Tag Archives: vintage cars

Vintage Cars, Investing, & Collecting

A vintage car is, in the most general sense, an old automobile, and in the narrower senses of car enthusiasts and collectors, it is a car from the period of 1919 to 1930. Such enthusiasts have categorization schemes for ages of cars that enforce distinctions between antique cars, vintage cars, classic cars, and so on.

The classification criteria vary, but consensus within any country is often maintained by major car clubs. In today’s terms, a vintage car is defined the same as a classic.

Vintage Bentley Car
1926 Vintage Bentley

The vintage era in the automotive world was a time of transition. The car started off in 1919 as still something of a rarity, and ended up, in 1930, well on the way towards ubiquity. In fact, automobile production at the end of this period was not matched again until the 1950s. In the intervening years, most industrialized states built nationwide road systems with the result that, towards the end of the period, the ability to negotiate unpaved roads was no longer a prime consideration of automotive design.

Cars became much more practical, convenient and comfortable during this period. Car heating was introduced, as was the in-car radio. Four-wheel braking from a common foot pedal was introduced, as was the use of hydraulically actuated brakes.Power steering was also an innovation of this era. Towards the end of the vintage era, the system of octane rating of fuel was introduced, allowing comparison between fuels. In 1923 the gasoline additive Ethyl made its debut at the Indy 500 that resulted in a boost in octane from the 50’s to the 80’s In the United States drive-in restaurants were introduced as well as suburban shopping centers and motels.

Alfred P. Sloan and Harley Earl of General Motors, and Walter P. Chrysler capitalized on advertising the automobile’s role in the life of the consumer for more than just the utilitarian value compared with the horse. The stock market crash of 1929 started the layoff of automotive workers and many new companies went bankrupt but over two million cars were still produced in 1929 and 1930. Horatio Earle, known as the “Father of good roads” had proposed the government create an Interstate highway system in 1902 and in 1909 built the World’s first mile of concrete road on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

The depression of 1920-1921

The end of World War I brought about the “Depression of 1920-21” with a better than 20 percent inflation rate, a 7 percent Fed discount loan rate, and an 11.7 percent unemployment rate, and many companies went bankrupt and the automotive industry was decimated.

The Big Three

From 1919 to 1929, many dramatic changes took place. General Motors went into a financial crisis that lasted until after Alfred Sloan became president in 1923. Hudson produced the Essex in 1919 that, by 1925, had propelled the company to third in total sales behind Ford and Chevrolet. Ford was in the process of building a new plant, buying back stock, and began an 18-month process of tooling-up to replace the Model T with the Model A in 1927. In 1921 Maxwell failed and Walter P. Chrysler, formerly of General Motors, was brought in to reorganize it and, in 1925, the Chrysler Corporation was formed. With Ford out for a period, Chrysler was able to produce and market the low-priced Plymouth in 1928, and bought out the Dodge Brothers, also in 1928, resulting in “The Big Three” more recently known as the “Detroit Three”. During this time Britain had six major manufacturers instead of three: Morris, Austin, Standard, Rootes, Ford of Britain, and Vauxhall. There were other automakers that made it past the 1920-1921 depression only to fail during the Great Depression. Among smaller automobile manufacturers was Franklin that produced high-quality luxury cars during the 1919 to 1930 vintage era.

Safety issues

Antique automobiles and early to middle era classic cars do not have the safety features that are standard on modern cars. The most rudimentary of safety features, front wheel brakes and hydraulic brakes, began appearing on cars in the 1920s and 1930s respectively. The seat belt, appeared in the sixties and became mandated by federal seat belt legislation in the United States in 1968. However, the merits of adding seat belts to vintage cars is debatable; Chuck Conrad, president of the Des Plaines, Illinois chapter of the Classic Car Club of America stated, “Bolting yourself down to a 70-year-old piece of wood isn’t really going to stop anything.”. Newer mandated safety features, generally apply to production of vehicles after the laws take effect so vehicles built before any new laws are grandfathered, particularly in the United States.


