Navigating Classic Car Ownership in China: Challenges and Changes

by AutoExpert   |  31 May, 2024

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Ever flipped through photos of a fancy car show and wondered where all the classic rides are in China? Well, there's a reason for that. Owning a cool, old car in China is a whole different ball game compared to the US.

Here's the deal: until recently, most cars over 15 years old had to be scrapped. Plus, importing a classic car from abroad is a bureaucratic nightmare for regular folks. Even if you have a sweet Shanghai sedan from the 70s tucked away, getting it registered is next to impossible (unless you run a museum, that is).

Car Ownership in China

Importing classics is a challenge too, because China generally doesn't allow "used" cars in the country. It's like a six-month visitor visa for your car – after that, it's gotta leave and come back in again. Trust me, the red tape involved makes the US's 25-year import rule look like a cakewalk.

So, what classic cars can you actually see in China? Not much. There are a few museums with some treasures, but most everyday classic cars from the past 50 years are long gone. The only exceptions are some first-edition models car companies hang onto.

Car Ownership in China

Basically, classic car ownership in China is for the wealthy private collector or fancy car museums. Not exactly the picture of a middle-class guy taking his vintage ride for a weekend spin.

There is a glimmer of hope though! Things are slowly changing. The rule about scrapping cars over 15 is gone, and since 2019, you can actually import a car older than 100 years old (talk about an antique!). This doesn't open the floodgates for classic car imports, but it's a start.

Car Ownership in China

The dream of a thriving classic car scene in China is still far off. Emissions regulations are a big hurdle, and getting a new car registered in a big city is already a pain. But hey, at least there's movement!

There are conferences happening about defining classic cars in China, and folks are pushing for import law reform. The ultimate goal? A China where classic car ownership isn't just for the elite.

Car Ownership in China

The big question is: what kind of classics would everyday Chinese people want to own? Even if import restrictions vanish tomorrow, figuring out that sweet spot between affordability and awesomeness will be a challenge.

Car Ownership in China

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