Classic cars are becoming more and more popular with heritage-loving motorists, attracting some of the automotive industry’s major players to this section of the aftermarket.

Benjamin Abitbol, NEXUS Business Developer for French speaking countries, who is also the founder of Renovatio, a start-up business supplying spare parts for classic cars, discusses the growing interest in these ‘grand old ladies of the road’.

What are the trends in the classic car aftermarket?

For a long time the classic car market was considered to be small, populated by knowledgeable enthusiasts who only drove a few miles per year.  But over the past 5 to 7 years this market has expanded progressively, both in size and in levels of interest.

There are several reasons for this expansion – car makers have been looking backwards for their design and style strategies, increasingly technology on modern cars has resulted in a lesser driving experience and there has been a general trend towards all things ‘vintage’. All this has created more reasons to drive.

In addition, cars from the 1980s and 1990s have ‘come of age’, now being old enough to be considered rare. The people who drove them are now aged 40 to 45-years-old, we call them ‘young-timers’, as opposed to ‘old-timers’.

The choice available to these ‘young-timers’ is much wider. There were more models and more production in the 1980s compared to the 1960s.

Also, prices have remained low on average compared to the collector cars from the ‘60s. Plus, cars from this period can be driven, almost daily, as they are safe with reasonable fuel consumption and relatively low maintenance is required.

As a result, the classic car parc now represents 13 million cars in Europe! It is no longer small and the demand for aftermarket classic car parts is growing by 10 to 15% per year, depending on which country you are in.

In Europe, the main countries are Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium, but we also notice interest growing in Portugal, Spain and Poland.

What is Renovatio?

Renovatio Automotive is a start-up business in the aftermarket industry, 100% focused on classic cars.

As we have seen, there is a steadily growing appetite for classic cars.  But even though there are more classic cars running, the market is still fragmented. Everyone must manage things themselves and constantly look for new solutions, both private individuals and professionals alike.

In a worst case scenario, a lack of spare parts means that certain classic cars can no longer be driven. This is why we created Renovatio, which means ‘revival’ or ‘rebirth’ in Latin.  And this is just the idea: to revive these classics thanks to modern digital tools.

Our strapline – the future of Classics, expresses it: our mission is to develop innovative tools, deploy unique and disruptive concepts, with the objective to structure the today’s fragmented market. These include:

  • www.Bakelit.eu, the first digital marketplace dedicated to classic car parts, and a community platform offering services for classic car enthusiasts
  • Pro Classic is the first group of distributors specialized in classic car parts
  • And more complementary activities are to be deployed over the next 3 years.

Ultimately, our aim is to be the leading parts and services operator for the classic car community in Europe.

Renovatio supports aftermarket suppliers through its web platform and face-to-face initiatives. We do this by:

  • Offering ranges and products for all brands and all vehicles from the 1940s to the 1990s, both for ‘old-timers’ and ‘young-timers’
  • Promoting aftermarket brands related to brand heritage, while still offering value and quality.

Adopting a qualitative approach and using modern tools, we offer aftermarket suppliers the opportunity to participate in the structuring of a new, accessible market

Where will you focus your activity?

Our team has a twin focus on Bakelit.eu and the Pro Classic network development. www.Bakelit.eu started in September 2018 and currently has 400 visitors per day. The new webstore opened a few days ago, with a great offering set up of 12,000 part numbers for all vehicles and brands from 1940 to 1999.

We already have signed 16 contracts with aftermarket premium suppliers; therefore, gradually, the offer will reach 40,000 part numbers by the summer and 70,000 by the end of 2019, which will result in the best catalogue of classic car parts for the French market: the One-Stop-Shop for specialized workshops, owner’s clubs and individuals.

Then, from 2020, the road map will see additional digital tools and our geographic expansion.

How do you foresee the collaboration of NEXUS and Renovatio?

First of all, Nexus is the most innovative group of distributors, from ‘mindset’ to ‘fact’.

We see the collaboration as a growth accelerator, one of the key fundamentals of our companies, and specifically for start-ups!

We are glad to be connected to this community of entrepreneurs, leading aftermarket companies in the world. We are convinced this will create business opportunities and new horizons. This will go both ways, as the Renovatio team can share best practice, logistic cases, and new technologies, and open new perspectives for other NEXUS distributors regarding the classic car parts market. For instance, we know many distributors have slow moving items that could be offered to our targeted segment, so let’s do it!

From a supplier perspective, Renovatio will push and promote NEXUS suppliers, through our website, during our events, and in parallel we will convince specialized distributors to select qualitative parts from premium brands, which is in fact the first requirement of workshops and individuals.

In summary, we believe that all together we are stronger, not only to overcome challenges but also to lead our respective businesses.

What initiatives have you got planned for the next 12 months?

Thanks to its network, Renovatio will organize, jointly with Nexus, the NEXUSAuto tour, which is a road trip in classic cars, that will take place from October 19th to 22nd, starting from Paris, the day after the Equip Auto show.

During this ‘mobile’ business and social event, Nexus members will enjoy a great atmosphere, business and friendly, driving nice cars, and opening additional opportunities with a deep dive in the classic car parts market.

Renovatio will also exhibit at Equip Auto and the Epoqu’auto classic car show in Lyon, then we will organize a new edition of the annual Renovatio event ‘Les Rencontres Renovatio’, gathering all our partners, suppliers and distributors to further explore the future of classics, discussing issues such as 3D printing for remanufacturing purposes, consolidation of express deliveries, quality requirements and heritage of the supplier brands.

Renovatio keeps it quiet, but other disruptive solutions will also appear.

Something about you

I love cars, people interaction and evolutive projects. I spend almost all my career in the automotive aftermarket, still enjoying it every day… Why? Because in the aftermarket, nothing is fixed, everything is evolutive; the aftermarket never stops looking for new models, new solutions, it’s a very dynamic market, a combination of distribution, sales and marketing. Last but far from the least position, my rule of the 3 Fs: enjoy Family, Friends and have Fun!