Technical ReportPDF Available

2011 Research report into the economic and social value of the historic vehicle movement in the UK.



Report of a survey into the economic and social impact of the historic vehicle movement/interest in the UK. Presented in December at the Houses of Parliament.
“… to uphold the freedom …”
by John Surtees OBE
In September, I was at the Goodwood Revival Meeting
to take part in a parade of cars that had been driven by
Juan Manuel Fangio. It celebrated 100 years since his
birth and 60 years since his first F1 victory. I drove a
250F Maserati Formula One car.
The Revival Meeting now draws support from all over the
world. Owners bring their historic vehicles on which the
meeting relies for its great success. Famous drivers both
past and present attend and take part. There is racing to
enjoy and hundreds of cars, motorcycles and commercial
vehicles are on display around the circuit in addition to
about 4,000 cars using the classic car parking area over
the weekend. This now forms a car show in its own right.
Visitors to the event spend hours inspecting the exhibits, many reminiscing on past ownership,
other involvement with similar machines or just past dreams. These vehicles are driven by their
owners to the event and are maintained and restored by them at their own expense. This is a
demonstration of our national mobile heritage being preserved for posterity – and all without
any public money.
This huge spectacle would be impossible if individual owners could not use their historic vehicles
on the road. Who would spend money to maintain a car they can’t use?
Luckily, we are fortunate in this country. As far as using a historic vehicle on the public road is
concerned, we can go when and where we wish, some countries have restrictions. I am very much
aware this position is due to the work of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC)
whose volunteers monitor legislation and challenge government if existing rights of use are
threatened. It is their efforts that maintain our freedom to use and enjoy historic vehicles.
No-one can expect to convince government without facts and figures, so FBHVC has been
researching, collecting and refreshing data about the historic vehicle movement for many years.
I am pleased to support their work and to be associated with this research report.
The economic & social benefits for the United Kingdom arising from
interest in the preservation and use of vehicles that are over 30 years old.
“… to uphold the freedom …”
Published by
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs
in collaboration with
The Historic Vehicle Research Institute
Designed by Mark Corliss
Printed by Quorum Print Services Ltd
Units 3 & 4 Landsdown Industrial Estate, Gloucester Road, Cheltenham GL51 8PL
© This publication is subject to copyright and must not be reproduced for sale.
Extracts may be reproduced in other publications provided credit is given to both FBHVC & HVRI.
Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs Ltd Registered in England 3842316.
Registered office: Stonewold, Berrick Salome, Oxfordshire OX10 6JR
Foreword – John Surtees OBE IFC
Overview 4
The Historic Vehicle Movement – Lord Montagu of Beaulieu 6
Research findings
Economic value 8
Employment & stability 10
Number & use of historic vehicles 12
Cultural background & social activities 14
The next five years 16
Comparisons 17
Observations 18
Research team IBC
Photo captions & acknowledgements IBC
Historic vehicle – a vehicle made more than 30 years ago. Such vehicles have usually been
retired from the purpose for which they were built and are now being preserved for posterity.
Historic vehicle movement – the collective industry, activity & social interaction resulting
from interest in historic vehicles – see page 6.
Specialist traders – businesses that specialise in serving the needs of historic vehicle owners.
Thanks are due to the many traders, curators, club officers and individuals who responded to
the survey that underpins this report. It was clear that most had taken considerable trouble
answering the questions while those who were telephoned when further clarification was needed
could not have been more helpful. FBHVC is grateful to those who have offered photographs and
illustrations. All have been provided at no cost.
About the research
This is the third time FBHVC has ‘measured’ the economic and social impact of the historic vehicle
movement in Britain. The first, in 1997, was the first ever survey aimed at measuring the value to
a national economy generated by interest in historic vehicles.
The second was in 2006 as part of a pan-European survey. It found that the historic vehicle
movement was worth £3.2 billion annually to the UK economy and generated a quarter of all
European historic vehicle related economic activity.
The reason for this third assessment was the need to bring the data collected in previous research
up to date and to assess the extent to which the British historic vehicle movement has been
affected by the recent and on-going global recession.
The findings indicate that the overall economic value has been maintained, keeping up with
inflation. It has risen to £4.3 billion on what is a conservative calculation.
The number of people earning some, or all, of their income from the historic vehicle movement has
increased by 1,000 since 2006 to over 28,000. This trend is remarkable as patterns of vehicle use
and ownership were found to be largely unchanged.
Since spending on historic vehicles is more a lifestyle choice than a necessity, it is noteworthy that
the overall value of the historic vehicle movement has at least been maintained during a period of
general recession.
In addition to the questions that provided the data leading to the figures in this report, the survey
also asked traders, clubs and museums about their concerns and predictions for the next five years.
The majority of businesses are positive about the future and are expecting to grow over the next
five years. 40% are expecting to recruit new staff during this period.
