Classic Yacht Buying Guide 2023

1937 Camper & Nicholsons MALAHNE Classic Yacht

Yachts come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but there is something timeless about a classic yacht. Whether it’s a sailing yacht or motor yacht, a classic yacht is one that takes added time and effort to build and maintain. But speak to a classic yacht owner, and they’ll tell you why that extra work is more than worth it.

Image Credit: Camper & Nicholsons – 1937 Camper & Nicholsons MALAHNE Classic Yacht

Let’s review some of the most popular questions about classic yachts.

Buy a Classic Yacht FAQ

What defines a classic yacht?

While there is no formal definition of a “classic yacht” most will agree that it refers to yachts built before 1975, usually made of wood or metal materials, and maintains its original build and design. While the definition is a little fluid, one thing remains constant – classic yachts include some of the most beautiful and timeless yachts ever created, many holding notable records from history or milestones in the yachting world.

What is a classic sailing yacht?

If we follow the definition above, a classic sailing yacht is one built before 1975 that maintains its original wood or metal structure and original classic sails and rigging. These yachts are usually impeccably maintained and feature the classic lines and bespoke craftmanship indicative of days gone by. While the hull, rigging and exterior needs to feature its original build and materials, many classic sailing yachts have upgraded interiors to rival that of other luxury yachts on the water today.

Yachts come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but there is something timeless about a classic yacht.

What is a classic motor yacht?

Similar to a classic sailing yacht, a classic motor yacht will feature hand-crafted exteriors, usually made of wood or steel and offer a peek into the timeless era of vintage classic motor yachts. Classic motor yachts are often limited in number and therefore a unique option for those looking to own a piece of history and nostalgia.

What’s the difference between Heritage, Vintage and Classic Yachts?

Before exploring the differences between Heritage, Vintage and Classic Yachts, it’s important to state that they all share something in common – a certain level of pedigree and prestige, offering a snapshot of history for the most discerning yacht owner. 

  • Heritage Yachts – A heritage yacht is usually classified as such, 25 years after its original build, and holds a certain significance in history. 
  • Vintage Yachts – A vintage yacht is usually one built before 1939, made of wood or metal and maintains its original design.  
  • Classic Yachts – A classic yacht is usually one built before 1975, maintaining its original materials and exteriors, down to the hull and rigging.

What are some famous classic yachts?

Classic yachts always turn heads when they cruise by. While modern yachts have a certain flash and flare, classic yachts are admired wherever they go for their attention to detail, their unique finish and noticeable love and pride the owner has for maintaining her. 

A number of classic yachts still afloat today that continue to make waves are: 

  1. Christina O – Built by Canadian Vickers in 1943, Christina O is still the largest North American yacht on the water today. Coming in at a staggering 325 feet, she was originally built as a Canadian naval frigate, and is most famously known for the celebrities she hosted onboard, thanks to one-time owner, Aristotle Onassis. 
  1. Moonbeam of Fife – Completed in 1903 by Fife, Moonbeam of Fife is officially over a century old yet still makes an appearance from time to time on the regatta circuit. The 105-foot classic sailing yacht features an oak hull and wooden superstructure with mahogany joinery throughout. 
  1. Delphine – Built on commission by the automobile magnate, Horace Dodge, Delphine was built in 1921 by Great Lakes Engineering Works. Named after Dodge’s daughter, she features a LOA of 258 feet, with space for up to 26 guests and 26 crew onboard. A long-time feature on the east coast thanks to her mooring on the Hudson River, she famously caught fire and sank in 1926 but underwent a complete refit following her salvage mission. 
  1. Malahne – Built by one of the great shipyards of the early 20th century, Camper & Nicholsons, Malahne was completed in 1937 and measures 164 feet. Spending most of her days cruising around the Mediterranean and glitzy Cote d’Azur, Malahne took a brief reprieve from her pleasure cruising to play a role on the front lines of the British war efforts during World War II in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Now privately owned once again, she has been restored to her full original glory thanks to her proud British owner.
Yachts come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but there is something timeless about a classic yacht.

While a classic yacht may not be as glitzy as modern superyachts, they do come with a great level of respect and prestige, unmatched in today’s modern world. To see a selection of classic yachts currently for sale, please click here.

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