Classic car fans across the UK have reacted angrily to a series of divisive comments on social media that risk bringing the hobby into disrepute and disillusioning loyal contributors to the scene.

In the first instance, one Instagrammer sparked fury after posting photographs of the Gay Classic Car Group (GCCG) Stand at the NEC Classic Car Show, with the statement “On a scale of 1 to very ******* unnecessary, how unnecessary is this for ****’s sake?”

The comment – posted by a show visitor in their 20s – was met with an angry reaction on social media. “What a narrow minded and awful viewpoint,” said Rob Copson, who owns several British classics. “It really is a shame that some people, especially younger ones, have an attitude like that.”

Meanwhile, Range Rover Classic owner Jon Steele added: “To go to what is widely recognised as the closing car show of people’s year where people go to enjoy themselves one last time with like-minded friends and take a swipe at a group in society who have historically been persecuted for their sexuality really just illustrates the need for the thing they’re attacking. It’s an utter disgrace.”

GCCG member Alan Webb-Moore spotted the post and was rightly angered at its content. “The GCCG was set up back in 1988 when the classic car and the gay world were very different places,” he said. “It was not socially acceptable to be an out gay man within other classic car clubs. The club was a place where like-minded people could get together and enjoy a hobby they shared without being ridiculed, somewhere they could be accepted for who they are.

“People ask: why is there a need in today’s society for such a club, well, sadly there is still some homophobia out there and whilst we fight every day, even in these modern times we can and do get ridiculed for who we are.“

The club has possibly the widest and most eclectic spectrum of car tastes, with ages of members from 16 to 96 brought together by a common goal: a group to positively promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the world of classic cars. The group was crowned National Car Club of the Year in March, and won its second club of the year award at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show Club earlier this month.

Internet trolls target classic fans

BL and Metro fan Steph Holloway’s YouTube channel, idriveaclassic, has over 6000 subscribers.

Hiding behind anonymity

In a second display of unpleasantness, Steph Holloway, who runs the YouTube channel idriveaclassic and owns both a Morris Minor and an Austin Metro was on the receiving end of a shocking approach from one enthusiast, who was asking her intimate and rather personal questions on a public platform. Steph, who became a classic car enthusiast after buying a Metro as a first car and going to shows, revealed she gets horrendous comments on social media “most days” and stopped uploading content for a few weeks.

“YouTube is probably the most anonymous of social platforms because you’re required to enter no personal information and it’s hard to link it back to anyone in particular; which means that many people take comments too far,” she explained. “I’ve had every comment you can imagine but most centre around my weight, which can really stick with me and sometimes make me feel nervous about uploading new content. At one point, I felt like the joy of creating content was marred by the comments. Nowadays though I’ve decided to just delete the comments and carry on with my life, but I’d be lying if I said on fragile days some of the well-placed comments didn’t sting a little.”

Craig Cheetham, editor of Retro Cars, said: “To see examples of such bigotry in the classic car world, something I have been involved with throughout my entire life and have made a great many friends through, is devastating. To see these attitudes, which were out of date 40 years ago, rear their heads in public around such a diverse and inclusive hobby goes against everything my experience of classic car ownership stands for and it’s right to shame these people in public.

“Sadly, I know for a fact that these attitudes still exist as I interrupted a conversation between two individuals at the show who were making equally inappropriate remarks about the GCCG stand. The GCCG is a club that welcomes anyone regardless of sexuality and gender and – to my mind – always has some of the most fascinating cars at any show the club attends. What they have done to welcome enthusiasts, especially younger folk who may feel excluded in other car clubs, should be commended not denigrated.”

The same surely goes for the likes of Steph and Classic Car Buyer’s very own Joe Miller, who runs his Miller Corner channel. These people offer a refreshingly different perspective to classic car ownership, which can only be a good thing in encouraging more people to become classic enthusiasts.

Indeed, not all followers post negative comments – far from it. “The greatest joy of YouTube is I’ve actually met some amazing people and driven some great cars,” Steph told Classic Car Buyer. “I’ve also got a great wealth of subscribers who continue to support what I put out online and they bring so much value to the content; plus their knowledge is sometimes incredible! You can’t make everyone happy, so as long as you’re pleased with the quality and accuracy of your own content, you’re doing just fine.”

With so many positives, it’s a shame that social media continues to be a double-edge sword, with a small minority of faceless individuals seemingly hell-bent on chasing a reaction. By fostering a culture that celebrates the creativity and diversity of the classic car scene and calls out the bigots, here’s hoping we can help to marginalise their impact.