Journal: How would you keep classics on the road?

How would you keep classics on the road?

By Michael Banovsky
March 6, 2015
24 comments

An anonymous comment was the inspiration behind today’s question, and there’s a lot to consider!

With Paris set to introduce relatively complicated rules concerning which vehicles are allowed to roam the streets, classic car aficionados like you and I are naturally curious if this will start happening in other locations. My take on this is simple, and it has two points. First, we can’t expect the world to understand our hobby. Second, our streets and cities are starting to change more quickly than you may expect.

Although we know classics are, in many cases, much more special than the average econobox, vehicles that interest us Petrolisti generally pollute more than a modern vehicle, lack safety equipment, are more temperamental—and have to be insured, maintained, and driven to a higher standard. That said, most jurisdictions see and treat road users in the exact same way, whether or not they’re in a stunning Aston Martin DB5 once a month to buy a mid-afternoon gelato or a dreadful Rover CityRover for an infuriating daily commute. Often, a lack of distinction between different road users means that when legislation comes to fruition, unless we’re consulted, the voice of the classic car hobby will be silent from lawmakers’ discussions. Thankfully, in Paris this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Second, driverless and electric vehicles are being developed much more quickly than you may expect—and it’s not all doom and gloom. Like horses before cars, it’s likely that within our lifetimes the “driven” vehicle is forced from city centers around the world. There’s simply more population moving to large urban areas, and often little space to accommodate more people without significant changes to our transportation systems. If you were to ride a horse in downtown Paris today, it’d likely be a massive hassle and endanger both you and your animal, and it’s possible that our cities of the future may create conditions just as hostile to classic cars. Right now, driverless cars, car sharing, bicycle sharing, and better transit options are being rolled out across the world, and they represent the future of day-to-day transportation for most people. If not, why would all of the world’s automakers be investing significant sums into technology to make this stuff happen?

Like horse owners before us, we’ll likely have to adapt and sustain our hobby by focusing on festivals, races, and celebrations of speed: Goodwood, Le Mans 24 Hours, the Monaco Grand Prix, the Monterey Historics, and other huge events won’t be going anywhere. In my estimation, we’ll still have incredible events, races, historians, and vehicles to appreciate long into the future. There will be exciting roads in the countryside to drive on as well. (And, not to worry, we’ll have a few decades to figure it all out.)

My question isn’t whether or not you agree with vehicles being slowly squeezed from city centers. What I’d like to know is this: if you were the mayor of a town, how would you convince your citizens to give special consideration for the remarkable classics that we enjoy so much? Leave your best pitch below!

Image Sources: waterandpower.org, waterandpower.org, dailymail.co.uk, we-make-money-not-art.com, blogspot.com,

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Todd Olejniczak
Todd Olejniczak

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Chris Leighton
Chris Leighton

Musician Neil Young loves his Lincoln Contnentali ‘Iron Man style’, so much so that he took that behemoth, applied lots of money & electrified it. That’s part of the future, exhaust note excluded. Alternate fuels, special licencing too. Me, I chose an older car that could keep up up with modern acceleration and highway speeds when needed, congestion in my city means I get away with things OK, some drivers feel the need to overtake me Grand Theft Auto style before they too come back to congestion speeds. Being non-ABS is my biggest issue and into the future lacking connectivity… Read more »

george rudkin
george rudkin

Agree with the author that restrictions are inevitable. I suspect the answer may come in classics being registered for ‘limited road use’ with mileage and/or other restrictions. The bigger challenge will come when driverless cars become dominant. There may come a time when cars without a driverless function are legislated off the road entirely, based on safely considerations… suspect this is not as far away as many think.

Victor Sanson
Victor Sanson

I am Parisian and French, and i tell you that this law project is in fact just a project!
The lobby of classic cars in France is quite powerful and has the FFVE to defend the classic car enthusiasts when the government try to put some new laws like that.

Evan Bedford
Evan Bedford

Was the term “embodied energy” mentioned at all? It takes a lot of energy to make a new vehicle. That’s one reason to keep the old units alive.
http://evanbedford.com/carembodiedenergy.htm

Evan Bedford
Evan Bedford

I guess that’s what Anders is pointing to as well.

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

A couple of us mentioned it, but it always bears repeating, given that the entire exercise is being done in the name of sustainability and conservation of resources

Anders Holmberg
Anders Holmberg

I would enlighten the mayor about the fact that we still can’t recycle a Prius after all the years with this heavy Hybrid lobbyism, focus on that, because in the long term that is a far more dangerous environmental threat than what classic cars ever will be.

