A classic car is difficult to maintain

Classic cars: license plates and registration - an overview

Corona or crisis: old cars are still very popular. And their number is growing: on January 1, 2020, almost 600,000 vehicles and trailers were registered in Germany.

More and more people are getting a taste for the automotive cultural asset. But what do you have to pay attention to? And when is a car actually a classic car? We have put together the most important questions and answers about classic cars for you.

Classic in the driving report:

What is a classic car?

In the general sense, the term "oldtimer" is understood to mean all vehicles with wheels that have reached a certain age and are being collected, i.e. both cars and motorcycles. In the English-speaking world, the word "oldtimer" refers to an old person. Nevertheless, it hits the core quite well: Oldtimers remind us of the (supposedly) good old days.

Requirements: When is a vehicle considered a classic car?

Of course, Germany has a legal definition for classic cars. The Vehicle Licensing Ordinance (FZV) describes this in Section 9, Paragraph 1 as follows: "On request, a vehicle for which an expert report according to Section 23 of the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations [StVZO] is available will be assigned a vintage license plate."

Paragraph 23 of the StVZO reads: "To classify a vehicle as a classic car within the meaning of Section 2 Number 22 of the Vehicle Licensing Ordinance, an opinion from an officially recognized expert or examiner or test engineer is required to carry out the published guideline and to prepare the expert opinion according to a template specified in the guideline. "

"Within the scope of the assessment, an examination in the scope of a main inspection according to § 29 must also be carried out, unless an expert opinion according to § 21 is drawn up at the same time as the assessment. § 29 Paragraph 3 applies to the issuing of the test sticker."

It also says in FZV §9 Paragraph I: "This license plate consists of a distinctive sign and an identification number according to § 8 Paragraph 1. It is identified as a classic car license plate with the letter" H "after the identification number."

This number plate is commonly referred to as the "H license plate". The condition for this is that the vehicle was first registered at least 30 years ago. Younger vehicles from around 20 years of age are regarded by fans as "young timers" in order to set them apart from ordinary used cars.

How many classic cars are there in Germany?

The Federal Motor Transport Authority knows exactly: On January 1, 2020, 595,046 vehicles (motor vehicles) and vehicle trailers as 30-year-old or older vehicles with and without H-plates were registered in Germany.

This was an increase of 10.9 percent (58,531 vehicles and vehicle trailers) compared to the previous year. The oldest registered car in Germany is currently a Benz Velo from 1894.

The top 10 most popular classic cars in Germany 2020

What is the classic car registration?

We already talked about the H mark. For this, the car or motorcycle must be 30 years or older. But that alone is not enough as a prerequisite. The legislature wants to avoid that every rust arbor can benefit from the advantages of the H-mark through additional conditions.

These are: entry into environmental zones and a low flat tax. It amounts to 191.73 euros per year for cars and 46.02 euros for motorcycles. In addition, there are often advantages in terms of insurance.

However, the vehicle must be in a condition that corresponds to school grade 3. That means: used, but properly and immediately ready to drive without restrictions. To prove this, the TÜV creates a so-called "oldtimer report".

In addition to the general condition, the original condition is also checked there: How original is the vehicle and are the accessories contemporary? LED headlights on the VW Beetle would definitely be a mistake. On the other hand, no more power from the engine, provided that the corresponding modifications were already made in the year of approval.

Of course, wearing parts or tires do not have to be old, on the contrary. Otherwise, the rule of thumb for receiving a registration certificate applies: the more original, the easier it is to obtain the certificate.

What do I have to consider when registering a classic car?

As with "normal" cars or motorbikes, as a vehicle owner you need the vehicle registration document and the vehicle registration document for the registration authority to register a classic car. However, these papers may have been lost on old cars that have been parked for a long time and found in garages or barns.

But even then there is still a chance of admission. In the registration regulation it says: "If the registration certificate II (vehicle letter) is not available, it is to be applied for according to § 12 that it is made out."

