Skip to main content

Classic Car Insurance FAQ: When Does a Car Become a Classic in California? 

You put plenty of love and elbow grease into preserving your vintage automobile. However, do you know all the different ways you can protect it? 

For instance, do you know the answer to the question, “When does a car become a classic for insurance purposes?” Classic car insurance might be a better fit than standard insurance for preserving your vintage vehicle. 

Ready to show your prized possession more love than ever before? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about what cars are considered classic in California. 

Revving Up the Definition of a Classic 

Believe it or not, the debate about what cars are considered classic has been waging for decades. Some drivers believe it all comes down to the age. Others think it’s more about what kind of cultural impact the automobile has had on society. 

It’s a big debate with no clear answer in sight. Below, you’ll learn more about the different attitudes driving this argument. 

The Age Debate: How Old Is Old Enough? 

How old does a car have to be to become a classic? Depending on who you talk to, it needs to be decades old. Some people think an automobile isn’t truly vintage until it’s been around for at least 50 years. On the other hand, some collectors believe vehicles that are only 10 years old should also be considered vintage. 

Your carrier will decide exactly how old your automobile needs to be before you can get classic car insurance, though. California requires such vehicles to be at least 25 years old (more on this later). Otherwise, how old is “old enough” is a debate that continues among antique automobile collectors. 

Style and Status: More Than Just a Number 

In the eyes of some collectors, an automobile needs to be more than just old to truly be considered a classic. For example, many think it’s important to consider a vehicle’s historical and cultural importance. A 1967 Ford Thunderbird is considered a stylish design, but the 1958 Ford Edsel was considered an ugly flop even when it was new. 

In other words, while you may be able to get the state or your insurance company to designate your old vehicle as vintage, your fellow collectors may need some convincing. Whether or not their opinion matters is, of course, completely up to you. 

Beyond Years: Factors That Crown a Car a Classic 

This guide already touched on the fact that many consider a vehicle’s style and status very important. However, whether most people would dub a car “classic” or not goes beyond its age, style, and status. Below, you’ll find more details you may need to know regarding your automobile’s classification. 

Rarity and Desirability: The Collectability Aspect 

Car collectors have one major thing in common with collectors of other memorabilia: They tend to value the rarest and trendiest items. Because of that, an automobile’s rarity, as well as how much the sight of it will impress others, plays into its cultural status. 

A great example of this is the original DeLorean. Only around 9,000 of these vehicles were made, and this rarity, along with the popularity of the automobile in the Back to the Future films, makes this one of the most highly sought-after cars. 

Older man looking back over his shoulder and smiling as he drives his vintage vehicle - cheap classic car insurance in California.

From Driven to Revered: Historical Significance Matters 

Whether a vehicle is recognized as a classic, at least in the eyes of collectors, often depends on its historical significance. How, though, is such significance established? 

As noted above, some cars are historically important thanks to their appearance in popular films. Other times, a vehicle might be considered significant because of the historical figures associated with it (for example, Prince Harry enjoys driving an F-type Jaguar). 

Finally, some vehicles are historically significant because they represent important moments in automotive history. The 1965 Ford Mustang, for example, basically ushered in the entire early era of muscle cars. 

The Road to Recognition: Official Guidelines for Classic Cars in California 

When does an automobile become a classic for insurance purposes in California? At the bare minimum, the vehicle needs to be at least 25 years old. If you wish to register it as a “collector car” with the state, you will need to follow other guidelines. 

For example, it will need to be classified as a special interest vehicle. Furthermore, if the car is under 35 years old, it will need to have historical license plates. If it’s at least 35 years old, though, such plates are unnecessary. 

Safeguarding Your Timeless Treasure: Insurance for Classics 

It often takes a lot of money to invest in a classic car. Furthermore, it takes additional resources (including your own time and energy) to maintain and restore such vehicles. Because of that, you need the right coverage to protect your classic beauty and save money on insurance, at least. 

Why Standard Policies Don’t Fit the Classic Mold 

One of the biggest reasons you need vintage car insurance instead of standard coverage is your vintage model may gain in value, and classic car insurance can cover it for a specific agreed upon amount. Regular coverage is for vehicles that continuously depreciate. 

Also, this specialized coverage can help pay for the cost of original parts and expensive repairs in an accident. Otherwise, repair and maintenance of an antique vehicle can be more prohibitively expensive with standard insurance. Keep in mind that in most cases, you can switch auto insurance in California at any time. 

Your classic car policy may be cheaper than a regular one since most people do not use their timeless beauties for everyday errands, meaning it spends more time in the garage than on the road. 

Protecting Your Vintage Vehicle with Affordable Classic Car Insurance in California 

Now you know everything you need to know about classic car insurance. But do you know who offers the coverage you and your vintage ride deserve? 

Here at Cost-U-Less Insurance, we love antique automobiles almost as much as our customers. Ready to work with someone who knows the value of a vintage vehicle? Call us at (800) 390-4071 or get a fast and free car insurance quote online. You can also find a Cost-U-Less office near you

Ready to Get a Quick Quote?