Best States for Classic Car Owners (2021)

The best states for classic car owners offer plenty of opportunities to show off your car and gather with other enthusiasts. While great weather helps make a state popular with classic car lovers, local car culture can overcome even cold Midwest winters. From New York to California, classic car owners will feel at home in any of our top 10 states.

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Feb 25, 2021

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Things to Remember

  • The best states for classic cars have lots of active clubs and weather that will allow you to enjoy them
  • Even states with cold winters can have a classic car culture that lands it in the top 10
  • The most popular classic car among the top-ranked states is the 1969 Dodge Charger

For classic car owners, pulling up to a car show on a sunny day to show off your pride and joy and admire the rows of shiny, lovingly restored vehicles is unmatched. And while those days are possible just about anywhere, some states are simply better for classic car owners.

The best states for classic car owners are more than just places with good weather. All the sunny days in the world can’t create a thriving classic car community.

So, to create our list of the top 10 states to own a classic car, we looked for places with a lot of classic car clubs, translating to a lot of opportunities to share your car love with others.

Of course, there are plenty of less fun aspects to owning a classic, like how auto insurance laws apply to classic cars and the rules surrounding registering a classic. We’ve rounded up the information you need along with tips on the top car shows to catch in each state.

Top 10 States to Own a Classic Car

What states are great for classic vehicles? While warm Southern states are certainly among the top picks, great car culture lands some Northern states among the top picks, too.

Looking at average temperatures and classic car clubs in each state helped us create our list of the 10 best states for classic cars.

For each state, you’ll find costs for special registration. Bear in mind that there are often restrictions that come with the classic, historic, or antique designation on your plates and registration.

Similar restrictions will apply to determine if your car will qualify for classic car insurance, which is generally cheaper and provides agreed value coverage rather than market value.

Ready to find out which states made the top 10 for classic car owners? Pull up and read on.

#10 – Arizona

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 17
Average Temperature: 60.3° F
Classic Car Registration: $25 application fee, $10 annual renewal
Most Popular Classic Car: 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The weather in Arizona is suitable for classic car owners, although some days might be a bit too hot for a car without air conditioning, particularly in the southern part of the state.

Overall, though, the many days of sunshine are great for cruising. Scottsdale hosts a car meet every Saturday regardless of the weather, so there’s always a chance for a cruise.

Arizona is home to quite a few car clubs and less organized cruise nights, and classic car culture is strong. It also offers low registration fees for classic car plates, with a one-time application fee and a minimal annual renewal rate.

#9 – Texas

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 17
Average Temperature: 65° F
Classic Car Registration: $50 (1921 or later), $40 (pre-1921), +$40 for custom plate
Most Popular Classic Car: 1969 Dodge Charger

Like Arizona, Texas has year-round good weather that allows classic cars to be out on the road more often. Texas is the first of many states on our list to have the 1969 Dodge Charger as the most searched classic in the state, according to ClassicCars.com.

With a lot of car clubs to keep you busy and reasonable registration fees, Texas is a great place to live if you have a historic ride. Texas classic car registration fees are even cheaper for cars that are pre-1921. Don’t miss the annual Rock & Roll Nostalgia Car Show and Cruise in Lubbock, Texas to show off your ride.

#8 – Maryland

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 18
Average Temperature: 54° F
Classic Car Registration: $25 one-time fee (60 years or older),  $51 (all newer cars – every 2 years)
Most Popular Classic Car: 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air

Classic cars and a classic beach town are a tough combination to beat, and Ocean City, Maryland offers just that combination, hosting an annual hot rod and custom car show along with Cruisin’ Ocean City, where there are prizes to be won.

But it’s not just the beach towns where Maryland shines for classic car owners. Meets take place all across the state throughout the year. Maryland also offers a deal on registration, with cars 60 years or older costing only a one-time $25 fee. The state’s most popular classic — a ’54 Bel Air — fits right into that category.

#7 – Georgia

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 24
Average Temperature: 60.3° F
Classic Car Registration: $20, special tag $35 (both annual), one-time $25 plate fee
Most Popular Classic Car: 1969 Dodge Charger

You can’t help but think of cruising in a classic when you think of hot Georgia nights. Atlanta is home to one of the biggest monthly meets in the country, called Caffeine and Octane. Warm weather most of the year makes for a long cruising season, and it’s no surprise there’s a big market for classic cars here.

Although registration is annual, the costs are low and the plate fee is one-time. It’s definitely one of the more affordable states for classic car registration.

#6 – Michigan

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 26
Average Temperature: 44° F
Classic Car Registration: $30, renewed every 10 years
Most Popular Classic Car: 1969 Dodge Charger

It’s no surprise that the home of Motor City would land a spot on the list of top states for classic cars. After all, many of the sought-after classics — including the Dodge Charger that tops the list in so many states — were built in Detroit.

Speaking of Detroit, it’s home to the annual Woodward Dream Cruise, one of the premier events in the world for classic car lovers. There are also tons of smaller events to attend across the state, and although the season is a little shorter, the culture more than makes up for it.

The classic car registration for Michigan drivers is cheap as well, which should help with the sting of high Michigan auto insurance rates.

