What’s the Difference Between Classic and Vintage Cars?

One of the most nostalgic American leisure interests is the classic car arena. Checking out car events, attending car shows, cruising around famous spots in your classic gem, bonding over shared restoring stories, and chatting about your car’s attributes make this a wildly popular activity. Classic and vintage car sales have been on the rise as more people become interested in this exhilarating American pastime. 

Whether you’re new to the world of specialty cars or an old pro collector, some questions might come up about how older cars are classified. What’s the difference between a vintage car and a muscle car? What is an antique car and what is a classic car? While most people simply use the term “classic” to describe any cool, older car, there is a ton of confusion about what is what. In answer to those questions, The Vault breaks down some of the more widely accepted categorizations of cars, specifically the distinction between classic and vintage cars. 

Car Classifications

classic car vs vintage

So you’re ready to start on this new endeavor, but what do you buy? When browsing classic and vintage car sales, car category queries often arise. After all, if you buy a specialty car, you want to be able to define whether you have a classic car versus vintage car, right? 

The first thing you need to know is that older car categorizations may differ based upon who is providing the definition. For example, insurance agencies may utilize their own definitions when determining insurance rates, state DMVs have various classifications, classic car clubs may define car-eras differently, and that makes it confusing! 

Generally speaking, classic cars are usually considered vehicles over 20 years old, while antique cars are over 45 years old, and vintage cars are built between 1919 and 1930.

Vintage Cars

Not to be confused with modern cars that look vintage, actual vintage cars were manufactured between the years of 1919 and 1930. Again, due to differing classifications, some end the vintage car era in 1925. A major difference with vintage cars is that if modifications were made or the car does not have its original factory settings, it is still considered vintage. 

Classic Cars 

If you know cars, you know the joy it brings to restore that old jalopy to its former glory, which is why car enthusiasts are often searching for restorable classic cars for sale. Yet if you’re new to this scene, you’ll want to know if what you’re getting is actually a classic car. 

To be considered a classic, a car must be at least 20 years old, but not more than 40 years old. Some places also add that the vehicle is not a classic if it was built prior to 1925. True classics should not have been altered or changed from its original design, and all repairs and maintenance should have kept true to original factory form.

Classic and Vintage Cars for Sale

what is a vintage car

If you’re looking for an old car for sale, you’ll find a ton of options, such as Craigslist classic cars for sale, Autotrader classic cars for sale, and more. And what you’ll end up with may be just that: an old car, not a classic, a vintage, exotic, muscle, or anything worth collecting. 

This is an area where it’s vital to purchase or sell through a reputable and experienced classic car dealer. This ensures you make the most of your purchase and get exactly what you were promised. Classic and vintage car dealers will only offer quality vehicles that are guaranteed to meet your unique collecting needs. For the absolute best specialty car dealer around, visit us at The Vault. Our vehicles are always vetted and we offer the best buying, selling, and collecting experience available worldwide. Check us out today!

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Over the past several years, The Vault has become the South’s Premier Classic Car Dealer. Since 2018 we have delivered more than 1,000 cars to happy customers. Our 100,000 sq.ft. showroom and restoration shop holds more than 50 of the highest quality classics . The Vault is dedicated to delivering your dream to your garage and bringing you the full value of your classic when it’s time to sell.