SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 6, February 12, 2009

Musclecars, Street Performance as Hottest Trends for Racers in 2009? Enthusiasts Say Yes

Camaro at SEMA Show
Motorsports enthusiasts and participants believe the hottest trends in 2009 will come from the musclecar and street-performance scenes.

A recent poll of enthusiasts that participate in sanctioned racing events indicates that musclecars and street performance will be the hottest trends in 2009. SEMA surveyed more than 2,000 enthusiasts in January about their plans and impressions about the topics that will be the most popular this year.

A subset of the group (more than 500) indicated plans to participate in sanctioned racing events. This group is a core part of the automotive hobby that has helped keep the industry afloat. Their impressions often indicate which direction the market will take.

The respondents have been separated by the origin of their vehicles to help distinguish if differences or commonalities exist between demographic or psychographic types (variations based on attitudes or lifestyles).

Domestic vehicle owners are slightly older than those with vehicles made by Japanese and Korean brands, but younger than those that own European marques. These differences are often attributed to conditions of income as European vehicles tend to have higher initial prices.

The average ages of the vehicles themselves are an indication of availability. Domestic cars used by those that race range as far back as 1932, while the first wave of Japanese cars being early '70s models from Datsun (Nissan), Mazda and Toyota.

European brands date into the '50s with enthusiasts planning to race their Porsches, Austins and Jaguars. Therefore, the average ages of vehicles from the United States, Europe and Asian are representative of their history.

When asked about which segment enthusiasts see as being the most popular in 2009, racers chose musclecars as the top pick, regardless of the vehicles they currently own. This sentiment is significant as vehicle owners from distinct psychographics seem to agree on a single trend.

Other segments that received votes were race/motorpsorts, compact performance, and restoration. Unsurprisingly, motorsports came in second by a group aiming to race. However, enthusiasts also submitted their predictions for the most popular trends to come. These items are those that do not necessarily exist exclusively within the realm of one market niche, but extend throughout the entire hobby. Overall, the item they voted to be the big hit of 2009 is high/street performance.

The only discrepancy is the rankings for owners of Asian brands; their top picks are do-it-yourself (DIY) modifications. This item was the second most selected for the other two categories as well, reinforcing the traditional hands-on disposition of gearheads and racers. These topics also solidify their bias towards performance and the balancing act between expensive racing equipment with affordability of the sport.

For more original SEMA market research, visit www.sema.org/research.

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