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    While you may not be able to earn a spot on Jay Leno's television show, you can still share a hobby with this passionate antique car collector. While collecting antique cars used to be a pastime for the rich and famous, this activity is now more accessible than ever.

    What is an Antique Car?

    Generally speaking, antique cars are those that are at least 25 years of age. However, some states set different definitions for the purpose of antique vehicle registration.

    Antique cars are typically not used as regular forms of transportation. Because of their advanced age, the cars are often too expensive to operate more than a few times per month.

    Antique cars are shown in parades, road rallies, and other special events. For thousands of people across the world, collecting antique cars is an exciting hobby that provides an opportunity to connect with other auto enthusiasts.

    Classic Cars and Vintage Cars

    Antique cars are sometimes called classic cars or vintage cars. However, these terms are not necessarily interchangeable.

    A classic car is a distinctive automobile produced between 1925 and 1948. Many classic cars are American-made, but a classic car can also be a foreign-built automobile. The most valuable classic cars tend to be those that were expensive at the time of release and manufactured in limited quantities.

    A vintage car is usually described a car built between 1919 and 1930, although there is some debate about the ending date for this term. In the automotive industry, the period after World War I was a time of great change. Cars manufactured during this time became more practical, convenient, and comfortable than previous models.

    Buying on a Budget

    The value of antique cars is based on supply and demand. Cars that are popular among collectors are extremely expensive. However, cars that haven't attracted much attention can be purchased quite cheaply.

    If you're looking to buy antique cars without spending a ton of money, the best thing to do is look for cars that are about 20 years old with no broken glass and relatively low mileage. The stage just before a car goes from being "old" to "antique" is the ideal time to find a real bargain.

    In many cases, you can purchase the car for less than $500. Of course, this strategy is only feasible if you have the time and the skills necessary to restore the car to its original condition.

    Investing in Antique Cars

    While some people purchase antique cars primarily for their investment value, this shouldn't be the main reason for your purchase. Collecting antique cars in the hopes of striking it rich is simply too much like gambling to be a wise financial strategy.

    In many ways, collecting antique cars is like collecting art. Since it's impossible to predict how a particular purchase will maintain its value, experts recommend you make your decisions based on your own feelings. If you love a particular car, buy it for your own personal enjoyment. If the car later increases in value, consider that an added perk.

    Clubs for Antique Car Collectors

    Collecting antique cars can provide you with a unique opportunity to socialize with other automobile enthusiasts. Many larger communities hold events that let local residents compete for cash prizes or awards.

    Of course, there are also a number of national organizations that antique car collectors can join. For example:

    • The Antique Automobile Club of America is one of the most popular clubs for antique car collectors. This organization holds both competitive and non-competitive events across the United States. Annual meetings are held to provide seminars on restoration, automotive history, and other aspects of collecting antique cars.
    • The Classic Car Club of America is an organization for people who collect automobiles manufactured from 1925 to 1948. This organization began in the 1950s after owners of vintage Cadillacs and other classic cars found themselves excluded from the current automobile collecting events. Today, the Classic Car Club of America has over 5,600 members that participate in conferences, rallies, and other events throughout the year.
    • The Veteran Motor Car Club of America lets members come together to share their passion for antique and historically significant automobiles. Since its inception, the Veteran Motor Car Club of America has focused on touring in antique cars. Members can compete for awards on the national level, based on their car's appearance, performance, and preservation.