A very special barn find: a Mercedes 300 SL, now owned by the works museum

For this, proof is required that the future vehicle owner may dispose of the corresponding vehicle. This is to ensure that it is not a stolen or misappropriated automobile or motorcycle.

The purchase contract, invoices, customs papers or, in the case of vehicles from abroad, documents such as the "US title" can be presented to the registration office as proof of this. Important for inherited classic cars: heirs should clearly clarify the ownership structure.

Is the H mark worth it?

That depends on the car in question. For vehicle owners of small models with little cubic capacity, such as the Trabant or the Fiat 500, the H license plate is not worthwhile for tax purposes as a license plate. But it has advantages in environmental zones and insurance. Drivers of old diesels or cars with a large cubic capacity, on the other hand, save a lot of money thanks to the lower tax.

What alternatives to the H mark are there?

Well, the H license plate itself is also available in a seasonal version from the registration office. Here, for example, it says 04-09 on the side of the license plate, which means that the classic car can only be driven between April and August. So if you want to protect your oldtimer in winter, you won't save an awful lot of money on taxes, but you can enjoy the other H advantages.

Normal seasonal license plate

Another alternative is the normal seasonal license plate. Here, too, you save the tax for a selected period of usually a few months, during which the vehicle is not allowed to spend the winter on the street or in a public parking lot. So you should have a garage or a parking space.

Plus point: The classic car report is not required. You can often see this number plate on youngtimers that are to be spared for their future classic car existence.

Season license plate: This old Mini can be used from 1.4. until October 31 be moved

Change indicator

The change number plate does not offer any real advantages. This means that two vehicles can have the same license plate at the registration office, but only one of them can be moved at a time. This is indicated by additional signs, there is also an "H" version of the license plate at the licensing authority. It is at most worthwhile for those who want a special license plate number on two cars.

07 license plate

The red 07 license plate, named after the first two digits on the license plate, is much more popular. It is issued for vehicles from 30 years of age or older. The prerequisite, however, is that these cars or motorcycles are only used for test drives and exercise drives, test drives for vehicle sales and drives to vehicle meetings; For regular use on the road, these vehicles must have a regular license plate or an H license plate.

A vehicle registration booklet for red vintage license plates in the form of a logbook is provided as proof of this at the registration office. The license plate may only be used on the vehicles for which it was issued.

Depending on the registration office, up to ten vehicles can be approved for each red 07 number, but in other cases any number of vehicles can be approved. This license plate is tax-privileged, and insurance companies often offer favorable tariffs for it.

The documents to be submitted for approval may vary depending on the approval office, but are usually strictly checked before the approval certificate is handed over. The 07 number has advantages for collectors or hobbyists with many vintage cars that are only rarely moved.

To cut a long story short: In the vast majority of cases, classic car fans are recommended to use the H license plate. After all, you will cherish and care for your classic, won't you?

What do the condition marks mean for classic cars?

In order to be able to better assess the condition of an automotive cultural asset, there are condition grades. They mainly help with buying and selling, but, as already mentioned, are also relevant as evidence of automotive requirements for the H license plate. The system is based on the known school grades and has the following conditions:

State 1: A practically perfect vehicle, on which no (!) Defects in optics or technology can be found even with the most precise inspection. Such cars or motorcycles are rare, they are often very complex restorations of high-priced models. They correspond to the condition of a new car, if not better.

State 2: A very good vehicle without any defects in its original condition or in an elaborately restored condition with no missing parts and at most slight signs of wear. Comparable to a serviced used car with a manageable mileage.

State 3: Most of the classic cars can be found here. Used vehicles in good condition, showing normal wear and tear or individual, minor defects. Unrestrictedly ready to drive, without rusting through and without any repairs that are immediately necessary. In other words: not a jewel, but not scrap either.

State 4: The vehicle is still ready to drive, but only to a limited extent. Defects are clearly visible and repairs are necessary. Slight to medium rust perforations, plus possibly missing parts.

