Date Published: 2024/02/19

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What Is the Difference Between Classic, Vintage, and Antique?

A collection of stunning vintage, collector, and classic cars are proudly on display under the summer sun. The gorgeous orange, blue, and green cars are displayed with the hood up or down.

Whether you are buying car insurance or looking to purchase your next vehicle, you may be wondering what these distinctions mean. What is the difference between classic vintage and antique? Does it matter when it comes to investing in insurance?

Choosing the right designation for your vehicle can matter, especially in terms of protecting its value. While a car that may be 10 years old seems “old” and may even have cheap car insurance available for it, older cars have far more value, especially as they reach 50 or more years of age.

What Do These Designations Really Mean?

There are some differences in how each of these designations is applied depending on what your goal is. For example, some collectors may call a car an antique even if it doesn’t technically reach the required age.

What is a vintage car?

How old must a car be to be considered a vintage car? Typically, a vintage car refers to any vehicle that was produced during the early years of automotive production from 1919 through 1930. These cars are also limitedly modified, which means that if an old vehicle from the 1920s was transformed in any significant way – including replacing parts with any part that isn’t original to it – it doesn’t technically qualify as a vintage car. Brands here may include the Ford Model T, Cadillac V-16, and the Aston Martin Grand Prix.

Some car clubs have far more lenient rules. They will allow vehicles that are at least 25 years old to be considered vintage. Think about those James Bond cars from the movies.

What is a classic car?

A classic car is any vehicle over 20 years old. These are readily available and tend to be used for day-to-day driving as well as project cars. Some are modified restoration projects, and others are simply not. You’ll notice that many sports and muscle cars are considered classic cars, especially if they were on the road in the 1970s and 1980s.

Some models to consider here include the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

What is an antique car?

Antique cars are those that are at least 45 years of age or older. These vehicles are not readily used for day-to-day driving but rather are vehicles that are considered higher-end and collector items. They can still operate on roadways, but they are less likely to be used as such by their owners.

These cars can also be a bit more modified than vintage cars, which is why many of them are restored or project vehicles. You’ll find many first-generation manufacturers like Dodge and Chevrolet fall into this category.

How Does Vehicle Age Designation Like This Matter?

There are some reasons why you’ll want to better understand the age of your vehicle.

Insurance factors

First, consider insurance. The older a car is, the more valuable it becomes because it’s harder to find. That can increase the amount of coverage you may want to put on the car, even if you’re just keeping it in the garage. At the same time, insurance is also more expensive for older cars because finding parts for them is more challenging.


While price is a big factor when buying or insuring a car, there is a lot of range based on the designation. A car from the 1920s is definitely going to be much more expensive to buy, but a suped-up muscle car from the 1980s may be very valuable as well. Condition and overall modifications play a role in what people are willing to pay for a vehicle like this.

How you drive it

If you have a Model T in the garage, even if it’s in great working condition, you may not want to take it out in the winter for a quick trip for dinner. Older cars are often protected and driven less, which may mean reducing the amount of coverage you have on them. On the other hand, you may have set up your project car to be an off-road adventure, and therefore, you’re engaging in more intense and risky activities with it. That’s going to warrant more coverage for it.

Finding the Best Policy for Your Needs

If you’re looking for quality collector car auto insurance, Orbit has the answer for you. If you’re interested in getting a quote, go to our online quote form or call an Orbit insurance broker at 877-976-7248.

If you’re already a customer and have some questions about your policy, call Orbit Insurance Services at 877-976-7248.