Classic Cars

What qualifies as a classic car?

1950 Nash 2 door photographed outside Antique Archaeology's office Le Claire, Iowa
1950 Nash – Antique Archaeology’s signature barn find classic in Le Claire, Iowa

A few years ago, a true classic car had to be showroom condition or even better than showroom, concours. A head turning classic would be either in showroom original condition with original engine, suspension, and bodywork components, or a classic might be customized to the highest standards before it could be considered as show topping. Now classics are qualified by being almost any 30 plus year old vehicle, perfect original, or rusty from the barn.

The one qualifying factor these days is that it needs to be of a type that is diminishing in quantity. ‘They just don’t make them like they used to,’ would be a major qualifier. A classic now can be a basic family sedan from 1975. Even if it has no trimmings like radio, airconditioning, or a limited production engine, a basic family sedan that has survived 40 years is now treasured by many. Why? Firstly, they are rare. You can’t replace them. Secondly, they tell stories by their appearance.

People remember riding in them as children, an uncle may have owned one just like it … all personal stories about a basic old Chev or Ford will spark wonder and imagination.

Does the car need to be in perfect condition to be a classic? No. A few years ago, restoration was a necessity. Now it’s hip to have some surface rust, some fading paint, and one or two blemishes in the upholstery.

Purchasing a collectible car presents a quandary for many. Do you fully restore the car with some paint damage and engine faults to make it look as if it’s newly sold off the showroom floor? Or do you just make sure it’s safe and reliable to drive?

If you restore the classic auto … do you replace broken parts with newly manufactured parts from a modern parts manufacturer, or do you find parts made by the original manufacturer only of the time the car was current? This is when it’s important to consult expert advice about whether the value of the car might diminish by altering any original parts existing on the car.

Sometimes even replacing a headlight with a newly made replacement can diminish the value and remove the classic from its original time in history. Sharp-eyes see a small branding difference in something as tiny as the tail-light lens, and it takes the presentation into a different age.

The great part about collecting and admiring classic cars is that anything goes, unless you are aiming for specific awards.

You can decide if you want to restore, modernize, or leave as a dusty rusty barn find. It’s your choice. When you present a barn find to an auto show, people will admire it as much as the modernized 60s Ford Falcon with a 2015 Ford Mustang interior and running gear.

What are the general types of collectible cars? As-is straight from the barn – with lots of patina: Clean off the bird droppings, dust off the upholstery, get the engine started and some vintage tires and put it on display. Add some vintage picnic items to the back seat, a magazine from the day, open up the original owner’s manual and you’ve got a captivating show car with minimal effort.

Barn finds are becoming more popular because they are as rare. Most old cars have been handed from person to person, traded, rough roaded, repaired, replaced and rebuilt many times over. A barn find is usually a one-owner classic. Barn finds often have fewer miles on the odometer and will usually have many original items like engine decals, original paint, owner’s manuals and upholstery.  Barn finds also have long histories in one location or with one family and this adds to the intrigue. The new owner of a barn find becomes a custodian of its history and can often times be presented with the quandary of whether to restore the car or just present the classic car in similar condition to how it was found.

HotRidesUSA.com will present you with classics of all kinds. Barn finds, modernized, customized, and factory restored. We will travel the USA to capture the classic cars from history and bring to you the stories and histories that go with them and their owners.