Categories in Classics. Part 2

I don’t really have to tell you how much I am enjoying getting to know more and more people in the classic car community. As my friend Martin Sigrist says, “There is something about cars” that draws a wonderful people to them. I dedicate this article to Mechanical Symphony as an appreciation for all their great conversations and support.

In my previous article “Categories in Classics”, I spoke of the terminology of cars when considering the restoration approach vs originality. Today I would like to cover the terminology of cars according to mileage, condition, and originality.

Time Capsules

These are cars which left the factory and immediately went into storage or museums. They have either zero mileage or delivery mileage maximum. These cars are completely untouched therefore are 100% original. They still hold protecting plastics or wrapping and probably they were never washed. They have since been stored in protected environments, thereby remaining in Concours d ’Elegance condition.

Barn Finds

Like “Time Capsules”, these cars will not show high mileage and will be 100% original. However, they were at some point stored in a non-protected environment like a barn, abandoned garage or even just outdoors. Therefore water, air, dust or even rodents have damaged the car making it non-drivable straight forward. These cars would need significant restoration work to bring them to condition 1.


We use this term for cars with high mileage (>100K) that still manage to retain a very high level of originality. They still have their original chassis, engine and transmission (matching numbers). They have never been repainted and all the interior components are the originals. They have never been restored and have been driven with enthusiasm (therefore you can expect some dents in the bodywork, defects in the seats and interior). All systems still work, and you can still drive the car safely.


Unlike “Survivors”, these cars won’t show a very high mileage. They have been driven but haven’t reached 100K mileage. They have matching numbers and perhaps retain the original paint. These cars show an excellent condition and are ready to participate in a Concours d‘Elegance. Some of their components were restored, but all the work was done securing authenticity, meaning the restorers used the same methods and materials which produced the original components back in period.


These cars are perhaps the highest in numbers among our community. At some point, their owners decided to sacrifice originality for drivability. This means some of the components are not original anymore. Perhaps they carry a new engine or transmission, the carburetors were replaced by injection, or the suspension/brakes were reinforced for higher performance or safety. They didn’t go through a strip out restoration but surely have been repainted at some point, and the interior is not 100% original anymore. These are cars to enjoy with safety and performance, with no fear of losing an investment in case of accident.


Cars which the owners decided to proceed with a complete overhaul of chassis, engine, transmission, bodywork, and interior. They may not have carried high mileage before the restoration, but due to their condition the best option was to proceed with full restoration. These cars won’t be 100% original anymore, but if the restoration job is done well, they would be 100% authentic. They tend to retain matching numbers (although this is not always the case). After the restoration these cars are considered in top condition and ready for Concours d’ Elegance.

I hope you enjoyed this new addition to our classic car glossary. If you’d like to comment, please email me at or on Instagram @themotorchain_tmc_ or @juliosaiztmc