- ​Hero image, art, text and errors by: Chris Breeden All other images as credited.

Opinion: Classic v/s Old

What makes an old car a Classic?

"What makes an old car a Classic?"

You'd think this would be a simple question to answer, but it isn't really. Let's take a look at a few examples:

Above: (L) A Resto-Mod '55 Chevy (R) A stock '32 Packard. Both images by Chris Breeden

The two cars in the gallery above are both truly Classic in every sense of the word. They are refined machines that conform to a well thought out plan. They were constructed by professionals that were using precision tooling. They both have more class than Billy Shakespeare!

In contrast:

Above: (L) A Chevrolet Corvair (R) A Ford Mustang 2 Cobra. Both images by Chris Breeden

The two cars, in the gallery above, are not what people think of when they use the phrase "classic car". They are just old, or vintage if you'd like. Age doesn't bestow Class. Just ask your flatulent grandfather! Traditional thinking has always agreed that a super sweet, 1986 Ford LTD, with original seat covers and plastic grip, faux wood ashtrays knobs, would never become a "Classic".

or could it?

A 1986 LTD Ford Crown Victoria LX. Image from the Custom & Hot Rod Life vast historical archives.

A 1986 LTD Ford Crown Victoria LX. Image from the Custom & Hot Rod Life vast historical archives.

I can remember the 1980's vividly. I can remember driving by new car dealerships and feeling the sense of let down that characterized the Malaise Era of American car manufacturers. Mustangs and Camaros with less than 200 horsepower were a shameful thing. It's hard to forget that time in the automobile word and I suspect that's why I have no interest in new cars. Because for the first 20 years of my life, they were utter crap, but that's a story for another time.

If you didn't live through that time, then you have no first hand experience with the cars of the era. Since you do not remember a time when these cars were the height of the motoring world (I choked on that statement), then all you can do is relate to the time period from a safe distance. It's no different than romanticizing cars built in earlier eras.

As hard as it is to believe, these will be the new "Classics" one day. Equally hard to believe is the idea that their isn't really anything wrong with that. It's simply the passage of time. One day the Nissan Juke will be considered, "classic", in much the same way the Ford Edsel is now considered a classic. Time's a funny thing!

So what turns an old car into a Classic car?

Individual perspective.

Keep on Cruisin'!

Art by: Chris Breeden

Art by: Chris Breeden

Thanks for reading!

About the Author:

"Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck."

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Comments (5)

  • Yes, I'm happy with the Juke being tomorrow's Edsel. Both deserve their infamy, no matter how quaint the infamy might be.

      2 years ago
  • It is rather strange to see the modernists like an Audi Quattro or a Subaru SVX ever to become an oldtimer. With the 25 year eligibility limit, we are facing sitations like the one attached. From the design point of view, the 300ZX Twin turbo could have been premiered 7-8 years ago. And it was Oldtimer-eligible in Belgium (now they pushed to 30 years)


      1 year ago
    • It is strange to think of things like this being "Old Timers" now. I still remember the first time I spotted a C4 Corvette with Antique licenses plates here. That made me feel old!

        1 year ago
  • Agreed

      2 years ago