The classic car market is booming, with the number of vehicles at auction rising 89% between 2019 and 2023, according to data from The Classic Valuer. While this highlights great opportunities for classic car enthusiasts, classic car shows and events can be daunting — especially for those in the LGBT+ community who may find this highly traditional scene unwelcoming or intimidating. The Gay Classic Car Group (GCCG), however, is pioneering a modern classic car scene that is inclusive to all

The GCCG: pioneering a revolution since 1988

The Gay Classic Car Group (GCCG) was the world’s first group for LBGTQ+ car enthusiasts. The group was founded in the UK in 1988 and has over 1,000 members internationally. The GCCG has hundreds of club events happening each year, and it made headlines a few months ago when it hosted the largest LGBT+ car event Europe had ever seen. The event in Yorkshire attracted over 220 individuals with an impressive 130 cars from Europe, the USA, and New Zealand. 

Mark Wells, the area organiser for Yorkshire, told GQ Magazine “Our members are as diverse as the cars in the club.” Wells goes on to say: “We encourage everyone to be their true self. We value all forms of diversity of gender, race, religion and ability. We also recognise diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds and have a variety of events accessible to all.” Wells further expanded on the fact that the GCCG was founded at a time (1988) when being gay was “a very different experience for many.” While it’s noted that the group began as a group of friends in London who held a drive, it’s noted that the original idea focused on offering an alternative to single-marque club membership while providing a gay social experience “in the context of a shared and often very knowledgeable interest in all classic cars,” according to Wells. 

A 2021 Hagerty article spotlights the GCCG’s Darren Mitcham. “We are essentially a social group with a friendly mix of people and cars, and we offer a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere.” While the GCCG is noted to be a primarily UK club, there are international links with sister clubs in other countries, from Australia to Germany, and the US, to highlight a few. Mitcham goes on to point out that members’ cars are “increasingly diverse,” which adds to the variety and excitement of the GCCG events. It’s worth noting that one doesn’t need to own a classic car to attend events, and ages of members vary widely as well — in fact, it’s noted that the group has members aged from 18 to 80. 

Breaking down the stereotypes

When it comes to the classic car culture, many may conjure up images of slicked-back hair, black leather jackets, and an overall rugged appearance. The classic car and the ‘greaser’ subculture is thought to have emerged during the post-World War Ⅱ era in the United States, and was established by the 1950s, primarily comprised of working-class individuals. For many, it can be easy to make the connection between straight males and the “hot rod” culture. Today, however, the classic car scene is becoming more inclusive than ever, and has expanded well beyond the US.

One 2016 Mental Floss article highlights the raggare subculture in Scandinavia, which originated among Swedish teens in the 1950s “as that generation’s form of rebellion.” According to the article, raggare hasn’t faded in the country, with going to a Swedish raggare meet reminiscent of the American South of the 1950s. “Attendees sporting slicked-back hair and leather jackets roll up in vintage hot rods, ready to spend the day drinking beer from the can and listening to Elvis Presley.” 

The classic car scene in India

India’s classic car scene might not be as big as that in the UK or USA, but it is alive and well, and has been around for quite some time. The 57th Statesman Vintage & Classic Car Rally took place on February 11th — according to ANI News Agency, the Statesman Vintage & Classic Car Rally is an annual event, taking place in New Delhi and Kolkata. “It is one of the oldest, continuously run events in India and the sub-continent,” highlights ANI. Attractions include the assembly of vintage and classic cars, as well as a drive through the city “where cars are assessed for originality and performance on the road section,” in addition to a grand parade and live music. 

For Indian LGBT+ classic car enthusiasts, attending classic car shows (whether in India or abroad) is a fantastic way to indulge in the culture. In addition to GCCG events, there are an abundance of international locations worth visiting that feature a vibrant LGBT+ scene while also holding classic car events. Sweden, for example, is well-known for its LGBT+ friendly scene, while the Power Big Meet is one one of the biggest car shows in the world, taking place at the Hovby Airfield outside of Lidköping. A variety of classic car events also take place throughout the US — in Modesto, California, the American Graffiti Festival and Car Show features more than 1,200 classic vehicles, according to USA Today’s 10 Best. The annual Amelia Concours d’Elegance in Florida is another worth adding to a travel itinerary, with nearly 300 vehicles “from collections around the world.” 

Attending an international classic car show is the ideal way to connect with other enthusiasts over the vehicles and the classic car culture. If you own an old car, consider taking it along to a show. It is a great way to share a passion with like-minded people, and as we have discovered, the social scene around classic cars is more inclusive than ever.  

The classic car scene is thriving on a global scale, with events taking place from Sweden to India and beyond. When aiming for a more inclusive scene, however, the GCCG is pioneering the way by holding a large event that is welcoming and accessible to all. For LGBT+ classic car enthusiasts in India, planning a trip to an event — whether in India or abroad — is a fantastic way to indulge in the culture while meeting like-minded individuals.