The Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) is an organization founded in 1952 to celebrate the grand automobiles of the prewar period. At the time, the vehicles covered by the Club were considered too modern to be of any interest by such organizations as the Antique Automobile Club of America and despite their often stupendous cost when new, were considered practically worthless.
The vehicles eligible for CCCA membership are now some of the most highly valued cars in existence.
Definition of a Classic car
In the words of the CCCA:A CCCA Classic is a "fine" or "distinctive" automobile, either American or foreign built, produced between 1915 and 1948. Generally, a Classic was high-priced when new and was built in limited quantities. Other factors, including engine displacement, custom coachwork and luxury accessories, such as power brakes, power clutch, and "one-shot" or automatic lubrication systems, help determine whether a car is considered to be a Classic.
The CCCA is considered to have invented the term classic car, which was coined to describe the vehicles covered by the Club's interest. While the term is nowadays used to describe any interesting old vehicle, many in the US consider it only properly used to describe vehicles considered eligible for the CCCA. This may be considered analogously to the correct usage of 'Classical music' to mean only from a specific historical period, even though many people use the term to mean any orchestral work.
However, a Los Angeles car buff attorney, Robert Gottlieb, coined the term "classic car" in his 1951 Motor Trend columns, for the cars many people considered white elephants, then languishing on the back rows of used car lots in any city. Today, excluding "associate members," aka wives, the CCCA has only 2,500 members, about its membership in the 1970s. While many were and are genuine enthusiasts, many are more interested in perpetuating myth, legend, inaccuracy about old luxury cars in order to feather their nests, making a killing at the next Barrett Jackson or Leake auction.
The CCCA should never be considered the final arbiter of what is or is not a halcyon automobile. For example, the CCCA considers eight-cylinder Auburns "Classics," but not equally or more attractive Chrysler eights from the same years, which also have hydraulic brakes and the same attributes. Recently, in order to attract more members to a club whose average member is 70 years old, the CCCA has accepted various higher end bucket mill production cars from the late '40s.
In order to avoid ambiguity, the CCCA generally refers to classic cars that are eligible for the CCCA 'CCCA Full Classics', 'CCCA Classics', 'Full Classics', or just capitalizes them as 'Classics'.
The CCCA has a narrow focus, tending to be interested only in the high-priced cars available in a limited time period. Racing cars and serious sports cars are not covered by the CCCA, either.
The Classic Car Club of America publishes an officially sanctioned list by makes and models of Approved CCCA Classic Cars. Some makes that are not very well represented in the Club are accepted on a "Considered by application" basis. A Club member may petition to have a vehicle not listed in Approved CCCA Classic Cars approval and accepted. Such approval may be given if the car is one of a similar standard to vehicles already accepted into the Club.
Cars older than 1915 may be accepted if they are nearly identical or fundamentally the same as eligible vehicles built in 1915 or newer. Cars built after 1942 and up until 1948 are only accepted if they are nearly identical or fundamentally the same as the prewar vehicles; the focus of the club is on the prewar, but this accepts that many cars built immediately postwar were actually the same vehicles as were available immediately before hostilities began.
The Classic Car Club of America publishes a list of Approved CCCA Classic Cars that are recognized CCCA Classics on its website.
The CCCA's car shows and judged championships are known as Grand Classics and are held at various points throughout the US. About a half-dozen Grand Classics are held annually. While neither as large nor as glamorous as the largest Concours d'Elegance such as Pebble Beach they are prestigious events in their own right.
While many cars go to be entered into competition, the Club encourages its members to bring their cars even if they are in no condition to win at show.
Concours judging is based on a comparison of the car to its condition when new. If the car now is identical to its as-new condition (or indeed better, given the quality of modern restoration) then 100 points are awarded. These days, quite a few vehicles rate 100 points at show.
Some alterations for safety purposes are permitted and do not cost judging points. Glass must be safety glass except in classes purely for unrestored, as-original cars. Many original vehicles from early in the period had only one tail light and stop light; fitting a second one is accepted as long as it looks period correct. Equipping a car built with only brakes on two wheels with brakes on the other two wheels is also permitted, as long it is done in keeping with the car's period.
The CCCA organizes annual driving tours under this name. Distances covered are often scenic and leisurely, with many stops at local attractions. These events could be as long as several weeks, or as short as 3 days depending on the focus of the tour.
Complete car list
All vehicles below must be built between 1915 and 1948, unless specified otherwise.