Antique or Classic? That’s a Good Question.
July 8, 2011 11:30 am ET
Maybe it’s happened before. You’re sitting at a stoplight, when that polo white sneaks into your side mirror. You look out the window. A 1953 Chevrolet Corvette. Handmade. Only 300 in existence. The original Corvette. Now that’s a classic.
Even without knowing the exact make, model, and year it’s impossible to deny that this car has that classic quality. But wait, is it really a classic? It’s older, impossibly rare, and in remarkable condition. What makes a car a timeless classic, and what qualifies an auto as a priceless antique?
We reached out to the Antique Automobile Club of America to help shed some light on this car conundrum, and as it turns out, guidelines exist to distinguish the vintage. Cars qualify as classics if they are between 20 to 45 years of age since manufacturing and are currently fully operable. Antique autos must be more than 45 years of age, and also fully operable to be considered “antique.” Quality of design, engineering standards, low production count, and lot price are also factored in before a car can be awarded either distinction.
Conversely, the Classic Car Club of America defines true classics as motor cars built between 1925 and 1948, characterized by “fine design, high engineering standards, and superior workmanship,” meanwhile antique cars are “any automobile over 25 years old.”
One might immediately classify the 1927 LaSalle as an “antique,” with its sleek, low body profile that symbolizes old Hollywood. But what about the iconic 1963 Corvette Stingray Coupe? The sporty coupe build, split rear window, and all-American cherry red. Classic is the first word to come to mind. It doesn’t feel ancient. Yet, by one definition, the old LaSalle is in fact a classic, whereas the relatively newer Stingray Coupe is a run-of-the-mill antique? One might argue that the term “classic car” has stronger associations with what we deem as American and recognizable (say, the 1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville), and possesses that perennial cool factor. There’s a sense of timelessness to a classic, whereas an antique should be defined by time.
As we look forward to the next generation of automobiles, we have to wonder—what will be the new classic: the low-emission Chevy Volt or the classy Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, or perhaps another model? What do you think will continue the heritage of American craftsmanship, prestige, and performance? What model do you expect to see in your rear-view mirror in the decades to come?
Photo credit: Flickr – mashleymorgan