Definition Wanted

Ok, Somebody please tell me what makes a car (or truck) a late model. Is it a vehicle that has been manufactured between 5 and 10 years ago? OR is it a vehicle that has been recently manufactured up UP TO 5 or 10 years old? In other words is my brand new 2007 Ford F-150 a late model? or is my 2002 Jeep Wrangler a late model? OR are they both late models? What the heck is a late model?

“Late Model” is a term used by car sales-people to describe any vehicle they are trying to sell to you…

It means NOTHING. It’s just sales banter used to make a beater look like a new car…

I’m not talking about just “Sales People”. I want to know what it means when used as follows. “Come down to such and such speedway for late model racing tonight!” or “When driving for so and so trucking company you will be driving conventional late model freightliner trucks.”

The folks inviting you to the raceway or to the trucking company are also salespeople, just a different sort. Their use of the term “late model” is just as flexible as that of the showroom slicksters. Late model means anything the speaker wants it to mean.

The term is flexible. To me it means a fairly recent vintage. I’d expect something less than 10 years old, and probably less than 5. For the racing venue there may be a specific class that determines what “late model” means. It might have to be within some specific range of model years. A new car, to me, is a late model. The only question becomes how far back still counts as “late?”

“Late models,” I believe, are newer cars, and I wouldn’t think there’s any concrete age that defines ‘late’ but relative. That is, if one vehicle is newer than another, the newer one is the late model.

A late model Yugo. Or a late model Chevelle. Or a late model Model T. All of these refer to cars that are newer than the comparison group.
Or: A late model Ford. Or a late model Accent. These refer to new (or nearly new) cars, as they are still in production.
Of course, anyone can define what comparison group they are using without telling anyone. A late model Accent could be a 97, if the seller is using the models from 95-97 as a comparison of age.

Does it really matter? Not really. Just know ‘late’ means newer. Not to be confused with the ‘late’ used to refer to someone who is deceased (the late JFK.) Of course, in the case of the Yugo and Model T, either form of ‘late’ can be used.

While I agree that there is no formal meaning, I generally consider it to mean current design or not more than one design previous. A 2005 Corolla I would consider “late model” because the design is the same as the new ones. A 2007 Camry I’d consider “late model” because it’s still a recent model.

But that’s just me.

  • mountainbike

If it ain’t new, it’s a late model. Example. I tell a friend I’m driving a new Crowm Vic and he asks, “07 or 08?”. Yet I tell the same friend I’m driving a late model Crown Vic and he asks, “What year is it?”.

I still think of a late model car as anyting made after World War II–in other words, a 1946 or later automobile. There were no 1943, 1944, or 1945 model autombiles produced, and only a limited number of 1942’s–production halted around February of 1942. When I was a kid, the wealthier people had post-war cars. People of lesser means, including my family had prewar cars. I guess the term “late model” is relative.

It has been my experience that after 10 years cars are no longer eligible for normal financing and become ‘older models.’ Late models are closely rated geographically and given loan, trade-in, wholesale and retail values but all this is dropped after ten years.

[b]A late model vehicle refers to a vehicle of the current year or vehicle built in the proceding year.

So your Ford is a late model vehicle, but your Jeep isn’t.


In Dragnet, it referred to a car 2-3 years old. The answer is that there is no legal definition for it, just shades of gray. Same as low mileage. What does that mean? Or good fuel economy. What doe that mean? There are just common terms that are used that have different meanings to different people that have no legal meaning.