State 5: No longer ready to drive or even partially dismantled. A restoration with a higher financial outlay is inevitable.

Condition 6 - i.e. grade 6 - does not exist, it would describe vehicles that no longer exist.

As in school, there is a plus or a minus within the mentioned condition grades. This shows the tendency of the current state. Especially original vehicles with a patina can be marked with an asterisk.

Patina can add value, as with this Goggomobil TL 400

Is an appraisal worthwhile?

Have your classic car assessed by a vehicle expert as part of a vehicle valuation, you will receive a classic car report. You can have your classic car evaluated by DEKRA or TÜV, for example. The market value, the replacement value and the restoration value are determined. On this basis, the classic car receives a grade.

The interior, the external condition and the technology are checked. Depending on the effort, the costs are between 150 euros and over 350 euros. The determined market value helps both the buyer and the seller to determine the price. In addition, the expert opinion does not buy a pig in a poke.

What is the replacement value?

The costs that the owner would have to spend after an accident or theft to buy a comparable vehicle again.

What is the recovery value?

The costs that would be required to restore the vehicle to its old condition after an accident. Both replacement and restoration value are particularly relevant to insurance. There can be enormous sums between two status grades.

Which classic car should I buy?

It depends on your wallet and preferences: do you like a particular brand or type? Do you associate personal memories with a model? Very good! Of course, you can also view a classic car as an investment.

But it should be more of a pleasant side effect. Anyone who loves their old car with all their heart and soul will also forgive its quirks in everyday life. Because always remember: you are not driving a new car!

A popular entry-level classic car: the old Fiat 500

Are there special insurances for oldtimers and youngtimers?

Naturally. In addition to the well-known large insurance groups, there are also providers who specialize exclusively in classic cars. The prerequisites are almost always similar: there is usually a minimum age and a modern car is often required as a first vehicle.

From a certain value of the old vehicle, an appraisal is mandatory as proof. In return, classic car insurance is often cheaper in terms of costs for vehicle owners because historical cultural assets are usually moved much less. For example, an annual mileage of a maximum of 9,000 kilometers is set.

Partially comprehensive and fully comprehensive? What is worth when?

In general, the principle of modern vehicles applies here: the higher the value, the more fully comprehensive it is worthwhile. In the case of old cars or motorcycles, there is one more point: How rare is my oldie and how high is the cost of a possible repair, including spare parts? In addition, various models are very popular with car thieves.

Who can drive a classic car? (Age limits)

On the part of the legislator, in principle everyone who has a valid driving license for a vehicle. As already mentioned, the minimum age requirements for classic car insurance may be stricter. For example, at "Allianz" you have to be at least 25 years old. Other providers also allow 18 years, provided that the performance of the oldies does not exceed a certain limit.

Can I post photos of classic cars that I have seen at events?

Experience has shown that most classic car owners and meeting organizers will have nothing against private photos for their own use. But you should definitely ask as soon as the pictures are to be published on the Internet or even used commercially.

Do you have to cover up the vintage license plates or make them unrecognizable? There is no legal obligation to do so, but the issue is controversial. In theory, conclusions can be drawn about the owner from the license plate.

Potential thieves could also obtain information in this way. Tip: Photograph the car from an angle that does not show the complete license plate.

Cleaning and maintaining classic cars - what do I have to consider?

Half books can be written on the subject of car washing and car care. One thing is certain: you should prefer hand washing a classic car. A car wash puts filigree add-on parts at risk and definitely does not protect old paintwork. Plus point when washing by hand: You can see any damage to the vehicle or rust at an early stage.

Countless suppliers have care products, cloths and special waxes for classic cars in their range. Whether this is worthwhile is up to you. Would you like to let your classic car shine at events or use it in everyday life?

One thing is certain: older paints have a different composition and are more sensitive. Chromium also needs attention. Additional care is in no way harmful and helps to maintain the value of your own classic.