Despite this general optimism, however, a strong message came from traders that the current
regulatory burden discourages activity and risks hampering both the desire and ability to grow.
The research is based on four groups of data that were collected during the summer of 2011.
Each related to activity over the preceding year.
The four groups were:
specialist traders (10% return);
FBHVC subscriber clubs (51% return);
museums (25% return); and
individual enthusiasts (over 11,000 responses).
Key findings
Economic value (pages 8-9)
The historic vehicle movement generates business worth £4.3 billion a year in UK.
Nearly £1 billion of this comes from overseas.
Employment and stability (pages 10-11)
Over 28,000 people earn some or all of their living serving the historic vehicle movement.
41% of businesses surveyed expect to recruit new staff within the next five years.
57% of businesses surveyed have been trading for more than 20 years.
Number and use of historic vehicles (pages 12-13)
Over 850,000 vehicles made before 1981 survive.
82% of these vehicles are used no more than twice a month.
Historic vehicles are responsible for no more than 0.24% of overall vehicle mileage.
Cultural background and social activities (pages 14-15)
31% of historic vehicle owners have a household income of less than £25,000.
68% of historic vehicles are valued at less than £10,000.
There are 4.5 million person-attendances per year at FBHVC club activities alone.
The next five years (page 16)
52% of traders expect their businesses to grow in the next five years.
66% of traders are concerned that increasing regulation will hamper growth.
The first three groups were sent paper questionnaires. Individuals were encouraged to participate in
an on-line survey, resulting in over 11,000 responses. A paper option was available on request.
Results from non-UK residents were discarded. Anomalous or contradictory responses were checked
with respondents (if they could be identified) or ignored.
The results were analysed and extrapolated to provide the figures contained in this report. Care was
taken to avoid double counting, especially in respect of vehicle sales and purchases where only the
(lower) sales figure was used for analysis.
With over 11,000 individual responses, the level of confidence in the ability to generalise the data
is above 95%. The confidence level for the paper returns is higher.
Methodology continued
by Lord Montagu
of Beaulieu,
President of FBHVC
The National Motor Museum receives many
thousands of visitors each year. They span all
ages and come from all backgrounds. There are
over a hundred other motor or road transport
museums and these could not exist if it was not
for widespread public interest in historic
vehicles. Some people are more interested than
others and this report is about the contribution
made to the social and economic fabric of the
country by those for whom interest in historic
vehicles is a hobby – or more.
These are people who own and cherish historic
vehicles, who look after and preserve motoring
heritage. They sustain a substantial world-class
industry, spending significant sums in the
general economy in pursuit of their hobby. They
generate community activities, mount public
spectacles and use their vehicles to raise money
for charities. Collectively, they, the industry
they support and their historic vehicle based
activities are what we refer to as the Historic
Vehicle Movement. This is now a worldwide
activity, but its foundations are very firmly in
Britain where interest in old vehicles began long
before many of today’s historic vehicles had
been conceived.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs
is at the centre of the historic vehicle
movement. It comprises 500 clubs with a gross
Lord Montagu’s father’s 1899 Daimler, one of the
five exhibits in the Montagu Motor Museum when
it opened in 1952.
Historic vehicles come in
all shapes and sizes, but
few are larger than this
Thornycroft Antar tank
transporter, and none are
lighter than a cyclemotor.
[Peter Quinn and Andrew
Pattle photos].
membership of over quarter of a million
people, most of whom own road vehicles over
30 years old. The clubs vary in size and the
majority cater for cars or motorcycles but
there are places for everything from
cyclemotors to tank transporters.
FBHVC’s purpose is to uphold the freedom to
use properly maintained historic vehicles on
the road without upgrading them to meet
later standards. Without that freedom, the
vehicles would become useless, owners would
not spend money on them and a significant
part of our motoring heritage would be lost.
When the Montagu Motor Museum opened
at Beaulieu in 1952 as a tribute to my
motoring pioneer father, John Scott Montagu,
we had just five early motor cars. There was
no MoT and no national speed limit. The star
exhibit, my father’s 1899 Daimler which had
been the first motor car to be driven into the
yard at the House of Commons, was just 53
years old, younger then than, say, a Jaguar
XK120 or Vincent Black Prince is today.
By the time the National Motor Museum had
taken over from the Montagu Motor Museum
twenty years later, MoTs and the 70mph
national speed limit had become facts of life.
My father’s Daimler could no more have met
the normal standards set for the MoT than it
could have broken the new national speed
limit. Yet we could still use that wonderful car
in its original form because the regulations
had been crafted so that, in general, no
vehicle was expected to meet standards
higher than those that applied when it first
was made.
This happy state of affairs remains to this day,
but should never be taken for granted. We
must be vigilant at all times and be ready to
react promptly when threats arise, backing
our case with up to date, well researched,
data hence this survey undertaken in
collaboration with the Historic Vehicle
Research Institute.
