69 million people in the U.S. may be considered car enthusiasts, the people most likely to own or consider owning collector cars. That's more people than the population of France. What is it that draws so many people towards collector cars? And what cars are they taking for a spin on a Sunday afternoon?
We worked with our friends at Hagerty to find out who the average car collector is and what cars they take on the road (or have in the garage). Hagerty, which offers insurance for collector vehicles, is also the largest membership organization for car lovers, with over 750,000 Hagerty Drivers Club® members.
- The average collector is in their mid-50s and has collected for 20 years, but the hobby spans generations, with Millennials and Gen-Z becoming a growing demographic within the community.
- Fifty-eight percent of surveyed car enthusiasts say they collect cars because they're fun to drive.
- Classic American cars are the most popular choice among U.S. collectors.
First, what exactly is a collector car?
When you hear "collector car," you might picture a DeLorean DMC-12 (with or without a flux capacitor) or a Pontiac Trans Am (with a Screaming Chicken on the hood), or a Chevy Camaro (too many movies to mention). But a collector car is more than just a pop culture reference or an old classic; it's really any car you own for fun rather than transportation.
More specifically, Hagerty defines a collector vehicle as any car, truck, or motorcycle used as an extra, well-maintained vehicle that holds or increases in value.
By that definition, there are nearly 20,000 different years/makes/models of collector vehicles in the U.S., which breaks down to 43 million cars, trucks, and SUVs, or around 16% of the nation's 275 million registered vehicles.
That's a combined value of $1 trillion of collector vehicles.
So, who owns all these cars?
Car collectors at a glance
Thanks to the 2022 Hagerty Enthusiast Report, we can offer some insights into the collector community. For instance, the average collector is in their mid-50s, makes over $140,000, and has 20 years of experience collecting cars.
What are the most popular collector cars?
We know car collecting attracts enthusiasts of all ages, but do they all get revved up about the same types of collector cars? Each generation certainly has favorites, but if you're looking at overall interest, there's one vehicle segment that the majority of collectors desire:
But not just any classics. According to Hagerty, these three marques are consistently among the most quoted collector cars:
- Chevrolet Corvette: Introduced in 1953, the Corvette has undergone several design revisions, with the eighth-generation Corvette C8 rolling off the assembly line in 2020.
- Ford Mustang: The original "pony car," the Mustang has been produced non-stop since 1964. Today, it shares its nameplate with the Mustang Mach-E, Ford's first all-electric SUV.
- Chevrolet Camaro: The Camaro was introduced in 1966 as a direct competitor to the Mustang. It has been featured in several films, including the Transformers franchise where it played the role of Bumblebee.
In fact, the Ford Mustang is the number one quoted collector vehicle among Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z quoters. Baby Boomers prefer the Corvette, with the Mustang following just behind as their second most popular collector car. Even the model generations sought by each group overlap quite a bit:
Why do models from the 1990s, 2010s, and 2000s get top billing? For one thing, their manufacturers packed them with more horsepower than their 1960s-1980s counterparts. Modern muscle cars also have vastly improved handling, making them an attractive option for track-day enthusiasts. Plus, they share many of the same parts (also being manufactured today), making maintenance and repairs easier on the wallet.
You may also have an easier time finding an affordable modern muscle car compared to a true classic. Just as one extreme example, the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 two-door sport coupe in good condition has a market value of roughly $75,000, according to Hagerty's valuation tools. Meanwhile, a comparable 1995 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 has a good condition value of just $9,100.
Ready to buy your first collector car? Make sure it's covered
Car collecting is a hobby enjoyed by millions, and it shows no signs of running out of gas. If you're thinking of buying a collector car, make sure you protect your new ride with collector car insurance. Unlike regular auto insurance, collector car insurance insures your vehicle for its full market value without factoring in depreciation. So, if something happens to your classic or collectible, you'll know you're covered.
Learn more about protecting your classic or collectible car