What Is the Definition of a Classic Car?

What Is the Definition of a Classic Car?

There’s a vast difference between the used car that you grab on the lot at reasonable financing levels, the super-old car that your grandfather is still driving around even though it’s making horrible noises, and a classic car. A person can often tell the difference just by looking at the vehicle, but really what is the definition of a classic car?

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Classic car vs used car

While by some definitions any vehicle that is over 20 years old could be considered “vintage”, that would put some 1996 models in the pool, and that…doesn’t seem quite right for the panache and elegance that one expects from a classic. According to the Classic Car Club of America, a classic car is a fine or unusual car built between 1915 and 1948. Most classics are not the mass production model vehicles, but exclusive vehicles that were only produced in limited quantities.

Usually also a classic car has been maintained or restored to meet certain standards of similar-to-original parts. In contrast, a car becomes a used car as soon as it is driven off the dealership’s lot and begins the immediate process of depreciation. (Pictured Below: a 1990 Ford Country Squire station wagon and a 1967 Camaro)

Ford Country Squire station wagon from 1990
1967 Chevy Camaro in pale yellow

Other car clubs may have different definitions. The Antique Automobile Club welcomes all running motor vehicles that were factory built, designed to drive on normal roadways, and are at least 25 years old. While that club has different classes for different types of vehicles based on prestige, it mainly requires that they be more than 25 years old and are in a good, mostly authentic condition.

It’s exciting to look at old vehicles that have been lovingly cared for over the years. Hopefully you now have a better idea of the definition of a classic car vs used car.