Are you one of those people who shudder at the mention of a Peugeot 205, a BMW E36 or a Ford Escort ? If so, you are a fan of Youngtimers, those cars from the 80s and 90s that make you nostalgic for your carefree childhood. And you're not alone, far from it. These cars are more popular than ever and there are more and more enthusiasts. But owning an old car is good, being able to repair and maintain it is better. And this is precisely where the problem lies. Lovers of these beautiful machines often struggle to find a garage capable of repairing their little jewel, due to the lack of qualified specialists close to home. And if it was you, that garage specialising in Youngtimers ? Far from being risky, this challenge could on the contrary be a winning choice.
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While classic cars are seeing their sometimes wildly declining value, youngtimers on the contrary are steadily increasing in value. The used car market is experiencing exceptional vigour in France, and more particularly that of cars from another generation. Several factors explain this.
These vehicles remain accessible. For £5 000 or less, it is still possible to treat yourself to a model that smells like the 1980s. Some models, already popular in their day, sold well. Logically, they are still present today in people's minds and on the roads.
The Caradisiac website published in 2018 A study on the success of these young old cars. The automobile information site noted that more 2CVs were traded than Peugeot 108s at the time, and that the indestructible Peugeot 205 beat the Renault Kadjar, which was not stingy in terms of comfort and options of all kinds, to the punch. 23 000 « holy numbers » were transacted, compared to 19 800 for the SUV of the diamond brand.
No, the phenomenon of Youngtimers and exceptional cars is not just a passing trend, it represents a way of life. A way of life even.
The Yountgimer enthusiast is a passionate and sentimental person. If he buys an old car, it is above all to plunge back into his childhood memories. No matter how comfortable the car is or how many electronic devices it has, our aficionado is looking for the emotions and the memories of his youth. The smell of an upholstery, the powerful purr of an engine, the specific design of a dashboard...
Since then, it's no surprise that enthusiasts — increasingly young — seek to maintain the object of their passion as well as possible.
The phenomenon of Youngtimers is well established in popular culture. There are countless television programmes devoted to the subject — Vintage Mecanic and others Wheelers Dealers — The channel RMC Discovery has even made it its speciality. A magazine — the well-named Youngtimers — is even dedicated to these cars without electronics.
Yes, there is definitely room for a garage specialising in youngtimers repair.All these cars are no longer serviced by dealerships and finding a good mechanic is a real challenge. Just take a look at the discussion forums dedicated to the subject to realise that owners of youngtimers are constantly looking for the person they can trust to look after their little treasure. Everyone has their own advice and good addresses, especially for specific operations, such as adjusting the running gear. Word of mouth is extremely effective. Making a name for yourself in the business easily secures you customers.
Many professionals are unwilling to offer such services, which remain in some respects a niche market. In addition, owners of old cars often point out that the mechanics of the time are simpler than today and that since the engines are accessible, maintenance can easily be done at home.
However, some garage owners have already jumped on the bandwagon. Many amateurs are not mechanics and their technical knowledge has its limits.
Moreover, renovating and then maintaining a young vintage car requires a range of skills often not within the reach of an amateur, however passionate. Garages specialising in vintage vehicles offer, in addition to classic mechanics, bodywork, paintwork or upholstery services.
Hesitant to take the plunge ? Those who have taken the plunge are unanimous: not only do they not know the routine, but the relationship with the customer is quite different from that in a classic repair shop. When two enthusiasts meet, there is bound to be a special interaction, a real exchange based on the pleasure of immersing themselves in real mechanics.
We often emphasise in our articles the need for a garage owner to find a differentiating focus. The YT niche is a perfect example of this. You don't necessarily need to be a jack-of-all-trades specialising in nothing. Instead, offer real added value and unquestionable expertise to your clientele of knowledgeable amateurs.
First think about your positioning. There's no reason why you have to give up your current business of repairing and servicing modern cars, you can perfectly well combine the two.
If you make the choice to devote yourself fully to exceptional vehicles (or those that tend to become so), choose the niche in which you intend to appear. Are you more comfortable with Italian, English, German or French cars ? A professional specialist mechanic is rarely multi-brand, as customers are looking for tailor-made solutions.