Germany is the leading European market for vintage cars. Thus, more than 2 million oldtimers and youngtimers are on German roads. A quarter of these cars are registered with historical plates (H). According to a study by BBE Automotive, the number of classic is growing steadily, going from 675,000 to 857,039 between 2018 and 2020. Between 2008 and 2018, this number had increased by 8.2% per year on average . More than two thirds of vintage cars are worth less than 20,000 euros. Only 7.4% of them are located in a segment above 50,000 euros.
A popular phenomenon
The passion for vintage cars is reflected in opinion polls. According to a survey by the Allensbach polling institute, 43% of those questioned say they are “happy to see a classic car driving.” A good third (35%) think that old cars “contribute to the preservation of technical cultural heritage”. At least 17% of those surveyed would like to own one, but the vast majority believe that vintage cars are a hobby not everyone can afford.
Interest focused on German brands
Unsurprisingly, German collectors love German cars. With 72% of the market share, German brands account for the largest share of classic car registrations. 60% of classic cars is distributed among the five most popular brands in Germany, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Porsche, BMW and Opel, followed by Italian and British brands with 6% and French and American brands with 5% each. The ten most popular models represent 30% of classic car registration.
The most common vintage cars are the VW Beetle and the Mercedes W123. Once the most produced car in the world, the Beetle is the star of the vintage market in Germany, with 51,009 units registered. Some Beetles are more recent, the last Ultima Edicion left the production line in Mexico in 2003.
The number two among classic cars after the VW Beetle is the Mercedes W123. Cult car of the 1970s and 1980s, the W123 (1976-86) embodied the post-war German industrial revival, and is still today a benchmark in terms of strength and reliability.
The share of Japanese brands is on the rise, especially for youngtimers. The latter represent eleven percent of youngtimers in Germany, three times more than for oldimers (3%).
The (H) registration applies mainly to the high-end segment
Not all owners of a car over 30 years old opt for the historical registration (with the “H” at the end). According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), 522,794 classic cars are registered under this H registration out of a total of 857,039 cars, which corresponds to 61% of vehicles over 30 years old. Most powerful cars are registered in this way, because of the associated tax advantage. For the first time, more than half a million classic cars were registered with historical plates in 2020, or 1.1% of the German car fleet.
The richest cities concentrate most of the market
Most old cars are registered in cities with high purchasing power and in regions most involved in the automotive industry. In Munich, for example, there are the most vintage cars, with 19,633 cars registered, or 2.7% of all cars registered there. Berlin and Cologne follow in second and third places with 17,183 and 15,111 registered vintage cars. In Berlin the percentage of vintage cars is 1.4%, (almost the national average), in Cologne it is higher, at 1.9%. Likewise, Bremen and Stuttgart, high places of the German automobile industry, are strongholds for vintage cars, their share there being more than twice higher than the national average.