Classic cars are very important to the people who own them. They are shining jewels in the collections of car enthusiasts everywhere. We may have a mental picture of what an iconic vehicle is, but what are the qualifications that make a car classic? Here are a couple things professionals look for when making these determinations.

Classic Car


The most basic and simple way to figure out weather or not a vehicle is a classic one, is to find out how old it is. Generally speaking, any car that is more than 25 years old is considered classic. Cars that are older than 50 years old are classified as antique. Additionally, the term vintage describes any vehicles produced between 1919 and 1930. There are disagreements on these exact figures within the auto community. However, these numbers are widely accepted by auto enthusiasts everywhere. 


Obtaining a loan to purchase a classic vehicle can prove difficult with some lenders. Some are highly selective with which vehicles they will and wont fund. In an article written for, Emily Delbridge states, “For example, The Hagerty Group, a major insurer and lending agent for classic and antique vehicles, notes that, due to lower production quality standards, some mid-1970’s and 80’s vehicles that would normally be classified as classic are not considered collectible and therefore may not qualify for specialized classic car rates.”

Classic Car

State Regulations

Each state has different rules and regulations that pertain to classic and antique vehicles. Delbridge also mentions, “If you’re looking to register your classic with the DMV in order to receive special rates or a “classic” license plate, make sure that you know your state’s specific requirements. In Michigan, for example, a “historical” vehicle must be 26 or more years old, owned solely as a collector’s item and used only for events such as club activities, parades, and car shows. Again, each state’s rules are different, so be sure to check.” Research this information thoroughly. Another article written for states the following about California’s regulations, “California has a very broad classification on what a “classic” car is, and they do not differentiate between classics, vintage, and antique cars. According to California DMV, if the vehicle was manufactured after 1922, and is at least 25 years old, it is a Historical Vehicle. However, if it has a 16-cylinder or larger engine, and is manufactured between 1922 and 1965, it gets classified as a Horseless Carriage. Modified cars and replicas aren’t considered to be part of either category.” When you fully understand your state’s regulations, you will be able to decide if owning a classic vehicle is an interest you want to continue to pursue.

The nostalgia associated with classic cars is hard to ignore. They can be a rewarding passion project when you know what you’re getting into. Learn as much as you can before diving in to ensure owning a classic vehicle is everything you hoped for and more.

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