There is a consistent demand for specialist cars and parts suppliers and businesses in this niche continue to grow and perform well. Despite the effects of the economic downturn and austerity measures, classic car purchases and values are increasing, and companies providing a specialist service for parts have grown their businesses as consumer interest in all things automotive continues to flourish.
Parts suppliers may serve the trade or the public or both. Trade suppliers compete on price and availability, with the most successful businesses making deliveries to garages within a few hours of ordering. The fast turnaround is essential as the garage’s priority will be to get a customer’s car repaired as soon as possible, both for customer satisfaction and to ensure a consistent turnaround of work. Some car parts suppliers specialise in particular makes of car and become well-known for having or being able to source obscure parts. Consumers are usually wise to the fact that main dealers will charge far more for parts and that branded parts will be more expensive than generic equivalents.
There is room for both models – some customers prefer the comfort of knowing they have genuine parts or wish to maintain their service record, while others are more concerned with getting quality parts at a lower price. It’s not just car parts businesses that are flourishing, truck specialists, caravan and campervan specialists, and trailer parts suppliers are among those thriving.
Classic and vintage cars may seem like a luxury item and a business model unlikely to do well when the economy isn’t thriving. In reality, the demand for classics remains high, with people looking to invest for the future in alternatives to property or devoting their disposable income to the car of their dreams. Prestige marques can be worth many thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pounds, and therefore represent a viable alternative to more traditional forms of investment. For many people the ability to own a high-performance car that they dreamed of in their youth can be very compelling, representing a fulfilment of ambition and confirmation of their status. Other enthusiasts relish the restoration process, and there are many devotees to what seems quite humble vehicles like Austin Allegros.
Classic car businesses have three primary business models, car sales, car parts supply and service and restoration. Successful businesses usually specialise in one make, becoming very knowledgeable about all aspects of a particular vehicle and building a reputation as the go-to place for help and advice. They often combine two or all three of the primary business models, making themselves a one-stop shop for their customers. Other businesses choose to encompass different makes and models but occupy an aspirational niche selling and servicing luxury vehicles for example.
The future for these businesses looks bright, with trade continuing to grow and an ever-increasing demand for specialist services. For many of these companies, the ability to combine a passion for a particular niche with a successful business model makes for a very satisfying working day.