#5 – Ohio

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 28
Average Temperature: 51° F
Classic Car Registration: Reserved $25, personalized $50, + $7.50 for a set of plates (one-time fees)
Most Popular Classic Car: 1969 Dodge Charger

Ohio may have long winters, but the love of classics makes the summers a time to make the most of the sunshine. And with more than two dozen classic car clubs, there’s plenty of chances to do just that. The calendar is packed throughout the spring, summer, and fall months.

Like many other states on our list, Ohio classic car lovers are big fans of the 1969 Dodge Charger. And while you’re shopping for cheap Dodge Charger insurance (assuming you’re lucky enough to find one), you can rest easy that you won’t overpay for registration.

#4 – New York

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 46
Average Temperature: 45° F
Classic Car Registration: $24 standard, $60 personalized +$25 in areas with Metro Commuter fee (all annual)
Most Popular Classic Car: 1969 Dodge Charger

New York is another state that doesn’t let winter interfere with a love for classic cars. The New York Fairgrounds in Syracuse is home to a huge annual classic car show and swap meet. The Syracuse Nationals takes place over three days and averages 8,000 cars.

Registration fees are reasonable, but you can expect to pay extra if you’re living in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District. That’s probably not surprising to those that live in that part of the state. Fortunately, classic car auto insurance tends to be cheaper than standard insurance and can offset some of your costs.

#3 – Florida

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 47
Average Temperature: 70.7° F
Classic Car Registration: $7.50 (annual)
Most Popular Classic Car: 1969 Dodge Charger

Florida’s weather is hard to beat for classic car owners, with an average temperature of just over 70 degrees and a lot of sunny days. There are big meets that take place across the state, but one of the best known is the Daytona Turkey Run. It’s named for the fact that it’s scheduled during Thanksgiving week, which is something you can do in sunny Florida.

Registration on classics is about as cheap as it comes in Florida, which makes up for the somewhat high Florida auto insurance rates. It’s no wonder this state has so many classic car clubs.

#2 – Pennsylvania

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 52
Average Temperature: 49° F
Classic Car Registration: $75 (one-time)
Most Popular Classic Car: 1967 Chevrolet Nova

Landing at the number two spot on our list is Pennsylvania, a state with a large number of classic car clubs and an affordable one-time registration fee that covers your classic for life.

The Elegance at Hershey is among the top-ranked vintage car shows in the world, showcasing incredible examples of classic vehicles and including a vintage race. Dozens of other meets take place throughout the warmer months too, in case you’re in search of something smaller.

#1 – California

Number of Classic Car Clubs: 72
Average Temperature: 59.4° F
Classic Car Registration: varies; historic plates $25
Most Popular Classic Car: 1967 Ford Mustang

It’s hard to beat California’s weather and miles of great roads for cruising. A cruise up the Pacific Coast Highway alone could earn California the number one spot. It earned that spot, however, due to average temperatures that are comfortable throughout the year and a long list of active classic car clubs.

While the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance draws plenty of car lovers, there’s an endless array of meets and groups for every type of car lover in California. While the total for your California classic car registration fees will vary, there’s a low historic plate charge of only $25.

Full Study Results: All States Ranked for Classic Car Owners

Our full study ranked every state for average temperature and the number of general classic car clubs that aren’t focused on one particular type of car. Although the weather is an important factor for classic car owners, vibrant car culture is even more important.

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California landed in our number one spot, winning for both ranking factors. Some other states with great weather didn’t rank as well as you might expect, although they may have more off-the-grid car clubs that aren’t listed by our source.

Frequently Asked Questions: Best States for Classic Car Owners

If you have more questions about classic cars, we have more answers right here.

#1 – Who has the best classic car insurance?

Choosing a good auto insurance company for classic cars is much like shopping for any other insurance; it really depends on your needs. Companies like Hagerty and Grundy are popular picks because they specialize in classics.

#2 – Is a 25-year-old car a classic?

What is considered a classic car depends on your state’s DMV classic car registration rules. These rules vary from state to state. The age requirement can be as low as 20 years in some states or more in others.

#3 – What is the easiest classic car to maintain?

Classic cars for which parts are readily available and affordable will be the easiest to maintain. Rare, foreign, or modified cars are likely to be more difficult.

#4 – Do classic cars need an inspection in Texas? What about other states?

Texas classic plates have rules that include a requirement that the car has an annual inspection. Classics don’t need to meet modern standards to pass.

As for other states, the rules for classic car inspection vary. Registering a car as a classic can reduce or remove inspection requirements. One of the benefits of classic car registration in Connecticut, for example, is that emissions testing isn’t required for cars over 25 years old. Registering a classic car in Florida without a title is another benefit.

#5 – When can you drive a car with antique tags?

Most states have rules that limit the use of antique, classic, or vintage cars that enjoy special registration rates. You may be restricted to driving occasionally or for show purposes. Check your state’s rules to make sure you’re in compliance.

Methodology: How We Ranked the Top 10 States for Classic Car Owners

To choose the best states to own a classic car, we started with average temperatures in each state. We then counted the number of classic car clubs in each state, leaving out clubs that are specific to one type of car in order to choose the groups with the broadest appeal.

We used data from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) for the weather, using temperatures averaged over nearly 100 years from 1901-2000. The classic car club count was drawn from the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA).

Data on registration fees was drawn from individual state Department of Motor Vehicles websites.

Best to Worst States for Classic Car Owners
Best to Worst States for Classic Car Owners