I close by thanking everyone who has been
involved in the work leading to this report.
An XK 120 Jaguar and a Vincent Black Prince
being enjoyed recently. The Jaguar could have
been bought new at the time the Montagu Motor
Museum opened, and both are older today than
the Daimler opposite was when the museum was
[Porter Publishing and Graham Smith photos].
Economic value
The survey questionnaires enquired into both sides of what might loosely be called the historic vehicle
movement’s income and expenditure account: traders, clubs and museums were all asked about their
most recent annual turnover, while individuals were asked about their expenditure. Exceptions to this
were that businesses were also asked about their spending with other specialist traders, and individuals
were asked about the value of any sales of vehicles they may have made in the previous year.
Turnover from the historic vehicle movement exceeds £4.3 billion annually.
The survey showed that the amount of money changing hands in the British economy each year
as a result of the hobby of owning and maintaining historic vehicles exceeds £4.3 billion. Further
amounts are spent by non-owners with an interest in historic vehicles.
Over £3.3 billion of this turnover is through 3,800 specialist traders.
The historic vehicle movement supports over 3,800 businesses that offer goods or services to
historic vehicle owners and enthusiasts. These specialist traders are together responsible for over
£3.3 billion of the turnover.
£960 million of the specialist trade turnover comes from outside the UK.
More than 60% of businesses that responded to the survey export goods or services. The gross
value of these exports is over a quarter of the overall value of this specialist trade. Mainland
Europe is by far the largest market, accounting for almost half of all exports.
£308 million of specialist trade turnover is business-to-business.
80% of specialist trade respondents reported significant levels of spending with other specialist
traders at an average total annual spend of just under £100,000.
Museums and FBHVC member clubs generate turnover of over £90 million.
£70 million is generated by museums and £22 million by the 500 FBHVC clubs.
Exports by Market
(percentage of £960m)
Middle East & N Africa 3%
South America 6%
China, Japan & Far East 8%
Rest of World 8%
Australia & NZ 10%
USA & Canada 18%
Europe 47%
The total value of British historic vehicles is approximately £7.4 billion.
This result, calculated from data obtained during the survey process, gives an average value of
£8,250 per vehicle.
British historic vehicle owners and enthusiasts spend £3 billion annually.
Owners spend £2.1 billion with the specialist trade, clubs and museums. A further £910 million
is spent in connection with their hobby in the general economy, outside the specialist trade.
The gross value of historic vehicle sale transactions exceeds £505 million p.a.
70% of historic vehicle sales are carried out privately and most are for modest sums under
£10,000. 10% of transfers are gifts or within families. 61% of transactions were below £5,000
with a further 18% under £10,000. Only 3% were above £50,000.
Secondary data from indicates that historic vehicle auctions in UK between July
2010 and June 2011 yielded sales with a gross value of £57 million. The 4% of vehicle sales that
take place through auction houses thus account for over 10% of all sales by value.
The average historic vehicle owner spends £2,900 a year on their hobby.
Ignoring vehicle purchases and the cost of restoration (which are not usually incurred on an
annual basis) the overall average per capita expenditure of historic vehicle owners is £2,900.
This includes the costs of maintaining and using their historic vehicles, buying publications and
attending events. Non-owner enthusiasts responding to the survey spent an average of £920 a
year on their hobby.
Average expenditure
within categories
Museum admission fees
DVDs etc
Event entry & admission fees
Clothing (overalls, helmets etc)
Meals & accommodation
Tools & equipment
£0 £200 £400 £600 £800 £1,000
Historic vehicle owners Non-owner enthusiasts
Employment and stability
Traders, museums and clubs were asked about the people who earn some, or all, of their living through
historic vehicle related work. They were asked to indicate their ages and how many worked full time, how
many part time and how many were trainees. They were also asked about their experiences recruiting
staff in the previous year as well as their probable needs for future recruitment over the next five years.
Museums were also asked about the numbers and ages of volunteers.
28,000 people earn some or all of their living from historic vehicle work.
79% are working full time for the companies that employ them, 17% part time & 4% are
trainees. 1% of the total comes from temporary or occasional workers. Museums and FBHVC
clubs account for 750 paid workers. A further 1,000 volunteers work part time in museums.
57% of people working in the specialist trade are below 45 years of age.
The age distribution of workers in the specialist trade is shown on the chart below.
65% of specialist traders have more than one speciality.
Services for historic owners come in many guises. The survey questionnaire divided these into
seven broad groups, and asked specialist traders to state which group, or groups, covered their
activity. 35% had only one type of service, but 65% offered two or more.
Age distribution
of the workforce
Proportion of businesses
working in each sector
Age groups of workers
% of the 3,800 businesses surveyed
Number employed
General services (eg insurance, storage)
Component repair & one-off re-manufacture
Batch manufacture of parts
Finishing & refinishing, incl. minor body repairs
Structural & mechanical restoration & repair
Dealing in historic vehicle related products
Historic vehicle sales
25 & under 26 to 35 36 to 45 46 to 55 56 to 65 over 65
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Full time Part time In training
Fewer than a quarter of specialist traders offer apprenticeships.