Maintenance of classic cars?

Of course, classic cars also need regular maintenance in addition to care. This not only serves to ensure reliability, but also to maintain its value. The automotive expertise should not be underestimated: although old cars almost never have electronics on board, they can still be complex and mechanical. Anyone who has ever seen the engine compartment of a Jaguar V12 knows what is meant.

Important: In the past, the intervals between oil changes and inspections were significantly shorter than they are today. In addition, grease nipples may sometimes have to be greased. Here, bearings and joints are greased.

The checkbook, if still available, and the operating instructions provide information on this. There used to be a lot of simple maintenance tips there. And of course rust is a big issue. Welding work or even the complete replacement of body panels can hardly be avoided in the long term.

What about spare parts?

When it comes to spare parts for old cars, the following rule of thumb applies: the bigger the brand and more popular the model, the better the availability. For a VW Beetle that often exists, the situation is naturally more rosy than for exotic vehicles that were only built 100 times. Normally, spare parts should be available for at least ten years after production has ended.

After 20 years and more, bottlenecks can arise, especially with decorative parts or interior fittings. In principle, no manufacturer is obliged to have spare parts for classic cars in stock. But some brands reproduce at least essential parts because their old models are also a kind of advertising.

This is how Mercedes shows which spare parts are in stock for the 300 SL

For logistical reasons, it is hardly feasible for manufacturers to have every detail of a classic car in stock. This is another reason why some parts of bread-and-butter oldies can cost a lot of money or require a long search. Tip: In many large corporations, the mechanics of some series were still used in other models decades later.

Anyone who can do the work themselves should think about buying a battle vehicle. Various large parts dealers specialize in vintage cars of certain brands. But the reproductions do not always fit exactly or they are of inferior quality.

Many a classic car fan therefore prefers so-called NOS parts. "NOS" stands for "New Old Stock", that is, reconditioned original spare parts from the past. It is worth taking a look at online exchanges or visiting classic car fairs.

Do I have to be able to do the screws myself?

Definitely not necessarily. But of course it helps to reduce the cost of a workshop. As the number of classic cars is steadily increasing, more and more workshops are discovering this lucrative business. Even those who have two left hands can get their old car repaired. But of course that can cost money.

There is also the possibility of renting workshop space and tools by the hour. Anyone who owns a classic car with simple technology can slowly get to grips with the screws. Nevertheless, you should be realistic about your own automotive engineering skills: Repairs to safety-relevant parts such as the brakes are only for experts and professionals!

Is membership in a classic car club worthwhile?

Yes. Especially if your classic car is rare or spare parts are difficult to obtain. It is often worthwhile to become a member of a club that takes care of the type of classic car in question. They usually have their own spare parts stores and the members help each other with parts and tips on maintenance. There are also sociable trips and meetings.

A classic car club is also interesting for those who are still flirting with the purchase of the relevant type of classic car. Most of the time there is written advice on buying a cultural asset or you can ask a long-time owner to keep an eye on the object of your desire.

Where can I get technical information about my classic car?

There are many sources of information here. First, of course, the manufacturer himself, then relevant online encyclopedias and specialist journals. The brochures from back then and especially the operating instructions are also helpful. Relevant self-help repair books are also good for familiarizing yourself with the technology.

There are also extensive books with the history, pictures and data for popular vehicle types. And of course, the clubs are happy to help with this issue too. The TÜV offers a data sheet service for classic cars. Data sheets with relevant automotive information can be ordered here.

Do I need an emissions test (AU) for my classic car?

Gasoline engines from first registration on July 1st, 1969 and diesel from first registration on January 1st, 1977 require an AU. In principle, all classic cars with an H license plate are also allowed to drive in environmental zones. If you want to do something good for the environment and the image of old cars: For vehicles from around 1980, there are sometimes solutions for exhaust gas cleaning as retrofitting. However, every old car has to go to the general inspection (HU). Here, too, the interval is two years.