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Geek chic trend fuels nerdy car comeback

Press release: 07/11/2011

  • Brits under 40 vote the Honda Civic most desirable 'geek chic' car

  • Nearly half (45%) of classic car dealers note rising popularity of 'geek chic' cars over the past twelve months

  • A fifth (18%) of Brits under 40 say older cars are more stylish than modern motors

  • Over 200,000 retro cars once considered geeky are on the roads today

First it was retro black-rimmed glasses and vintage plaid shirts but now it seems that second-hand cars are all the rage as drivers make a bid to get the 'geek chic' look.

According to new research from Britannia Rescue, the Honda Civic 2001-2003 model tops the list of older cars once considered 'geeky' that are now desirable to those under 40. In fact, nearly half (45%) of classic car dealers have reported renewed interest in these formerly 'nerdy' motors over the past twelve months[1] and one in eight (13%) used car dealers have sold a Honda Civic in the past year.

Other formerly geeky cars that are now sought-after include the Vauxhall Cavalier, Austin Mini Countryman and Citroen 2CV – models that experts are calling 'geek chic' as Brits make a return to buy uncool cars from the past.

The top ten most desirable 'geek chic' cars[2]:
1. Honda Civic 2001-2003
2. Ford Sierra
3. Ford Capri
4. Land Rover Defender
= 5. Mercedes G Wagon
= 5. Vauxhall Cavalier
7. Citroen DS
8. Austin Mini Countryman
9. Citroen 2CV
10. British Leyland Maxi

SMMT data reveals that there are over 200,000[3] of the top ten cars running on UK roads today and over a fifth (21%)[4] of car dealers have sold one or more in the past 12 months.

The trend is being heralded by appearances of geek chic cars on film and TV with the Ford Capri - one of the most desirable cars from the 1970s – featuring on reality TV series The Only Way is Essex and the iconic Mercedes G Wagon recently made a cameo appearance on Made In Chelsea. The most desirable car on the list, the formally nerdy Honda Civic 2001 - 2003, has risen to unprecedented popularity over the past decade following a starring role in The Fast and the Furious films.

Some of Britain's biggest celebrities are also fans of geek chic motors. Singer Katie Perry gave her British husband Russell Brand a vintage Ford Capri as a wedding gift and despite driving a sporty Aston Martin DB5 during his on-screen role as 007, in real life Sir Sean Connery prefers the rugged Land Rover Defender.

But it's not just celebrity fans and appearances on the big and small screens that are provoking an interest in these cars. Research among under 40s finds a fifth (19%) think older motors are more stylish than modern vehicles and almost as many (18%) believe older cars are unlikely to depreciate in value.

In fact, one in five (19%) of those under 40 believes that older cars are better made and last longer. Britannia Rescue is warning those considering buying an older car that they should service them regularly to reduce the risk of breakdown and ensure their future on the roads for many more years to come.

Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue Managing Director, said: "It's great to see how cars that were once the 'geeks' of the showroom have become desirable and are popular amongst trendsetters again. Geek chic cars are seen as more stylish than modern cars and usually benefit from cheaper road tax. Older cars can also be easier to maintain than modern cars as they tend to be simpler under the bonnet but as with any car, drivers should service them regularly and invest in road rescue cover to protect them in the event of a breakdown."

Mike Brewer, presenter of Wheeler Dealers adds: "Britannia Rescue's research shows that geek chic cars are very desirable now and I'd anticipate that as these become rarer, they will really appreciate in value. My personal favourite is the G Wagon which is set to become a modern 'classic' if demand continues to rise."

For more information on Britannia Rescue, visit

Notes to editors:

The list of 10 'geek-chic' car models from the past 25 years was compiled by industry expert, Mike Brewer, Presenter of Wheeler Dealers.

Bespoke research was conducted amongst second-hand car dealers by PCP research. Fieldwork was undertaken by PCP Ltd between 19 October and 21 October 2011. 80 interviews were completed via telephone. Half of the interviews were completed with used car dealers selling a range of vehicles, and the other half with dealers selling classic cars only. The sample was spread across a range of locations in the UK.

Additional data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) was used to identify the number of 'geek-chic' cars registered on the road.


Model range

2010 Census


Civic MK7





Land Rover










2 CV






Mini Countryman










ICM interviewed a sample of 1,115 British adults aged 18-39 between 19 – 23 October 2011. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information is available at

About Britannia Rescue and LV=

Britannia Rescue is the UK’s fourth largest road rescue organisation and is part of the LV= group of companies. Britannia Rescue‘s network has over 3,000 breakdown professionals nationwide and average response time is under 40 minutes.

LV= employs 5,000 people and serves over four million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

[1] According to PCP research amongst a bespoke sample of classic car dealers, 45% have noticed a rise in popularity of one or more of the following cars in the last 12 months:

  • British Leyland Maxi

  • Ford Capri

  • Ford Sierra

  • Citroen 2CV

  • The Honda Civic 2001-2003

  • Citroen DS

  • Land Rover Defender

  • Mercedes G Wagon

  • Vauxhall Cavalier

  • Austin Mini Countryman

[2] List based on results of ICM research amongst 1,115 18-39 year olds. Respondents were asked which of the 'geek-chic' cars (identified by Mike Brewer) they would most like to own or buy.

[3] According to the most recent SMMT car ownership data from 2010, there are 204,058 of the vehicles that make up the 'geek-chic' top ten.

[4] According to PCP research amongst a bespoke sample of used and classic car dealers, 21% have sold one or more of the following cars in the last twelve months:

  • British Leyland Maxi

  • Ford Capri

  • Ford Sierra

  • Citroen 2CV

  • The Honda Civic 2001-2003

  • Citroen DS

  • Land Rover Defender

  • Mercedes G Wagon

  • Vauxhall Cavalier

  • Austin Mini Countryman