Current offers of popular classic cars at a glance (2024)

Classic cars – at some point every car becomes one

The number of timeless automobile classics is growing from year to year, and not just because there are more and more cars: they give you a sense of achievement when you are working on screws, quickly bring you new contacts with like-minded people and make your eyes light up as soon as the car starts. The main reason for the love of classic cars is probably that you can find in them the unique and, not least, nostalgic character that you miss in modern vehicles from the assembly line. But vehicles don't get this status easily: classic cars have to meet certain requirements in order to be considered such - above all, exceeding the 30-year mark. What else characterizes a classic car, how it obtains the coveted H license plate, what distinguishes the classic car from the youngtimer and much more - you can find out all about it here:

The term classic car

It doesn't come from English at all, but rather from the vernacular! To be more precise, “oldtimer” is a pseudo-anglicism, because in the English language the term only exists as “old-timer” and describes older people or veterans in an affectionate way. The general term we use for vehicles of a certain age does not exist in English, because old cars with collector value simply have prefixes such as classic, veteran, vintage or antique added to the respective vehicle type car, truck or motorcycle. So you could definitely say that the term “oldtimer” is a German word.

The meaning of the term classic car

What all classic cars have in common is that they have “outlived their lifetime”. For cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses or tractors, this officially applies to an age of 30 years. Because this doesn't happen very often in relation to the number of vehicles in stock, classic cars are usually collector's items and, in the best case, have a certain collector's value. Incidentally, the condition of the vehicle is not decisive for the definition of a classic car:

Some well-maintained collector's items are in a good technical and maintenance condition and sometimes still work like they did on the first day - but classic cars also include vehicles that are in an unrestored condition commensurate with their age or are no longer roadworthy, but in were left in their original condition. Whether they work or not, the regular use of classic cars in everyday life is of course no longer appropriate or sometimes even forbidden because technical, ergonomic and safety requirements have changed. In some cases, vintage cars only serve representative, speculative or idealistic purposes. Others are suitable for almost everyday use.

Classic cars versus youngtimers

Until the end of February 2007, the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (StVZO) still defined the so-called youngtimer as a vehicle between 20 and 30 years old. Since March 2007, however, the StVZO has only stipulated when vehicles are classified as classic cars. Since then, the Youngtimer regulation has no longer been defined in German law. By the way, the term Youngtimer is also a pseudo-Anglicism and is even completely unknown in English - there you can find the equivalent "modern classic".

Since they are younger than classic cars, youngtimers are often suitable for everyday use if well maintained. Some even have very modern technology and equipment such as catalytic converters, air conditioning, electric windows, anti-lock braking systems or, in rare cases, even airbags. Some people protect and care for their classic car as a precautionary measure and no longer let it on the road often in order to keep it in a condition that allows the transition to classic car status:

The official classification as a classic car: the H license plate

The H license plate is, so to speak, the public identification of a vehicle as a classic car, where the H stands for “historic vehicle” (e.g. M-AS 24H). In order to receive this license plate, certain requirements apply: The legal and uniform definition of the Vehicle Registration Ordinance (FZV) must be met, which describes a classic car as a vehicle that

  1. first came into circulation at least 30 years ago
  2. largely corresponds to the original condition
  3. is in good condition and
  4. serves to maintain the automotive technical cultural heritage.

According to point 1), it is not the year of manufacture that counts, but rather the day of first registration. For points 2) to 4), the StVZO has required a report for classic car classification since March 2007: This includes a technical examination in which the original or contemporary and well-preserved condition of the vehicle is confirmed. When vehicles have been modified, such as through increased performance or chassis modifications, the technical inspectors often refuse H status.

For the state of preservation according to 3), an evaluation system based on condition grades from 1 to 5 applies, which also play a role in the value assessment and classic car insurance:

Condition gradeValue assessment
Grade 1 (immaculate condition)No defects, damage or signs of wear on technology and optics. Completely and perfectly restored top vehicle. Like new (or better). Very rare. Most likely to be found in museums.
Grade 2 (good condition)Free of defects, but with slight signs of wear. Either rare, good unrestored original condition or professionally restored. Technically and optically perfect with slight signs of wear.
Grade 3 (used condition)Without any major technical or visual defects, fully roadworthy and safe to drive. No rust through. No immediate work necessary.
Grade 4 (used condition)Only partially operational. Immediate work to achieve the required acceptance in accordance with the StVZO is necessary. Light to medium rusting. The individual assemblies are complete, but not necessarily undamaged.
Grade 5 (condition in need of restoration)Poor overall condition, not ready to drive. Extensive work required in all assemblies. Not necessarily complete.

Advantages of the H license plate

Emissions testing and environmental zones with classic cars

All petrol engines that were first registered before July 1, 1969 are exempt from emissions testing, as are all diesel engines that were first registered before January 1, 1977. All vehicles with an H license plate are allowed to enter all environmental zones without a sticker.

Vehicle tax for classic cars

When it comes to vehicle tax, a standard tax rate of currently 191 euros per year applies to classic cars, regardless of the engine capacity and whether the vehicle has a catalytic converter.

Car insurance for classic cars

From an insurance perspective, a vehicle that is more than 30 years old is considered a classic car and therefore has a special status. The prerequisite is that another “normal” everyday vehicle is registered, which at least indicates that the classic car is only maintained for pleasure and is not used as a utility vehicle. The rule of thumb for motor vehicle liability insurance is: the older the vehicle, the lower the premium.

Classic car legends

Popular German classic cars are the BMW Isetta, the tailfin and /8 models from Mercedes-Benz from the 1960s and 70s, the Opel GT, the Porsche 911, the VW Beetle, the Trabant or the old VW buses T1, T2 and T3. The legends among the classic cars also include the Mercedes-Benz 300 Gullwing, the Mercedes-Benz 600, the BMWs 501 and 507, the Porsche 356, the Ford Model T and the Alfa Romeo 1900 Millenove.

Current offers of popular classic cars at a glance (2024)


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