Japanese and German Performance Lead the Way With Young Buyers

Brian Jannusch

There’s no avoiding it—tastes evolve over time. As the generational transition among enthusiasts and collectors continues, so, too, does the march of certain cars into and out of the spotlight. Sometimes, it’s cause to celebrate a fresh round of enthusiast rides getting the recognition they deserve; others, it’s a reminder to share the joys of older models in danger of fading from view. Here at Hagerty Insider, we seek to cover this topic’s many angles, but always with some foundation in the data we observe.

Though for many, this headline likely comes as no surprise, the data do help turn anecdotes into more concrete form—they show precisely where interests lie among buyers under 40. We took a look below at the rolling 12-month average of the share of insurance quotes sought from buyers under 40 for 21 popular collector cars. Here’s what we found.

You may have heard that “Miata is always the answer,” and while the first-generation Miata is a sought-after ride, when it comes to popularity among young collectors, it’s the Nissan Skyline GT-R that’s almost always the answer. For every modern generation of the Nissan Skyline, the share of buyers under 40 healthily exceeds their 27 percent share of the overall collector market. Unsurprisingly, the Mk IV Toyota Supra also occupies a top spot on this list.

German hardware is similarly popular. Two generations of M3, the once-ubiquitous 1995-99 second-gen E36 (49 percent) and the 2007-13 fourth-gen E9X (61 percent) rate as favorites, while Porsche’s 944 also sneaks in at ten percentage points above the under-40’s 27 percent market share.

There’s another side of this coin, but the fact that some collector cars haven’t garnered the attention of the under 40 crowd isn’t a death knell for values or enthusiasm by any stretch.

Pony cars of varying ages find themselves essentially at even interest, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks that the Camaro or Mustang nameplates will fade into obscurity.

Two generations of Porsche 911s, the 993 and 997, despite being near-locks as future classics, haven’t attracted nearly the interest as the 944, much less the vaunted Skylines. In these instances, these data can serve as a flag to examine the causes (though the 2000-2006 Jaguar XKR might not be in the same league as the above 911s, the delta in interest is cause for analysis).

Compared to the 100-year-old Ford Model T itself, all buyers are young buyers. With that in mind, that a significant portion of its buyers are under 40 at all bodes well for the car, and the same can be said for the Model A.

While it’s well-known that enthusiasts gravitate towards the cars of their youth, this quick glimpse illustrates that there are surprising exceptions to that rule. Price, performance, usability, and mystique all shape the choices people make when looking for their next car to buy.


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    This is the result of growing up in a Honda or Toyota.

    I grew up in Chevelles and Chevys and I wanted a Chevelle.

    In automotive marketing it is a well known fact that the kids pick up on brand loyalty at a young age. Often what Dad drove is what they drive.

    The only thing is there are less younger enthusiast as there are fewer cheaper cars to buy and fix up. Getting parts and the fact most imports are not Small Block simple to work on or as cheap to buy parts for them like it was when I was their age.

    Video games have been a big influence on the 40 and under crowd, and the top of the list contain cars that were a big part of the Gran Turismo video game series.

    Brand loyalty hasn’t been the case in my family. My grandfather was a Chrysler man. My father favored Fords, yet bought a Beetle for my mother’s car (he also had a “Stupid Racer” at one time). My sister and I have Toyotas as daily drivers. I think my baby brother has the same, but I have no idea what my middle brother drives.

    Maybe you haven’t heard of a Honda Civic. My son gravitates towards 1990 to 2000’s Civics. He head swaps from different gens and also does motor swaps. They are cheap to obtain and get parts. Get good economy and generally have 300K miles on them BEFORE he gets them to modify.

    Gran Turismo and The Fast & Furious are what drove the major craze around these listed cars. For me, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 with the yellow Murcielago on the cover is the biggest reason I like that car so much.

    I was sitting in a parking lot the other day and I saw a bunch of young men (late teens, early 20’s) working under the hood of a Mazda of some type. I watched for a while and then got curious so walked over and talked to them. 2 of them were working under the hood of the car and had lots of parts off and were replacing something. I was surprised to discover that they knew exactly what they were doing. As I watched they put it all back together, fired it up and took off. It was a pleasant experience as they all were friendly and didn’t mind chatting with an old man about cars at all. They may not be driving mustangs, camaros etc but there is hope for our youth 🙂

    Might note few are going for anything FWD like mom and dads cars. The ones who do get the bug learn fast RWD is the way to go.

    No here in New Jersey. They learn pretty fast that FWD works much better in rain and snow. My stepson was very surprised to learn that people actually used to race RWD cars.

