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About Classics: Why We Define Classic as We Do

Usually the cars recognized as "CCCA Classics" were built in limited production numbers and were quite expensive when new. As a group, they represent the pinnacle of engineering, styling and design for their era.

So how many cars were actually built that CCCA considers to be Full Classics? It's a frequently asked question. Hopefully, the selection from an article submitted by CCCA Classifications Chairman, Jon Lee, will shed a little light on the subject.

By the Number

I think we were on our way, by bus, to "The Hermitage", Jackson's homestead near Nashville Tennessee. It was close to the finish of the Natchez Trace CARavan in September of '96. I had been pontificating on some Classic Car subject (my father always warned me not to do that, else I got in trouble) and the question of total number of Classic Cars built was raised. Naturally I jumped in with the figure of 2.5 million. Soon, Bob Turnquist was at my side asking where that number came from. I replied it was a combination of real numbers and a good degree of conjecture on my part. Bob suggested I do a bit more research and establish some concrete numbers. Well, actually, what he said was this: "I'm giving you this assignment," for which I thank you, Bob. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said something to this effect: "All I need is someone to make me do the things I know I should do."

So, here we are. I didn't think this would take much time or effort, and the big Classic producers were fairly easy, but as I went further down the list things got more difficult and some surprises popped up.

I determined that I would first concentrate on American Classics only, at this time. Maybe the foreign Classics will come later. Of course this does include Rolls-Royce of America, but I have excluded Classic Buicks made for export, and commercial chassis wherever I could. There are quite a few entries for which there are no absolute numbers. Good guesses have been put forth by several knowledgeable authors published in the "Classic Car" such as Keith Marvin, Bill Snyder and Karl Zahm. For these efforts I am very grateful as it has made it slightly closer to possible to put these numbers together. Other sources I have listed at the conclusion of the list.

The Classic Makes are listed in descending order of production with appropriate notes as we go along. Please don't assume this is absolute Gospel. I would be very pleased to hear from those of you with more positive information and will present additional information if it is available. As proof positive of my intentions, within a couple of days after I sent the first draft of this to Fred Roe, he returned to me some very interesting and enlightening information which I have included in this, now, updated version. A gentleman by the name of Jerry Falck has provided quite a bit of production information to Bev Kimes that Fred was able to send to me.

So, while this has begun as an interesting assignment from Bob Turnquist, it has begun to grow into a group effort.

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Classic Car Club of America