The Difference between Old and Classic Cars

The definition of a classic car can be slippery. Some people will not recognize a car as classic unless it was built in the 1920s and 1930s, before mass production. Some people would consider the New Volkswagen Beetle an instant classic in the cultural sense. There are some standard rules established by certain organizations like your local DMV, which will usually issue classic license plates to anyone driving a car that is more than 21 years old. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should put classic plates on your 1990 Nissan Pathfinder, though.

Age Does Qualify – Eventually

For a car to be a true classic in the most common sense of the word, it needs to be old enough to take you back in time. Cars from the 50s and 60s are so intrinsically different from the cars of today that every surviving example could fall into the classic category. When you look at a classic car, you feel transported to a different year with a different culture. If a car can remain roadworthy for more than two generations, it will be a classic by almost any standard.

Increasing Value After Production Ends

Aside from age, the value of the car plays a part in whether or not it qualifies as a classic. All cars naturally depreciate from the day they leave the dealer’s lot. Classic cars are the ones that stop depreciating and start to gain in value when the numbers dwindle over time. They might have distinctive styles, like the Ford Thunderbird, or they might become popular for social reasons. Volkswagen buses began to appreciate remarkably after the release of Cars, featuring a big yellow VW bus as one of the main characters.

Rarity Improves Status

The harder it becomes to attain an item, the more valuable it can be. Some cars become classics simply because there are few left. A once boring family sedan in 1962 could become a classic today because few of them were preserved. That type of car was usually driven by families who were more interested in getting from one place to another than in preserving the car for future generations. When a car becomes an endangered species, it automatically becomes a classic.

Classic is in the Eye of the Beholder

The Classic Cars Club of America (CCCA) defines classic cars as those, “built in limited production numbers and were quite expensive when new. As a group, they represent the pinnacle of engineering, styling and design for their era.” When it comes to insurance, a classic is an older car for which parts are expensive or hard to find. The book value of the car may be irrelevant when it comes to the cost of repairing the car. Classic cars are best insured through agreed value, where you and your insurance company agree how much the car would be worth if it were involved in a total loss accident.

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