One person's antique is another person's junk.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1969 Cadillac and am wondering if this is a classic or antique vehicle yet. It needs both body and mechanical work, and the Cadillac dealerships have all told me that won't work on such an old car. Should I hang onto it?

TOM: Gee, Alicia, that's a tough call. The truth is one person's antique is another person's junk (and vice versa, but not nearly as often). When your car gets to be 25 years old, it will technically be eligible for antique status, but that's only half the story. Like people, age is kinder to some cars than to others. Let see if we can give you an overview.

RAY: First, a car is "new." After a couple of years, it's "used." After that, it becomes "old." Now, here's where the two lines diverge. After it gets past "old," if it's in great shape, it becomes a "classic." If a "classic" is still in near perfect condition when it gets to be 25 years old, the owner can call it an "antique." On the other hand, the kind of old heaps my brother drives never make it to classic. They go directly from "old" to "jalopy." And when a "jalopy" gets to be 25 years old, the owner can call it an "antique", but everyone else will call it "junk."

TOM: So in four years, Alicia, you can call this Caddy an antique, but that's no guarantee that anyone else will.

RAY: If you're interested in holding onto it because you like to drive it, you have to find an independent mechanic who's willing to work on the car. Ask him to inspect it bumper to bumper and tell you what it will cost to get the car into good driving condition. If you can afford it, and you love the car, go ahead and fix it up. If nothing else, you'll have a car that is old enough and large enough to give you the right of way at every intersection from here to Kuala Lumpur.

TOM: But if the only reason you're holding onto this car is because you hope it will suddenly be worth a lot of money, I'd say get rid of it. If an investment is what you're interested in, see if you can trade the Caddy for 1969 Hank Aaron baseball card. That's got a better chance of appreciating over the years, and it takes up much less space!

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