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What's the definition of a classic car?

With so many societies, dealers and informal associations dedicated to the love of vintage vehicles, it's perhaps unsurprising that there are many different opinions about what constitutes a classic. Definitions vary from association to association, country to country and often from person to person. 

For instance, the Classic Car Club of America distinguishes a classic as "fine or distinctive automobile" produced between 1925 and 1948 – a narrow window compared with the Antique Automobile Club, which simply states they must be 25 years or older, while most US states the legal definition is 20 years or older.

UK Definition of Classic Car

In the UK, there is no fixed definition, although vehicles produced before 1973 are exempted from Vehicle Excise Duty, which has led to this being considered the cut-off date by many people. Meanwhile, HM Revenue and Customs define a classic car for company tax purposes as being over 15 years old and being valued at over £15,000.

Rather than defining by age limits, some enthusiasts consider any car that holds its value - rather than depreciating year after year as so many others do - to be a classic. For others, it's all about aesthetics, rarity or historical significance: any car which defined an era, such as the VW Beetle, or had a limited production run, such as the Rambler Rebel, could be regarded as a classic. 

There's no formal set of specifications used by the UK insurance industry: those who do cover classic cars tend to use their own guidelines for what is and isn't a classic. Heritage vehicles need to be insured under different rules to those of ordinary car insurance: not only are classics more valuable, but they're also generally better-maintained and less frequently driven than newer vehicles.

Over 15 years old?

At Carole Nash, we'll consider any vehicle that's over 15 years old for classic car insurance – so your pride and joy doesn't have to be as old as you think to qualify.  We take a range of factors into account when determining what vehicles qualify for our classic car insurance, including its age, condition and service history, how it's treated and how often you drive it.

Classic car insurance through Carole Nash means policyholders could benefit from reduced premiums that reflect the extra care their owners take when driving and fixing up their vehicles. The policy includes home-start and roadside accident and breakdown recovery in the UK and Europe, and you can select your own trusted repairer. Policyholders could also benefit from discounts for club membership* and up to £100,000 of legal protection for an accident that is not your fault.

We also offer laid-up insurance, which keeps gives owners peace of mind that their classic will be covered in the event of fire or theft while it's off the road for a period of time. Classic car key cover is available too, as we know how costly and time-consuming it can be to replace keys for older vehicles.

*Terms and conditions apply, call for details.


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Carole Nash Insurance Consultants Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, firm reference number 307243. You can check this on the Financial Services Register by visiting their website on or by contacting them on 0800 111 6768.

†Multi-Classic Car savings are based on an average customer saving 41% when compared to buying three separate Carole Nash policies.  Average customer = 57 year old male driving a 1965 MG B; a 1973 MG B and a 1972 MG Midget.  Savings accurate as of 1.7.2016.

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