23% of those responding said they offered apprenticeships, and expected to be taking on an
average of just under two apprentices each over the next five years. The number of businesses
with apprentices in training during the period of the survey was even lower at 16%, with an
average of 1.4 apprentices each.
57% of specialist traders have been in business for over 20 years.
If longevity of business entities is an indicator of stability within a sector, the historic vehicle
movement is remarkably stable. Longevity could also indicate stagnation, but the fact that over
10% of the businesses surveyed have come in to the sector within the last ten years, suggests
this is not a problem for the specialist trade.
57% of traders had no need to recruit new staff in the last year.
This includes the 35% of specialist traders that are either sole traders, or partnerships of two,
with no employees. Of the 43% of specialist traders that did recruit staff in the last year, 56%
reported difficulty finding workers with relevant manual skills, while 37% had difficulty finding
staff with the necessary knowledge. 6% indicated that pay had been an issue in recruitment.
41% of businesses expect to recruit new staff within five years.
Anticipated growth was cited as the reason for future recruitment in over 53% of cases, with
forthcoming staff retirement accounting for less than 18%. This represents more than 7,000 jobs
across the sector in the next five years, with over half being new due to growth.
Recruitment over
next five years
Age of businesses
Number of workers to be recruited
Growth of business
Routine staff turnover
Over 40 years
31–40 years
21–30 years
11–20 years
Under 11 years
Precision machining
Specialist fitting
Panel beating
General mechanical work
Specialist welding
Electrical work
Traditional coachwork
Stores and retail sales
Clerical & office
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
Reason for recruitment
Number and use of historic vehicles
Individuals were asked to give an outline description of up to five of their historic vehicles - make,
model, type, age and condition. They were also asked how long they had had each vehicle, how much
it had been used in the last year, how it had been acquired and whether it was licensed for use on the
road. If they owned more than five historic vehicles, they were asked how many in total.
There are over 850,000 pre-1981 vehicles in Britain.
Survey responses indicate a total historic vehicle population of between 865,000 and 900,000.
The survey also showed that there are between 60,000 and 95,000 historic vehicles that have
not been in use since the Statutory Off Road Notification system (SORN) was introduced over
a decade ago. Some are not registered, others will continue to lie dormant on DVLA records until
they are next licensed. Secondary data obtained from DVLA showed that, at the end of 2010,
the 805,588 pre-1981 vehicles that were either licensed or recorded as off road (under a SORN)
represented under 2.5% of the overall active vehicle population of 35.5 million.
66% of historic vehicles are cars, 25% motorcycles or three-wheelers.
The survey found that over 90% of historic vehicles are of types made for personal use.
The remainder is made up of buses, coaches & goods vehicles (~5%); ex-military vehicles (~2%);
agricultural vehicles (~1%); and steam vehicles (<1%).
Historic vehicles
in proportion
Historic vehicles
registered in Britain
Historic vehicles
by type and age
Age groups
before 1945 1946–1960 1961–1980
Cars 2 & 3 wheelers Other
% of 900,000
Vehicles of 1980 and earlier 2.4%
Vehicles registered after 1980 97.6%
Licensed at end 2010 64%
Under SORN at end 2010 27%
Not used since 1998 9%
50% of historic vehicles cover fewer than 500 miles a year.
500 miles a year is less than 10 miles a week. The majority of historic vehicles cover fewer miles.
Historic vehicle use is responsible for less than 0.25% of traffic.
Department for Transport road traffic statistics for 2010 showed an estimated total vehicle
circulation across all categories of vehicles of 308,100 million miles. The survey showed that
circulation in historic vehicles over the past year was less than 750 million miles which is 0.24%
of the total.
35% of historic vehicles have changed hands within the past 5 years.
Although 22% of historic vehicles have been in the same ownership for over 20 years, nearly
60% have changed hands within the last ten years.
82% of historic vehicles are used no more than once or twice a month.
The use of historic vehicles was assessed in two ways – how often they are used, and how far
they travel. The chart below shows that nearly a third of historic vehicles were not used at all in
the preceding year, while 18% are used on a weekly, or more frequent, basis.
Frequency of use
of historic vehicles
Historic vehicle age groups
and distances travelled
not less than 500– 1000– 1500– 2000– 2500– 3000
used 500 999 1499 1999 2499 2999 & over
Miles travelled in last year
before 1945 (c.100,000) 1946–60 (c.175,000) 1961–80 (c.590,000)
Not used in last year 31%
Used on fewer than five occasions 8%
Used a few times during the summer 17%
Used once or twice a month 26%
Used once a week or more 18%
Cultural background and social activities
Individuals were asked about employment status, household income, age and gender. They were
also asked about whether they are involved in any community activities on a voluntary basis.
