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Vintage and Classic Cars

Vintage cars are generally defined as cars manufactured till the end of the First World War. There are some variations though, as the cut-off is 1925 in America whereas it is 1930 in Britain. Cars were in a state of transition during the vintage period hence particular models are rarities which are worth collecting. People with a strong sense of history or an affiliation with that time period are generally interested in vintage cars. Due to the great demand for vintage cars they are pretty expensive, especially if they are maintained in a great condition.

The time period of vintage cars is characterized by the introduction of many features which made the cars more comfortable and heralded the transition in automobiles. These features include the likes of Antifreeze; to allow cars to be used all year round, four-wheel braking, as well as the use of hydraulically actuated brakes and power steering; for better handling. Octane rating of fuel was also introduced to enable people to compare between fuels.

Classic cars are cars that may belong to a period a little later than that of vintage cars but the exact period for these cars is not clearly defined. The Classic Car Club of America, however, holds that only cars manufactured before 1948 can be deemed to be classic. The club maintains a list of all classic cars and members can file a petition to include other cars in the list, after scrutiny from the club. Classic cars are generally expensive with factors such as engine displacement, custom coachwork and luxurious accessories affecting the price. For the Classic Car Club of America the cars recognized as classics were built in limited quantity and were relatively expensive when they were new. They are said to represent a pinnacle of engineering, styling and design of that era hence their categorization as classics according to the club.

Other definitions are not that strict, legally in the United States any car older than 15 years than the current year can be termed as classic. The Antique Automobiles Club of America defines the period as 25 years. In the United Kingdom the cutoff date is January 1, 1973. The term ‘modern classics’ has been coined for cars which are 15-25 years old and are not recognized as classics by the Classic Car Club of America.

The break occurs between vintage cars and classic cars because there was a definitive change in the styling trends of cars in that era. During the World Wars much focus was directed towards building tanks and artillery rather than automobiles for the public. However, after the end of the Second World War the traditional discrete replaceable-fender treatment was replaced by the 1946 Crosley and Kaiser-Frazer. Some of the features which categorized classic cars before the Second World War are removable fenders, trunk, headlights and a usual vertical grill treatment. These features almost disappeared after World War II. The Classic Car Club of America uses these features to strictly categorize cars as classics.

Vintage cars and classic cars are collector’s items and often it is a matter of pride for people to drive them. However, they should be extremely careful as some of the basic safety features of all modern cars are nonexistent in these cars. These include seat belts, crumple zones or rollover protection. The handling and braking of these cars is also not as efficient as that of modern cars.

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