Classic Cars: A Beginner's Guide

March 27, 2012

There's more to classic cars than age. Learn how a car is classified as a classic car, where to find them, and whether they're a good investment.

Classic Car

Classic cars are by definition vehicles made between 1925 and 1948. However, the term now applies to all vehicles at least 15 years or older in a condition which conforms to the original manufacturer's specifications and appearance.

Types of Classic Cars
Once the age and appearance requirements are met for a vehicle to be an official classic, all makes and models may be included. From a 1930s Ford Coupe (think ZZ Top) to a 1940s Oldsmobile sedan or 1960s Corvette 427 Tri Power, there's a classic car for everyone. Also, keep in mind the vehicle doesn't have to be American made. Foreign cars such as Porsches and Mercedes can be considered classic if they meet the requirements.

Prices of Classic Cars
As with any vehicle of any age, price will vary greatly with each car. A 1970s Chevelle may still be obtained for a reasonable price from $15,000 and up. In 2007, a 1966 Shelby Cobra made history at the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction selling for $5.5 million dollars. Specialty cars such as older race cars or limited editions will also mean paying more.

A Classic Car Doesn't Mean Collector Car
A car may be a classic in terms of age and appearance, but that doesn't mean it is considered a collector car. Often these two terms are used in the same sentence and can be misleading. The value and rarity of a classic car will determine whether it is also a collector car. There are numerous older vehicles that have no real market value whatsoever. They are simply old cars which still have the original appearance and options.

Where to Find Classic Cars
There are numerous places to find information and to see classic cars. Traditional swap meets are a fun place to start. Check your local paper for any upcoming meets where you can usually view hundreds of classic cars along with parts and other auto nostalgia in one setting. Auctions such as the Barrett Jackson can be a great place to find higher end cars and specialty cars.

The Future of Classic Cars
Recent news articles suggest that the era of classic cars and muscle cars has for the most part ended. The community who may bid millions of dollars for a 1964 Ford Cobra or buy a mid 80s Buick Grand National will not have the same enthusiasm for a Toyota Prius 15 years from now. Also, with mass production of current muscle cars such as the Camaro, prices will not rise as sharply in the next decades due to the number of vehicles available. These factors point to certain models of current classic cars gaining more in value and making an excellent investment.

Are Antique Cars a Solid Investment?
Antique cars are an interesting investment to make. Although some antique vehicles do appreciate in value, the exact condition and your restoration plans for a car can impact how much the antique will ultimately be worth. While antique cars are often marketed as good investments that appreciate over time, this is far from a guarantee. Almost all vehicles depreciate steeply regardless of their age, unless they are properly maintained and restored. Even if the vehicle is meticulously restored, it is no guarantee of an increase in value. While considering antique cars to be a waste of space is an overstatement, an antique car purchase is one that must be made carefully, just like any other big ticket transaction.

Only purchase an antique car if you can afford the vehicle and any restoration work you are planning to complete. An antique car should be a passion and an ongoing concern for its owner, not an attempt to make a profit on an investment. As with any used car transaction, be sure to have the vehicle inspected and appraised by a trained professional before completing the sale. If there is a large online enthusiast community for the antique car you are looking at, check their websites and see what some common selling prices and restoration costs are. This can help you budget for future repairs. Remember, do not invest in an antique car unless you can afford to lose a significant amount of your investment if the vehicle depreciates.

How to Get the Best Deal on a Project Car Magazine Subscription

Reading project car magazines is a great place to start when you want to rebuild or refurbish a car. Knowing how and where to get the best deal on car magazines will help you to keep your costs low.

  • Browse through forums. Use the Internet, especially project car online forums, in the process of locating a good deal on project car magazine subscriptions. Consider various websites that cater to car project enthusiasts and sign up for any newsletters they offer. This will enable you to be contacted with details of offers when they arise.
  • Consider the number of editions. Project car magazine subscriptions will often be set up to allow you to receive a different number of editions. The best deal will usually be obtained with the greatest number of editions that they offer. For example, a 12 month subscription is likely to be cheaper per issue than two 6 month subscriptions.
  • Use vouchers. In order to get more customers and increase circulation, project car magazine subscriptions are periodically offered for cheaper than normal. These will often be available to new customers only, and involve completing a voucher to this effect. You may be able to obtain vouchers during promotional periods through websites or directly from the magazine.
  • Look at car shows. Attending car shows or expos may be a good opportunity to find a good deal on a magazine subscription, as they are also likely to be attended by firms who are there to promote their magazine. You may obtain free copies of magazines, whether they are samples or full editions. These shows also give you the opportunity to meet other project car enthusiast who may be able to give you details of where good deals can be obtained. People already in receipt of a magazine subscription may get an advantage from recommending it to others.
  • Check at your mechanic's shop. Magazine companies sometimes align themselves with garages and specialist vehicle repairers to enable them to gain the attention of their target market. Check vehicle outlets in your area, be they sellers or repairers, to determine whether they have any promotional material that will help you to get a good deal
  • Take advantage of your services. There may be services you already use that include additional benefits that enable you to get a good deal on a project car magazine subscription. Check the terms and conditions that apply to your car insurance and breakdown service, like AAA, to determine whether they offer any bonuses by way of a subscription at a reduced cost.
  • Check with loyalty programs. Check the benefits that you obtain through any store loyalty programs you belong to. Collecting a certain number of points may enable you to get a reduced cost for a magazine subscription, using the points in place of money.