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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

5 Best States to Own a Classic Car or Truck

If we had to guess which state is the best place to own a classic car or truck, we would have put our money on California or Texas.  Think of all the scenery and road trips that both states can offer.  Add in that Southern California and much of Texas sees decent weather year-round, in comparison to a state like Wisconsin, and it might seem like a no-brainer answer.

According to a study done by Hagerty, both Texas and California are in the bottom five states to own a classic!  While it was hard to see Texas in 47th place and California in 49th, there is some truth in their findings when seeing things in a different perspective.

Hagerty, the world’s largest provider of specialty insurance for collectible vehicles, did a study to find out which states in America are the most classic-vehicle friendly. They look at variables that the average owner might not consider.  They asked questions like: Is there an emissions process? Is there a sales tax? How high is it? How car-friendly is the weather? How pleasant are the roads?

These are the criteria they considered:

  • Registration restrictions
  • Safety inspections
  • Emission laws
  • Sales & excise taxes
  • Title requirements
  • Road quality & traffic
  • Weather (length of driving season)

Hagerty scoured each state’s DMV website for information, and they reached out to classic car and truck owners for their opinion. They then assigned a number grade for every criterion and added them up for an overall score.

Each of the nine graded categories could receive a maximum score of 100 making a perfect score 900.  No state received a perfect score, but we think you will be surprised to hear which state received an 840!  We were really surprised! And then there was Massachusetts that came in last place with only 260!  No suh! (that’s “No way!” in Boston slang).

Here are the top five states to own a classic car or truck:

  • 5. North Dakota – Total Grade: 770. Despite all the snow, all the other restrictions, taxes and requirements are pretty remarkable. It might not be the most exciting place to live, but there road quality was ranked second in America by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 4. Utah – Total Grade: 778. It was the high sales tax and the “parades and special events” restrictions on cars registered as classic vehicles that kept it from climbing the charts. The road and traffic in Utah are considered some of the best in the country.
  • 3. Arkansas – Total Grade: 810. Good traffic and decent year-round weather make Arkansas a great place to own a classic. The big downfall is the high state, county, and city taxes. You can beat the system by buying a classic car for less than $4,000 and fix it up.  No tax is collected on a vehicle under $4,000.
  • 2. Kentucky – Total Grade: 820. Registering a classic in Kentucky is like registering a every-day driver. There is no classification for vintage or classic vehicles on the standard registration form. With no registration restrictions, no safety or emission inspections, and no sales tax, it is easy to see why Kentucky makes the list.  Add in excellent traffic, roads and a 10-month driving season and it seals the deal.
  • 1. Minnesota – Total Grade: 840. If Minnesota did not have such lousy weather, it would have had nearly a perfect score. Every other category scored a perfect 100 except for sales tax. Sales tax on a vintage car is a flat $125 fee plus $25 in a one-time tax.  That is actually not too bad if you are buying a higher-end collector car.

If you want to see how all states performed and the breakdown of the scores, check out the full study done by Hagerty.

We still consider the weather to be a more important factor and would like to see how states would fair against each other when based on only road quality, traffic, and length of driving season rather than monetary and legal hurdles.  We would also like to see the number of classic car events in each state factored in.  It is often just as fun to show it off as it is to drive it.

On the other hand, those expenses can sometimes put a dark cloud over the actual enjoyment you get from cruising your classic. We guess Minnesota wins this round.

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