Did you know that using the term "classic" to describe a 1914 Model T could cause you to be sharply corrected by classic car owners? In the worst-case scenario, you might be shunned by the entire community. Likewise, make the mistake of calling a 1967 Cadillac de Ville an "antique," and you're definitely not going to be invited to take those wheels out for a spin.
For the uninitiated, the rivalry between antique automobile, classic car, vintage vehicle, old auto and modified automobile owners is usually a mystery. But if you're serious about joining the ranks of any group of car enthusiasts, you've got to get your terminology straight or you might wind up traveling the road alone. So to become a car connoisseur, learn the following fine distinctions in automotive vocabulary. When you've mastered them, you'll be ready to decide what wheel you're ready to hop behind!
Classic cars vs. antique automobile: What's older: a classic car or an antique automobile? The truth is, if you don't know the difference between the two, you could wind up dressed as Captain Kirk at a Star Wars convention! And that's not the kind of attention you want in any Galaxy, even the 1968 Ford type! So to set the record straight, the Classic Car Club of America states "classic" may only be used for vehicles made between 1925 and 1948. Moreover, those vehicles have to be completely restored and fully functioning. Interestingly, cars may be called "antiques" when they're more than 25 years old, fully restored and in good working order. However, in some states, 20 years classifies a vehicle as antique. So if you can't wait for your 1994 Ferrari 348 to graduate in your own state, just take it on a road trip to a state with more lenient classifications.
- Vintage vehicles and old cars: Vintage vehicles are vehicles that were manufactured between 1919 and 1930, but unlike classic and antique cars, they're allowed to have modifications. Old cars, on the other hand, are cars that don't fit into the classic, antique and vintage classifications due to age or modifications. They're, well. . . just old! That doesn't mean you can't be proud of your 1919 Ford Model T Runabout GMR995 with invisible but oh so convenient modernizations, but don't mislabel it or you might ruffle some feathers.
- Modified automobiles vs. authentic vehicles: Are you loving that brand new surround sound system you so cleverly installed in your 1963 Chevy Corvette? Be warned: you might want to turn down the volume when you drive up to the next classic car meet. Because thanks to your new tunes, your antique auto no longer fits the bill. It's now a modified vehicle, so watch out for purists who'll take the fact that you dared adapt this gem of Americana very, very personally.
Truth be told, though a car's classification can make a difference for taxes and insurance purposes, it really shouldn't get in the way of you having fun with like-minded car enthusiasts. So get ready for a fun ride: the road's wide open!