What is an Old Car?

This guide explains what an old car is, all the synonyms of an old car, and takes an in-depth look at what is an old car, its prices, removal, buyers, laws, and more.

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    What is The Definition of an Old Car?

    An old car is generally defined as being a passenger motor vehicle that is older than 20 years. Old car definitions vary from entity to entity. Car insurance companies, collector clubs, and state motor vehicle laws define old cars in different ways. The most common categories of old cars are classic cars, vintage cars, antique cars, historical vehicles, vehicles of historic significance, or collectible cars. Each company, state, and auto collector society will define these in different ways, and not all of these terms may be used by the entity. Most old cars have over 200,000 miles. Old cars can be in any condition and may still be drivable. Old cars are typically defined as vintage cars, antique cars, or classic cars.

    Vintage car definition

    Vintage cars are the oldest models, are the most collectible, and are the hardest to find. Vintage cars are model years 1918 to 1930, or any vehicle manufactured before the Great Depression. Most vintage cars are placed in car shows or used as a car restoration project and are not driven on a regular basis. Vintage cars are also found in barns on old properties.

    Antique car definition

    Antique cars are vehicles that are over 45 years old, or vehicles model year 1975 and older. Antique cars are more likely to be driven for short errands than vintage cars, but are mostly used in car shows or as a car restoration project. Many of the most desirable early muscle cars fall under the antique car definition.

    Classic car definition

    Classic cars are over 20 years old, and collectible cars could be as new as 10 to 25 years old. Classic cars encompass all of the muscle cars popular between the 1950s and 1980s, and cars from the 70s and 80s are gaining demand alongside older cars. Muscle cars that are classic cars are faster than antique or vintage cars because they have 6 and 7 speed transmissions. Classic cars are more likely to be driven on a regular basis if they are able to pass the required safety inspections.

    Synonyms of Old Cars

    There are many names that could be used for old cars depending on their condition and type of junk car. Old cars are also called vintage cars, antique cars, and classic cars depending on the year, make, and model. Depending on circumstance, old cars could also be called:

    Other common names for old cars include clunkers, beater car, decrepit car, lemon car, derelict car, or end-of-life car.

    An In-Depth Look at Old Cars

    An old car is a motor vehicle that is over 20 years old. Old cars include all junk cars that are model year 2000 or older. There are many more old cars on the road than one might think, and not all old cars are collectible or in-demand. According to Body Shop Business there are about 9.4 million vehicles with a model year older than 1990 on the roads today. Knowing how old cars are classified will help you determine the demand and value of your old car. Many people think that all old cars are valuable, but this is not the case.

    The definition of an old car is a vehicle that is older than 2000 model year, but there are three different categories of old cars detailed below. There is almost no demand for old cars newer than 1980. Old cars can be in any condition, and some old cars still run. Old cars that are year 1990 and newer likely have some working parts even if they do not start or run, but those parts may not be in demand causing the vehicle to be worth only scrap metal. The brands of old cars that are most in demand are Ford, Chevy, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Volkswagen, but there are others.

    The classic car market, the car restoration segment of the auto repair industry, and the automotive recycling industry all affect the value of old cars. The classic car market is mostly made up of individuals and car restoration specialty auto mechanics, and is worth an estimated $16.59 billion per Statista. However, only $2.9 billion goes to classic car dealers as of 2023. Per IBIS Global, the auto repair industry is worth $78 billion in 2023, while the used car parts industry is worth $6.5 billion. The automotive recycling industry that disposes of these old junk cars when they are not in demand or only have value as scrap is currently worth about $67 billion in 2021 per imarc, an American market research firm.


    What are some common characteristics of Old Cars?

    Old cars come in many types and conditions, but there are 3 common characteristics of old cars.


      1. Most old cars are unregistered. All 50 states have safety and emissions inspections required for vehicle registration, and registration is required to drive the old car on the public roadways and highways. Old cars that cannot pass these inspections and do not qualify for a historic or classic car status cannot be registered in most states. Many states do not issue titles or registrations for cars sold as parts cars or cars older than a set year. Each state’s DMV has information about registration of old cars.

    Visible damage and rust. Old cars are just that – old. Anything that is well used, long neglected, or both will show damage, and all metal rusts over time. Every improperly stored car will have significant rust damage in spots, and some vintage cars have rust throughout the body and on some car parts.

    Significant mechanical issues or inoperable old cars. All old cars that have not undergone complete restoration have mechanical issues. These mechanical problems are often significant such as failing transmissions, engines, or drive trains. Most of the time making these repairs would cost more than the old car is worth, even if it is vintage or antique. However, this does not stop many car restoration enthusiasts from making the repairs.

    Old cars are also very dirty inside and out. Old cars that have been left in storage or neglected entirely may also be infested with mice or other pests, vermin, and rodents. Old cars stored in barns also have other types of moisture and weather damage.

    Are old cars junk cars?

    Not all old cars are junk cars. Most cars older than 15 years are junk cars. Old cars that are in very good running condition likely has value other than as scrap. Old cars that are in demand like vintage cars, antique cars, and classic cars can be junk cars but may have demand beyond scrap. 

    What is an Old Car worth?

    The price of an old car depends on several factors, but the most significant is year, make, and model. Old cars with a model year older than 2000 that are not in demand as a collectible or project car typically have value only as scrap metal recycling. Vehicles from the 90s and 2000s have no value beyond their recyclable metals with very few exceptions. Location, condition, current scrap metal prices, and other economic factors are also used to determine how much an old car is worth. On the other hand, a vintage car with only a few reusable parts could have significant value to the right buyer.

    What are the price ranges of old cars?

    The price ranges of old cars depends on their age and condition. What are the most valuable parts of old cars?