Additionally, FBHVC clubs were asked about the number and character of events they organise and
the numbers of people attending.
Over 30% of respondents had household income of less than £25,000.
The survey found that 57% of historic vehicle owners live in households whose annual income
is below £40,000, with nearly 20% having an income below £20,000.
Distribution of
household income
Value of
historic vehicles
Nearly 70% of historic vehicles are valued at less that £10,000.
68% of historic vehicles have a value below £10,000 while 2% are considered to be worth more
than £100,000. The average value is £8,250.
55% of historic vehicle owners are aged under 60.
The survey found that 55% of historic vehicle owners are aged under 60. It also found that
60% are between 50 and 70 and that there are twice as many under 20 as there were over 80.
97% of respondents were male.
£100,000 and over
Under £20,000
£100,000 and over
Under £10,000
0% 2% 4% 6% 8% 10% 12% 14% 16% 18% 20%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
35% of historic vehicle owners perform voluntary work.
16% of historic vehicle owners are involved as unpaid volunteers in charity work, 5% in education,
5% in live performance, 4% in sport, 3% in healthcare, and 1% in politics. 15% are involved in
a variety of other voluntary activities that are of benefit to the community ranging from work
in museums and libraries to delivering meals on wheels. Many volunteer in more than one capacity.
59% of historic vehicle owners are in employment.
38% of historic vehicle owners are retired with 3% either in full time education or unemployed.
Character of
events attended
FBHVC clubs attract 4.5 million attendances a year at over 27,000 separate activities.
FBHVC’s 500 subscriber clubs range in size from ten members to over 15,000. Activities range
from purely social gatherings with half a dozen individuals meeting on a weekday evening to full
scale race meetings attracting thousands. Some large clubs reported having more than 50
regional social gatherings a month where the emphasis is on talking and sharing information
about historic vehicles. At the other end of the scale, several clubs organise individual events
that each attract over ten thousand spectators.
Owners enjoy a wide range of events, with displays & shows being the most popular.
The types of historic vehicle event attended by respondents were predominantly non-
competitive, but a significant minority participate in competitive motor sport. Owners use
historic vehicles when attending events on 86% of occasions. They are active participants at
67% of the events they attend. 40% of events attended were within 50 miles of home base.
Fewer than 8% of events were overseas and less than 1% were outside Europe. Attendance at
events led to 855,000 nights away from home in UK and 300,000 overseas.
In full time employment 36%
In part time employment 6%
Self employed 17%
In full time education 1.5%
Retired 38%
Unemployed 1.5%
Overseas competitive road events 1%
Overseas non competitive tours 5%
Off road speed events 8%
Other off road competitions 4%
Competitive road events 3%
Road runs/tours 26%
Shows and displays 53%
The next five years
Traders and museums were asked to predict whether their turnover from historic vehicle activity would
grow, shrink or remain the same over the next five years. They were also asked if they had concerns about
changing vehicle or business regulations. FBHVC clubs were asked to predict how their membership might
change over the next five years and were also asked about their concerns.
52% of traders expect their historic vehicle turnover to grow.
39% expect their level of historic vehicle business to remain the same, while 9% expect it to
diminish. The pattern amongst museums was similar with 57% expecting growth.
34% of specialist traders expect the nature of their business to change.
Of those who expect the nature of their historic vehicle work to change, 35% are planning to move
into new areas of activity, while 17% are preparing for the retirement of the proprietor. Again, the
pattern amongst museums was similar with 43% planning changes to encourage return visits.
66% of traders have concerns about business regulations.
A common theme in the responses was that the regulatory burden, especially for small
businesses, hampers growth and discourages employment.
68% of traders are concerned about the risk of regulations affecting historic
vehicle usage and thus reducing demand for services.
49% of FBHVC clubs and 50% of museums share the concern that changing vehicle regulations
could discourage or prevent owners from using their historic vehicles.
46% of traders expect difficulty when recruiting staff.
Three themes stood out: finding skilled workers is not easy; training for vehicle technicians is not
relevant to historic work; and there is a perception that young people have little interest in
learning manual skills. The proportion of museums expecting difficulty was higher, at 67%.
32% of FBHVC clubs expect their membership to grow.
48% of clubs are expecting their membership levels to remain much the same, and 20% are
expecting numbers to shrink.
40% of non-owner respondents aspire to become owners.
Amongst non-owner respondents, 40% were aiming to acquire an historic vehicle within the
next five years. Of these, just over a third had owned an historic vehicle previously.
30% of FBHVC clubs expect problems due to ethanol in fuel.
Problems associated with the ethanol content of fuel have been a serious discussion point
amongst all motorists, not just historic vehicle owners, and 30% of clubs believe that the side
effects of ethanol in fuel are likely to have an adverse effect on historic vehicle use.
