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Hagerty Employee

Are online car shoppers younger than those who buy in person? | Hagerty Media

We know that the classic car market is getting younger every day-millennials are the fastest growing group of potential customers calling Hagerty for quotes on insurance. We also know that it's getting more digital, thanks to meteoric growth of online auction platforms, which we expect will outsell in-person auctions in 2021.
Intermediate Driver

I think a more interesting statistic would be the percentage of buyers who purchase a car online without seeing it in person first, or without having a trusted set of eyes viewing it at time of purchase. I for one as a small collector car dealer have been burned more than once buying online without first laying eyes on the prize, and in return have gotten a pig. No more. If I can't inspect the car myself, or have a trusted source do it for me, then I won't even consider buying online. There is simply too much risk doing so, especially in the sub-$50k price ranges, and those who do are either fools or have more money than sense. Caveat Emptor, dum dums.

I agree but the data isn't as easily available. Of the two sight-unseen buys I've been involved in, the eBay episode was a pretty bad burn and the Craigslist deal was only slightly misleading. I'd also like to know the percentage of satisfied to disappointed buyers of sight-unseen vehicles but I don't think I need data to make a damn good guess.
Advanced Driver

I am a 58 years old retired car collector and salesman, and have bought exactly (1) car online without seeing it in person. But I got lucky! It was a jewel. I admit to interrogation tactics that would have made all but the most patient person hang up the phone. Every crack and crevice of that car was hashed out. Every inch of the laser straight bodywork was messaged, along with the engine. Even with this intense inquiry, I was terrified until it arrived. And my nerves settled. The one take on this is that it will never happen again! Kind of like gambling for the first time at the roulette wheel and winning. Good time to stop for sure and walk away. Despite my good fortune, I'm with you on this one.
Advanced Driver

Would be interesting to see the data about the age of the buyer and the age of the cars for buyers/insurers of more than one car over time. I find that as I get older, the cars I buy are getting younger. I think that is because I don't enjoy wrenching as must as I used to, and I have the means to pay for a pro to do it, but I still love driving.


I may find cars on the web but generally I would be reluctant to buy a vehicle on line or an auction with out a lot of investigation. I would have to visit the car or have a trusted person inspect the vehicle.

We may have a lot of people buying on line but how many are being screwed in the deal.

Buying and selling a vehicle can be a very fun experience or a nightmare based on how well you put in your homework to buy such a vehicle and learn how to gauge condition and authenticity in some cases.

I have seen too many on line buyers who get cars that are miss represented. This is not like buying insurance from a trusted company.

Even if I go to buy a new vehicle on the web I will need to go and inspect it before I put my money down. I have worked deals on line but I close them with the in-person visit.

Too many people who get older and have money want want to participate in the hobby but just think laying the money down is all you need to do to find the car of your dreams. I have seen many a busted dream this way.

Not saying all deals are bad on the web. To the contrary most are ok but the ability to be taken in with a miss represented vehicle also goes up directly too.

I have seen too many rust free cars delivered with enough rust to keep me from buying it once I see it with my own eyes.

With convenience comes even more ignorance.
New Driver

I'm in my ninth decade and bought two cars online in the last two years. The first was an S2000 found on Carfax, and I couldn't be happier with the car and the deal. It came from a reliable dealer, Hendrick, 210 miles away. A price was agreed to over the phone and the car was delivered to my driveway with a full tank a few days later.
The second was the complete opposite, an MG-TC from a dealer in Los Angeles which presented nicely on Hemmings but turned out to be not so nice. It runs real well, but has the full boat of Lucas issues and it's beyond my ability to fix. I didn't know the right questions to ask and the dealer would have lied anyway. I was unable to connect with a local club to find a PPI, which would have shut the deal down. Can't find any mechanic around here (Palm Beach County, FL) who can deal with it, and we're getting it prepped to list on BaT Auctions as a running project.
New Driver

Sir there are a number of MG clubs is Florida where you will find nice people to help you out.


Wiring on these car is always an issue if not replaced.

Over the year many a mechanic must have add a number of wires to bypass Lucas guaranteed short circuit. Probably a mess but


It is rather  simple and quick  to fix ( meaning replace everthing). Wiring is about a 1000$ + labor .Please do not give your car away !

Advanced Driver

Since 2005, I have purchased 22 cars online. For all but 1, the first time I saw it in person was when the carrier pulled in to deliver it, or in a few cases, when I flew to the seller's place on a one-way ticket to drive it home. Ranging in price from $5k to $75k, with a few getting a PPI. A couple of mistakes along the way, but you develop a sixth sense about these things, know what to ask, and the key, determine the seller's credibility. You can just tell when it's right and when it isn't.

