What Is the Difference Between a Collector's Car and a Vintage Car

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What Is the Difference Between a Collector's Car and a Vintage Car

Comedian and noted car collector Jay Leno was asked to define a collector's car. His response, "Any car can be a collector car, if you collect it," summarises the inherent problem in defining collectors' cars. A neighbour down the street may advertise a collector's car for sale, but the car may only be a few years old. Classic car aficionados face the collectors' cars buying conundrum because of the subjective way collector's cars are defined. However, vintage cars, which represent a finite production era, provide buyers with much more certainty.

Consumers can find collectors' and vintage cars at dealers that specialise in selling such cars. They can also find collectors' and vintage cars online, as the Internet has increased exposure of classic cars.. The best online venue is eBay, where buyers use a powerful search engine to find the right sellers. eBay also presents more information about the cars available for sale than the information presented by other e-commerce outlets. Before shopping for collectors' and vintage cars on eBay, buyers should review what defines each class of car, the differences between the two car classifications, and a few factors to consider before making a purchasing decision.

What Defines a Collector's Car?

Collectors' cars take on different meaning throughout the world. The lack of a rigid definition causes confusion in collectors' cars markets. One country's definition of a perfectly restored collector's car may not be the same standard applied in an adjacent country. The United Kingdom divides collector's cars into three broad categories: Veteran (before World I), Vintage (1919-1930), and Post Vintage (1930s). Collectors' cars manufactured after World War II do not possess clear defining characteristics. While the U.K. does promote clear collector's car definitions, two taxation policies provide insight into how traders define collectors' cars.

In the U.K., every vehicle constructed before 1973 is exempt from paying the annual road tax vehicle excise duty. Cars that fall into the exempt category carry "Historic Vehicle" registration on the windscreen. HM Revenue and Customs defines a collector's car as a car that is at least 15 years old and has a professional valuation in excess of 15,000 pounds. Moreover, the influence of classic car magazines plays a role in defining collectors' cars. Popularity of a specific older model car can lift the car's status into the classic, or collector's category simply based on price.

Overview of Vintage Cars

As one of the shortest car manufacturing eras, the vintage era represented a time of mechanical transition. The vintage car produced in 1919 was a rare commodity, but by the time the vintage era ended in 1930, cars were much more prevalent in mainstream society. A combination of factors ramped up demand for cars at the end of the vintage era, including an increase in personal wealth and enhanced public infrastructure. The Great Depression ended the vintage era and car production did not recover until the early 1950s.

The vintage era introduced car owners to more practical and convenient features. Car heating and in-car radios became the standard for cars purchased in Britain between 1919 and 1930. Manufacturers introduced four-wheel brake systems that operated on hydraulically activated brakes.. Power steering and the system of octane fuel ratings led to further automotive innovations after World War II. The vintage car era did more for the advancement of automotive technology than any other car era, with the exception possibly being cars built at the advent of the technology revolution.

Differences Between Vintage Cars and Collector's Cars

Collectors' and vintage cars represent two car classifications. Collectors' cars define the broad category that includes several car subcategories that were made during certain eras. Vintage cars represent one of the subcategories of collectors' cars. The classification differences lead to more subtle differences.


Because there are collectors' cars, consumers have many more purchasing options than they do searching for the right vintage cars. Of all of the collector's car eras, the vintage era has more car collector interest than any other era. Therefore, most vintage automobile owners hold onto their cars for investment and sentimental reasons.


Automobiles manufactured during the vintage era are not subjected to depreciation, which is the most substantial cost of owning a car. Collectors' cars produced after the vintage era depreciate at different rates. The lack of depreciation makes vintage cars one of the best automobile investments. Any asset that retains it value for nearly 100 years is worth pursuing.


Consumers who are loyal to specific manufacturers have more choices in the collector's car market. While Peugeot and Renault are prominent collector's car manufacturers, the two automotive companies have little impact on the vintage car market. Many vintage car companies eventually became insolvent or were bought out by rival companies.

How to Buy a Vintage Car

The explosive growth of Internet usage has provided vintage cars with a fertile buyer's market. Buyers simply access a website and review the vintage cars for sale. However, consumers must consider several factors before they go online to shop for vintage cars. One of the factors that receives little attention concerns the best season to shop for vintage cars. Autumn represents the best season for vintage car buyers, since this is the time of year collector's car dealerships reduce their collectable inventories. The following are other factors to consider before buying a vintage car.

