Special Report

Cars With the Oldest Buyers

Thomas C. Frohlich

4. Cadillac
> Avg. age of buyer: 59.5 years (tied-3rd highest)
> 2013 U.S. unit sales: 182,543
> Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 21.9%

Cadillac’s aging clientele may reflect General Motors’  (NYSE: GM) recent challenges. While the younger generations may mostly remember GM’s bankruptcy, many of Cadillac’s customers likely remember a time when GM was the indisputable number one car company in America. And although the company still leads the nation in terms of market share, its position is much more tenuous. Still, Cadillac was one of the fastest growing luxury brands last year, with U.S. sales up more than 21% in 2013 versus the year before. This year, however, sales have dropped off considerably. GM recently announced it will move Cadillac’s headquarters from Detroit to New York next year, in order to distinguish the brand from its parent and establish a better rapport with luxury buyers.

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3. Bugatti
> Avg. age of buyer: 59.5 years (tied-3rd highest)
> 2013 U.S. unit sales: 1
> Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): -50.0%

Super-car maker Bugatti’s target market is already extremely exclusive. The high age of the brand’s customer is likely less a question of preference and more an issue of accessibility. Car and Driver describes the target customer of a Bugatti Veyron, with its estimated price tag of nearly $2 million, as “those with all the money in the world and a desire to go blisteringly fast.” KBB figures indicate just one Bugatti was sold in the U.S. last year. Luxury cars often appeal to customers who have the means to treat themselves, and purchasing a Bugatti is perhaps the ultimate luxury expense.

2. Buick
> Avg. age of buyer: 60.3 years
> 2013 U.S. unit sales: 205,509
> Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): 13.9%

With an average customer age of 60.3 years, Buick’s clientele is older than that of any other non-luxury vehicle. Buick has struggled more than other brands to move away from its image as an older driver’s brand. Still, Buick has been successfully improving its brand by adding cars that appeal more to younger buyers, according to Brauer. Two SUVs, the full-size Enclave and compact Encore, have done particularly well, Brauer said. Additionally, while Buick is not considered a luxury brand, its latest Regal model may provide a more affordable alternative to BMW and Mercedes-Benz sedans.

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1. Lincoln
> Avg. age of buyer: 61.0 years
> 2013 U.S. unit sales: 81,694
> Unit sales pct. chg. (2012-2013): -0.6%

Registered Lincoln buyers were older than those of any other car brand. Last year, the average age of a Lincoln owner was 61 years old. Like other domestic makes, Lincoln, Ford’s (NYSE: F) luxury brand had its heyday several decades ago, and it has struggled to compete as imported brands have successfully drawn in younger customers. The cost of a Lincoln, however, is not completely out of reach, as its prices tend to be on the lower end compared to other luxury makes. Brands like Lincoln are desperate to get younger buyers, as some of their relatively old current customers may never buy another car. Lincoln sold 81,694 vehicles last year, down slightly from 2012 levels.