Electric vehicles and the future of classic cars

Electric vehicles and the future of classic cars

One of the regular discussion points in the car world is that Governments are mandating a change to electric vehicles within the next twenty to thirty years and most car manufacturers are changing over to electric only. We are seeing massive PR campaigns about saving the planet and the move to zero emission cars. Therefore, they surmise, the classic car market is dead, and our pride and joy will be turned into a piece of overpriced lawn art.

We understand that electric cars are the way of the future and the direction that the car manufacturers are going, along with self-driving cars that can possibly reduce the road toll to zero which is a great target. But this isn’t a debate on the merits or otherwise of electric vs internal combustion engines but the future of classics. The fear mongers who take Facebook as gospel are saying that classics will be forced off the road and legislated out of existence which is not correct.

Yes, Europe is mandating all new cars sold to be electric by 2030 but that doesn’t mean that the existing classic cars, or any current cars must be scrapped. Even if all car manufacturers stopped producing combustion engines, including replacement engines now, they still be in use in 20 years’ time. I have 50-year-old cars which still have their original engines and are going strong.

But the replacement parts won’t be available? Wrong again, even if we discount all the car salvage businesses and NOS parts, businesses will pop up that are remanufacturing the parts to the original specification (or better). It already happens with panels, trim wheels and a host of parts that are no longer manufactured by the car companies which are called ‘repro’ or ‘repop’ (reproduction). Cars such as the MGB for example, you could buy every part to build a new one from the ground up if you wanted to.

Classic cars are a multi-billion-dollar business worldwide and where there is demand, businesses will pop up to supply that. The same goes for petrol stations – are they just going to close, so we revert to scenes like Mad Max where we ride the highways looking for fuel? No, that’s not going to happen either.

Can we convert classic cars to electric? Yes, there are conversion kits available but it’s a very expensive process and pulling out the original motor and drive train of a classic vehicle decreases its value as it’s no longer original. You will hear often about ‘survivor cars’ and ‘matching number’ cars which are good because they preserve the heritage and the history of these cars.

Even if in some cities they ban nonelectric cars from the city centres, they often have exemption for ‘special interest cars’ over 30 years old. Paris and Berlin have banned cars older than 1997 from driving in the city but then made an exception for classic cars 30 years or older.

Lets talk about Australia

 Australia, a place with a particularly strong car culture. Australia has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world and the local automotive culture is visible in everything from the classic car enthusiasts polishing their pride and joy, to the hundreds of thousands watching Bathurst and the Melbourne Grand Prix.

We love our V8s and it’s as much about the noise and the feel than the speed. As adoption rates around the world grow quickly, around 10% in USA and Europe, and 70% in Norway Australia remains 0.7% in 2020 and only 20,000 EVs have been sold in the last decade. Given that Australians buy more than a million cars a year this is a very low uptake. Governments around the world are providing incentives but not Australia, just the opposite they are talking additional taxes of 2.5c per km.

The cars will be cheaper to buy, cheaper own, fewer maintenance costs and cheaper to operate. Sales will extend from ‘greenies’ only to people chasing style, performance and comfort, because that is where the development is. Time and perceptions move on.

There was a time, and not too long ago, that many people considered that if a car didn’t have a chrome bumper then it isn’t a classic. That has changed as cars manufactured in the 80s and 90’s with plastic bumpers became classics, much to the dismay of the purists.

And so, in a couple of decades from now, we will be watching car resto shows where they have a classic EV and swapping out the historic ‘dinosaur’ battery power plant for something lighter, efficient, and powerful.  That will be the new ‘resto mod’.

But wont it be great to go home, open the garage and turn the key on Grandpa’s historic 2017 Mustang and hear the burble of a 5 litre ‘fuel guzzler’ V8 and head out to a show with the next generation of car enthusiasts ….