By Niamh Smith
What annoys me about classic car magazines is that it’s all too easy to only celebrate the perfect concours examples or the nut and bolt restorations that the owner will have a breakdown if you so much look at the car. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have pride in a vehicle that you’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into, but these are all too common in magazines. A lot of people can get bored with the shiny and the perfect and want to see a bit more of the rusty, oily and patinated.
Which is why I, for one, am glad that the Car & Classic magazine section celebrates cars from all walks of life; recent articles include a project profile of a dusty 1976 Mercedes barn find that had been sat for 25 years, as well as a beautiful condition 1969 C3 Chevrolet Corvette as their classified of the week.
In this Car & Classic magazine review, we’ll discuss their origins and their vision, what we like about their website and content and how successfully they entertain and grow their audience. Judging by the fact that they claim to be the largest and busiest classic car website in Europe, we’d say they must be doing something right!
Why are Car & Classic popular?
Car & Classic are a car website with a dedication to linking the classic car community through classified ads, useful links to dealers and specialists, auctions and classic car news. After being founded in 2005, they have only grown from strength to strength since then and are now the busiest and largest classic car website in Europe. In 2018 they were acquired by Cazana, a vehicle valuations and data company.
Their vision is to promote all the aspects of classic car culture while educating scene newcomers and connecting relevant parties for both vehicle sales and purchases. Having already conquered the classic car scene in Europe, they aim to become the easiest to navigate and most successful classic car-focused website in Europe.
In 2020 they set up their own auction site, which claims to be the cheapest and safest way to buy and sell classics online, and is seemingly very popular; as I write this they have 16 live auctions of prestige and classic cars. Again, there is something for everyone on their auction site, with auction lots ranging from a Porsche 911, an Aston Martin DB7 Vantage and a 1955 Plymouth Savoy. Due to the current state of affairs, I would imagine auction sites such as these prove very popular as a lot of people have money burning a hole in their pocket, and buying with less physical contact is the way to go!
As well as their auction site, Car & Classic offer a free ads service and a classified ads service for both private sellers and dealerships, separated into classic cars or classic bikes, and can be further filtered from there, or easily combed through with the search box.
The appeal of free ads and stress-free interactions with dealers is clearly the reason for their success as a website; no wonder they have over 1.5 million users frequenting their site every month! The pages and pages of testimonials on their website speak for themselves, with traders saying that their cars sell quickly due to the site attracting serious buyers.
Car & Classic Review of Content & Style
Website Layout & Content
As well as having a prominent selling and buying feature on their website, Car & Classic also have a magazine section. The articles on the magazine are separated into different content: Project Profile; Classified of the week; The car’s the star; The Time is Now, etc. Handily, you can select each subtopic and filter it to just see only the kinds of articles you’re likely to read. If, say, you’re only interested in reading about classic bikes or project profiles’. With articles being uploaded every few days, mainly by their editor Chris Pollitt, there’s often something new each time you return, ensuring it is kept up to date.
Naturally, being mainly a trading site, the majority of the articles feature cars that are advertised for sale on their site. Because of this, the articles can go a bit overboard with praise and come across as more of a sales pitch. Take their most recent example, a 1937 Ford truck: it’s rusty, but a ‘good’ kind of rust… In this particular example, I agree! Despite this, the articles make a good buyers’ guide as they include things to keep an eye out for when viewing said vehicle, so as not to be too misleading with the Car & Classic rose-tinted specs.
Their ‘Car’s the Star’ articles provide profiles on some of the more iconic A-list cars of the classic and prestige car world, such as the Aston Martin DB5 of 007 fame, the Pontiac Firebird of Smokey stardom and the Dodge Charger of Bullitt notoriety.
Particularly useful for any classic car enthusiast, especially those who are looking into buying their first classic or one they don’t know much about, are their ‘five things’ articles. These point out things that you should look out for when looking to buy a vehicle; in their Zodiac MK2 ‘five things’ article this includes where are the popular rust spots on the vehicle and how to check the suspension to be sure it’s up to scratch.
They also provide coverage of events such as Retro Rides, Oh So Retro! and events at popular sites like Goodwood and Bicester Heritage. Their in-depth coverage of these events was welcome especially last year where the lack of classic car events made a lot of us yearn for the smell of burning rubber and exhaust fumes. The small gallery section at the end of such articles almost make up for the fact most of us have been unable to meander through a race paddock surrounded by classics for over a year now.
Quality of Content
For a free magazine site, the quality of the reporting is actually rather impressive and matches the calibre of something you would expect to pay for in a physical magazine. Although I personally like to have something tangible on my coffee table—a nice, glossy publication has something attractive about it—at this point, an attempt at a paper magazine would likely be futile for Car & Classic, what with the increasingly inevitable demise of physical newsstands.
For a free site, their website is very easily navigated, and it’s very simple to filter and search key terms to find exactly what you’re looking for. The use of hyperlinks in subtitles of magazine articles means it’s easy to end up in a wormhole of research and to get lost in their many articles (over 60 pages of them). You can even filter by the author of the article if you want to.
It is important now more than ever to have an increasing presence on social media, especially seeing as it isn’t possible to go to classic car shows and exhibitions, and it seems that Car & Classic are pretty on it! They post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter once a day or more, mostly with classic cars that are new to their auction site, and seem to have a responsive, interactive following. It is a shame, however, that Car & Classic don’t seem to promote their articles much, focus naturally instead on cars at auction or classified listings. To break the monotony of ‘look at this nice car for sale’, an occasional ‘check out this new article’ would be a welcome occasional treat.
By finding a niche in the market and promoting their services through the use of their news articles, Car & Classic has made itself an empire of sorts over the past 16 years. They are now the go-to classic and prestige car buying and selling site, and everyone in the car scene knows of them and what they do.
The articles themselves are a great way to promote the cars advertised on their website, and even the ones that aren’t about cars for sale contain very well researched and interesting information that the likelihood of them being shared attracts the right audience to their website. I’m sure that with the way they’re going, Car & Classic will be around for another 16 plus years!
Author: Niamh Smith
Muscle Car UK and Pilgrim Motorsports are leading UK classic car specialists for muscle cars, sports cars and classic cars. We build, service and upgrade all classic cars, specialising in Mustangs, V8 engines, Carroll Shelby Cobras and Corvettes.
All cars on our feeds are available and up for sale. Looking for something specific? We can help.
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