There is a niche market out there for classic car models. These are older models no longer being built by the manufacturer, kept to the original factory statistics, and maintained to be at least in working order. While not suited for regular driving, a classic car has a value that transcends the utility of driving. These models are rare finds and while their financial value may fluctuate in the intervening years, these cars are still beloved by the people who own them because of the nostalgic air that they have, that unmistakable quality of a bygone era of car manufacture. With that in mind, what exactly defines a classic?
A classic car is, simply put, a car that belongs to the highest levels of style and class, the type of car that inspires modern myths. Some examples of this type of car are the legendary pink Cadillac and the equally revered Chevy Impala. They are typically over 25 years old and are often compared to fine wine, in the sense that these cars can only get better with age. For the most part, these cars are no longer fit to be driven on a daily basis and the few that are require painstaking, near-constant maintenance to stay that way. Interestingly, if a formal definition is what you want, you’re not likely to find a consistent one. Different groups have different definitions of what a classic model is, and even the car insurance industry has rules for defining what is or is not a classic automobile.
Much like the art world and their masterpieces, no single definition appears to cover and appease all groups with regards to these cars. Groups often argue as to the exact number of years it takes for a car to be considered a classic but most hold it at around 15-20 years from the original year of manufacture. Some groups have a stricter guideline than others in determining what belongs on the list as a classic car and what does not. Some models, like the aforementioned Cadillac and the Ford Model-T, are nearly universal among these lists but other makes and models, like the 1948 Pontiac Sedan or the Impala, are not as widespread in acceptance. There are groups that recognize a model of car that was made in limited quantities, therefore a collectible, to be among the list of classics. In reality, there is no clear-cut definition of what a classic vehicle is or is not, though there are some cars that make it into any list by any definition because to the sheer value and nostalgia that they inspire, or through the mythic status the cars have come to enjoy over the years.
In the end, one should use a classic car list that fits one’s needs. There is currently little consensus as to how to exactly define a car but some elements, like insurance and popularity, should play a role in how a person defines the term “classic car.” However, all these groups agree that a classic, beyond the objective level, is a model of car that inspires memories of past decades and must have potent nostalgic presence.