The National Traction Engine Trust

From the FBHVC Newsletter


There has been a great deal of interest in the classic motoring press about this Charter, which is still only at the draft stage and has yet to be discussed in detail by the FIVA member organisations.

The FBHVC believe that the Charter is a positive step towards recognition of historic vehicles as part of our heritage and it is a very useful political tool – and it is just that: a political tool, and nothing more than that. It will redress the balance – other forms of transport (rail, water and air) already have their charters. It is important to show that it is not just buildings that are worthy of heritage status and international recognition. This Charter of Turin will be a document for FIVA to use when dealing with politicians and heritage organisations throughout the world. Without a specific definition of our vehicles we would not be able to ask for specific concessions. However if we want exemptions and privileges it is surely reasonable to expect us to operate to certain standards.

The Federation continues to support and encourage everyone to use, enjoy, and even modify, their historic vehicles without hindrance. We have found the EU and UK governments to be generally very supportive of the historic movement. They are supportive because they know that when giving concessions to us for our vehicles they are not promoting the use of unsafe and unroadworthy vehicles – and we must distance ourselves from these vehicles (which are very rare in the UK) and retain the movement’s good name as responsible guardians of motoring heritage.

FBHVC representatives will be attending the FIVA meeting in Washington where there will be a discussion about the draft proposal. FBHVC will participate fully in the consultation which will follow the Washington meeting.

Some member clubs have also queried FIVA’s definition of an historic vehicle which was agreed back in 2008. In February 2009 the chairman at that time, Chris Hunt Cooke, wrote the following article in January 2009, which is still true today and cannot be improved upon:

Few news items have generated as much correspondence as the report on the definition of an historic vehicle agreed by FIVA, which is: a mechanically propelled road vehicle: which is at least 30 years old; which is preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition; which is not used as a means of daily transport; and which is therefore a part of our technical and cultural heritage.


This definition is mostly for political lobbying purposes, and you have to look in an international context. For example, the EU Commission have given indications that while they are happy to consider legislative exemptions for a reasonably small number of vehicles, used for relatively low mileages, they would become concerned if the number of vehicles or the mileage they covered rose as a percentage of the total vehicle park. It is hoped that by lifting the defined age to 30 and excluding vehicles used for daily transport, this will be avoided. Some of the newer members of the EU from Eastern Europe have a considerable number of old vehicles in daily use and the EU would not wish to see them included in any concessions made for classic car purposes.


The adoption of this definition by FIVA does not mean that individual countries will use it for all purposes, and it is unlikely it will have any impact in the UK. That is a pity in some ways because it might get the rolling date for VED exemption moving again.


There are no indications at all that the powers that be in the UK have any thoughts about restrictions on mileage for exemption purposes, and the FBHVC have been very successful in ensuring that we are able to use historic cars in the UK with no more restriction than a modern vehicle. There were those who were very wary when the historic VED exemption first came in, fearing that some restriction might be the quid pro quo. Thankfully, that has not happened.


I was at the meeting in Brussels when FIVA voted on the new definition, and some countries do have real concerns, the Italians for instance currently have a 20 year rule, and were very concerned that their government might take this as a green light to increase that to 30. However, they were eventually persuaded to support the change by the argument in relation to lobbying the EU.


06 Dec 2011