When Is a Car Considered a Classic?

Determining whether or not a car is considered a classic can be fairly easy since, in most cases, the only criterion is age. However, some states,  car clubs, insurance companies, or countries may introduce additional conditions to classify a car as a classic and allow you to have antique plates and classic car insurance.

So, when is a car considered a classic? A car is considered a classic if it’s at least 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, or 45 years old, depending on the state or country. Additionally, the car must have historical significance, be in original condition or restored to original specifications, and only be used for shows and educational purposes; however, these additional preconditions are only present in certain states.

when does a car become a classic for tax

When Is a Car Considered a Classic

When a car is considered a classic largely depends on who you ask. For example, in the UK, a car has to be at least 40 years of age without any significant modifications done to it in the last 30 years. In France, the age of classic cars is 30 without any technical modifications.

In Germany, a classic car has to be at least 30 years old, in its original and well-preserved condition or restored without any modifications, and that it has enough historical significance to be considered a “motor vehicle cultural asset.”

Furthermore, different car clubs all have their own classic car age requirements, including age. For example, according to the Antique Automobile Club of America, a classic car must be at least 25 years old regardless of what your state constitutes as a classic car. The same goes for the Classic Car Club of America; only in this case, a classic car includes only the cars made between 1915 and 1948.

Moreover, State Farm Insurance regards any vehicle that’s over ten years old with historical significance as a classic car, while those over 25 years old are classified as antique vehicles. So,  in the end, there is no universally accepted classic car definition. Still, we can say that, on average, any car that’s mildly interesting, in good condition, and over 25 years old is a classic.

When Is a Car Considered a Classic in Different US States?

When trying to classify a car as a classic, the most important authority is the state you are living in. Without the state’s approval, you can’t get classic/antique plates, and in most cases, you won’t be able to insure it as such. Here, you will find the answer to the question is a 20-year-old car a classic?

So, here is what each US state regards as a classic car in no particular order. Also, you will notice that in some states, the age limit is almost none existent, while in others, a car has to be almost 75 years old,  further blurring the line between an outdated car and a classic.

  • California – 25 and “Special Interest Vehicle Classification”
  • Texas – 25
  • Pennsylvania – 15 and “Maintained or Restored to Manufacturer’s Specification”
  • New York – 25
  • Florida – 30 and “Maintained or Restored to Manufacturer’s Specification”
  • Ohio – 25
  • Virginia – 25
  • Washington – 30
  • Montana – 10 and “Historically Significant”
  • North Carolina – 20 and “Maintained or Restored to Manufacturer’s Specification”
  • Arizona – 25
  • New Mexico – 30
  • North Dakota – 40
  • South Dakota – 30
  • Massachusetts – 25
  • Georgia – 25 and “Maintained or Restored to Manufacturer’s Specification”
  • New Jersey – 25 and “Used Only for Exhibition and Educational Purposes”
  • Colorado – 1975 or Older
  • Michigan – 26
  • Illinois – 25
  • Minnesota – Cars Made Between 1925 and 1948
  • Utah – 30
  • Alabama – 30
  • Maryland – 20
  • Oregon – “More than half the number of years between 1900 and the current year.”
  • Louisiana – 25
  • Connecticut – 20 and “Maintained or Restored to Manufacture Specificationtion”
  • Indiana – 25
  • Wisconsin – 20 and “Maintained or Restored to Manufacturer Specification”
  • South Carolina – 25
  • Kentucky – 25
  • Wyoming – 40
  • Maine – 25
  • Vermont – 25
  • Oklahoma – 25
  • Mississippi – 25
  • Delaware – 25
  • Nevada – 25
  • Nebraska – 30
  • Iowa – 20
  • Rhode Island – 25
  • Arkansas – 45
  • Idaho – 30
  • Kansas – 35 and “Maintained or Restored to Manufacturer Specification”
  • New Hampshire – 25
  • West Virginia – 25
  • Alaska – 30 and “only used as a historical exhibition object”
  • Hawaii – Cars made before the year 1968

is a 25 year old car a classic

How Do I Know if My Car Is a Classic Vintage or Antique?

When it comes to vintage vs. antique vs. classic, the terms are not differentiated by states, almost all car clubs, and almost all insurance companies and countries. The terms vintage, antique, and classic are interchangeable unless you ask the American Collectors Community or the State Farm Insurance company.

