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The Vintage Car Era: 1920 - 1945

History Index
Last Reviewed: September 26, 2016

The Vintage Car Era followed World War I, a time when factories, machinery and men needed work and promises of better times encouraged pioneers. Vintage cars were built by would-be inventors in barns and backyards, without thoughts of warrantee or repair. Henry Ford led the Vintage Car Era with his assembly line, which is credited with starting the industrial revolution. Soon after entrepreneurs like Daimler, Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, Studebaker, Oldsmobile and Hudson were household names.

1924 Model T Ford

1924 Model T Ford *

After World War I military plants were quick to retool for automobile production and the lack of government regulations for safety, the environment or employees gave it a sense of the wild wild west. Industrial accidents were all too common and compensation was at the whim of the employer. There were no vehicle requirements like windshields, doors, lights, turn signals or seat belts. There were no pollution control devices or air bags, and brakes were problematic. There were over 500 companies competing for supremacy in 1910 during the Antique Car Era but by the time the Great Depression hit in 1929 only 60 had survived, and twelve years later there was less than 20 dealers selling vintage cars.

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1924 Chrysler

1924 Chrysler *

When we think of the Vintage Car Era we think of fancy dressed gents and brash young ladies know as "flappers" arriving at exotic Speakeasies to dance the Charleston, characters like Bugsy Malone and Ma Parker being chased by the likes of Elliot Ness with machine guns blasting out of car windows, and the glitz and glamor associated with a carefree time known as the "Roaring Twenties". It marked the end of the conservative Victorian Era and the laissez-faire approach to life led to The Great Depression of 1929, which almost brought the burgeoning automobile industry to its knees. Then came World War II when the automobile manufacturers once again quit production to support the war effort, followed by an all new generation of automobiles and trucks built by an abundance of manpower, supplies and available factories when the war ended - marking the beginning of the Classic Car Era.

For pictures of some of the best vintage cars and trucks advertised on, visit our Vintage Car & Truck Photo Gallery.

* Pictures are from ads on and may not be used without the vehicle owner's permission.