What Makes A Car Classic?

It is an age old question that many car owners and enthusiasts debate over - when can you consider a car to be classic? Many people these days will refer to certain cars as an ‘instant classic’ which confuses matters even further. But you can get a good idea of what defines a classic car by considering a number of principles. You can look at classic car insurance and also the taxation of classic vehicles to get a better idea of when your car can be considered a classic.

Classic Car Insurance

To qualify for classic car insurance, your car needs to be at least 15 years old with a value of £15,000 or more. The value here is important as it indicates that the car is a collector’s item and in some way a classic. For example, there are many cars that are older than 15 years but were not built to a high standard and don’t hold the same value. If your car meets these criteria then it classifies as a classic car and you could stand to save on your insurance because of it.

Classic Car Tax

Another qualifier for labelling classic cars is whether or not you have to pay tax on your vehicle. Historic or classic vehicles are exempt from paying vehicle tax if they were built or first registered before 8 January 1977. This is a definite indicator that your vehicle is a classic car as it is a set definition set out by the government. But this doesn’t satisfy everyone’s definition of a classic vehicle as this leaves a large number of cars out that many consider to be classics.

Classic, Antique or Vintage?

There is also another argument to state that there are different types of tags for cars and that ‘classic’ is just one of these definitions. The classic car label is usually applied to vehicles that are over 15 years old and can be considered to have some value attached to them. Antique cars are considered to be over 45 years old and, as such, are a collector’s item with a high value. Any car that was built between 1919 and 1930 can be considered in the vintage bracket of cars.

Is Age Important?

The age of a car is one of the defining features when it comes to deciding what can be labelled as a classic car. But this is not the only factor in determining what makes a classic car as there aren’t many people that would consider a 2001 Vauxhall Corsa a classic car. This is why the value of the car is also important but this doesn’t always tell the full picture either. Some classic cars can vary drastically in price if they are not kept in good condition but that shouldn’t mean they’re not a classic car. There are also plenty of cars that could be considered cult classics but might not fit the other criteria.

Essentially, there is no complete definition as to what defines a classic car and many people will have different ideas about what makes a classic. A good rule of thumb in general though is cars that still hold a high value after 15 years. Many cars depreciate in value over time, but when a car starts to increase in value again, there is definitely some interest in it and you could consider it a classic car.


The team at E-Type UK are always ready to be your guiding hand through the world of classic cars, and E-Type ownership in particular. If you’d like to speak to a member of our team about finding your first classic car, adding another to your garage or you can simply check out our E-Type's for sale here, please do get in touch below.

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