For the average person car collecting is a hobby. A person usually has a fascination with a certain vehicle or a history with one so seeks a certain make or model. Finding an antique car at an affordable price is not hard but can be relatively expensive depending on the condition or the desired end result. The less work required on a vehicle equates to a higher price. The more work required means a cheaper initial cost, but more in the long run, and a person’s level of restoration experience plays an important part.


Comedian and avid car collector Jay Leno stated, “Any car can be a collector car, if you collect it.” Antique car collecting as an investment can be rewarding but most serious investment collectors seek rare or exotic cars and original unmodified cars hold a more stable price. Collecting as an investment requires expertise beyond enthusiast collecting and the standard of quality is far higher as well as a need for investment protection such as storage and maintenance. A short-term investment collector must be able to find a vehicle that has market value that is expected to rise in the foreseeable near future. A long-term investment collector would be less interested in any short-term value seeking to capitalize on an expected value rise over a period of years and a vehicle must have certain intrinsic values that are common to other investors or collectors of both short and long term.


Antique vehicles have a higher value according to the rarity that usually (but not always) resulted in some reason for a lack of numbers at production. Certain year and model cars became popular to turn into hot rods thus destroying the original condition. Other models were produced in such quantities that the price is still not inflated. Market trend is an important part in the price of a vintage car. An “almost” original and in perfect shape model A that was abundantly produced can be purchased for $20,000.00. A collector as an investor would have to know the potential market and have a belief that the future market will bring a return on an investment. Many collectors also tend to have a direction or like for certain vehicles that reflects their expertise.

Condition categories

To collectors and investors, a vehicle’s condition rating is important, and there are two systems, the category and the points system. The category system has six categories used to rate the condition of a vehicle. The points system assigns points from 40 to 100 that corresponds with the category system and below 40 there are three for other conditions. Both systems are listed together for ease of comparison:

  • Category I, Perfect; 90 to 100 points. A vehicle is considered as good or better than the day produced.
  • Category II, Excellent; 80 to 89 points. A vehicle in excellent original or superior restored, near-flawless condition.
  • Category III, Fine; 70 to 79 points. A vehicle with an older restoration or an original car with minimal wear. These are considered “show quality”.
  • Category IV, Very good; 60 to 69 points. A vehicle that is in complete original condition, or possibly an older restoration, that is usually a well-cared-for daily driver.
  • Category V, Good; 50 to 59 points. A vehicle that shows wear, needs attention or work, and needs only minor restoration, with no major flaws. Points from 40 to 59 fall into this category.
  • Category VI, Driver; 40 to 49 points.

Other categories

  • Restorable; 30 to 39 points . This vehicle would be in need of restoration of the motor, body, interior and/or chassis. A car in this class should be more or less complete, needing some parts but requiring a tremendous amount of work to get to show quality.
  • PARTIAL; 20 to 29 points. This vehicle would require extensive restoration with a significant amount of parts and labor—a very time-consuming and costly prospect.
  • PARTS CAR; 10 to 19 points. This would generally be an inoperative vehicle in poor condition, kept as a source or ‘donor’ of spare parts. With the exception of very rare vehicles, complete restoration of this category is usually not feasible.*Resource copyright information:

The above text and any photo images are from Wikipedia®. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of theWikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Classic, Historic, Antique Car – What’s the difference?

Definitions of antique cars, classic cars and historic cars and even “ancient” cars vary from state to state.  It can be quite confusing, and some just prefer to play it safe and call their pride and joy an “old collector car”.  Designations tend to differ depending on the individual, the state, or auto club or collector association.

For example,  the Classic Car Club of America states that a car must be between 30 and 49 years old to be a classic, while cars between 50 and 99 fall into a pre-antique class, and cars 100 years and older fall into the Antique Class.  Here is a list from the CCCA which lists what cars it deems to be classic.

