Old Cars: Vintage & Classic

Well here we are – raring to go with the start of our brand new automative blog! Today’s post aims to explain once and for all the difference between vintage and classic cars. What defines a ‘classic’ car is subject to conjecture and as such has been somewhat of a grey area in the past – in this article we will attempt to shine some light on this intriguing issue!

Vintage Cars – the True Definition

Already we come upon a stumbling block here, for there are many definitions of a ‘vintage car’. However, we will go along with the well-respected views of the Vintage Sports-Car Club, who define a ‘vintage’ car as one manufactured before 1931. They also have a number of other categories:

  • Edwardian or ‘Veteran’: 1908-1919
  • Vintage: 1919-1931
  • Post-vintage Thoroughbreds: 1931-1941

Although these years seem to be slightly random, there is a method to them. Edward VII was certainly on the throne in 1908, while this was also a landmark year for the USA, where the first assembly-line produced car had just been unveiled: Ford’s Model T. Although King Edward died two years later, the limbo period between 1910, the start of the Great War and the subsequent armistice in 1918 has all been grouped under the ‘Edwardian’ banner.

We then come into the the true vintage era of 1919-1931. This marked a move forward in engineering, spurned on by the end of World War One. You may hear many people bandying the term ‘vintage’ for any old car. However, it is a specific term for a specific era, and has an impact on a car’s value.

Classic Cars

Much like ‘vintage’, the term ‘classic’ is also used willy-nilly, associated with cars that are just generally ‘old’. But just as an old piece of furniture needs to reach a certain age (normally 50-100 years) to be classed as an ‘antique’, standards also need to be set for a ‘classic car’. To the letter of the law, the Classic Car Club of America sets the criteria thus:

‘a “fine” or “distinctive” automobile… produced between 1925 and 1948.’

Others draw more laissez-faire parameters, stating that a veteran car is pre-war, vintage is between the wars and classic any time post-WWII. This seems a pretty good rule of thumb with two provisos:

  1. A classic needs time to become a classic: i.e. the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mark II is now commonly held as a classic hot-hatch. However, it needed to stand the test of time and develop cult following before it could claim its ‘classic’ status. Therefore we are talking at least 10-15 years old.
  2. Age doesn’t guarantee classic status: taking the previous point into account, just because a car was made post-WWII and is more than 10-15 years old doesn’t make it a classic. This is hinted at in the CCCA’s definition above, which clearly makes use of the ‘fine’ and ‘distinctive’ adjectives. Clearly an old Ford Fiesta isn’t a classic, whereas a Morris Minor Traveller is.

Next week

Our next blog will focus on famous makes and models of cars from the vintage era, with a particular emphasis on their value.

For more information on your vintage or classic cars, or even to get a free valuation, you can contact borro’s specialist team on: 0808 163 9537

Until next time, Ed Hallinan and the borro team.

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