2012 Germany: Most Popular Oldtimer Classic Cars

The Volkswagen Beetle is Germany’s favorite Oldtimer historic vehicle while Mercedes dominates the list of favorite classic cars.

Mercdes W123 Car Range
Mercedes W123 Cars © Daimler AG

Germany’s favorite historic Oldtimer classic car is the Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle) while six of the top-ten most popular historic vehicles were Mercedes-Benz cars. Oldtimer cars in Germany can receive a H-number plate, which bring some tax and insurance advantages for cars older than 30 years. The Mercedes-Benz W123 cars on historic number plates increased by 50% from a year ago.

Germany’s Favorite Historic Classic Cars (2012)

The number of cars in Germany with H-number plates (H- Kennzeichen) increased by 10% in 2012 to 254,053 cars (or around 285,000 vehicles if trucks, commercial vehicles and similar are included). Cars with H-plates are only around 0.6% of the total 43 million cars registered in Germany.

In Germany, cars older than 30 years that are in a good technical and roughly original condition, may be issued with H-number plates. Cars with H-plates generally receive tax and insurance premium advantages and may also be driven in city centers without the required green clean car stickers. Changing to H plates is optional – around 60% of all cars older than 30 years in Germany have these plates.

Cars older than 30 years are usually described in German as an Oldtimer, while a Youngtimer is older than 20 years. The exact definitions of these terms differ but for H-plates a car must be older than 30 years.

Top 15 Most Popular Historic Car Models in Germany (2012)

The most popular classic cars in Germany registered with H number plates in 2012 according to the KBA andVDA were:

Rank Brand Model  2012  2011  % +/-
1 Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle)  27,002  26,857 0.5
2 Mercedes-Benz W 123  8,869  5,921 49.8
3 Mercedes-Benz SL R 107  8,048  7,103 13.3
4 Mercedes-Benz /8  7,145  6,821 4.8
5 Porsche 911 / 012  6,489  5,500 18
6 Mercedes-Benz W111 / Heckflosse  4,987  4,965 0.4
7 Volkswagen Bus  4,418  3,593 23
8 Mercedes-Benz W113 / Pagode  4,155  4,096 1.4
9 Opel Kadett  3,313  3,133 5.7
10 Mercedes-Benz W 116  3,195  3,128 2.1
11 Mercedes-Benz W 108/109  3,064  3,010 1.8
12 Opel Rekord / Olympia  2,758  2,676 1.8
13 BMW Baureihe 02  2,748  2,641 4.1
14 Alfa Romeo Spider  2,368  2,027 16.8
15 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia  2,332  2,260 3.2
Source: VDA

The VW Käfer (Beetle) easily remains the most popular classic car model in Germany in 2012. The Beetle alone accounts for more than half of all Volkswagen cars with historic number plates.

The phenomenal increase (+50%) in the number of Mercedes W123 cars is due to the high number of these E-Class cars reaching the required age of 30 years. The Mercedes W123 increased from fifth in 2011 to second in 2012.

The Mercedes W123 cars, produced from 1975 to 1986, were hugely popular in Germany with 2,4 million sales. In 1980 the Mercedes W123 was the best-selling car model in Germany – the last year a car other than the VW Golf was the best-selling car model in Germany.

The Most Popular Classic Car Marques in Germany in 2012

The most popular classic car brands with H number plates in Germany in 2012 according to the KBA and VDA were:

Rank Brand  2012  2011  
1 Mercedes-Benz  59,965  53,767
2 Volkswagen  47,537  43,720
3 Porsche  14,497  11,654
4 Ford  14,455  12,855
5 Opel  13,932  13,221
6 BMW  9,150  8,303
7 Alfa Romeo  7,086  6,458
8 Fiat  7,029  6,236
9 Triumph  6,414  6,048
10 GM (USA)  6,372  5,585
Source: VDA

Mercedes-Benz increased its lead as the most popular classic car brand. Daimler made almost a quarter of all H-number plate cars. Volkswagen remains second but can expect an increase, as the Golf II will soon start to qualify. Similarly, the Mercedes W201 (190) will also begin to qualify for historic plates.

The popularity of Porsche classic cars increased too with Porsche now the third most common marque with H-number plates. Ford maintained its fourth place while Opel slipped from third in 2011 to fifth in 2012.

BMW cars were sixth on the list with the biggest surprise probably the final four manufacturers. Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Triumph cars famously rust but obviously sufficient numbers survived with enthusiastic owners keeping these brands, which unfortunately had their best years more than 30 years ago, in good condition and on the road. (D20130514)