The Antique Automobile Club of America defines an antique car as 25 years or older. A Classic is defined as 20–49 years old.  There you have it. Still confused?   Let us see what else we can find on this rather difficult subject of classifying cars.


Kanter Auto Parts

  • Antique car:
    An antique car is a classification that is often set by state law. States usually have a special type of license plate for these cars. For that reason they set rules stating what qualifies as “antique.” In most cases it is a car that’s over 45 years old. Generally the car should be maintained in a way that keeps it true to the original manufacturer specifications. (Wikipedia, 2014)


  • Historic car:
    Historical  cars are generally considered to be those which are at least 25 years old.


  • Classic car:
    This classification definitely overlaps with antique cars. The definition of classic car is actually quite similar to that of antique cars. A car must be at least 20 years old, but not more than 40 years old to be considered a classic car. It should again have been repaired and maintained in a way that keeps it true to its original design and specifications. In other words it should not be modified or altered. In addition, many add a stipulation that the vehicle should have been manufactured no earlier than 1925. For these reasons all classic cars are also antique cars, but not all antique cars are classic cars.


  • Vintage car:
    There is also overlap between vintage cars and antique cars. Some vintage cars quality as antique cars, but not all vintage cars are antique and vice versa. Different groups set different cut off points for what qualifies as a vintage car and what does not. Generally, cars that are considered Vintage were manufactured between the years of 1919 and 1930, but some end it at 1925. Unlike the other two classifications, having had modifications does not necessarily keep a car from being a vintage car.


  • Vintage plates:
    These are the actual plates issued to the vehicle owner, or other original plates (not reproductions) issued by the state for the year the vehicle was manufactured.

Other Cars Types Defined:

Hopefully the following can shed some light on what exactly each car classification is at least for the State of Florida.  Check your State’s Department of Motor Vehicles to be absolutely sure for your car’s designation.

Florida State Department of Motor Vehicles

Custom vehicle: A motor vehicle that is 25 years old or older and of a model year after 1948 or was manufactured to resemble a vehicle that is 25 years old or older and of a model year after 1948 and has been altered from the manufacturer’s original design or has a body constructed from nonoriginal materials.

Street rod:  A motor vehicle that is of a model year of 1948 or older or was manufactured after 1948 to resemble a vehicle of a model year of 1948 or older; and has been altered from the manufacturer’s original design or has a body constructed from nonoriginal materials.

Rebuilt vehicle: A motor vehicle or mobile home built from salvage or junk, as defined in s. 319.30(1) Assembled from parts. A motor vehicle or mobile home assembled from parts or combined from parts of motor vehicles or mobile homes, new or used. “Assembled from parts” does not mean a motor vehicle defined as a “rebuilt vehicle”, which has been declared a total loss pursuant to s. 319.30.

Kit car:  A motor vehicle assembled with a kit supplied by a manufacturer to rebuild a wrecked or outdated motor vehicle with a new body kit.

Glider kit:  A vehicle assembled with a kit supplied by a manufacturer to rebuild a wrecked or outdated truck or truck tractor.

Replica: A complete new motor vehicle manufactured to look like an old vehicle.

Ancient motor vehicle. A motor vehicle for private use manufactured in 1945 or earlier, equipped with an engine manufactured in 1945 or earlier or manufactured to the specifications of the original engine. The registration numbers and special license plates assigned to such motor vehicles shall run in a separate numerical series, commencing with “Horseless Carriage No. 1,” and the plates shall be of a distinguishing color.

Antique motor vehicle: A motor vehicle for private use manufactured after 1945 and of the age of 30 years or more after the date of manufacture, equipped with an engine of the age of 30 years or more after the date of manufacture.

Collectible motor vehicle. A vehicle licensed under previous Florida law which has been issued a “Collectible” license plate prior to October 1, 1999, which shall maintain such plate unless the vehicle is transferred to a new owner. Motor vehicles licensed under this section which have been issued a “Collectible” license plate prior to October 1, 1999, may retain that license plate until the next regularly scheduled replacement.

