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how old is classic?

Could someone please tell me how old a car has to be to be defined as classic?


mare    on 9 October 2006

One defintion could be whether the car's tax-exempt (road tax or VFL). I think that the cut off point is in the early 1970's. It was 25 years at the time it was introduced.

Imagine all those lovely 1981 Ford Escorts being classics. And Chevettes! Begs the question as to WHAT IS a classic?

Bagpuss    on 9 October 2006

In Germany people refer to "Old Timers" and "Young Timers". Old Timers are generally cars older than 30 years which qualify for road tax exemption. Young Timers are newer cars, generally early to mid 80's stuff and for which there are also various magazines describing hugely expensive and time consuming restorations of contemporary BMWs and Mercs as well as more mundane stuff such as early Opel Kadetts and VW Golfs.

Bizarrely, the word "Classic" in Germany seems mainly to be used to describe older foreign cars and especially MGs, Austin Healeys and the like, these sell for serious money over here.

tr7v8    on 9 October 2006

Most insurance companies regard Classic as 20 years old, eg. 1986. Better insurance starts at 30 years no mileage limits etc. so that's 1976.

NARU    on 9 October 2006

"what is a classic" - there is no official definition and its a debate which has come back time and time again over the years. A McLaren F1 became a highly desirable car straight from new - and arguably a classic. On the other hand there are loads of cars which were only desirable to their owners. If someone wants to collect/restore either end of the spectrum that's fine with me. And if they want to call their car a classic that's fine (with me) too - whether an FSO or a Ferrari.

Its interesting that the 'bog standard' cars get a lot of attention at shows - often more than the exotic ones. I'm sure part of it is that everyone remembers their first car and others of the same era.

stunorthants    on 9 October 2006

It depends on the car, thats all there is to it. All desirable cars are likely to continue to be sought after.
As far as bread and butter hatchbacks go, I could get classic insurance on a 1986 Cavalier and in many way it was a classic to many people with enthusiastic owners club and forum.

On the other hand, my Mazda, which is the same age, doesnt have any real classic status - japanese cars take a bit longer to attain classic status in general - now 1970's Datsuns and the like are starting to look like fun to many people, especially because they are far more reliable than many cars of the same age, so become a practical classic and their over-styling has appeal to those with a sense of humour.

As I understand it from what I have read, cars in the main, get classic status when people, who saw the cars as a kid and always dreamed of them, reach an age where they can buy that car and this is usually in their 40's or around this point, which is when the car is around around 20-25 years old in the main. Not a hard and fast rule, but I grew up in the 1980's and now I couldnt be without an 80's car as I grew up around them.

moonshine    on 9 October 2006

Like the previous posters have said there are no hard and fast rules for this. I have a 1984 Toyota that I class as a classic which I insure with a classic car policy. Again as mentioned in the previous posts I remember these from when I was a kid, my friends dad used to run the local toyota showroom and would let us sit in the cars and we used to talk about which car we would get. As you can image it was always the supra!

local yokel    on 9 October 2006

Cut-off for free RFL is 31 Dec 1972, though some regd after this date qualify if made on/before 31/12/72. That said, Mk1 Golfs are popular classics, and the last of these was made over 10 years later.

Roger Jones    on 9 October 2006

I have cars 14, 15 and 22 years old. All of them are covered by a classics policy with RH Specialist Car Division. I think they treat 10 years as the lower limit.

Lud    on 9 October 2006

>> I have cars 14, 15 and 22 years old. All of
them are covered by a classics policy with RH Specialist Car
Division. I think they treat 10 years as the lower limit.

So my early 90s Escort is a classic.

I've always despised the expression. There are four perfectly good, highly specific old car categories: veteran, Edwardian, vintage and post-vintage throroughbred.

A fifties Lea-Francis or Healey, even an Allard, is PVT but I'm not at all sure that Standard Vanguards and the like are.

Why are we having this conversation all over again?

Dynamic Dave    on 9 October 2006

So my early 90s Escort is a classic.

