I hear a lot of car people lament that the last classic car was built in 1973. I don’t agree.

“Classic” is technically defined as “Serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value.” There’s nothing there to limit production years on cars. I think that comes from the definition of “antique” as it relates to state DMV definitions, which vary depending on where you live. But to me, sticking a year cutoff on the term misses the point completely. All old cars are special in some way, and I think dismissing later examples as somehow lesser because of when they were built is short-sighted.

The Beaches Cruise-in at PIR is a weekly event here in PDX that draws in hundreds of cars on Wednesday afternoons. It’s only open to cars and trucks from 1973 and older. On one level, I understand that, as they only have so much room for old cars to gather. On the other hand, though, if the event isn’t completely packed full, why not let in newer cars and trucks?

They do, to their credit, have special weeks on the calendar that are open to later-model cars, which is a reflection of the changing interests of old car people. I think the date cutoff will eventually change to allow in later vehicles. That will probably happen at other events as well, as they start to realize that a younger demographic needs to be served, too.

As for the cars themselves, do you think a 1973 Challenger is a classic? How about a 1979 Trans Am? Maybe a ZR-1 Corvette? Is the cutoff sitting right at the dawn of electronic fuel injection in the mid-1980s? Maybe for you it hovers right around crash bumpers. 

I’d like to know what you think. Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

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