or £3,000 with a decent chance of making money whilst driving around in a nice car, why not?

And this is what we are seeing. More and more of these ‘modern’ cars are being purchased as investments, being driven very little and then wrapped up in a garage. It is really important that, as insurers, we are aware of this change in the market and are able to adapt our appetite and understanding to accommodate.

So going back to my very first question, what does make a car a classic?

It would seem that, as with beauty, a classic car is in the eye of the beholder.

What do you think – what’s your ultimate classic car?   Tweet us @coveainsplc!




Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France, generating over 16.3 billion Euros in premiums in 2017.  

Covéa Insurance looks after the insurance needs of over 1.5 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, pet, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, through a range of distribution channels. Employing over 1800 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and is signatory to the HM Treasury Women In Finance Charter. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In 2018, Covéa Insurance were recipients of the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year award at both the British Insurance Awards and the Insurance Times Awards and was the top rated insurer in the Insurance Times Broker Service Survey for both Personal and Commercial Lines.

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