Intermediate Driver

Just today I lost out on a 1971 Bronco on CL because I would not blindly throw $20,000 at it. The seller pulled the ad just after 4 hours. They have two buyers in a bidding war. Sight unseen in a bidding war. It's that Risk vs Gain thing. Two buyers willing to risk getting into a potential scam in order to reap big rewards. I have a buddy who has been burned twice by buying sight unseen. His problem was worse than getting a rusted out "Rust Free" car. He got nothing and lost $20,000 on CL. It's a challenge finding your dream car at a great price now days.

I honestly don’t know how people could buy a car without actually seeing it or having a thorough inspection. “Carvana”...”we invented buying a car completely online”...that is crazy.

The commercials show vending machines full of cars and a trailer showing up at someone’s house with a red Camaro...this is nuts.

Never, no way. If I can’t smell the dipstick for burnt oil, listen to the engine or look for leaks, I’m out. It’s a HUGE gamble.
Advanced Driver

I bought an SLK55 AMG P30 from Carvana in February. I was admittedly skeptical, but 7 day no-questions asked right to return, and 100 day bumper to bumper warranty. I used the 7 day window to take it to MY mechanic for a thorough inspection. He found a couple of issues, but nothing that was a deal killer. I accepted the car in the 7 day window, and then took it back to the same guy and got the problems fixed under the Carvana warranty. Almost $800 of work, cost me $50 because my guy was not on their 'approved' list. I would do it again in a heartbeat for the right car.  The only issue I have with Carvana is that the search engine on their website blows.

Intermediate Driver

OK - lets concentrate on the main topic - age of buyers online vs live. The data clearly shows that live auction buyers are buying older cars. There is not much online activity for the cars that are 70-80 years plus. There must be a good reason for this and its probably the fact that you really do need to get up close and have a good look at what you are buying when a car is that old. Not only condition wise, but checking for originality. You really do need to spend time talking to the auctioneer about the car and the seller and that's best done face to face.
Intermediate Driver

The topic does not talk about where more of these cars are listed, on line VS live only auctions only cars sold auctions. If sellers of cars of this age car are not listing on line as much as live auctions they could be limiting their market audience. On the on line auction chart every car in that age group that was listed did sell and sold across all age groups. With more under 30-year-old enthusiast buying more 70, 80 and even 100+ year old cars on line then they did at live auction. I agree you need to educate yourself and know the condition, and originality and what the car is supposed to be whatever the age car.


Gen Xers we’re the first who grew up with PCs in their homes, so it doesn’t surprise me that they would be able to handle online auctions. I feel like most boomers probably had someone else actually do the computer work fir them. Those of us who are IT support for our parents know how badly they could mess up bidding on an online auction. 🙂
Pit Crew

I can honestly say- the 8 cars I bought sight unseen off of BringaTrailer were very much as they were listed.
The format on BaT has room for questions/comments/observations that can help you make a more informed decision on buy it before you try it.
I’ve actually bought 4 cars that I flew in and drove home to Florida.
Two from California, one from Nevada and one from Houston.
I bought one car local on FB marketplace and I had to put more money into it than I wanted.
Just sold it to buy another car on BaT!
Pit Crew

I’m Gen X.  I have a long list of cars I’d like to have dating back to the early 1900s but I’m tiring of  the same muscle cars everyone else has and now at the top of my list are several Japanese sports/gt cars that I couldn’t afford new as a young man.  I think people buy further down their list after they satisfy their youthful desires or when they realize like I have that the top of the list is already getting unaffordable.


I don’t mind bidding but the current systems are incredibly frustrating.  It’s always a seven day auction, the seller “never” replies until there’s only three or four days left making it impossible to take off work to travel or arrange a 3rd party inspection in time.  I don’t mind paying top dollar but I’m not a high-stakes gambler.  I bought a 68 Mustang through an online auction but it was local and the seller replied quickly.  I wish they’d all do at least two weeks or month but that’s long enough to discover the hidden flaws.  Most that I’ve managed to actually inspect or have inspected has needed expensive work that wasn’t obvious in the photos and videos.

