Has Covid-19 affected the classic car market?

26th February 2021
Ethan Jupp

It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic had a catastrophic effect on the new car market. As dealers closed their doors to customers and the nation tightened its belt, new car sales plummeted. But what about classic cars and more importantly, how we buy them?


For the most part, save for an initial flutter as we all contemplated our financial security, classic car sales, in particular on online platforms, have seemingly remained healthy. More than healthy, in fact.

Platforms like Car & Classic and Collecting Cars make the excitement of classic and collector car auctions a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week affair, accessible at all times from all locations, including the internment of our own homes. Both are reporting pandemic success stories that would be the envy of any white goods dealer pedalling PCP payment plans and scrappage scheme incentives. According to Car & Classic, the Q3 2020 launch of its standalone auction platform was followed by a Q4 where sales from auctions doubled, with the first part of 2021 also looking promising.

So clearly being locked at home for over a year is prompting car enthusiasts to window shop via their computers and take punts, with Car & Classic and its kin bearing the fruit. So what are locked-down classic car buyers taking punts on and what’s happened to values over the last year?


C&C’s head of editorial Chris Pollitt points to the youngtimer class of modern classics, from the 1980s and 1990s, as a cover-all for the highest risers, “the cars that they either lusted after as a kid with the bedroom poster scenario, or had as a young professional and want to cherish again”. From the Jaguar XJ in the fifth-place spot, with a rise of 50 per cent between 2019 and 2020, through the Aston Martin Virage (53 per cent), Toyota Celica (62 per cent), and Volkswagen Corrado (69 per cent), we arrive at the Ford Cortina, which has jumped a massive 104 per cent. 

As for the most popular nationalities and models, C&C reckons it’s the German youngtimers that came and went the most in 2020, with the Mercedes SL proving most popular. “That said,” Chris says, “it could be down to the accessibility of the SL as well as the 50th anniversary of the R107 variant this year.”

There’s also been a ramp-up in the number of part-finished and project cars moving on the platform. With time on our hands, British classic buyers have seemingly been more open to making the commitment.


As for where the cars are coming from, “most of the cars are bought and sold in the UK,” Chris explains, “but we’re seeing a steady increase in cars being freshly imported from warmer or salt-free climates like Japan and the USA/California in particular and sold in the UK as well as customers from Europe and overseas buying cars from the UK and importing them”.

In your time locked down at home, have you been on the hunt for a classic car to soak up all the extra time you have on your hands? Did you actually take the plunge? Have you at least been more open to the idea? Tell us about your lockdown motoring experiences in the comments.

  • Covid-19

  • Coronavirus

  • Ford

  • Cortina

  • VW

  • Corrado

  • Mercedes-Benz

  • SL

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