How to turn your old car into a classic car

This article is a part of our guest post project which allows copywriters to spread the word about the automotive industry. 

By definition, all classic cars are old cars, but not all old cars are classic cars. What gives?

In its strictest (and some might add stodgiest) definition, as put forth by the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA), a classic car is a car that was made before 1948. And not just any car. There’s  a list of cars that qualify. These cars would have to have been relatively expensive and exclusive at their time of manufacture. Not everyone agrees with this definition, however, even within automobile clubs.

As with beauty, the term ‘classic’ – while meaning older – is in the eye of the beholder. So, if you look at your jalopy and see a Cadillac V16, then that’s your prerogative, and you’re entitled to it.

Now, if you want to make your old car look more like a classic car to others, then you are probably want to do a little work. Or a lot of work. How much depends on the existing condition of your ride. Follow these steps, and get your car started on its road to glory.

old car in a garage

Restore Exterior Colour

You may have to think hard to remember the original colour of your car, but that’s exactly what you’ll want to do. Classic cars don’t showcase colours that never existed when the car was produced: they feature historically accurate colours. So if you want your 1981 DeLorean to look classic, restore it to its classic colour. Don’t paint it hot pink. Or black. Or green or yellow. The DeLorean was only manufactured with unpainted brushed stainless steel panels. So do your research. Classic cars are classic in their own right. Don’t rewrite history.

navy blue interior


Restore Your Interior

The interior of your car can often be trickier to restore to its original form than the exterior. Sometimes, a thorough detailing simply won’t do, and you’ll have to replace dashboards, steering wheels, panels, floors and seats. You won’t always be able to cut corners (you can’t just put a floor mat over a floor that’s rusted to the point of brittle corrosion), but sometimes, if your interior is structurally sound, you can simply cover the damage. Or use coverings to preserve your car from further harm.

Aside from floor mats, the easiest way to do this through car seat covers. Preferably, quality, custom-made car seat covers. Not only will these fit your car’s seats ideally, preventing slipping and sliding, but you can get them in a range of colours and materials, so chances are you’ll be able to find something that’s close (or closer) to your car’s original upholstery.

silver engine

Revamp Your Engine & Emissions

Standards have changed, and while your ride may have been road ready 20 or 30 years ago, it may not be up to snuff now. Make sure your engine and emissions can pass any necessary tests.


Depending on where you live, your car may or may not have to pass emission tests to run on the road. And depending on the age of your vehicle, it may not be considered ‘classic’ enough to be exempt from emissions tests in your jurisdiction. So, you may be on the hook to bring it totally up to code.


Many classic cars have their original engines, but not often in their entirety. If a new engine or a partial rebuild is necessary, don’t worry about it compromising the ‘classic’ status of your vehicle. Even relatively new cars have parts of their engines replaced. Just don’t make the mistake of automatically thinking you need an entirely new engine. Your car’s engine was designed to work ideally in your vehicle, so when possible, keep as much of your engine as you can.

traffic at night

Light Work

Old and lacklustre headlights and tail-lights will ruin your classic car look. Be sure to restore your car lights, and when that’s not possible, replace them altogether. Again, try to get lights that reflect the original manufacturer’s style. Also make sure your wattage is up to regulation standards – or in the case of LEDs, that the brightness of your headlights makes it possible to see about 200 hundred metres ahead.

Likewise, your tail lights should be clearly visible and should also be red.

There you have it! Four steps to transforming your old car into a classic car. The amount of work you’ll have to do depends on the current condition of your car, but chances are – if you’re reading this – your ride isn’t a total beater. There’s hope.

One final tip: to make sure all your work is worth it, keep your newfound ‘classic’ covered. Don’t leave it parked outside at the mercy of the elements and possible vandalism. Keep it in a garage, or at the very least, under a car cover.

Happy restoration!

By | 2017-08-10T00:14:29+00:00 August 8th, 2017|Cars, Guest posts, The411|


  1. Kate H. August 28, 2017 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    That’s a very informative post. I have an old car that, despite the years, still looks fresh but the performance has dwindled a lot. And since she’s not the solid beast she was when new, looking at the vintage cars always made me want to give mine a classic look but I wasn’t sure what would work. So thank you for the pieces of the puzzle!

    I’d like to add here what I chalked out when thinking about giving my car a classic look. After the years wear out the new parts, no matter how solid, the parts are no longer able to perform to a set standard and since it’s too much of a hassle to roam the markets looking for so many replacements, it is better to go for Online Parts shopping.

    There are some reliable companies with an Online presence that provide a huge variety of parts manufactured by trusted companies. In some of these there is an option to choose your exact model of automobile, the year, dimensions, etc. according to which you can select from a huge assortment of unbelievably affordable autoparts!

    I hope this helps the readers!

  2. anoosh ali September 25, 2017 at 4:25 am - Reply

    There are some reliable companies with an Online presence that provide a huge variety of parts manufactured by trusted companies.

  3. rohan October 2, 2017 at 5:47 am - Reply

    great post, thanks for haring your information with us

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