Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Antique car

An antique car is generally defined as a car over 25 years of age, this being the definition used by the Antique Automobile Club of America and many other organisations worldwide.

The term classic car is often used synonymously with antique car, but the formal definition of that term has it as applying only to certain specific high-quality vehicles from the pre-World War II era.

25 years is about double the design life of modern cars and an even greater increment on those cars now 25 years old; therefore, a car that's reached 25 is a rare survivor, and probably not economic to maintain as regular transportation.

Owning, restoring and collecting antique cars is a popular hobby worldwide.

Considered as investments

Some consider such collecting to be a form of investment. Buying a particular antique car is then done primarily in view of profit in a future sale and not of enjoying a drive or taking pleasure in restoration work. As with art collecting, antique car collecting is another form of gambling. The market for antique cars fluctuates wildly over the years. There have been periods, like the 1980s, which have seen strong and continued increase in price, but other periods (e.g. the early 1990s) which saw precipitous declines.

Experts in antique cars such as Jay Leno give the same advice as serious Art dealers and professionals in the antiques trade: Collect what you can enjoy above all because the future monetary value of any craft or Art object is completely unpredictable.


As with all collectible antiques, current value is everything to do with current supply vs. demand, and very little else; certainly little to do with the car's price when new or any objective standard. Thus, rare cars that are highly desired are highly expensive, while vehicles that are not fashionable to collect can be very cheap. Condition, of course, influences value. At the present time, the variation in purchase price between a poor condition and good condition vehicle is generally much less than the cost of restoring a poor condition car; thus it is cheaper in the long run to buy the better vehicle.

Realising much long-term profit in owning an antique car is mostly about attempting to anticipate future changes in taste, which is highly speculative. Most cars go through a period of being considered merely old and undesirable before becoming valuable, and a car bought then might drastically increase in value. However, a car is a large object that is expensive to store and must be maintained, which cuts into such profits.

See also