2015 Germany: Most Popular Classic and Historic Cars

VW Beetle Classic Car Rally
VW Beetle – © Volkswagen AG

Mercedes-Benz remained the favorite classic car brand in Germany in 2015 with the VW Beetle (Käfer) the most common model with historic H number plates. More than 300,000 classic cars in Germany are registered as historic – i.e. cars older than 30 years and in good, largely original condition. Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are the leading classic car brands in Germany: five of the top-ten models were cars by Mercedes-Benz and three by Volkswagen. The VW Beetle remained the favorite classic car model but the Golf has finally entered the top 10 list and has nearly unlimited upward potential.

See Also: 2016 Germany: Most-Popular Classic and Historic Cars

Historic Vehicles in Germany in 2015

Vehicles in Germany, older than 30 years and in a good, largely original condition may be registered with historic (Historische) H number plates. These H-plates are often accompanied by tax and insurance discounts, and the possibility of being driven in some restricted environmental zones. Although these advantages are absent from some of the newer classic cars, the number of H plates in Germany continue to grow.

On January 1, 2015, Germany had 310,694 passenger vehicles (PKW) registered as historic vehicles – an increase of 11.3% over 2014. A further 40,000 commercial vehicles and motorcycles also have H plates.

The number of classic H-plates cars in Germany more than doubled since 2006. The VDA estimates that around two-thirds of cars older than 30 years in Germany use H plates. H-plate cars are usually very well maintained.

The Most Popular Classic Car Brands in Germany in 2015

The most popular classic car marques in Germany in 2015 according to historic vehicle registrations data released by the VDA from KBA statistics were:

Rank 2015 Brand H2015 H2014 H2013 H2012
1 Mercedes-Benz 75,344 67,105 59,965 53,767
2 Volkswagen 58,229 52,152 47,537 43,720
3 Porsche 19,277 16,746 13,932 11,654
4 Ford 18,275 16,091 14,455 12,855
5 Opel 16,138 14,815 14,497 13,221
6 BMW 11,229 9,947 9,150 8,303
7 Fiat 9,123 7,975 7,029 6,236
8 Alfa Romeo 8,242 7,635 7,086 6,458
9 GM (USA) 7,372 7,243 6,372 5,585
10 Triumph 6,533 6,651 6,414 6,048

Top 10 Classic Car Brands in Germany in 2015

The order of the top 10 most-popular historic car marques in Germany remained unaltered from a year ago. Mercedes-Benz extended its lead as Germany’s favorite classic car brand to confirm perhaps the durability of its vehicles or the desirability to maintain the cars in good condition. For once, in German car statistics, Volkswagen was only second.

Porsche entrenched its third position gained last year from Ford. Opel’s current slow sales had little influence on its classic car ranking while the number of classic BMWs are on the increase.

Despite its reputation to rust, Fiat and Alfa Romeo remained firm favorites as classic cars in Germany. American GM cars also maintained its ninth place although only a few more cars than a year ago were added.

Triumph is the only brand amongst the top-10 brands to have suffered an actual decline in historic number-plated cars in Germany in 2015. With the Triumph brand distinct since 1984, the upwards potential for Triumph in coming years as historic vehicles are limited.

The Most-Popular Classic Car Models in Germany in 2015

The most-popular car models with historic number plates in Germany in 2015 according to the VDA were:

Rank 2015 Brand Model H2015 % Change H2014
1 Volkswagen Käfer (Beetle) 30,676 5.3 29,135
2 Mercedes-Benz W 123 15,523 32.6 11,704
3 Mercedes-Benz SL R 107 10,296 13.8 9,051
4 Porsche 911 / 912 8,967 17.7 7,618
5 Mercedes-Benz /8 6,957 2.6 6,778
6 Volkswagen Bus 6,019 36.2 4,418
7 Mercedes-Benz W111 / Heckflosse 5,183 5.7 4,905
8 Mercedes-Benz W113 / Pagode 4,680 13.0 4,140
9 Opel Kadett 3,994 17.8 3,390
10 Volkswagen Golf 3,344 50.4 2,223
11 Mercedes-Benz W 116 3,315 2.6 3,231
12 Mercedes-Benz W 108/109 3,242 6.2 3,052
13 Opel Rekord / Olympia 3,185 19.8 2,656
14 BMW Baureihe 02 2,860 2.7 2,786
15 Alfa Romeo Spider 2,640 1.1 2,610


VW Beetles
VW Beetles – © Volkswagen AG

Top 15 Classic Car Models in Germany in 2015

The VW Golf was the only new entrant on the list of the 15 most-popular classic car models in Germany in 2015. The top five car models were the same as a year ago.

The Volkswagen Beetle (Käfer) remained by far the most-popular classic car model in Germany in 2015. The number of Beetles with H plates increased by 5% but the potential for increases is limited.

The Mercedes-Benz W123 (E class of the late 1970s to mid-1980s) was the best-selling car model in Germany in 1980 – the last year that the VW Golf was not the top-seller. The W123 became the second-most popular H-plate car in 2013 and continued to increase by nearly a third from a year ago. Some of the last W123s produced now qualify for H plates and the number is likely to still increase sharply for a year or two.

The Mercedes-Benz SL R107 produced for most of the 1970s and 1980s solidified its third place and could expect more registrations in coming years. The Porsche 911, which moved into fourth place in 2014, may also see an increase in coming years due to the continued use of the same model name.

Although the number of Mercedes-Benz /8 with H plates increased slightly, the upward potential is very limited. The /8 slipped from third in 2012 despite increasing numbers.

The Volkswagen Bus improved by more than a third, and one rank position, largely due to a change in models included under the name. Previously the Trapo and similar derivatives were listed separately. The numbers of historic Bus classics are likely to grow.

The Mercedes W111 Heckfloss slipped one place while the number of Mercedes-Benz W113 Pagodes increased by a strong 13%. The upwards potential for both models are limited but increases in prices may encourage more owners to keep these cars in good condition.

The number of Opel Kadetts with H plates grew slowly in recent years with the 18% jump this year out of sequence. The Kadett name was used until 1993 but the cars generally do not have a reputation for being loved or well-preserved as young classics.

The Volkswagen Golf entered the top-15 list of most-popular classic cars in Germany in 2015 at a strong tenth place. The number of historic plate Golfs increased by 50% over a year ago. The Golf has been the top-selling car model in Germany since 1981 making the sky – or at least first place – the limited. The Golf is likely to shoot up the list in coming years – the Golf II (1983-92) has a reputation for longevity with a strong cult following in Germany.

The S-Class Mercedes-Benz models from the 1970s (W116) and 1960s (W108/109) each slipped a place despite still adding a few models to the H-plate register.

The Opel Rekord / Olympia remained at 13th with an increase out of character with numbers stated in previous years. The 2015 numbers are probably boosted by including models probably counted as separate models.

The BMW 02 is one of the most popular classic cars in Germany from the 1970s but were built in limited numbers and it is unlikely that the number of H-plates car will increase much in future.

The Alfa Romeo Spider was the final car on the top-15 list. Although the Spider was produced until the early 1990s, the increase in H-plate cars was only 1.1% over the previous years. The Spider was much loved but rust often got them first.

The Karmann Ghia, a stalwart on the list of most-popular historic cars in Germany for many years, dropped out of the top-15 in 2015.

See Also: 2016 Germany: Most-Popular Classic and Historic Cars