Classic Car Basics

What exactly is a classic car?

I have found that there are differences of opinions as to what “qualifies” as a classic car.  If you do a simple google search with that question, the answers will be all over the map.  There just doesn’t seem to be a consensus about the definition of a classic car.

Classic cars are typically 20 years or older, and have some importance in automobile history and/or a following of people.

But, for our sake, I will just say that when classic cars are mentioned on this site, I am referring to an older car (you determine how old) that you personally believe is worthy of your time, attention and money. In a feature article, I make the case for why you should make sure your very first classic car has a special connection to you.  It’s worth a read here. 

There are many categories of classic cars, but there’s no real reason you have to know them in any great detail.  If you are interested in any particular category, please refer to the reference page where you will find links to many of the categories that will offer a more detailed explanation.

For now, here a brief introduction to the more well known categories of classic cars:

Muscle Cars:

For the definition of a muscle car, I defer to the information on the muscle car club site, check it out here.

Antique Cars

The Antique Car Club of America defines an “antique” car as being a vehicle that is more than 25 years old which has been fully restored and is in full running order.  Other sources claim a car has to be 45 years or older to be considered an “antique” car.   Don’t ask me which one is correct, but apparently the antique car classification is sometimes set by state law because they issue special plates for antique cars.  Most states require a car be over 45 years old and close to original condition to be considered an antique.

Hot Rods

My favorite description of a hot rod is the one I found on the rod authority site ( site.  They describe a hot rod as “a 1948 and earlier American car – It makes noise, it is regularly street-driven, has a mean attitude and screams the words “hot rod.” No cream puffs! “.I was always told that If the engine has been modified to increase performance it’s a hot rod.

Rat Rods

I don’t know how to describe rat rods…..they are definitely not my favorite type of classic car, but they are gaining in popularity and I see quite a few at car shows these days.  Here’s a great article about what a rat rod is and how they got started.  Click here.

All Original Cars

To borrow a line from Bills Backyard Classics ( an all original classic car is “a vehicle that has been maintained both aesthetically and mechanically without the replacement of any parts or pieces”.  These types of classic cars are very rare indeed !


This category of classic car is amazing because it combines the beauty and unique look of a classic car with new technology.


Street Rods

.Street rods are mostly based on ’48-and-earlier cars and trucks that have been highly modified.   Just like the controversy regarding the term “classic cars’, you will find many different opinions about what a street rod is.

Led Sled (insert image from classic car pride folder)



Posted on

June 10, 2018