Fair Value

Research the value of the vintage car make and model. Refer to independent car appraisal publications that do not allow advertising from car manufacturing companies. Seek second, third, and fourth assessments from automotive professionals, especially those who have experience working with collectable cars.. Some vintage car sellers try to take advantage of the era's prestige by unnecessarily marking up the cars.

Thoroughly Examine for Imperfections

Some vintage cars for sale possess alterations or replacement parts that diminish the value of the cars. Vintage car buyers should thoroughly examine each car under consideration for ostensible flaws. Much of a vintage car's value hinges on the car's original parts. Otherwise, the car loses much of its vintage status. Many vintage car owners restore their cars to vintage status, which means consumers should look for shoddy repair work or unprofessional paint jobs.

Seek a Second Opinion

Most vintage car buyers do not have the trained eye to find the nuanced imperfections. This means anyone in the market for a vintage car should take the car to a vintage car expert for a detailed analysis. Vintage car experts cannot only detect flaws, they also perform thorough inspections to verify status. Vintage car buyers may be able to detect exterior flaws, but the experts can point out problems with a rebuilt powertrain or suspension system.


Vintage cars should not be prominently displayed in the driveway. While the temptation to flaunt the new investment leads many vintage car owners to leave their cars in open view, the best place for a vintage car is inside of a climate-controlled storage space. The storage space should be warm and dry, which precludes most home garages. Theft represents the primary reason to secure a vintage car and owners also need to protect vintage cars from weather-related damage, such as hail and wind.


Do not forget about the cost of insuring vintage era vehicles. Vintage car owners need to carry full insurance coverage for the car's current value. Some large insurance companies devote a department to handle vintage car insurance. While insurance protects the investment, it can take a huge bite out of a budget.

Costly Repair and Maintenance Bills

Because of the limited supply of parts and the expertise required to perform repairs, be prepared for costly maintenance bills. This is especially true for rare, vintage cars produced in the United Kingdom. One way that vintage car owners defray costly maintenance expenses is to buy parts when they become available, instead of waiting for a maintenance issue to arise.

How to Buy a Collector's Car on eBay

eBay's search engine uses keywords that play a large role in determining the quality of the search results. The best way to find the right collector's and vintage car sellers on eBay is to search for the preferred auto manufacturer, such asAustin or Ford.. You should know which car manufacturers constructed cars during each of the collector's car eras. Another strategy is to shop by the preferred colour of the classic car. Red appears to be the most prevalent collector's car colour available for sale on eBay.

After reducing the number of potential sellers through the search engine, the next step in the buying process is to play detective and analyse the information present on each seller candidate's product page. Each collector's and vintage car seller should prominently display a large photograph of the car for sale on his or her seller page. Some sellers offer multiple shots to allow you to examine each section of the car. You also review the accepted payment methods and delivery terms to ensure you can comply with the seller's policies. Some collectors and vintage car experts recommend that buyers only consider sellers from the car's country of origin. This means you can narrow your search to U.K. sellers only .


The collector's and vintage car markets have never been more robust. Exposure through popular automotive shows and famous personalities has increased the awareness of the unique cars. Yet, there remains ambiguity when it comes to defining collectors' cars. What one seller defines as a "classic" may be another seller's antiquated pile of rubbish. The best way to shop for collectors' and vintage cars is to follow the guidelines set forth by the country where the car is to be purchased. For those who live in Britain, the standards for collectors' cars have been clearly defined. Within the U.K.'s collectors' cars category is the vintage era, which ran from 1919 to 1930.

While classification represents the most important difference between collectors' and vintage cars, the cars also differ on availability and depreciation. Vintage cars retain all of their original value, which makes the cars a coveted investment amongst car aficionados. Status is also a reason why collectors' and vintage cars are in high demand within the U.K. Despite the popularity of classic cars,, buyers need to consider a few factors before they plunk down several thousand pounds. Storage and insurance are two significant factors, but perhaps no factor is as important as the inevitable costly bills for repairs and maintenance.

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