Research suggests that the Escort is the most popular classic for online buyers, while pre-war cars are increasingly snubbed
Words: Simon Jackson
For the second consecutive year, the Ford Escort is the most searched-for classic online, heading a Top 10 list that features plenty of changes compared with 12 months ago. According to sales and auction website, Car & Classic (C&C), Ford remains the most popular brand overall. But the findings also reveal that pre-war cars aren’t popular among online enthusiasts – with the Austin Seven proving the only exception.
C&C’s latest analysis of classic car trends shows that the Escort, Capri and Cortina accounted for the lion’s share of Ford searches over the last year. The Mustang is not as favoured as it once was, while the Fiesta has seen a resurgence. Porsche continues to prove popular, with the 924 in particular rising in desirability; it is now the third most searched-for Porsche following the 911 and 944, usurping the 356 for the first time.
Triumph remains second in C&C’s marque rankings, with the Stag and TR6 proving the most attractive for internet surfers. Jaguar gets third place among the manufacturers, with the E-type sitting fourth in the list of most desirable models, although interest in the Mk2 remains high.
BMWs have slipped down the order, but the E30 3 Series generally outperforms the marque’s results with a 20 per cent increase in interest noted last year. The humble Volkswagen Golf climbs up the order to sixth, while the MGB also performed strongly in seventh.
C&C reports that the Land Rover Defender and Range Rover weren’t as popular in 2022 as they were the previous year, although Series 1, 2 and 3 models remain the site’s most searched-for 4x4s. Rover sits ninth in the manufacturer listings, with the Rover Mini in the same position in the model breakdown. A noteworthy rise in demand for Japanese sports cars spotted between 2020 and 2021, including the Toyota Supra and MR2, seems to have slowed in more recent months; Toyota brings up the rear in the Top 10 marques list, with the MR2 its top performer in 10th position in the overall model hierarchy.
According to C&C, its data reflects recent societal changes, like Covid-19 restrictions, plus an influx of younger classic car enthusiasts whose digital life might spill into their ‘real’ one. Online racing games featuring Japanese sports cars are believed to have inspired 2021’s top searches into, for example, 1980s and 90s models like the Nissan Skyline and 300ZX.
Supporting that theory, modern classic hot hatches like the VW Golf GTI, Peugeot 205 GTI and Renault Clio (which appears in C&C’s Top 200 for the first time), as well as smaller BMWs like the E30 3 Series, have risen up the ranks.
C&C’s head of editorial, Chris Pollitt, told Classics World: “Compact 1980s cars, like the Vauxhall Nova and VW Polo, perhaps suiting less ‘racy’ minds, have also jumped up. At the other end of the spectrum, only one pre-war car, the Austin 7, made it into our Top 200 searches. When looking for their dream classic car, perhaps younger collectors, being more used to online searches, are making better, more extensive use of the internet than older fellow enthusiasts.”
Chris has also noticed other interesting trends: “Shifts governed by price rises can also be detected. Once the usual German brands, both new and old, are beyond people’s reach, collectors will turn to emerging marques that have historically attracted less attention. One such example is Saab, which was rarely searched in 2021, but the 900 and 900 Turbo models make their first appearance in our 2022 data.”
The annual analysis tracking the classic car community’s interests sheds a new light on the future of the classic car scene. The younger audience using the internet to locate their next classic purchase are more interested in 30- or 40-year-old cars, while vintage pre-war machines hold much less appeal. Whether this trend will impact the future values of pre-war classics remains unclear, but industry experts will be watching carefully.