You see a cool old car cruising down the road, and you say to your buddy, “look at that vintage car.” Your buddy, though, is a car guy, and so he tells you, “nope, that there is an antique.” While you don’t think your buddy needed to be quite so pedantic, he makes you wonder: what is the difference between antique, classic, and vintage cars, anyway?
Let us break it down for you:
This classification is usually established by a state law, and these are the cars that get those special “historic” license plates. An antique classification usually requires a car to be at least 45 years or older and to have been maintained to be true to its original manufacturing.
Classic cars are similar to antique cars, though they are generally between 20 and 40 years old. Like antiques, they must be maintained to stay true to the vehicle’s original manufacturing.
Vintage cars are also very much like antique cars. Almost all cars that have been classified as vintage were manufactured between the years of 1919 and 1930, though some raters cap it at 1925. Vintage classifications are also far less strict than antique and classic classifications in terms of maintenance and modification; vintage cars can undergo a little more razzling and dazzling and still be called vintage.