When is a Car Considered a Classic? The 411

For many car enthusiasts, owning a classic car is a lifelong dream. But what exactly constitutes a "classic" car? Is it simply an older car, or does it also depend on other factors?

There are many different schools of thought on what makes a car a classic, and it can be a confusing topic for those new to the world of car classifications and classic collector vehicles. Whether you’re a classic car collector, enthusiast, or just like learning about cars, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know.

We’ll explore the definition of a classic car, including the criteria used to determine whether a vehicle is considered a classic and why these cars hold such a special place in the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts.

When Is a Car Considered Classic?

As we mentioned, a car is considered a classic when it meets a certain checklist, but these criteria can vary depending on who you ask and where you ask. Generally, a car is considered a classic if it is at least 30 years old, has retained its original design and specifications, and has been properly cared for over the years.

However, some enthusiasts may consider cars younger than 30 years old to be classics if they are rare, unusual, or have a significant historical or cultural significance.

If you’re looking for classification information regarding insuring or registering your vehicle as a classic car, you’ll have to look into the regulations of your personal insurance company and your state's local laws to determine whether your vehicle is legally considered classic.

Every state will have its own opinions on the matter, so a collector car in Vermont might not be seen the same in California! You may need a classic car insurance policy (or collector auto insurance), so it’s good to be sure.

What’s the Difference Between Antique, Classic, and Vintage Cars?

While the terms "antique," "classic," and "vintage" are often used interchangeably to describe old cars, there are actually some differences between them. An antique car (or historical vehicle) is typically built before 1915, while classic car models are generally considered to be at least 20 years old and have retained their original design and specifications.

Vintage cars usually refer to those built between the 1920s and 1950s, although some enthusiasts extend the term to include cars from the 1960s as well. Classic vehicles are often known for their iconic styling and innovative engineering. Many are highly sought after by collectors, enthusiasts, and those interested in the Classic Car Club of America car shows.

Examples of Classic Cars

While every car owner has a favorite car, there are a handful that we can collectively agree are bonafide classics:

C3 Chevrolet Corvette

The C3 Corvette, produced from 1968 to 1982, is known for its iconic styling and powerful performance — it’s the pure American sports car. The longest-running generation of Corvettes, the C3, had several notable features, such as pop-up headlights, T-top roof, and a distinctive "Coke bottle" body shape.

The C3 Corvette also had a wide range of engine options, including the legendary big-block V8, which provided impressive power and incredible top speeds, though. Even in a rocketship like this, it’s important to obey speed limits! It was also the first Corvette to feature an innovative, independent rear suspension, which greatly improved the car's handling and ride quality.

Dodge Coronet

The Dodge Coronet is a classic car known for its distinctive, strong styling and powerful engine options. Produced from the 1940s through the 1970s, the Coronet underwent several design changes over the years, with notable models including the "Forward Look" styling of the 1950s and the "Muscle Car" models of the 1960s and 1970s.

With its long history and iconic design, the Dodge Coronet remains a popular choice among classic car enthusiasts.

Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang is an American classic due to its iconic design and status as the original "pony car." Introduced in 1964, the Mustang quickly became a sensation, offering sporty styling and powerful engines at an affordable price.

The car's popularity only grew over the years, with numerous design changes and performance upgrades keeping it at the top of the pack. The Mustang has also had a strong presence in American popular culture, appearing in movies, television shows, and songs.

Today, the Mustang remains a symbol of American automotive history and is beloved by car enthusiasts around the world.

Lamborghini Miura

The Lamborghini Miura is a classic car renowned for its breathtaking design and advanced engineering. Produced from 1966 to 1973, the Miura is often considered the world's first supercar. Its mid-engine layout, advanced suspension system, and powerful V12 engine made it a technical marvel for its time.

The car's sleek and exotic styling helped to establish Lamborghini as a leading manufacturer of high-performance luxury vehicles. Even in modern times, the Miura is highly sought-after by collectors and car enthusiasts, with only a few hundred examples ever produced.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a couple of honorable mentions of collectible, classic cars that collectors love:

  • 948 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe
  • 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 1980 Porsche 911

Classic Car FAQs

1. Why Do Classic Cars Gain Value With Age?

Like most other machines, cars generally lose value as they age and become outdated. As you may have heard, a new car loses value when you drive it off the lot. However, certain types of cars, such as classic and exotic cars, can actually gain value over time.

