When is a car a classic car?


The other day I entered into a debate about what makes a car classic. I admit it, this is the sort of argument that usually happens between rival factions of Genesis over whether the Peter Gabriel or Phil Collins versions represented the true heart of the band. Frankly, I don’t care – I’m not a fan of Genesis whether they were fronted by a bloke dressed as a sunflower or by a bald bloke who writes equally nauseaous songs. But in this instance, defining what makes a classic car was important to me because it has an impact on my business. Believe it or not, these things are important when you’re trying to buy car insurance, for example. So there is, somewhere out there, a definition of a classic car. The trouble is, everyone’s definition is actually different. For some it’s any car over 20 years old. For others the demarcation is 25 years. So it’s all about age and era. That does makes sense until you take the example of my Alfa Romeo Spider. It is one of the last original Spiders ever built so it was only made by Pininfarina in 1992. That’s just 16 years ago so it’s not officially a classic. Except I think it is. This car is based on the original Alfa Romeo Duetto that was launched in 1966 (42 years ago) and with which it shares its chassis and generally styling. Mechanically it is identical to the Kamm Tail Alfa Romeo Spider of the 1970s and it is simply a mildly restyled version of the Series 3 Spider of the mid-1980s. Each of these cars is a classic by almost any definition.

Unfortunately not everyone agrees. Because I have recently had some trouble getting my Alfa Romeo Spider recognised as a classic. But ultimately, like Genesis, who cares? You either like it or you don’t. To me, and all of the people who hire it from me, it’s a classic. It looks like a classic, it drives like one (better in fact) and it makes you feel great. Which when all is said and done, is really the definition of a classic car isn’t it?

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