Cars can be a fun and functional interest to explore no matter who you are. Whether you like to work on your cars yourself or you have more gasoline in your veins than oil — in that you love the thrill of driving, there’s a whole world of cool cars out there that you can dive into. From the feeling of classic American muscle to the fun of vintage import cars, there is a ride to match every style and sensibility. Whether you already have a classic car or you’re looking into the idea of getting one, there’s a lot to know about the world of classic rides.
Whether you’re coming at it as a complete newbie or you’re a well-versed veteran in the automotive culture, there are plenty of details to learn about classic, vintage and antique cars that can help you better care for your ride or select the ride that’s perfect for you. From the gorgeous sleek designs to the gritty hours you spend under the hood, there’s so much to appreciate and admire about classic cars. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.
1. Classic, Vintage and Antique
While it can certainly be tempting to classify all old cars as classic, there are a few differentiations that need to be made. When it comes to the subsets, you have classic, vintage and antique. One of the primary methods of classification between these subsets is the age, although the specifics often vary between sources. While vintage cars are the oldest of the bunch — usually referring to a car made before 1930 — an antique car is usually any car more than 45 years old and related to automotive golden eras such as the 60’s and 70’s.
Classics, on the other hand, are usually defined as anything between 20 and 40 years old. While this incorporates some of the classics people have come to associate with the classic status, it also makes room for a host of other cars that have been experiencing a resurgence of intrigue. Yes, your 1995 Honda Civic could be a classic car.
2. What Makes a Classic Car?
If you’re looking to hone in on the classic label — which many people are, as it’s expanded in recent years to incorporate cars from the 80’s and 90’s — it’s important to know what a classic is exactly, and what that means to you. While the market has noticed a shift in younger cars and younger buyers, not every car from the neo-classic era is considered a classic. Really, it’s more about how you think of your car, and how you take care of it. As much as the older generation might gawk, cars with engine mods and lowered suspensions, whose owners take good care of them, are much more likely to be regarded as classics than stock cars that have been left to rot, even of the same make and model.
Like mentioned above, many car enthusiasts choose to modify their cars by hiring ECM programming services in order to make their vehicle smart and allows your engine to function with optimum power and efficiency. This is due in part to the variations in the cars themselves. Especially imported cars from the 80’s and 90’s drive and look great lowered. However, many people choose to keep their cars stock for financial and stylistic reasons. Really, it’s up to you what you choose to do with your car.
4. Finding a Mechanic
Many people will tell you to find a mechanic you trust, and even if you’re accustomed to working on your car yourself, it’s great to know someone if you need help in a pinch. Ask around for recommendations, not just from people you know, but from friends who drive similar cars and have a similar goal to you in terms of what you want out of it. Some may even advise finding a mechanic before you invest in a classic car at all.
5. To Daily, or Not to Daily?
That is the question. While some people use their classic as their everyday mode of transport — especially those with “new classics” from the 90’s — others view their classics as hobby cars, and prefer to have a standard daily driver that blends in with the modern crowd on the road. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but it can be helpful to consider factors such as your daily commute, the car’s reliability and whether you want to risk the wear and tear of daily use on an older vehicle.
When it comes to insuring your ride, there’s a common misconception that classic cars are always expensive to insure. While older and more vintage classics can definitely be expensive, some of the newer classics actually sit at the other end of the spectrum — they’re old enough that insurance companies don’t inherently value them, and insurance rests on the cheaper side. Really, it depends on your specific car.
What to Know About Classic Cars
Classic can mean something a little different to everybody. As long as you’re happy with your car and excited to drive it whenever you can, that’s the most important thing. Whether you drive a classic from the 50’s or a relic of your youth from the 80’s, car culture is about following your heart.