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With Hot August Nights right around the corner, Northern Nevada residents are busy reminiscing — and revisiting — the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. The event, starting on July 29 and going through August 7, has people happily obsessed with music, food and attire of the three decades. However, the biggest attraction of the event is the classic cars.

But... What exactly is a classic car? Who determines whether a car is classic or not? How old should a car be to be considered “classic”?

You’ll get different answers depending on who you ask. We turned to Hot August Nights and the Department of Motor Vehicles to help find our answer. For this piece, we’ll only be looking at cars – no trucks, motorcycles, tractors, carriages or whatever this is.

Hot August Nights

Hot August Nights will accept any car from the year 1976 or earlier. It does not matter what the make, model, or year—if it is from 1976 or older, it will be accepted.

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Department of Motor Vehicles Nevada (DMV)

The DMV will administer official license plates to any of the following classic vehicles, depending on their classification. Since the classifications have to withstand the test of time, some of the requirements may currently overlap:

Classic Vehicle—according to the DMV website, Classic Vehicles are vehicles which were manufactured in 1991 or earlier (technically 25 years before the license-plate-application is submitted). Since the requirement is only a 25 year period, technically a 1990 Sedan falls under this classification.

Classic Rod—these are vehicles manufactured after 1949 but are at least 20 years old (again, at the time of the license plate application). This currently includes cars manufactured after 1949 but before 1996. A 1995 BMW would be considered a Classic Rod.

Street Rod—any vehicle manufactured before 1949 would be considered a Street Rod. A 1948 Chevrolet would be a Street Rod.

Old Timer—An Old Timer is a car manufactured more than 40 years ago. A 1975 Cadillac DeVille is considered an Old Timer.

Vintage—these cars were manufactured the year 1942 and earlier. The DMV allows these cars to use replicas of the original plates issued the year the car was manufactured. A 1942 Ford Station Wagon would be considered a vintage car.


Hot August Nights runs from July 29 through August 7. The amount of cars at the different locations may be overwhelming but don’t fret. Find more information on the various events and how to navigate through the experience here.

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