What makes a car a classic?

What Makes a Car a Classic?

For classic car lovers the world over, there is always one question that throws up different answers and sparks a debate. What makes a car a classic?

Spend an afternoon talking to a group of car enthusiasts, and you’ll soon realise that the term ‘classic car’ means something different to each of them. A quick Google search will bring up such a wide spectrum of opinions it can seem that no one really has the answer. Is it really that difficult to determine what makes a car a classic?

Why does it matter?

It’s not just the warm and fuzzy feeling you get knowing that your pride and joy is defined as a classic car (as great as that is!), there are actually a number of other benefits to owning a car that is a classic.

1. Vehicle Tax Exemption

Currently vehicles made before the 1st January 1976 are exempt from vehicle tax, which means a nice saving for you if your car was produced for ’76. That could mean that the government class all vehicles manufactured before ’76 are defined as classic cars? So the Audi Quattro, DeLorean and BMW M3 are out – surely not?

2. MoT Exemption

A topic of great contention, MoT exemption is rarely out of the classic car press. Whether it’s the threat of scrapping the MoT for cars of a certain age or introducing a rolling 40 year exemption – it’s a hot topic amongst the classic car community. Currently the rules state vehicles are exempt from having to have an MoT if they were made before 1960 and haven’t had any substantial changes made. We’ve already got a conflicting message from the government there then.

For tax exemption your vehicle needs to be made prior to 1976, but for the MoT exemption it’s pre 1960. Although those points aren’t technically about defining a classic car, it is a case of the government classifying your vehicle based on it’s age.

Read more about the MoT Exemption debate here.

3. Specialist Car Insurance

If we had a penny for every time we’re asked ‘how old does a car have to be, to be a classic?’…well let’s just say we’d have a lot of pennies! With the myriad of opinions out there, it’s no wonder there is so much confusion! Opinion varies from insurer to insurer, some stick with the hard and fast rule of 25 years and older. Here at Heritage we’re a little more flexible, and tend to look at you and the vehicle on an individual basis.

As a general rule for, the car should have some historical provenance. What that means to you and your vehicle can obviously vary. The message is really that it doesn’t just come down to age. It’s about a combination of provenance and how you use the vehicle (mileage etc). To put that in context, we can insure the 2016 Fiat 124 on a classic policy whereas the 1992 Nissan Micra would probably struggle to be insured on a classic policy.

If your vehicle is defined as a classic by insurers then you’ll likely save a decent amount of money on your premium, benefit from limited mileage and club member discounts. As a Heritage Car Insurance customer you’ll also get free agreed value, the option to retain salvage and cover for modifications. All of which help you protect and enjoy your classic a little bit more than you would with a standard every day vehicle policy. Find out more about the benefits of classic car insurance here.

4. Value

Your car being defined as a classic vehicle will most likely have a positive affect on it’s value, rather than being described as ‘an old car’. With that in mind it’s important to keep an eye on market trends so as to ensure you agreed value with your insurer is up to date.

Read more about classic car values here.

So, what makes a car a classic?

Really, it’s a combination of things ranging from age, provenance and popular opinion. It also depends who you look to for the answer, if deep down you feel that your car is worthy of being a classic but it’s not eligible for an MoT exemption yet – does it matter? Yes you’ll have to meet the standard guidelines of the MoT, and you might not save on the cost of the test but will it really change how you feel about that vehicle? We don’t think so.

If you are looking to specifically buy a car that’s definitely classic, look at car clubs for that marque or model. Think about the age and it’s provenance, it’ll ensure you get the benefits such as tax exemption, MoT exemption and definitely qualify for classic car insurance. However, if you’re looking to buy the car of your dreams, whether or not it’s a classic or not – go for it! You’ll end up with a grin on your face either way!

So, the answer to what makes a car a classic? Opinion. There is no hard and fast rule. If you’re dealing with the government it’s based on a specific year of manufacture. For insurance purposes it varies. Some insurers are solely concerned by age, whilst we here at Heritage we like to take into account your use of the vehicle and it’s provenance offering a tailored policy to suit your needs.

If you speaking to enthusiasts and owners, it’s all down to personal opinion.