Classic, Vintage, Veteran or Just Old?
People like ‘investing in classic cars’ so a question I get asked all the time is:
‘Is my car a classic or just old’
There are written definitions for Vintage and Veteran Cars which I’ve explained below. However, if you call something a classic, it’s worth more – or that’s what people think. Unfortunately, a lot of people are being conned into paying more for an old banger, as most people get confused and it’s all the government’s fault!
You see, the problem with classic cars is that there is a rolling 40 year UK Road Tax exemption on what it calls ‘classic cars’. For more detailed blurb on the tax exemption, follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-exempt-from-vehicle-tax
So currently, you don’t pay tax on a car built before 1 January 1975. So legally that would make an Mk1 Ford Escort, or VW Passat a classic car. But, in reality, they are just old! The insurance industry doesn’t help either. Classic car insurance generally kicks in for cars which are 20 years old or more – but think about it.
On the other hand, few people would deny that the Ferrari Testarossa was a ‘Classic‘ from the moment she was launched in 1984 but, although they would sneak into the classic band for insurance, it would not fit the definition for UK classic car tax exemption!
To help you out, here are our definitions:
Veteran Car: This is quite simple as it refers to cars or vehicles built before the First World War.
Vintage Car: These are cars or vehicles was built after WWI, but before 1930
Post Vintage: This term is rarely used these days as most Post Vintage cars get thrown into the ‘Vintage’ bracket. However, technically, these are cars or vehicles built from the 1930s until the end of WWII.
Classic: Our definition would be; this is a relatively rare car, built after World War II, which is more than about 20 years old and has a wow factor. The rarity element is important as it means that the ‘old car’ has stopped going down in value year-on-year and has actually started to increase in value each year. The wow factor could be for its engineering, style, marque and beauty all combined with the ability to turn heads. So, if it’s over 20 years old, it will be a Classic Car if, like a classic beauty, needs to have that oh-so-subtle envy factor – or even more simply, if when pulling up at a country hotel, the other guests stop to stare or ask questions – it’s a classic.
Valuing a Classic, Vintage and Veteran Car
Old cars, be they classic, vintage or whatever are valued on 3 main factors: rarity, quality and desirability.
Rarity is obvious, a Ferrari 250 GTO sold for over US$35m last year, as only 39 of them were ever made, but my old beetle from the same era would be lucky to fetch £5,000!
Quality is all about whether the car is a concourse car, which is worth more than one which has been restored with modern engines.
Desirability can be added in if someone famous owned it. Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Touring Limousine sold for £354k last year. A mint conditioned one, which belonged to the Royal Family, is currently on sale for £100k however. Jo Blog’s one would sell for about £60k.
There! Now you know how to tell if your car is vintage, classic, etc., and what to look for if you’re buying one.