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12/03/2020 News

When does a car become a classic?


Whether it’s a sixties E-Type or a first-gen MX5, it’s easy to tell a classic just by looking at it, but when it comes down to it, what are the factors that influence whether a car is a classic? In this guide, we look at how old classic cars typically are, what makes a classic car, and other important things to consider when trying to work out which cars are – or will be – classic models. 

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Typically, how old is a classic car? 

The age of classic cars can vary considerably, and there are several definitions regarding how old a car must be before it becomes a classic.  

HMRC defines classics as being over 15 years old with a list price of at least £15,000, but to be tax exempt, the classic must be at least 40 years old. The Antique Automobile Club of America notes classics must be older than 25 years (with cars over 45 years old known as antiques), whereas insurance providers have a wide range of classifications.  

As such, answering how hold classic cars are is an imperfect art, although generally, a classic can be any age as long as it’s older than the majority of cars on the road, was built after 1946 (prior to that, a car is in vintage territory), is no longer in production and has been deemed a classic by the motoring community. 

What is a classic car?  

So how else can we define a classic car? What makes them special? 

  • Rarity – Classic cars must be out of production and not commonly seen on the roads. 

  • Value – Influenced by rarity, condition and overall desirability, the value of classic cars is generally deemed to be static or increasing – not depreciating, as with ordinary vehicles. 

  • Wow factor – Style, engineering, marque, history, personality – there are countless factors that, even alone, make a car one of a kind and deserving of the ‘classic’ label. 

  • Nostalgia – For many, the cars they know as classics are those that they grew up with and first sought when they began appreciating cars. Emotional connections are tough to argue with! 

Classic cars can be defined by any of the above. They’re easy to recognise, but sometimes tough to pin down! 

What is a vintage car?  

In the UK, the generally accepted rule is that vintage cars are those that were built between 1919 and 1930. All vehicles built before this time known as veteran cars, and those built between 1930 and 1945, post-vintage. 


Classic cars come in all shapes and sizes, but they need the right care and attention, whatever the model. View our range of ELF HTX classic, vintage and modern classic car oils or contact our team for more information.