…Can’t there be a hard and fast rule about what constitutes a classic or not?
A nice easy formula would be the way forward, but it seems that there are just too many variables to consider.
Obviously, I’ve been thinking this of late, and I really find it difficult to get my head around the ‘classic’ argument. You know the one… What is a classic and what isn’t? After all, there are many cars that I would consider classic, but don’t get near the magazines because they are too new or too humdrum.
Look at the dictionary definition of the word ‘classic’ from Merriam-Webster, and you’ll see what I mean:
1a) Serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value b) traditional, enduring c) characterized by simple tailored lines in fashion year after year
2) of or relating to the ancient Greeks and Romans or their culture : classical
3a) historically memorable b) noted because of special literary or historical associations
Now, if you take these definitions and try and place your car in there, you will see that it becomes quite difficult. Think about some of our beloved BMC>MGR cars – would we consider the Austin Allegro to be serving as a standard of excellence? Or the Morris Ital as historically memorable? And yet, at the same time, a 12-year old MG ZT 260 V8 would be considered a classic because it is most definitely enduring, as well as serving a standard of excellence.
So, it is possible to have a brand new classic car, if you follow this line of thinking. And let’s face it, moving away from the BMC>Rover stable, there are plenty of new cars you would call classic if you go by the book – who on Earth would disagree that the Pagani Zonda is a classic… the same with the MG XPower SV.
A brand new MG ZT 260 V8 would be
considered a classic because it is
most definitely enduring, as well
as serving a standard of excellence
These are exceptional cars, which are full of character, have been created with a singularity of purpose and loved by an army of fans that transcends their customer bases. However, that leaves the issue of what about the less exotic? I may question the validity of the Allegro or Marina’s case for being classics, but you cannot argue that there are lots of people who cherish theirs, as well as a thriving support industry out there.
But are they classics or merely old?
I’d say old, but I suspect that I would be severely outvoted on that one – and one of the finest qualities you can have as a person is the ability to listen to (and take on board) the opinions of others. So, on that score, our Cortina MkIVs, Cavalier MkIs and Princess 1700s, are most definitely classics, even if two of the three were pretty rotten when they were new.
And that’s the rub – it’s impossible for one person to define what a classic is, and it comes down to individual choice. Mind you, that still does not stop me from bristling every time I see the word tagged to something unworthy of the name.
Anyone remember the 1995 Fiesta Classic? Or perhaps the Polo Classic?
I rest my case…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.