Steely
Steely

The way things are heading, cars controlled by humans will eventually be driven (eh’hm) off the road, roads will need to change to accommodate this and the classic cars of today (vintage by then) will be museum pieces occasionally trailered out to the few remaining tracks for a runout. That’s way in the future, but probably not so far away as you want to believe. The concern is that in the short term classics will become harder to drive and maintain due to traffic/emmisins legislation, increasing petrol prices, changes to petrol mix, restrictions on manufacturing certain parts/materials, and the influence… Read more »

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

Nothing succeeds with the public like a mix of patriotism and nostalgia. So I’d start by promoting a day celebrating classic cars from the home country, particularly from a period associated with former greatness on the world stage.

And in response to the issue of efficiency or fuel economy, I’d argue that old cars are like old buildings–the greenest approach is continued use rather than replacement; the energy required to run an old one is much less than the energy is required to create a new one.

Ellis organ
Ellis organ

Just let them watch this

https://vimeo.com/92541091

Lucas R
Lucas R

I guess I have to agree with most of you, guys, in that we have a tuff sale here… Anyhow, I believe change is inevitable, and we must embrace it as such, and try to reach a compromise between breezing by in an all-electric solar-charged recycled-everything-built cruiser, and killing every single living thing in a 2-mile radius by stepping on your vintage big-block, chrome-everything all-american muscle car… For instance, take any state in the US: would you rather allow a beautiful 1968 Alfa Giulia 1300 that could get 28/34mpg or a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado rated at 19/26mpg enter your city?… Read more »

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

Just so you know, in Lisbon this weird, stupid and ‘dangerous’ legislation is already in place. A small part of the city center (and it’s not exactly historic center, more a ‘touristic’ center) is banned to cars prior to 2000. A wider area, almost half the city, can’t be crossed by cars bellow 1996. The exceptions are police, medical and emergency, people who live there (fiscal address)…. and a few more. The cars classified has historic can also pass these areas. But to be registered as an historic is not that easy, I think, and lot’s of cars (distribution, small… Read more »

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Firstly congratulations Michael on your Managing editor appointment at Petrolicious (I saw the tweet on Friday). How would I convince the mayor to give special consideration to classics? I think the obvious answer is to point out the economic benefits of the classic car industry. I read somewhere that the entire classic car industry contributes around £3bn to UK GDP (and anyone whose paid the ticket prices at Goodwood can easily believe that 🙂 ) so changing the laws to impede what is currently a growing sector would only harm the economy. PR spin aside I reckon most politicians put… Read more »

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

The thing, though, is that the reason behind a law does not always have to make sense for politicians to embrace it, it just has to be popular enough. I argue with my friends that my cars do not contribute much to damaging the earth when one considers I drive them no more than 3,000 miles (combined) in any year as opposed to the 25,000 per year on my everyday boring car. But my argument falls apart when my Alfa leaves an oil patch or drips of raw petrol on their driveway. People who do not have any vested interest… Read more »

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

So how would I, as mayor, promote tolerance of these cars? For one, I would drive a vintage car as my everyday motor. I would declare an annual motoring heritage day to promote the appreciation of beauty and elegance in engineering. Actively encourage vintage cars in parades. Build a vintage car race track to attract people who paid a ton of money on these things they can rarely use without being spit on by a public whose cars are powered by recycled virgin olive oil infused with essence of oregano. To be honest, I’m not convinced that any of my… Read more »

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

Living in a Mediterranean country with some of the best olive oils in the world (my family’s private production included), and being oregano another basic ingredient (or more as a spice) in our cuisine, I must say I didn’t like that reference of ‘recycled virgin olive oil’.

Portuguese used to ‘rule’ half the world, and discovered a big part of it. Now we are completely forgotten all the time. These Paris rules are already in place in Lisbon. Being fought by the political opposition in the city, and lots of civil movements (like auto clubs), but already in place.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

Hi Emanuel, I’m sorry for the recycled olive oil comment, I assure you I did not mean to offend anyone. My reference was motivated by cars converted to burn vegetable oil as a way of reusing resources that might otherwise go to waste. And I imagine adding oregano to it makes it smell nice.

My wife often tells me to abstain from making jokes because I generally suck at it. 🙂

JB21
JB21

I must ask, what do you mean by “special consideration”?

Antonio F Fernandes
Antonio F Fernandes

That’s purely demagogic! What is percentage of classic going through Paris everyday! my answer ridiculous!

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet

http://www.pacc.fr/
take a look at this, a good idea, in the good place, and maybe a good job. but what will be the future for this kind of business? A renault twingo rental company?
sure, the percentage is not really high, but you can see 2Cv, renault 4L, vw combi, and many other popular car in the street of a lot of “big” cities in France. for some people, it’s a culture, for other people it’s just a daily driver….

Bertram Wooster
Bertram Wooster

Give’em a ride in an MGTD.

Mark Greene
Mark Greene

What is Paris without its history? Allow historic cars of any kind. There will be very few anyway.