Rules for Judging Car Shows


Every car show has its own rules for judging, tailored to the type of cars at the competition. Some of the organizations that hold competitions include the Wheeled Events Governing Organizations, the Oldsmobile Club of America, the Antique Automobile Club of America and the International Thunderbird Club. Though these groups have specific judging standards, there are basic rules that are followed throughout most car shows--regardless of who’s hosting.

Have Proper Credentials

  • To be able to judge at car shows one must have the proper credentials. Usually, they are required to be members of the organization holding the car show. Additionally, they must have finished judging school and been approved by the organization’s judging committee.

No Touching

  • Judging the cars does not involve touching them. Judges are not allowed to touch the car and must be very careful not to allow any part of their clothing or person to touch the car as they lean in for inspection. If they need parts opened, like the door, hood or trunk, they must ask the car owner to do it for them. Judges are not allowed to enter the vehicle. Any inspection of the interior must be done by looking through doors and windows.

Use the Score Sheet

  • It is imperative judges know what to looking for when judging car shows. These include knowing what parts should be where and whether they have to be the original parts or not. Judges must also judge according to the category the car is in. For example, if they are judging the “Restored to Original,” they should judge based on how close to showroom condition the car is in--replaced parts should not get deductions.

    To help with knowing what to look for and for judging, judges are given score sheets with which to write down and tally their observations. Most rules state that judges use the score sheets when judging.


  • When judging car shows, judges are not allowed to interact with the exhibitor unless to ask the car owner to open the door, trunk or other part of the car. They are also not allowed to eat, drink or smoke. If they have entered a car in the car show and are also judging, they are not allowed to judge in the same category their cars are in.

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