Advanced Driver

For me, what was at the top of my list changed over time. I lived through the muscle car era, and thought I would want something from then. But as I grew older and got spoiled with 500HP with AC and ABS and leather and -real- performance and a sound system that rattles the windows in the neighborhood, the idea of driving a 50 year old car that has no AC, no disc brakes, and an AM-FM radio with the optional speaker in the rear shelf really has very little appeal to me. A few years ago, I bought a 71 RS/SS 396 Camaro, but honestly I much prefer both the technology AND the performance of something more contemporary. I think it's the difference between liking to remember how it was and liking to drive on the edge today. I would never attempt to drive a 'muscle' car the way I drive my Acura or my Mercedes AMG or even my Jeep. Sure, I'd love to have a Leno collection, but I don't have the pocketbook nor the garage space for something that doesn't literally move me.


P.S. my first car was a '68 Mustang 302 4-barrel.


I have no intention of buying another car/truck online or in person. But I do enjoy following unique and unusual cars and trucks on Bring A Trailer.

Regardless of online or in-person auctions, it's nice to see that younger people are still interested in all sorts of cars. It depresses me to hear so much talk and read so many articles about millennials' lack of interest in motoring. I love cars--especially ICEs--and hope and pray these wonderful machines remain a part of American culture for a long time to come. Thanks to every enthusiast and car lover whether you're an aspiring 16 year old dreaming of your first classic or a finely aged baby boomer with a priceless collection of 60s muscle in your garage. Believe me when I tell you that it's all good! Keep the home fires burning!
Intermediate Driver

It's more of the younger generations who right now are teens. This is anecdotal I know, but of the dozen or so friends and family members I know who have current driver age teens (about 20 of them), only a handful are interested in what kind of vehicle they would like as their first car. Worse, a few aren't even interested in getting their learner's permit. They are more interested in social media and gaming. On top of that, these kids seem to be indoctrinated that owning a fossil-fuel burning vehicle is unethical and even murder people with climate change (no...really). But based on car club and automotive forums I'm on, it appears to be a disturbing trend.
Pit Crew

I realized a 40 year dream through a purchase on BaT from a long time owner. I would not have purchased the car from a dealer, other online auction, or in-person auction mainly due to trust issues. The comments section on BaT provided enough information to support the purchase decision along with direct contact with the owner. Congrats to BaT for developing such a wonderful format and helping me realize a very long dream.
Intermediate Driver

I don't think the author is targeting the right source for getting automobiles. Classics are mostly on auction and private seller sites like this. While it is good to see younger generations showing interest in classics, it's not the source most are thinking with an inherent belief that younger generations buy online.

So where would a more realistic approach be when assessing where the younger "convenience" generations who grew up with tablet and computer online shopping in their faces be some thought of as a higher percentage customer base? Online only dealerships like Carvana where there is no haggling and you buy like you would from a vending machine. or Vroom where vehicles are stored in regional warehouses and then delivered to your driveway via flat bed delivery truck.

Now in that type of buying experience, I would expect a much younger generation (under 40 ) to be a higher percentage of customers who see vehicles as a transportation tool and less so as an extension of their personality and driving enjoyment. I say that just based on a November 2020 Statistica study showing that the age groups combined between 18-44 (18-24, 25-34, 35-44) represent just over 50% of all online buyers where as the 45+ age groups about 45% (remaining 5% being 14-17 age group). Also 56% of Millennials polled stated they hate in-person negotiations at a dealership and would rather avoid it. Hence, non-negotiation sites as previously mentioned as well as non-negotiation dealerships like CarMax (who will also delivery your vehicle purchased online sight unseen).

I would like to see a tie to buyer's income, age, and price of car. The older dudes have more time and more money to go for the blue chip (high dollar) collectables, but the younger buyers are most likely buying the entry level collectables and not so concerned with get saddled with a bondo wagon.

I hate eBay, but I've got to admit that you feel a tremendous amount of confidence when you can read 15+ years of a seller's review on numberous car sales. When you find a seller with zero negative feedback, you can buy with confidence that you're not going to get soaked.
Pit Crew

It occurs to me that young buyers, who by definition tend to be less experienced than older buyers, might bid in an online auction more readily than an experienced bidder, at least ONCE...

I have been around cars for more than a half century and would never buy a car online. I think
technology is destroying us. The way to buy a car is to go to it, put your hands on it, look at it's bones, sight down the body panels (don't buy a car in the rain) drive it, know it. And stay away from
EVs. until there's a national charging infrastructure, wrenches have access to parts and know how to
fix them when they fall down and we know what to do with dead batteries. As always, it's greed before social responsibility.