Former military vehicle:  A vehicle, including a trailer, regardless of the vehicle’s size, weight, or year of manufacture, that was manufactured for use in any country’s military forces and is maintained to represent its military design and markings accurately.



1000 Collector and Muscle Cars Auction

News Release:

Harrisburg To Host Mecum, World’s Largest Collector Car Auction Company July 24-27 1,000 Collector and Muscle Cars Set to Cross the Block

WALWORTH, Wis. – July 18, 2014 – Mecum Auctions, the largest collector car auction company in the world, will conduct its first-ever auction in the Keystone State this July 24-27 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center with an estimated 1,000 cars expected to cross the auction block Thursday through Saturday and 200 motorcycles on Sunday.
The Mecum Harrisburg Auction is the ninth of 17 auctions on the 2014 calendar. Buyers, sellers and spectators are welcome to attend. Gates will open daily at 8 a.m., and the auction begins each day at 10 a.m. All consigned cars will be accessible for viewing by ticketed customers before they reach the auction block. General admission tickets are $20 per day for adults, and children 12 and younger receive complimentary admission. Bidder registration is $100.

“People have been asking for years when we would host an auction on the East Coast,” said Dana Mecum, founder and President of Mecum Auctions. “The Harrisburg-Hershey area is truly a mecca for many collector car enthusiasts. We look forward to becoming a staple in the impressive lineup of annual car events that already take place in the area and also to reach a great community of classic and collector car fans.”
Featured consignments include a selection of more than a dozen cars from the personal collection of legendary collector car auctioneer and Pennsylvania native J. Omar Landis, as well as a one-of-four 1970 Dodge Hemi Coronet R/T equipped with both the 426/425hp Hemi engine and New Process four-speed manual transmission. Other features that speak to the variety of the lineup include a 1916 Cadillac Town Car, a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro RS Z28 and a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Fastback.

The Mecum Harrisburg Auction will be broadcast live and same-day delay on NBC Sports Network. Broadcast times to be announced. Segments of the auction not broadcast on NBCSN are streamed live at Mecum.com.

“We see the Mecum Auction as the final crowned jewel, completing a royal list of annual events now hosted in our region for automobile enthusiasts,” said Mary Smith, President of the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau. “Collectors and connoisseurs know and love the Hershey Harrisburg Region for such world-class car events as the AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet, considered one of the largest antique automobile shows and flea markets in the U.S., and The Elegance at Hershey, a charity event at The Hotel Hershey featuring a Concours d’Elegance and vintage racing.”

A complete list and daily updates of consigned cars, including photos and descriptions of each vehicle, for the Mecum Harrisburg Auction and all other Mecum Auctions are available at Mecum.com. For more information on an upcoming auction, to consign a vehicle or to register as a bidder, visit www.mecum.com or call (262) 275-5050.

About Mecum Auctions
Nobody sells more than Mecum. Nobody. The Mecum Auction Company is the world leader of collector car, vintage and antique motorcycle, and Road Art sales, hosting auctions throughout the United States. The company has been specializing in the sale of collector cars for 27 years, now offering more than 15,000 vehicles per year and averaging more than one auction each month. Established by President Dana Mecum in 1988, Mecum Auctions remains a family-run company headquartered in Walworth, Wis. For further information, visit Mecum.com or call (262) 275-5050. Follow along with Mecum’s social media news and join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Mecum Harrisburg Auction
Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center
2300 N. Cameron St.
Harrisburg, PA 17110

July 24-27, 2014
Admission: $20 per person per day; children 12 and younger receive complimentary admission
Preview: Gates open daily at 8 a.m.
Auction: Vehicles start at 10 a.m. daily with Road Art an hour prior
(All Times Eastern)

Mecum Auctions
Presentation Department

(262) 275-5050