The Rise in Female Classic Car Owners

In October 2016, a survey revealed that female classic car ownership in the UK had increased by 40% since 2014. The data suggests that approximately 11% of the classic car market is now made up of women, which emphasizes how female classic car ownership is becoming increasingly popular.

Trish Cecile-Pritchard - Austin Healey 3000 - 2
Trish Cecile-Pritchard – Austin Healey 3000

So, what is making classic cars so appealing to female drivers? Is it the financial benefits, or the pure love of the classic car that encourages more and more women to invest in them?

To find out, this article will explore the market as a whole, as well as look at some real-life examples of female classic car owners to find out what inspired them to invest in classic cars.

The current state of the classic car market

The Coutts Index 2017 which captures the changing values of various assets, found that classic cars provided the healthiest returns since 2005, with average prices rising more than fourfold, despite poor price returns previously in 2015 and 2016. From these stats, it’s clear to see that the interest in classic cars has skyrocketed.

While price returns for classic cars have fluctuated over the last few years, the interest remains strong. James Knight, Chairman of the motoring department at Bonham’s auction house shares that “over the past 10 years, appreciation of the market has been consistent and steady, despite world economic turmoil”. He continues to say how “globally, the collectors’ auction market is in good health and continues to perform well, with top prices still being achieved for the rarest and most important examples”.

Not only does Knight’s comment suggest that the classic car market is performing well, he also goes on to say how choosing to buy a classic car for nostalgic reasons rather than investment purposes is a positive thing:

Ultimately, we want those coming into the market to have an emotional attachment to the subject and not treat motor cars like stocks and shares, because I don’t want them behaving like stocks and shares.

Nostalgia and passion seem to act as key influences for both male and female classic car buyers alike. One survey even revealed that 21% of women would be influenced by nostalgia when buying a classic car whereas only 17 % of them would be driven by the investment opportunities. These stats clearly show that women are more influenced by the nostalgic aspect of owning a classic car than the potential investment benefits.

Passion versus investment

While passion is a common trait found among classic car buyers – both male and female – passion can be seen in different forms. For enthusiasts, the passion resides in the pure joy of owning, restoring, and driving vintage cars. For investors, on the other hand, the passion comes from the benefits of investing itself. For one female classic car owner, it’s clear that classic cars are much more than an investment asset. Emma Balaam, hub of operations for the RS Owners Club and classic car enthusiast, has had a connection with cars since she was a little girl. Her dad used to work for Ford and her grandparents would pick her up from school in their yellow 1100L Mk1 Escort.

The moment her passion really developed for classic cars was when she married her husband who worked for Ford RS Owners Club (RSOC). She expresses how her “passion for cars grew alongside his existing interest” so much so she bought her very first RS car – an Escort RS1600i. It began as a restoration project but as life got in the way, as it so often does, the project never came to light.

Yearning for something to drive, she then bought a Mk6 RS2000 4×4 which became her go-to vehicle for a good while, until she set her sights on a Sebring Red Mk1. In her own words, “the Mk1 comes from a time when cars were different. You bought them on their looks as much as for their specification. And mine looks incredible. From the Cibielights on the front to the ‘Ford’ lettering on the back, it’s just beautiful, it’s delicious!

When asked if she’d ever sell it, Emma’s answer is always a firm no – a clear indication that for her, a classic car when truly enjoyed is not simply an investment asset, instead it is a passion, a hobby, and a lifestyle.

Another female classic car owner whose passion for classic cars is undeniable, is Trish Cecile-Pritchard. From spending her days with her father at various motor shows to visiting the Goodwood Revival with her rally racing father-in-law, it’s safe to say that Trish was brought into the world of classic cars from a young age.

Emma Balaam - Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico
Emma Balaam – Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico

After deciding at the Goodwood Revival that she would find a classic car of her own, she did some research and stumbled upon an MGA which – to her genuine surprise – her husband then bought her as a birthday present. It was a “1959 1600 Mk1 in beautiful old English white. I adored it, and I drove it for 12 years. I toured Europe in it, went to every event possible”.

Emma Balaam - Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico
Emma Balaam – Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico

Igniting a spark that couldn’t be snuffed out, Trish set her gaze on an Austin Healey 3000. After finding one, she “went to look at it in the dark and the rain, drove it around Coventry, where it was based, and bought it without hesitation.”

Even though she had never driven one before, an immediate bond formed between herself and the charming vehicle from the very first drive. In 2009, her friend then took her to Prescott (Speed Hill Climb) for the Ladies Day and that’s when it all began. From that moment, she had decided that this is what she wanted to do. In her own words: “Seeing the cars power up the hill, seeing the faces of people competing, people who were clearly enjoying every second of it, I wanted to be a part of that”.

After competing in a few events with the car in stock condition, she decided to go for it. With the help of MG Motorsport’s Doug Smith, “the car evolved […] it was a proper race car” – and so bloomed the racing career of Trish Cecile-Pritchard.

Trish Cecile-Pritchard - Austin Healey 3000
Trish Cecile-Pritchard – Austin Healey 3000

In 2010, Trish achieved first place in the Prescott Hill Climb, first at Gurston Down and seventh overall in the Championship. She also won the Nancy Mitchell Rose Bowl for best performance by a lady driver. In 2011, she came second at Loton Park, fourth at Curborough, fourth at Goodwood, fourth at Shelsley Walsh, fifth at Gurston Down, and fifth overall in Championship.

In 2012, she achieved yet another first at Prescott, second at MIRA, fourth at Gurston Down, fifth at Wiscombe Park, fifth at Curborough and sixth overall in Championship. She also won the Nancy Mitchell Rose Bowl for most points scored by a lady driver. But it was 2014 that brought the golden moment when Trish became the first woman ever to win the Healey Sport Championship.

In the words of Trish: “We just need the women to step forward and get behind the wheel”. And that’s exactly what’s happening. As the classic car market continues to increase, the number of women buying and insuring classic cars will undoubtedly continue to grow, as is made evident in recent surveys. From exploring the stories behind the stats, it’s clear that more frequently than not, classic cars are assets of passion rather than purely used for investment purposes.

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1 Comment

  1. I don’t usually have time to read all the great articles on classics I receive, much less comment, but this caught my eye since I am a woman collector.
    The entire hobby is being discovered by women of all ages. It seems all makes and models are fair game for a growing number of women with a passion for automotive history, and a source of income to fuel the desire to participate in the hobby. Most women I know in the hobby are also very active in a club that represents their favored marque. All of this is great news for keeping the hobby alive and these wonderful pieces of rolling art on the road.

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