A layman will be forgiven for assuming that vintage and classic cars are the same, but that assumption would reveal you as a novice somewhere like the Vintage Car Rally. If you’re thinking of going ‘retro’ with your next vehicle it’s important to get clued up on which is which.
It turns out that nailing down the answer can be easier said than done and the debate amongst real enthusiasts and fanatics can get pretty heated. Broadly speaking, in Britain any car that was made over 15 years ago could fall into one of three categories. We’ll look at them in chronological order:
A car will qualify and be classified as vintage if it was built before 1930. Cars in this category include the Rolls-Royce Wraith and Triumph Roadster.
The second category covers World War 2 vehicles, also known as post-vintage thoroughbreds. American Jeeps from this era later inspired one of the most well known cars on the roads today, the Land Rover.
Classic cars make up the third category. This classification is slightly muddier as it spans cars made in the 1940s right through to the 1980s. As such this could include anything from a Austin A40 to a Peugeot 205GTi.
If you are thinking of investing in an old car spend some time researching your car before you buy it. Once you’ve found a model you like go down and talk to the owner and check it from bumper to bumper.
Rust is the retro car owner’s biggest concern. Engines can be rebuilt but if the bodywork has been damaged by rust it is very difficult to replace. You may even have to arrange to have a bespoke one built.
Some vintage cars don’t have the safety features offered by most modern motors. For example many are exempt from having seatbelts or even window washers. Investigate what safety features your preferred make and model would normally have and whether you might be able to install them if not. Also consider who your passengers will be, and whether they will object to forgoing all the ‘mod cons’. Plus it’s important to consider how many people will regularly be travelling with you, as many older cars can only carry a limited number safely.
Before purchasing you may want to consider that some older classic car models are exempt from road tax. If your car was built (as opposed to registered) before 1st January 1973 then it will be classed as Historic by the DVLA and as such will qualify for zero rated road tax. That said you will still need to display a tax disc to demonstrate that when you applied for the disc you had current insurance and MOT.
Whether you’ve got a vintage or classic vehicle, car insurance is essential. For some vehicles you may need to go to a specialist insurer, who will understand the specifics of your car and differences between how a classic car driver will drive compared to an owner of a modern car. Remember to tell the insurance company how often you use the car and where it is kept. It’s important to remember that some insurers will assume that a classic car will be kept in a garage and driven a minimal number of miles per year.
For many enthusiasts the pleasure of owning an older car is simply getting it on the road and keeping it in mint condition. So remember buying a classic or vintage car is just the beginning of the journey.