A quarter of FBHVC clubs are concerned about the costs of the hobby.
23% of clubs responding to the question about concerns for the next five years mentioned the
increasing costs of maintenance and fuel as being likely to reduce vehicle usage and hence club activity.
Note. The 2006 survey was part of a pan-European exercise involving 11 countries. The value ranges of questions and
results were based on the euro and the kilometre, making direct comparison difficult. It should also be noted that in 1997,
the definition of an historic vehicle was one over 20 years old. Since 1997, this definition has changed twice. In 2006,
historic vehicles were defined as being those over 25 years old. This was extended to those over 30 years in 2008.
The main numbers
Turnover. According to the Retail Price Index, £1.6bn in 1997 would be £2.0bn in 2006 and £2.4bn
now. £3.2bn measured in 2006 equates to £3.8bn today. Both earlier exercises pointed out that it
had not been possible to assess turnover in some sectors. Improvements in methodology have
made it possible to identify £500m turnover that had not been counted in 2006. When this is taken
in to account, the historic vehicle movement today has the same value in real terms as in 2006.
Exports. The proportion of turnover originating from overseas in 1997 was the same as now at
close to 20%. It is probable that the 2006 value of exports was understated.
Numbers of workers. The difference between the 2006 and 2011 data is small, but the number of
people earning income from the historic vehicle movement has increased, despite the recession.
Numbers and use of vehicles. The number of historic vehicles licensed for use has dropped by
nearly a tenth and overall circulation in historic vehicles is diminishing (at least within FBHVC
clubs). Approximately 4% of historic vehicles are now being driven further than they were in 2006.
Household incomes. The Institute of Fiscal Studies gives mean household income in the UK for
2009-10 as £519 a week, or about £26,000 per annum. The equivalent figures in 2006 (for the
2004-05 year) were £477 and £24,500. The number of historic vehicle owners living in households
with less than average income is unchanged since 2006 at 30%. In 2006, 21% of historic vehicle
owners had household income above £60,000. The 2011 figures are not directly comparable, but
indicate that 29% of owners have household income above £50,000, with 14% above £75,000.
Attendance at FBHVC club activities. This is the most marked change between the surveys. It is
not, however, the result of an explosion of activity over the five years but is the result of a more
balanced response from FBHVC subscriber clubs enabling the researchers to gain a better
understanding of the high volume of low-key activity undertaken on a regional basis by the large
national/international clubs. These figures relate only to 500 FBHVC subscriber clubs and exclude
events and activities organised by others.
HV(M)=historic vehicle (movement) 1997 2006 2011
Annual turnover from HVM £1.6bn £3.2bn £4.3bn
Value of exports by HVM traders over £300m £320m £960m
People earning some/all income from HVM 25,000 27,000 28,000
Proportion of HV licensed for use 64% 75% 66%
Proportion of HV covering less than 1,000 miles 36% under 1,500 67% under 900 63%
Mileage in HV by members of FBHVC clubs 516m miles 350m miles 288m miles
HV values not reported 67% under £10k 70% under £10k
HV owner household income - average not reported 30% under £20k 30% under £25k
Attendances at FBHVC club activities 500,000 over 1.1m over 4.5m
The research leading to this report collected a considerable quantity of primary data about all aspects
of the British historic vehicle movement. Secondary data was provided by the Driver and Licensing
Vehicle Agency and Other statistical information has been obtained from publicly
accessible records. These observations seek to put all this information into context.
Economic value
The survey has shown that the historic vehicle
movement generates business of considerable
value. This report describes £4.3 billion worth
of economic activity arising from interest in
historic vehicles.
FBHVC has identified over 3,800 businesses
that offer services to owners of historic
vehicles. This group, the specialist trade, is
responsible for business worth over £3.3
billion. £960 million, or 28%, of this arises from
exported goods and services. Mainland Europe
and North America are the main export
Between them, specialist museums and FBHVC
member clubs generate another £90 million.
Museum turnover, at £70 million annually, is
noteworthy as several major collections, such
as Coventry Transport Museum, are publicly
owned and have free admission. Clubs may not
generate much business in value terms, but
their activity has significance beyond the
financial as it is frequently the catalyst that
encourages owners to use, and hence maintain,
their vehicles.
The specialist trade, clubs and museums account
for £3.4 of the £4.3 billion value of business. The
£900 million difference results from spending by
historic vehicle owners purchasing goods and
services from outside the specialist trade.
Examples include purchasing historic vehicles
privately (£230 million), fuel (£122 million) and
meals & accommodation when attending
events (£49 million).
Ignoring vehicle purchases and occasional
major repairs or restoration, the average
historic vehicle owner spends £2,900 p.a.
Routine maintenance accounts for the largest
portion of this, but significant sums are spent
on fuel and the various costs associated with
attending events.
