What has Covid meant for the Classic Car Scene in the UK?

Filed under: Classic News |

It seems that there’s no aspect of life that has remained untouched by the pandemic which has blighted 2020. It’s prompted us to abandon certain pastimes and take up others we might never before have considered. But how has the classic car scene stood up to the virus?

How COVID impacted classic cars

The classic car market has an advantage in situations like this one, in that it’s not dependent on supply chains. All of the cars we’re interested in were manufactured long ago, and thus disruption in distant parts of the world hasn’t factored into the overall health of the market.

Which isn’t to say that there hasn’t been disruption. During April, classic car auctions were cancelled en-masse, and the cars that did go up for sale ended up selling at far below the expected price. It was a good time for cool heads to make sure they had all the correct insurance and tax to pick up a bargain.

Carole Nash classic car expert, Peter McIlvenny, provided an overview on how things have changed due to Covid in the classic car scene:

“Events will be different, perhaps with more classic car runs with limited social engagement at the start and finish. Clubs have become more and more reliant on social media as majority of the support and help is done remotely. Don’t forget, although there is and has always been a social element to classic vehicles, much of the enjoyment is escapism should that be on the road or in the garage with a cup of tea listening to Radio 2.”

The Online Future of Auctions

With contagion being such a big worry, auction-houses have made a decided switch to online auctions instead. These allowed trade in classic cars to continue – although since buyers were unable to inspect their would-be purchases, the process began to involve a sizeable element of luck.

Races Returned

The coronavirus led to the cancellation of some of the motoring calendar’s biggest fixtures. Le Mans Classic and Silverstone Classic were both written off thanks to virus-related concerns, but over the course of the summer, smaller events were allowed to take place – albeit with myriad precautionary measures in place.

Slowing Growth

The classic car market is not immune from broader economic events. As many major economies have entered into recession, and many would-be buyers are keeping a close eye on their spending, prices have begun to tumble. Consumers whose incomes are uncertain typically don’t spend their money on extravagant indulgences like a new classic car.

But it isn’t just the economy that’s pushing prices down – interest in classic cars has been growing for some time, and many analysts have concluded that the market was saturated. This might therefore be an overdue readjustment.

It’s entirely likely that the true impact of the virus won’t be felt until next year, as the consequences of the economic downturn begin to take shape. Of course, this is hugely dependent on the political and medical situation, which continues to evolve. At the time of writing, a second lockdown has not yet been announced – but the mood music from Downing Street indicates that this is entirely likely.

This contingency would have an impact not only on the classic car market, but on motoring in general, which will impact what the future holds.