Auto Transport: What’s the Difference between Antique, Classic, and Vintage Cars?

Auto transport brokers say they’ll ship your classic car—and that generally means they ship all types of collector vehicles. Fortunately, they don’t make distinctions. However, if you’ve decided to enter the world of cars from a different era, you’ll want to know whether your car classifies as an antique, a classic, or a vintage car. Among other things, the classification will affect what type of car shows you can enter it into and what type of insurance you’ll get.

Antique Cars

Every state determines its own definition of historic cars that qualify for antique vehicle registration. For instance, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles defines an antique car this way: “The frame, body and motor are at least 25 years old, and the vehicle is a collector’s item that will be used solely for exhibition, club activities, parades, and other functions of public interest…” Other states may have differing age requirements. The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), which is the ultimate authority on antique cars, defines an antique car as any car that is 25 years or older. Besides cars, the antique classification can also include light trucks, motorcycles, and farm tractors.

Classic, and Vintage Cars

Classic Cars

Texas also defines a classic car as a car that is at least 25 years old. Other than that, it only specifies that it must have a manufacturer rated carrying capacity of 10,000 pounds or less. The distinction between antique cars and classic cars is a bit vague, but states, such as Texas, often have separate registration requirements for them. In Texas, a classic car needs to be inspected annually, but an antique car does not. The Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) defines classic cars as “fine or unusual motor cars which were built between and including the years 1925 to 1948…” Generally, a classic car is one that is running and has a more high-end quality (displaying the ultimate in engineering, style, and design from its era). Classic cars include foreign and American sports cars, convertibles, muscle cars, and station wagons.

Classic, and Vintage Cars

Vintage Cars

As with antique and classic car, there will be cars that are both antique and vintage. Vintage cars are generally defined as those cars that are from the era of 1919 to 1930. Vintage cars may or may not be running. (This is where auto transport service is definitely necessary.) A vintage car is different than an antique or classic car in that it is allowed to have modifications.

Classic, and Vintage Cars

The main organizations that care about the classification of an old car are state vehicle registration departments, insurance companies, car clubs, and car shows. Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter. Car enthusiasts love old cars and auto transport companies will ship any type of car.