For pragmatic reasons, the research leading to
this report was limited to the key players in the
movement that could be identified and
counted: owners and specialist organisations. It
is not possible, for instance, to know how many
bed & breakfast establishments benefit from
spectators attending historic vehicle events,
but it is clear that many do.
There is thus further economic activity
generated by the historic vehicle movement
that it has not been possible to quantify. This is
additional to the £4.3 billion and arises from
two significant groups that it is not practical
to measure: non-owner enthusiasts and the
general public.
Non-owner enthusiasts are those who do not
own an historic vehicle, but for whom interest
in some aspect of road transport heritage is a
specific hobby. The survey was able to establish
that those in this group spend an average of
£920 a year on their hobby. This relates to the
costs of attending events (fuel, meals and
accommodation etc) and buying historic
vehicle media, models and so on.
Large numbers of the general public also attend
historic vehicle events. There are thousands of
these events each year ranging from high
profile international events, such as the Revival
Meeting at Goodwood mentioned in John
Surtees’ Foreword, to local historic vehicle
shows that are no larger than a village fête. The
cost of attending the larger events is often £20
or more per person before travel is considered.
An indication of the knock-on benefit to local
economies from events comes from a recent
local study undertaken by FBHVC and the
University of Brighton that showed that the
one-day London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
attracts 20,000 spectators and generates over
£1.1 million in economic benefit for the City of
Brighton and Hove.
Employment and stability
The business generated by the 3,800 specialist
traders, the clubs and the museums helps to
keep more than 28,000 people in employment.
This is in addition to the employment
sustained by expenditure outside the specialist
trade, such as the £900 million spent by
historic vehicle owners and the unquantified
amount spent by the general public attending
historic vehicle events.
The report has confirmed the finding of
previous studies that the historic vehicle
movement is well-founded and stable. Nearly
60% of the specialist trade have been in
business for more than 20 years. Longevity is
more pronounced in clubs and museums.
The fact that so many organisations serving
historic vehicle owners are such long-
established entities gives confidence in the
long range economic viability of the sector.
Number and use of historic vehicles
The survey obtained data about the number of
historic vehicles in UK in two ways first, by
calculating the overall vehicle population from
the survey returns and, second, by asking
DVLA. The calculation produced a total of just
under 900,000 pre-1981 vehicles, with 66%
licensed, while DVLA’s figure (a snapshot taken
at the end of 2010) was just under 806,000
pre-1981 vehicles with 71% licensed and 29%
under a SORN.
The figures are consistent given that there are
historic vehicles that have been off the road for
so long that they are not subject to the SORN
DVLA also stated that at the end of 2010 there
were 35,500,000 vehicles on the register either
licensed or under a SORN. The historic vehicle
population is thus under 2.5% of the national
vehicle park.
Half this historic vehicle population travels
fewer than 500 miles in a year, including the
third of historic vehicles that are either unused
or do no more than go for an annual MoT test.
When comparing the 2011 survey results with
those from 2006, it was interesting to note that
although overall historic vehicle use within the
control group (FBHVC subscriber clubs) had
diminished, the number of historic vehicles
travelling over 1,000 miles a year had increased
by 4%. The proportion of historic vehicles
licensed for use fell from 75% to 66% over the
same period. The most likely explanation for
this apparent contradiction is that owners of
multiple historic vehicle are covering similar
overall distances in fewer vehicles.
The survey found that overall historic vehicle
circulation in the preceding year was less than
a quarter of one percent of the Department for
Transport estimate of total circulation for 2010.
Cultural background & social activities
If one goes to any major historic vehicle event,
the crowds look just like any busy high street
with more or less equal numbers of men and
women, families and people of all ages and
backgrounds. Yet historic vehicle owners
responding to the survey were predominantly
male, and most were over 50.
The important thing to note is that although
the hands-on business of owning and looking
after historic vehicles appeals to many more
men than women, the interest in historic
vehicles extends far beyond those who actually
own them.
The survey confirmed the previous findings
that the historic vehicle movement appeals
across all strata of society and, with many
This aerial photograph of the Great Dorset
Steam Fair shows only half the site. The rows of
parked vehicles show just how many people are
attracted to this annual event. [GDSF photo].
historic vehicles changing hands in hundreds of
pounds, rather than thousands, the hobby is
accessible to those on modest incomes.
Most historic vehicle activity is low key, low
cost and family friendly, the typical event being
organised by a club and involving little more
than a group visit to a tourist attraction.
The next five years
Businesses and museums are generally
optimistic about the next five years, but have
strong concerns about the level of regulation
and red tape with which they have to cope.
Most clubs are also positive about the future,
although only a third expect their membership
numbers to grow. Nearly half the clubs that
responded expect their membership to become
older, suggesting that they don’t expect much
turnover of membership, but 10% of clubs are
expecting their membership to become younger.
Those clubs that were expecting membership
to become younger had one thing in common:
a busy programme of activity.
