How to determine if you have a classic or antique car

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The classic red and white paint job of a 1957 Corvette fits the very definition of "candy apple red" and "cherry blossom white."

A 1957 Corvette is one of the more beautiful classic American cars in existence. (Photo: Flickr)

For aficionados of classic auto designs of yesteryear, nothing beats a perfectly restored classic or antique car. Elegant line, solid construction, dazzling chrome and even genteel carriage evoke pleasant memories of the past, transporting us into personal fantasy where “They don’t make them like they used to” never rings false. But how can vehicle owners tell if the hobby cars they have are classic car or antique? Thankfully, there are guidelines. But keep in mind, whether a car is classic or antique, it should generally not be used as a daily commuter unless you have unlimited funds at your disposal and don’t need auto loans to purchase vehicles.

Aren’t ‘classic car’ and ‘antique car’ the same?

Some sources claim classic and antique are the same, but the truth is it ain’t necessarily so. According to Wikipedia, some car aficionados in the United States use “classic car” to refer to high-quality vehicles from the pre-World War II era. However, according to U.S. auto insurance laws, 20 years of life for a car is approximately double the expectancy intended for most modern cars, so the “classic car” title sets in after a car is 20 years old. And classic or antique car insurance is almost always more expensive than insurance for a standard vehicle because older models don’t have the same safety features that come standard in newer cars. In the United Kingdom, the term “antique car” isn’t used, although they do use the phrase “vintage” to refer to vehicles more than 100 years old.

Contact the Classic Car Club of America

The Classic Car Club of America (aka the CCCA) is full of people who live and breathe classic and antique cars. They have developed their own standards for what constitutes “classic” or “antique” when it comes to cars, and those standards are stringent. More expensive mass market cars made between 1946 and 1985 fit under their definition of “classic,” but certain larger sports and racing vehicles do not qualify. Classic cars don’t have to be American-made, but they should still contain the original parts from when they were manufactured. The Antique Automobile Club of America classifies any car older than 25 years antique, but “the legal definition for the purpose of antique vehicle registration varies widely,” according to Wikipedia.

In the UK, things are just a bit different

Car insurance companies in the UK also play a role in defining what “classic car” means, but the timeframe is just a bit different. Cars made 15 to 25 years ago are considered modern classic cars, but to confuse things a bit, UK insurance companies aren’t sticklers about this. Cars that don’t fall within the guidelines can still be considered collectible.

A final word on classic car insurance

From a financial standpoint, funneling a great deal of money into maintaining and restoring a classic car or antique car makes insuring it essential. Discussing the matter with a licensed insurance agent is advisable if you want to fully protect your classic or antique car investment.

And if you need auto loans for classic cars, click below



Wikipedia (classic car)

Wikipedia (antique car)

Classic Car Club of America

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  1. dwicklund on

    I have to disagree that classic car insurance is more expensive. Classic car insurance in the US is quite a bit cheaper then insuring a daily driver.