According to the American Collectors Community, a vintage car is made between 1919 and 1930, an antique car is made between 1931 and 1975, and a classic car is any car that’s more than 20 years old.

Furthermore, according to State Farm Insurance, a classic car is any car that’s 10 to 24 years old, while older cars are considered antique. On the other hand, according to the Classic Car Club of America, a classic car is a car made between 1915 and 1948, while years outside of that scope are not recognized or labeled.

Ultimately, there is no need to differentiate these terms unless you are dealing with one of the above-mentioned organizations or insurance companies. As a matter of fact, the terms themselves have an almost identical definition, at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

When Does a Car Become a Classic for Insurance?

To insure a car as a classic, you don’t necessarily have to have antique/collector plates. In other words, your car doesn’t have to be a classic officially or at all in the state’s eyes. But the answer to the question “When does a car become a classic for insurance” depends on every classic car insurance company individually.

For example, Hagerty requires the car to be at least 25 years old, that every member of the household has a daily driver, that the insured car is stored in a locked garage, plus that the driver doesn’t have any serious infractions to his name.

Furthermore, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a classic car has to be at least 25 to 30 years old. Geico insurance, for example, requires the car to be at least 25 years old, that it’s stored in a locked garage, and that it’s only used for car exhibitions, car club activities, and occasional leisure.

On the other hand, Grundy Insurance only requires the car to be at least 25 years old, while State Farm Insurance considers only cars that are between 10 and 24 years to be classics,  while cars older than 24 years are classified as antique.

So, ultimately, when a car becomes, a classic for insurance is up to each individual insurance company. That’s why you will have to do your own research if you don’t plan on using any of the above-mentioned insurance companies.


Q: What are the criteria for a classic car?

The main criterion for a classic car is the age which is determined by the state, country, car club, or insurance company, depending on what you are aiming for. However, some organizations or states require that the car has historical significance or that it’s in original or restored condition.

Q: What age does a classic car become exempt?

A car needs to be at least 40 years old to be exempt from tax, but that’s only in the UK. In the US, however, there are no such laws for classic cars, but there are for foreign ministries and disabled driver vehicles. But on a positive note, all cars in the US made before 1975 are exempt from smog inspections.

Q: Are classic cars still tax-exempt?

Yes, classic cars are still tax-exempt, but only in the UK and if they are more than 40 years old. In the US, you still have to pay taxes on all vehicles unless you work in a foreign ministry.

Q: Do classic cars attract inheritance tax?

Yes, classic cars in the US do attract inheritance tax and are fairly appraised after the descendant’s death. In the UK, on the other hand, a classic car may or may not attract a 40% inheritance tax, depending on various circumstances.

Q: Are 90s cars considered classic?

Yes, early 90s cars are considered classic in almost all states and by almost all car clubs, insurance companies, and countries. However, late models may not be considered classic since, in some states, the car has to be at least 30 to 45 years old.

Q: Is every old car considered a classic?

No, not every old car is considered a classic, at least not by all states. According to the laws of certain states, a car can only be labeled as a classic if it crosses a certain age marker, has historical significance, is in good and original condition, or is restored to original specifications.

Q: Is classic car insurance cheap?

Yes, classic car insurance is usually significantly cheaper than standard insurance unless the classic car costs several hundred thousand dollars or more. However, you are also required to store the car in a locked garage, to have a separate daily driver, and you may be limited in how many miles you can do annually.

Final Words

In the end, when a car is considered a classic depends on who you ask, but the average age is around 25 to 30 years. When it comes to laws in different states, the age for a classic car can be anywhere between 10 and 45 years.

For classic car clubs and insurance companies, that age is typically set at 10 to 30 years old, depending on the company policy. Likewise, when it comes to car clubs, the age of a classic car is anywhere between 15 and 30 years.

Ibro Cehic

Ever since I was bitten by the automotive bug during early childhood I was obsessed with cars. My first driving experience came when I was ten and I already started tinkering with cars and motorcycles at thirteen. So, right from the beginning, I knew my life would revolve around cars, even if I wasn’t sure how that would happen. And today, thanks to my second passion, writing, I get to share my love for automobiles with other enthusiasts through my articles.

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