In the eyes of some insurance companies - yes. Anything over 10 to 15 yrs old is classed as classic.

Eg, Footman James = 15 yrs: -

tunacat    on 9 October 2006

If the -lowish- mileage was the same in both cases, say about 4000 miles pa, would it likely be cheaper for a newly-qualified 17y.o. to get insurance on a 1997 3-cyl 1.0 Corsa or a Morris Minor/Triumph Herald ?

mrmender    on 9 October 2006

aww noo here we go again!
What shall we do Lud someone's used the "C" word again

Lud    on 9 October 2006

Tell me about it mm... but there should be a fifth category of 'modern classic' to cover everything from Jowett Javelin to things like Nomag's RO80 and I suppose rare supercharged Merc hairdresser cars, but not Cortinas except Series 1 Lotus Cortina.

But let's not get hot under the collar about people calling their much-loved old motors classics. It makes them happy probably. and that's good.

Lud    on 9 October 2006

And mm, despite their monolithic proportions I'm afraid those big whoffling GMC trucks you are playing with in the Arabian desert aren't classics.

Have to say actually they sound rather awful, although I too am stirred by a good engine sound and a, er, lumbering truck...

Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}    on 9 October 2006

Could someone please tell me how old a car has to be to be defined as classic?

Classic can mean good of its kind.
Another definition is it's old enough to have an MOT.
Or my Dad had one of those .
Some people might even think a Morris Marina qualifies.
I wasna fu but just had plenty.

SlidingPillar    on 9 October 2006

Since made pre 1 Jan 73 is all classed as Historic for free tax, I'd suggest that adds a fifth catagory after PVT. But really it is a how long is a piece of string question with many, many different answers.

Since Morris Marinas were made pre 73, those qualify in my accounting, although there can't be many left that have not succumed to rust. I had one as my first car, and really it was dreadful. Only good point was simple mechanicals. Nice if someone wants to restore/keep one, but I don't!

Lud    on 9 October 2006

I had a Marina too, with drum front brakes, and it was pretty awful although not old or clapped, and quite economical. BL used to rally them, and I always thought there was more than room under the bonnet for a Rover V8, would have been a good joke and gone pretty well too, but the thought of having to redesign totally the spindly front suspension made it sound a bit expensive.

mike hannon    on 9 October 2006

Forget the word classic - it's meaningless. A better term might be 'collectable' - no matter how dire a particular model may have been, someone out there will always want to own one.

moonshine    on 9 October 2006

I agree with Mike - the word 'collectable' is much more appropriate than 'classic'.

Interestingly the CCCA (classic car club of america) claim to have invented the term 'classic car' and believe that they 'own' the term.

"A CCCA Classic is a "fine" or "distinctive" automobile, either American or foreign built, produced between 1925 and 1948. Generally, a Classic was high-priced when new and was built in limited quantities. Other factors, including engine displacement, custom coachwork and luxury accessories, such as power brakes, power clutch, and "one-shot" or automatic lubrication systems, help determine whether a car is considered to be a Classic."

(Sourced from answers dot com)

Armitage Shanks {p}    on 9 October 2006

Collectable won't do! It applies to naff sets of thimbles with star trek figures on them, craftsman created heads of Nefertiti and ALL sort of Franklin Mint tat!. The sellers define it as collectable and the dim buyers are fooled into thinking it is!

Hard work pays off in the future - Laziness pays off now!

Avant    on 10 October 2006

We'll never define 'classic', so maybe the answer is 'Don't try'.

The nearest we're going to get is to say 'classic = I want one'.

You might crave a 1950 Jowett Javelin or a 1975 NSU Ro80 - both beautiful to look at but notoriously unreliable: I might prefer a 1950 Austin A40 or Standard Vanguard, or a 1975 VW Golf - none of these unattractive and all of which gave far more satisfaction to their owners in their day, and would continue to do so now if restored or kept in good condition.

So it's a purely personal thing, and long may it remain so.

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