Is Your Car Historic, Classic, Vintage, or Antique?

1930 Cusstom Ford Model A Roadster

1941 Custom Ford Stake Bed Pickup Truck

From Barrett Jackson to Russo Steele to the Mecum Auction taking place in Glendale this weekend, Arizona is well known for its collector car auctions.

In fact, the most expensive car ever sold at auction in Arizona was a $9.9 million vintage 1937 Mercedes Benz 540 K Special Roadster sold by RM Sotheby’s in 2016.

We seem to throw around a lot of terms when describing collectible cars. Historic, classic, antique, vintage. But what do these terms mean and how are they different from one another?

While exact definitions may differ depending on who you ask, for the most part, these descriptions are related to the age of a car and its historic significance.


In Arizona, you can purchase historic vehicle plates if your vehicle was manufactured at least 25 years ago. That means if you are driving a 1997 model or older car, your vehicle is considered historic. Feel free to point out to the millennials in your life, which includes people born between 1981 and 1996, that this definition also makes them historic!


If you’re looking for a classic car license plate in Arizona, your car must be included on a list of official, approved classic cars from the Classic Car Club of America. This list includes American or foreign-built cars produced between 1915 and 1948.

The Classic Car Club of America typically only considers vehicles that were high-priced, top-end, and built in limited quantities for their official list of classic cars. They do not consider any mass-produced, assembly line vehicles as classics.

Most insurance companies and collectors, however, define a classic car as one that is at least 20-25 years old. This includes most vehicles manufactured before the year 2000.


Antique Cars are defined as being more than 45 years old. While I prefer not to think of myself as antique, a car built before 1977 does fall into the antique category.

Most people use antique cars for car shows or restoration projects. Some of the first manufactured muscle cars, like the original Dodge Charger or Chevy Camaro, are considered antiques.

In February, we sold a beautiful custom 1941 Ford F1 stake bed pickup truck for $21,000 and a 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo two-door coupe for $13,750. While vastly different, both vehicles fall into the antique category of car sales.


Finally, vintage cars are those vehicles that were manufactured between 1918 and 1930. Because of their age, these can be difficult to find and are usually coveted by people who enjoy restoring cars and taking them to car shows.

We sold a custom restored Vintage 1930 Ford Model A Roadster for $21,000 at the end of February.

The value of your historic, classic, antique, or vintage car depends on a lot of factors – its condition, rarity, whether or not it has been restored, and how closely the restoration brings the vehicle to how it was originally sold.

Because of the complexity of appraising older vehicles, it is a job best left to a certified classic car appraiser.

Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Appraisal in Glendale. Contact him at,, or 623-878-2003.


1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Fastback – SOLD $89,000

1936 Pre War Colt Government Model 1911 SOLD $10,000

1933 Rare Mickey Mouse Big Little Book #717 SOLD $6,000

Shell Porcelain Enameled Advertising Aviation Sign SOLD $850

Marvel Comics The Incredible Hulk #181 SOLD $3,500

Antique Dooling Tether Car W/ Brown Jr Engine SOLD $6,500

Toko Shinoda (1913-2022) Ink On Paper SOLD $11,000

Philip Richard Morris (1836-1902) Oil On Canvas SOLD $25,000

1957 Ford Thunderbird Coupe Convertible SOLD $25,000

1909- S V. D. B. Wheat Penny SOLD $650