18% of individuals responding owned an
average of 1.7 “future historics” that is
vehicles over 20 years old that will join the
ranks of historic vehicles in the fullness of
time. If this is typical across the movement,
the historic vehicle population will grow by
approximately 7% over the next 10 years.
Aging membership and increasing costs were
the two topics most frequently mentioned as
potential problems by clubs, many of which
had already noted an adverse effect from the
steep increase in fuel prices since 2009.
In conclusion
This 2011 survey set out to bring data
collected in 2006 up to date and to assess how
the British historic vehicle movement had
weathered the global recession.
It has achieved both goals: the figures reported
are up to date and they demonstrate that the
historic vehicle movement has not diminished
as a result of the recession. In addition, the
research also measured a substantial area of
spending that the 2006 exercise had identified
but was unable to quantify. It also looked at
specialist traders' predictions for the
immediate future, something that the earlier
studies had not been able to assess.
The research team is indebted to the
businesses, clubs, museums and many
thousands of individuals who responded to the
survey. The support and co-operation from all
quarters has been exemplary, especially when
further information or clarification has been
requested while those who were asked for
photographs could not have been more helpful.
The historic vehicle movement is worth more
than £4.3 billion a year to the national
economy, supports more than 28,000 jobs
and is responsible for less than a quarter of
one percent of traffic.
Although amongst many, these three key
findings taken on their own demonstrate why
the historic vehicle movement must not
become the target of restrictive measures,
whether directly or unintentionally. This sizable
industry and all of those employed within it
rely on historic vehicle owners spending money
on their hobby. This is money they would not
spend if they could not use their vehicles.
FBHVC exists to ‘uphold the freedom’ to use
historic vehicles on the road. FBHVC must
make sure it achieves its aim, for if it does not,
all of this support, all of this co-operation will
be wasted, the national economy will suffer,
many jobs will be lost and hundreds of
thousands of individuals will lose their
pastime. With this up to date information
about the historic vehicle movement, with
existing political contacts and with the right
strategy, there is no reason why FBHVC should
not be successful.
Activity attracts younger members. [Photo by
Nick Bosworth of the Steam Apprentices Club].
Dr. Paul Frost BA (Hons), MSc., PhD. Researcher
Currently Head of the School of Service Management, University of Brighton.
Has worked in education, development and research for over 30 years. He is
co-founder and Chairman of the Historic Vehicle Research Institute, as well as
co-founder and director of, an organisation dedicated to the
sharing of information to unite the historic vehicle community.
Dr. Chris Hart BA (Hons), MA (Economics), PhD (Linguistics). Researcher
Currently a senior lecturer in Advertising at the University of Chester.
Researcher on the 1997 and 2006 studies. Co-founder and Vice Chairman of
the Historic Vehicle Research Institute. Successful author and presenter as well
as director of Midrash Publishing. Worked in education, commercial research
and publishing for over 30 years.
Dr. Jaime Kaminski BA (Hons), PhD, FRGS. Researcher
Jaime is a lecturer and research fellow at the University of Brighton Business School
where he works for the Cultural Informatics Research Group. He is also Head of
Heritage Research for the Business School’s ‘Cultural Business, Impact, Strategy and
Technology’ (CUBIST) research group. Jaime specialises in the study and assessment
of socio-economic impact and business issues associated with heritage.
Geoffrey A. Smith Chartered MCIPD. Project Director
Vice-President of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs. Chairman of
FBHVC 1998 to 2002. Co-founder and director of the Historic Vehicle Research
Institute. Retired past career in Motor Industry (Manufacturing, Engineering
and Human Resources).
Jim Whyman. Administration
Vice-President of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs. Instrumental in
establishing FBHVC in 1988 serving as secretary for all but four years from 1988
to 2008. Currently provides freelance administrative services to clubs and
associations of all types. Past career in motor club administration, competition
organisation and motoring journalism.
Photograph credits – front cover:
1896 Salveson 1902 MMC 1912 BSA & sidecar 1919 Leyland box van 1925 Citroen
Motion Works Henry Lawson Equip-Ajax Peter Quinn Peter McFadyen
1933 Bristol Bus c.1948 Fordson Major 1955 Messerschmitt 1960 Velocette Venom 1973 Range Rover
Peter Quinn David Davies Rosy Pugh David Davies
rear cover: Peter McFadyen inside front cover: Chris Hart
page 2:
Work on Bristol 401 carburettors Norton race preparation Reassembly after respray
Spencer Lane-Jones Ltd Geoff Smith David Hurley
Line boring a Riley block Tyre fitting to Hupmobile Alvis body frame rebuild
Thos. Hamlin & Sons Longstone Tyres Earley Engineering Ltd
Welding under a Bristol wing Porsche gearbox reassembly Lancia receiving attention
Spencer Lane-Jones Ltd Geoff Smith Geoff Smith
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