Classic car

Classic car
A "yank tank" or "maquina" in Havana, Cuba

A classic car is an older car; the exact meaning is variable. The Classic Car Club of America maintains that a car must be between 20 and 40 years old to be a classic, while cars over 45 years fall into the Antique Class.



Classic Car Club of America

The Classic Car Club of America defines a CCCA Classic as follows:

A CCCA Classic is a "fine" or "distinctive" automobile, either American or foreign built, produced between 1925 and 1948... 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.[1]

Any member may petition for a vehicle to join the list. Such applications are carefully scrutinized and rarely is a new vehicle type admitted.[2]

This rather exclusive definition of a classic car is not universally followed, however, and this is acknowledged by the CCCA: while it still maintains the true definition of "classic car" is its, it generally uses terms such as CCCA Classic or the trademarked Full Classic to avoid confusion.

United States legal definition

Legally, most states have time-based rules for the definition of "classic" for purposes such as antique vehicle registration; for example, Most states define it as "A motor vehicle, but not a reproduction thereof, manufactured at least 20 years prior to the current year which has been maintained in or restored to a condition which is substantially in conformity with manufacturer specifications and appearance."

Despite this, at many American classic car shows, automobiles typically range from the thirties to sixties. Examples of cars at such shows include the Chevrolet Bel-Air, Ford T-Bucket, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Deuce Coupe, and 1949 Ford. Meanwhile, the Concours D'Elegance car shows feature prestigious automobiles such as the Cadillac V16 or pre-1940 Rolls-Royce models. "Classic" cars at these shows seldom go beyond 1972. Any cars from 1973 onward are defined as "modern customs", "exotics", or "collectibles". For interest, cars such as the AMC Gremlin or Ford Pinto may be exhibited.

Antique Automobile Club of America

The Antique Automobile Club of America defines an antique car as 45 years old or older. A Classic as 20-45 years old. [3]

United Kingdom

There is no fixed definition of a classic car. Two taxation issues do impact however, leading to some people using them as cutoff dates. All cars built before January 1, 1973, are exempted from paying the annual road tax vehicle excise duty. This is then entered on the license disc displayed on the windscreen as "historic vehicle" (if a car built before this date has been first registered in 1973 or later, then its build date would have to be verified by a recognized body such as British Motor Heritage Foundation to claim tax free status). The HM Revenue & Customs define a classic car for company taxation purposes as being over 15 years old and having a value in excess of £15,000.[4]

Modern classics

These vehicles are generally older, anywhere from 15–25 years, but are not accepted as classics according to the Antique Automobile Club of America. In the UK the Modern Classic definition is open to the discretion often by Insurance Brokers and Insurance Companies who regard a Modern Classic as a vehicle that is considered collectible regardless of age. [5] The usage of the vehicle limited to recreational purposes and/or restricted mileage, is also taken into account.

Classic car styling

There was a worldwide change in styling trends in the immediate years after the end of World War II. The 1946 Crosley and Kaiser-Frazer, for example, changed the traditional discrete replaceable-fender treatment. From this point on, automobiles of all kinds became envelope bodies in basic plan. The CCCA term, "Antique Car" has been confined to "the functionally traditional designs of the earlier period" (mostly pre-war). They tended to have removable fenders, trunk, headlights, and a usual vertical grill treatment. In a large vehicle, such as a Duesenberg, Pierce-Arrow, or in a smaller form, the MG TC, with traditional lines, might typify the CCCA term. Another vehicle might be a classic example of a later period but not a car from the "classic period of design", in the opinion of the CCCA.


Car accident in 1930

Drivers of classic cars must be especially careful. Classic cars often lack what are now regarded as basic safety features, such as seat belts, crumple zones or rollover protection. Vehicle handling characteristics (particularly steering and suspension) and brake performance are likely to be poorer than current standards, hence requiring greater road-awareness on the part of the driver. In certain parts of the US, using a classic car as a daily vehicle is strongly discouraged and in some places even prohibited.[6]

It is recommended[by whom?] to retrofit classic cars with seat belts. Retro-styled (color-coded with chromed buckles) 2-point and 3-point seat belts are manufactured according to current safety standards. However, most classic car bodies were not designed to be fitted with safety belts and do not possess readily available reinforced mounting points, on the vehicle body, therefore it is very problematic to install such equipment properly: specific studies and calculations should be performed prior to any attempts. In many cases improper installation of seat belts would only make the car's safety worse as in case of an accident weak mounting points of the belts may break, or improperly selected position of 3-point belts may cause suffocation. Professionally fitted belts that mount to the vehicle's chassis are the safest option. Fitting modern tires is also a suggestion to improve the handling.[7] However, most modern tires may be much wider and have a lower profile than those used on classic cars when new, therefore they may interfere with suspension elements and the tire walls may become damaged. The suspension of classic cars may not be suitable for radial ply tyres, having been designed for bias ply tyres. Narrow classic car wheels may have been designed for narrow high profile tubed tyres and not be suitable for modern tubless radial tires. Another problem with modern tyres on classic cars is that increased grip requires increased steering effort; many classic cars don't have power steering. Many major tyre companies have dedicated classic car tyre marketing departments and will be able to give expert technical advice to address all these issues.

Upgrading braking using either bespoke parts, parts produced by the vehicle's manufacturer, from later versions of the same model or later models that may be compatible with minor modification, is an effective way of improving safety. Popular examples include drum brake to disc brake conversions, or adding a vacuum servo to cars with front disc brakes that didn't originally have one.

Some classic cars owners are reluctant to retrofit seat belts for the loss of originality this modification implies. There have also been instances of cars losing points at shows for being retrofitted with seat belts.[8]

Despite these concerns, classic cars are involved in relatively very few accidents.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "What is a Classic Car?". Classic Car Club of America. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  2. ^ "Approved CCCA Classics" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  3. ^ "AACA Official Judging Guidelines" (PDF). Antique Automobile Club of America. 2008. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  4. ^ "Car benefit: classic car: definition". HM Revenue & Customs. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  5. ^ Firebond Insurance PLC Practical Classics Magazine advertising 1997
  6. ^ a b "Deadly crash spotlights classic-car safety". 2005-08-02. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  7. ^ Safety in classic cars - what drivers need to watch eNews
  8. ^ Wright, Jeanne (2001-12-12). "Classic Cars Pose Special Risks for Drivers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 

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