When Does an Old Car Become a Valuable Classic Car?

Sun Auto Service Expert, published on 02/10/2016

Classic, vintage, antique or just plain old? How do you know the difference, and just when does an older car become a valuable classic car? The truth is that it often depends on who you ask, as different car clubs, collectors and countries as well as insurance companies have varying ways of determining if a car qualifies as a classic. According to dictionaries, the word classic refers to something that, over a period of time is considered the highest quality, is outstanding, and is one of a kind. Based on this definition, the primary characteristics of a classic vehicle are age, condition and uniqueness among other cars. The combination of these features will determine if you have a classic car or if you have a valuable classic car.

It’s a Classic

For a car to be considered a classic, it must be more than 20 years old, in good condition and true to the original design. So, age is an easy concept to grasp, but what does good condition mean? The vehicle should be roadworthy, the body should have no rust, the interior should be intact without tears in the upholstery, flooring or header fabric, and the engine should run. Lastly, the car must match the original factory design as closely as possible. Any one of these factors by itself won’t qualify a car as a classic; all three elements must be present.

It’s a Valuable Classic

Now that you know what constitutes a classic car, it’s time to learn what makes it a valuable classic. There are four basic considerations when determining the value of a classic vehicle:

  1. Condition: A classic vehicle in good condition is worth more than a classic car that doesn’t run.
  2. Rarity: How many were manufactured? How many are left?
  3. Popularity: The more popular the vehicle, the greater the demand, and the greater the demand, the higher the value.
  4. Model Quality: When it came off the production line, was it considered cheap or luxury?

How valuable your classic car is depends on how many, or which, of these standards it meets. For instance, a limited production luxury vehicle in pristine condition can be extremely valuable. A highly popular, less expensive vehicle where only a few are left can also be very valuable. By the same token, an extremely rare vehicle in rough condition could also be of great value.

So, when does an old car become a valuable classic car? When it meets the standards outlined here.