    Unlike other junk cars, the most valuable parts of old cars includes the body and frame of the car. This is because car restoration projects often involve pulling or cutting body parts from many vehicles and piecing them together to create a complete car. Vintage cars and antique cars are most likely to have value as body parts as well as reusable car parts. The most valuable car parts on old cars that are not in demand are the body, frame, engine, transmission, and drive train, where most of the recyclable metal is found.

    What are the most popular old cars worth more?

    There are many in-demand old cars that are worth more than their newer counterparts in better condition. Here are the most popular old cars by type according to American Collectors Community.

    The vintage cars with the highest values are:

    1919 Ford Model T

    1921 Hudson Super 6 Phaeton

    1925 Flint Model E-55

    1924 Aston Martin Grand Prix

    1930 Cadillac V-16

    These vintage cars are very valuable to the right buyer, which is usually found through an online auction. Junk Car Medics is able to pay more cash for vintage cars because we are able to put these cars in the auctions that pair them with hobbyists on the hunt.

    The antique cars with the highest values are:

    1956 Porsche Speedster

    1957 Chevrolet Corvette

    1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

    1932 Ford Roadster

    1968 Dodge Charger

    1954 Rolls Royce Phantom

    1938 and 1968-69 Volkswagen Beetle

    1964 Chevy El Camino Coupe

    These antique cars will have more value when they are complete and have easily reusable parts. Parts cars are more common in antique cars than restored vehicles. Junk Car Medics has the knowledge to give the most cash for in-demand antique cars while giving fair prices for antique cars with no value beyond recycling.

    The classic cars with the highest values are:

    1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z28

    1963 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing

    1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

    1979 Ford Bronco

    1979 Pontiac Trans Am

    1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS

    1987 Buick Grand National GNX

    Remember that classic cars can be any model year older than 2000, but there is little demand for vehicles newer than 1990 and old cars with model years between 1990 and 2005 are only good for scrap metal in most cases.

    What to do with an Old Car?

    There are 4 ways to get rid of an old car.

    Donate the old car to a charity. Some charities accept old cars as donations, then sell them at car auctions to fund their mission. Not all charities take car donations, and often charities only get wholesale price for the vehicle. It is usually better to sell the old car then donate the cash to the charity.

    Contact local car collector clubs: Car collector clubs and car restoration associations are a great way to find individual buyers for old cars, particularly vintage cars and antique cars. Even when there is no local demand the club may be able to help you find the right buyer. However, this can take time and if you need to get rid of the old car fast it is better to sell the old car to a junk car buyer.

    Sell to junkyards or auto dismantlers: Junkyards, salvage yards, and auto dismantlers sometimes buy old cars from the general public. However, many salvage yards marketed as used auto parts stores only buy old cars at auction or from junk car buyers. It is necessary to compare prices and services when selling old cars to junkyards or auto dismantlers.

    Sell to junk car buyers: Junk car buyers work with all of the entities that buy old cars to find the right buyer at the right price. Junk Car Medics stands out from other junk car buyers with our quick, easy, painless, and rewarding process for selling old cars regardless of their condition or value.

    When an old car is so rusted and destroyed that it cannot even be recycled for its metals, you may need to pay for removal of the old car by a junk removal service. However, most old cars have at least enough value to cover the towing and removal costs.

    Can I sell an old car with no title?

    Yes, you can sell an old car with no title in most states. Many states do not issue titles for vehicles of a certain age unless the vehicle meets conditions as a historic or classic car status. Even when a title has been issued for the vehicle but has been lost, stolen, or destroyed you can sell the old car by proving ownership and completing the paperwork required to sell old cars with no title in your state.

    Can I sell an old car with no registration?

    Yes, you can sell an old car with no registration. As mentioned above most old cars are not registered. However, you can use the registration of the vehicle to prove ownership when the title is missing.

    Who buys old cars?

    Here are some main entities that buy old cars.

    Individuals: The biggest market for old cars is with individuals, but finding an individual buyer for a vintage or antique vehicle can be difficult at best. Most car restorations and project cars are done by the vehicle owner rather than a shop. A survey by Body Shop Business found that 80% of old car owners are comfortable doing at least some of the work themselves. Most individuals find the old cars they want or need for their own projects at car auctions. However, checking with your local collector club could reveal potential local buyers.

    Junkyards and salvage yards. Junkyards and salvage yards harvest and sell reusable car parts from the old cars that they buy. Some old cars bought as salvage are repaired or restored and sold as rebuilt salvage cars. Most junkyards and salvage yards do not deal in vintage or antique cars.

    Junk car buyers. Junk car buyers are the best option among who buys old cars. Junk car buyers will purchase old cars of any year, make, model, or condition and find the right buyer for you. In the case of old cars junk car buyers usually sell the cars at auctions that attract the individuals or restoration specialty shops that buy them.

    Junk Car Medics is the most experienced junk car buyer handling old cars of all types, including antique and classic cars.

    How to choose a junk car buyer for your old car

    Once you have decided to choose a junk car buyer to get rid of your old car it is necessary to research the junk car buyers in your area. Look at online consumer reviews and consumer watch dog organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Compare prices, value, and experience, as well as the process used to sell and remove old cars. Look for signs of bait and switch or not honoring quotes for old cars, as well as signs that the junk car buyer pays the best prices for old cars.

    The junk car buyer should be experienced in handling old cars and getting them to the right buyer or junk car facility so that they can be either used or recycled appropriately. Free junk car removal, assistance with the paperwork to sell old cars without a title, and experience are other important factors. Junk Car Medics has been buying old cars of varying types, conditions, and market demands since 2016 and has thousands of positive online reviews.

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