Car Classifications: Antique, Vintage and Classic Car

November 5, 2013

Antique, vintage, and classic cars have subtle but important differences, and the terms shouldn't be used interchangeably.

Classic Car Interior

If you are thinking about getting involved in the world of "old" cars, you should learn the various car classifications: antique, vintage and classic. Each class has its own meaning and mastering these is one of the most basic concepts of learning this hobby. While some of these classifications are open to interpretation and can vary, there are attempts to create conformity. In fact, in some cases there are state laws that regulate how these words are used. In other situations there are definitions set by car collector groups.

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All states waive certain fees and tests for vintage cars. Most states waive those same fees and tests for classic cars also. But determining whether you have a vintage or classic car can sometimes be confusing.

  • Antique car. An antique car is a classification that is often set by state law. States often have a special type of license plate for these cars. For that reason they set rules stating what qualifies as "antique." In most cases it is a car that's over 45 years old. Generally the car should be maintained in a way that keeps it true to the original manufacturer specifications
  • Classic car. This classification definitely overlaps with antique cars. The definition of classic car is actually quite similar to that of antique cars. A car must be at least 20 years old, but not more than 40 years old to be considered a classic car. It should again have been repaired and maintained in a way that keeps it true to its original design and specifications. In other words it should not be modified or altered. In addition, many add a stipulation that the vehicle should have been manufactured no earlier than 1925. For these reasons all classic cars are also antique cars, but not all antique cars are classic cars
  • Vintage car. There is also overlap between vintage cars and antique cars. Some vintage cars quality as antique cars, but not all vintage cars are antique and vice versa. Different groups set different cut off points for what qualifies as a vintage car and what does not. Generally, cars that are considered Vintage were manufactured between the years of 1919 and 1930, but some end it at 1925. Unlike the other two classifications, having had modifications does not necessarily keep a car from being a vintage car

As with any hobby, having a common vocabulary helps when you delve into the world of classic cars. Getting the distinctions between antique, classic and vintage cars down is an essential first step in helping you to communicate with other enthusiasts and is a good foundation on which to build.

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Related Questions and Answers

Where Can I Compare Classic Car Insurance Quotes?

You need to compare classic car insurance rates, but you don't know where to reliably do this. You can spend hours on the phone and online getting quotes from dozens of different providers of specialized classic car insurance, or you can hopefully find a single place to make your comparisons. There are two excellent sites that will do all the legwork of finding different quotes to compare for you. The first of these is Review Centre, where you can compare rates and coverages from a number of classic car insurance specialists. The other is a site called gocompare, where you can compare rates from a wide variety of providers, including classic car specialists.

Does it Cost Money to Get an Antique Car Appraisal?

Getting an antique car appraisal is the most important step that needs to be completed before you can obtain an accurate classic or antique car insurance quote. Knowing how much the car you have is worth allows you to know how much coverage you need. Having receipts for everything you've done to the car, including the original purchase, will give you an idea of how much the car is worth, but an appraisal will give you a certified value for the car. Appraisers charge for their services. Average prices will depend on how far they have to travel to perform the appraisal, but $200 is a common price that is quoted.

Do Classic Cars Have a Higher Insurance Rate than Most Cars?

You've just been quoted a fairly high number as a classic car insurance rate, and you think it's too much to pay. On the average, classic cars, when properly restored, are worth more than newer cars. This is of course due to the fact that they're harder to find and usually more popular, thus they have a much higher resale value. Also, once a car reaches a certain age, as long as it has been taken care of, it will stop depreciating and begin appreciating. This means that quite likely, your classic Camaro may be worth less now than it will be in a year, and your insurance provider has to take this fact into consideration.

What was the First Muscle Car?

Many cars try and make the claim of being the first muscle car ever produced. However, there's only one that can truly claim this title, and most auto enthusiasts and collectors will agree that this car is the Pontiac GTO. First produced for the 1964 model year and designed by John DeLorean, the GTO was the first car model to feature a large and powerful engine stuffed into a small and lightweight body with large tires. GTO enthusiasts will tell you GTO stands for 'Gas, Tires and Oil', whereas, according to Pontiac, it stands for Gran Touring Omologato.

Is a Hot Rod and a Muscle Car the Same Thing?

You're wondering if there is a difference between a hot rod and a muscle car. This debate has been raging for a few decades now. Some people will tell you there is no difference, while others will tell you there is a huge difference. Typically speaking, a car that is considered to be a hot rod is a Ford from the Thirties, that has been highly modified and had a powerfully engine installed. Backed up by a transmission that can handle all the extra power and is an open wheeled car. A muscle car is something like a Camaro or Mustang from the Sixties. These are two separate animals.

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