The Difference Between Classic and Vintage Cars

Take a stroll through a classic car show and it won’t be long until you hear a car enthusiast say they would love to own a vintage 1965 Ford Mustang. Not long after, someone will correct them, explaining that the Mustang is classic, not vintage. A friendly debate might ensue before both parties agree to disagree and move on to other topics.

Who was right, you might ask? Technically, the guy who corrected the car enthusiast. To be fair, though, most people use the two terms – classic and vintage – similarly. So when it comes to classic vs. vintage automobiles, what is the difference?

What Makes a Car Classic or Vintage?

For collectors, the date when the automobile was manufactured defines whether a car is classic or vintage. They even use a third term, antique, when labeling a vehicle. Here’s the difference:

  • Vintage: Cars manufactured between 1919 and 1930
  • Antique: Cars manufactured in 1975 or earlier
  • Classic: Cars manufactured in 1990 or earlier

The age definition is important when it comes to insurance premiums for collector cars. The age difference can mean a higher or lower annual premium, though other factors, like how often the car is driven on the road, also affects price.

Knowing all this, the next time you visit a classic car show, you can now explain to your friends which vehicles are classic or vintage. Then surprise them when you call your Mom’s old Nova an antique.