Complete Guide to Classic Cars


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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around auto insurance guides...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing...

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Reviewed byLaura Walker
Formerly Licensed Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2019

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What is a Classic Car?

Various organizations give their own definition as to what qualities make a vehicle qualify to be considered a classic car.

For example, the Classic Car Club of America defines them as ‘fine or unusual motor cars’ which were manufactured in the years 1915-1948 which typically have a unique design, superior engineering, and impressive workmanship.

Another quality that most cars considered to be classics are that they’re usually expensive and were manufactured with only a few units being made available during their initial release making them more coveted by classic car enthusiasts.

History of Classic Cars

Cars have long been a point of interest for some people. There are plenty of enthusiasts who are dedicated to collecting and even restoring valuable cars such as classic cars and other older vehicles.

While we discussed what classic cars are in the previous section, there are actually other similar classifications in the car collector world. A car may be classified as an antique, a classic, or a vintage car. An antique is typically a vehicle which is 25 years old (counting from the year it was first manufactured) that has been maintained or restored up to the standards of its maker.

Other people classify cars according to eras. For example:

  • The years from the 1890s to the 1930s are called the Antique Era.
  • The Pre-War Classic Era is the years from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s.
  • The War Classic Era encompassed the years from the early 1940s to the early 1950s.
  • The Post-War Classic Era is considered to be the years from the 1950’s to the early 1960s.
  • The Classic Era can extend up to the early 1980s.
  • Cars manufactured later than that are considered to be modern.

To know more about this topic, check out the links below.


Valuing a Classic Car           

Classic cars can be valued from as little as a couple of thousand dollars to over millions of dollars depending on the model, year of manufacture, and current condition.

If you are planning to sell or buy a classic car, it is important to know its estimated monetary value, so you can make educated decisions whether you are selling or buying one.

You can begin by appraising a car’s current condition (engine, exterior, interior, etc.) to determine how well it holds up or if it is even operational. You will find tons of detailed guides online on how to do this more thoroughly. You can also check out the resources provided below.    


Buying a Classic Car

Buying a classic car definitely requires more effort and negotiating skills than buying a new car or a regular car. Since a lot of money is usually involved, there are a lot of people out to rip off inexperienced buyers.

To avoid this, here are some tips to keep in mind when dealing with a classic car seller:

  • Find out who owns the car and how it came to be in their possession.
  • Check the car’s rack number and counter verify it with the documents presented to you.
  • Make sure the rack number has not been tampered or altered.
  • Ask the seller to provide you with all the necessary documents about the car.
  • Ask about what kind of restoration has been done to the car and verify it yourself.

You can find more information on how to buy classic cars in the resources below.


Insuring a Classic Car          

Owning a classic car is an investment so insuring it should be one of your priorities. You would not want those years and money spent on upkeep, restoration, and maintenance to all be for nothing.

Getting your classic car insured may not keep it physically safe, but it will keep your investment less vulnerable to unforeseen events like accidents, flooding, and theft. It may cost you more money, but if you start seeing your classic car as an asset or an heirloom to be passed on, getting the right amount of insurance on it would make the extra money well-spent.


Restoring a Classic Car       

Are you planning to take on the challenge of restoring, whether partially or fully, a classic car? Start by equipping yourself with the proper knowledge you need to do it successfully. You can find plenty of helpful resources on the topic online, some of which are listed below.


Popular Classic Cars

Some classic cars are just more coveted than others because of their aesthetics, great engineering, or just overall cool factor. Here are some of the most popular classic cars among auto enthusiasts:

  • Chevrolet Camaro (Years of Production 1966–1969)
  • Bugatti Type 57 (Years of Production: 1934–1940)
  • Mercedes-Benz 540K (Years of Production: 1935–1940)
  • Ford Thunderbird (Years of Production: 1955–1957)
  • SS Cars SS100 (Years of Production: 1936–1940)


Classic Car Shows

Attending classic car shows is a great way to meet and interact with other classic car enthusiasts and, of course, see your favorite models in real life. Check out the links below for more information on a couple of the best classic car shows in the US.  


Classic Car Museums          

Want to see well-maintained classic cars at any time of year? Take a trip to the many classic car museums in the US.


Additional Resources

Find out more about classic cars by checking any of the following links:

Learn more about the classic car ownership lifestyle at the U.S. Army website.

Go to the Georgia Tech website to read about a project focused on turning classic cars into environmentally friendly electric cars.

Check out classic cars from the 1930s at Snite Museum of Art.

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