    I have to say, I’ve been retired for some time and have found FWD vans great. My current is 2004 Ford Freestar @ 128k miles (after multiple Windstars). The Ford sits on the drive because I have a 1969 Dodge Super Bee 440 Six-Pack clone in the garage. Just installed Fi-Tech 6pk EFI and Classic Air and it’s a joy in the Texas heat. FWD or RWD… pick your ride, live with it, and love it.

    While I’m something of a pessimist , I’m optimistic here. As you get older your tastes evolve. Some fussy ‘ nuthin’ but meat and tatters ‘ kids will, in relatively short order, find themselves craving Thai food. I’d like to believe the collector car market is similar. One night ‘the golden arches’ the next – “How about Indian?”

    Not all enthusiasts under the age of 40 gravitate to certain imports because their parents drove the brand. Think back 30 years or so when these folk were impressionable youth and what were the cool – attainable – cars? Honda Si models, Mitsubishi Eclipses, Toyota MR2s and Celicas, Nissan Z-Cars and 200/240 SXs, Mazda MX-3s and 323 GTs, etc, etc, etc. In fact I bet a lot of these kids’ folks were still shuttling them off to soccer practice in Iron Duke Grand AMs and 1st Gen Tauruses (Taurusi?) so if anything, that generation of domestic car probably drove these kids AWAY from what their parents were driving. Besides, when I was a kid, the last thing I wanted to do was drive the same car my parents drove….well, most of the time anyway.
    Because what were the domestic options at the time (not counting the badge engineered Laser/Talons, Stealths, and Probes of the world)? Not much. And given that many of these models’ top trim featured easily tuned turbo (or famously Vtec) engines, it’s not hard to understand the seismic shift in auto preferences that occurred with this generation of enthusiast.
    And FWD was – and will remain – a big part of that. Yeah, the drifty crowd loves them some RWD cars and all the halo cars of that era are RWD/AWD, but just as us (ahem) more mature enthusiasts love our under-powered – but still attainable – RWD X1/9s, Spitfires, and 2002s, so too does the younger generation love the FWD cars of their youth because that’s the only way they were made. There ain’t no such thing as a RWD Integra. 😉

    I’m 50 and I have owned my Supra for 22 years. I don’t know that I could afford one today. I’d love to have an R33 GT-R or R34 GT-R but they have moved beyond my want/ability to afford. I have owned Mitsubishi Eclipse GS and GSX, Eagle Talon TSi AWD, Subaru Impreza WRX wagon and Legacy GT wagon. I’d gladly own domestic Muscle like a Chevelle or a Buick GNX but they were never affordable for me. I can only have one car, no room for any other toys. I chose a Supra and I’ve been very happy with it.

    I agree with the exception of Italian Exotics! I have 10 cars, 7 American, 2 Italian exotics and a Pantera which I guess is 50/50.

    Right. And I would go British if I had the time and money. At my age, the time is in shorter supply than the money, but what the hey.

    The Nissan Skyline and MkIV Supra, look at popular culture – Gran Turismo, most Americans wouldn’t know what a Skline GT-R was until Gran Turismo, and then it shows up again with the MkIV Supra in the Fast and the Furious series. Not sure how people are able to buy R34’s, since there just weren’t that many and they’re all pushing well above 120k, and for the even rarer models pushing over 250k.

    I am 40, Ive been working on buying a skyline gtr or supra since I entered trade school at 16. My first turbo car was an srt4 and that community was shunned. When the time came 2015. I picked the bnr32 and that car is loved. Not knowing my investments and career path would reward me at 40, I now own a a qm1 bnr34. This has been a life long quest and to be honest I am beside myself still to this day. When fast and furious came out, I was mad that everyone else found out what I already knew from initial d and option mag. Even though prices exploded after that and I lost hope, somehow I am here with the king of all imports. 2 of em. Thanks God.

    It would be interesting to see not just the proportion of owners of these cars who are under 40, but also absolute numbers for each car, and how many owners are under or over 40. Otherwise, sure, the few Skylines that have made it over from Japan are owned by young people, while many older people with money own the much more common 911 — which we already knew anyway.

    It stands to reason that the under-40 crowd would not have much interest in malaise-era American cars as they were pretty awful, performance-wise. The Skylines, while showing high percentages, are probably very low in numbers since they have to be privately imported as 25+ year old used cars. I was at the Amelia last weekend and there was a contingent of RHD Skylines there.

    Super shocked to not see 2004-07 STis or EVOs on the list. I would be willing to bet that everyone who ever played the first Gen Grand Turismo and got their ass kicked by this strange little sedan called the Impreza STI v4 fell in love.

    I’m 63 and I would love to get a 70s era Honda civic cvcc wagon. It would fit my every need in an automobile right now. Great gas mileage(40+mpg), low maintenance, ample cargo room, good visibility and no touch screens! Easy to park and no back-up camera needed. Yeah I know lm old ,now get off my lawn or I’ll spray you with my garden hose!

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