“Barbie” Sparks Significant Growth in Vintage Car Purchases

Chevy convertible Corvette

McKeel Hagerty, CEO of the automotive enthusiast brand Hagerty, explores the influence of movies, TV shows, and gaming on igniting a fresh wave of fervent car collectors in the new generation.

Since the release of the Barbie trailer in May, there has been a remarkable 120% increase in searches for individuals interested in purchasing a “Chevy convertible Corvette,” indicating the significant impact of media on car enthusiasts.

The lack of surprise here is understandable. Initially, some might have had no interest in watching the Barbie movie upon its announcement, but the ingenious marketing strategies behind the film have undoubtedly influenced even the most skeptical among us. Instead of merely wanting to see Barbie, we now feel a strong compulsion to do so.

Whether or not the idea of cruising in a pink ‘Vette appeals to all of us, this surge in dream car searches is just one aspect of a broader trend. Analyzing data from car auction platforms and social media confirms an undeniable fact: In a time when modern cars resemble rolling computers, there’s a growing desire to return to the fundamentals. Simply put, vintage cars are experiencing a significant rise in popularity.

McKeel Hagerty, CEO of the automotive enthusiast brand Hagerty, notes that classic cars always garner increased interest during the summer months. It appears to be linked with the portrayal of an idealized summer in movies, TV shows, and various media, where people are depicted going to the beach or embarking on enjoyable drives outdoors. This summer, in particular, has witnessed a significant surge in the vintage car marketplace.

A notable trend is emerging as the cars drivers desire continue to age; the younger generations are taking the wheel.

“We’re witnessing a genuine shift from the baby boomer generation to the next ones showing interest in cars,” points out Hagerty. “Particularly, they are drawn to cool-looking cars that provide a fun driving experience, such as convertibles and vintage off-road vehicles.”

Hagerty shared insights into the promising future of vintage cars. Here are the highlights from the discussion, edited for brevity and clarity.

It’s not about a need for speed

Driving a vintage car is a leisurely pursuit, akin to gardening, where you get outdoors, engage with your hands, and embrace a bit of dirt. It’s not about staying hyper-connected during your commute. Instead, it’s about relishing scenic drives on country roads and embarking on road trips in a car that encourages you to slow down and savor the experience, rather than relying on excessive technological advancements. In modern cars, you’re constantly plugged in, almost living an office life behind the wheel. However, with a vintage car, it’s an escape from that. You’re simply driving, deeply connected to the car and its rich history.

Chevy convertible Corvette

Car collectors don’t have to be millionaires

My parents founded this company, and next year marks our 40th anniversary in the specialty vehicle realm. In the early days, we had no idea of the vastness of the car world. It wasn’t until we gained access to better data that we realized its magnitude. There are tens of millions of car enthusiasts in North America alone, who cherish various types of vehicles. It’s not limited to just really old or luxurious cars; people have a deep love for cars like the Mazda Miata, a fantastic little two-seater convertible that is affordable, reliable, and incredibly fun to drive.

1967 Porsche 911

I purchased my first vintage car, a 1967 Porsche 911, when I was just 13 years old. It cost me $500, and I earned that money by mowing lawns. I still own it to this day. Again, it’s not about buying the most extravagant option; it’s about acquiring something within your means and dedicating your time and passion to it. My dad’s pastime wasn’t attending sports events or fancy dinners; when he wasn’t working, he would be in the garage restoring cars, with my sisters and me at his side.

Every car is a future classic car

We refer to this as the J curve. When you purchase a new car, it immediately depreciates, reaching a certain low point. However, if the car survives that period, its value begins to increase and eventually may even surpass its original purchase price. The most exceptional cars continue to appreciate even further. It’s fascinating to observe what triggers this later growth. Often, a car’s value rises after it appears in a movie or when a celebrity owns and shares it on social media. For instance, currently, vintage Broncos have become incredibly popular. They are in high demand now, whereas they weren’t as sought after 10 or 15 years ago.

1967 Porsche 911

Driving a brand

Hagerty has ventured into media, entertainment, and events, expanding our reach beyond our core specialty vehicle expertise. Our marketplace now includes both digital and in-person auctions. As a company, we prioritize thoughtful growth and are cautious about pursuing every opportunity that arises. Instead, we focus on ensuring an exceptional customer experience. We only engage in endeavors where we can truly elevate and deliver a high level of customer satisfaction. Sometimes, this means turning down potentially lucrative ventures in favor of maintaining our reputation and standing in the car industry. We value being well-regarded in the car space, and that’s where we find our passion and purpose.