This is because rarity and limited production runs can increase the value of a car as demand outstrips supply, and you can follow the general market value of the classic car industry by paying attention to the Historic Auto Group International. It tracks vintage vehicle values across multiple different markers.

Also, a car's historical significance, performance capabilities, and iconic design can make it highly desirable among collectors and car enthusiasts!

2. How To Insure a Classic Car?

Insuring a classic car can be a bit more complicated than insuring a regular car, as classic cars are often more valuable and have unique insurance needs. To insure a classic car, it's important to get an accurate appraisal of the car's value, choose a specialty insurer that offers tailored coverage for classic cars, ensure proper storage, and maintain the car properly.

You don’t want to insure your car against any incidents and then simply let it rust out in the rain!

3. What Are the Benefits of Buying a Classic Car?

There are several benefits to owning a classic car. First and foremost, classic cars have a unique style and design that sets them apart from modern cars, giving drivers a powerful feeling of being behind the wheel of a piece of history.

They also offer a different driving experience, with manual transmissions and unique handling characteristics that make them fun to drive. Owning a classic car can be a source of pride and satisfaction, and many models can appreciate in value over time, making them a potentially lucrative investment– you could also consider renting out your vintage car to enthusiasts who want something iconic to drive for a special occasion for even more revenue.

Owning a classic car can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for car enthusiasts and collectors alike.

4. How Do I Sell a Classic Car?

Selling a classic car requires a bit of research and preparation to ensure you get the best price possible. Begin by assessing the car's condition and researching comparable sales to determine a fair asking price; you don’t want to let go of a vehicle for any less than it’s worth and classic cars can be quite subjective.

Take high-quality photos of the car from multiple angles and create a detailed listing highlighting its unique features and history. You might want to look into listing the car for sale on specialty websites and forums dedicated to classic cars, as well as in local classifieds or auction sites — remember, you may have to pay certain taxes on your sale, depending on where you live.

You’ll want to be prepared to negotiate with potential buyers, opinions will certainly have their effect on the price tag, and other enthusiasts might try to take advantage of that.

How To Ship a Classic Car?

Shipping a classic car requires careful planning and consideration to ensure its safe and secure transportation. Start by researching and comparing different shipping companies to find one that can offer quality care and expert transport of any type of car, and has a track record of delivering high-quality service.

Look for offers that include enclosed transport to protect the car from the elements and potential damage. You want to find a team of experienced drivers, and advanced technology ensures that classic cars are transported safely and securely and with strong customer reviews and awards!

The Bottom Line

Classic cars have a timeless appeal and represent a rich automotive history. Owning a classic car can bring joy and pride to enthusiasts and collectors alike. Whether it’s a vintage Ford Mustang, a Chevrolet Corvette, or a Lamborghini Miura, classic cars have a special place in the hearts of many.

From the thrill of restoring a classic to the joy of driving it on the open road, owning a classic car can be a fulfilling experience. With proper maintenance, care, and insurance, a classic car can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Traffic Safety
Historic Auto Group
Shopping Guides: What to Know About Taxes When You Sell a Vehicle

Three simple steps to get your FREE quote
Carvaygo Quick Quote
Vehicle Info
Transit Info
Contact Info
Please accept terms & conditions before continuing.
Enter a 4-digit year.
Enter a 4-digit year
It seems you want to move a Classic Car. To treat her right and get an accurate quote, you will need to talk to one of our Customer Service Representatives at 888-444-2612.
Enter the Make and Model of your vehicle
i.e., fender flares, lowered suspension, oversized tires, etc.
Up to 4 images with size max of 4MB each
We’re just trying to get to know you a little better. Your answer will not impact your quote amount.
Enter a city and state.
Enter a city name.
In order to provide a quote, we need your valid phone number.
We do NOT sell Personal Information to third parties.
In order to provide a quote, we need your full name.
Enter your first and last name.
Enter your email address.