The National Traction Engine Trust

The FIVA Strategy for the Future of Historic Vehicles
Turin Charter Seeks International Cultural Heritage Status for Historic Vehicles
By Heiner Jakob with input from the Turin Charter Working Group
 
The purpose of the FIVA Turin Charter is to protect historic vehicles against restrictions world-wide. It also defines the price historic vehicle enthusiasts have to pay to achieve such status for their vehicles: no more and no less than accepting a set of self-evident values.
 
The way a society celebrates mobility was and remains part of its cultural fabric. Vehicles and the use of vehicles are closely related to the development of a society. More and more people take an interest in historic vehicles or wish to own such a vehicle themselves. Not so long ago, collecting and restoring historic vehicles was the hobby of a very small number of idealists. Today historic vehicle enthusiasts form a world-wide movement of considerable historic and economic significance. But ever stricter and more complicated regulations threaten the right to drive historic vehicles on public roads.
 
In many countries there are exemptions and special requirements for historic vehicles driven on public roads. Now the world federation of historic vehicles – the FIVA – is developing a strategy for globally safeguarding the right to drive historic vehicles on public roads in the face of a clutter of more and more complex government restrictions.
 
Founded in 1966, the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) is based in Brussels and represents 75 affiliated organisations in over 60 countries with a total membership of more than 1.5 million historic vehicle enthusiasts.
 
Rather than pursuing a separate solution in each country, the FIVA favours a global approach. It is based on the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 14 November 1970, which was implemented into national law in its 120 signatory states. Internationally recognised and ratified by states, the UNESCO criteria are closely meshed with national legislation. This makes for some leverage for the FIVA strategy.
 
The basis of the FIVA strategy
 
The UNESCO Convention defines cultural property and sets out specific obligations for the signatories in order to protect cultural property. It also defines the key principles. By ratifying and implementing the Convention, the governments pledge to recognise the criteria and the charters recognised by UNESCO based on such criteria, present or future.
 
As the UNESCO criteria were designed to define real estate they need to be “translated” to suit the mobile requirements of vehicles and make them work for the FIVA. Such adaptation is nothing new. Adopted in 2002 and 2005 respectively, the Barcelona Charter (historic ships) and the Riga Charter (historic trains) have laid down the fundamentals and demonstrated that cultural heritage ideas can be successfully implemented for vehicles in operation, while taking into account both the concerns of the owners and the relevant safety aspects. The FIVA is not inventing anything totally new nor does it vehiculate fancy ideas. The FIVA wants strong partners in seeking to ensure that historic vehicles can remain mobile and present world-wide on a secure legal basis.
 
In order to obtain the privilege of comprehensive protection for vehicles as part of our mobile heritage, we need clear definitions and binding criteria. The Turin Charter was written to develop such definitions and criteria.
 
The acceptance and application of a future set of UNESCO criteria adapted for the requirements of our “mobile heritage” will separate the wheat from the chaff and make the whole system of “historic vehicles” more transparent. Fakes or vehicles that suffered extensive changes to their engineering and appearance that their historic reference is lost would not stand any chance of being registered as historic vehicles.
 
Thomas Kohler, the initiator of the Charter, explained: ‘You have to understand the amount of lying, past and present, in the historic vehicles community, how often people try to bring fakes into circulation as “veterans”. The practice of converting stately town cars or saloons into racing cars by shortening the chassis is not in line with FIVA rules. Article 4.2 [of the FIVA statutes] “...To support and encourage the restoration, preservation, use and documentation of historic vehicles of all kind...” spells out this objective.’
 
The status quo
 
On 30 October 2010, Thomas Kohler (Switzerland) presented to the FIVA General Assembly at Ljubljana the draft Charter he had initiated and prepared with an international group of FIVA officials and collectors. The basic principles evolved in the Italian automotive city of Turin during Automotoclub Storico Italiano (ASI) and FIVA events. Hence the title of the Charter.
 
In his work on the draft, Thomas Kohler, FIVA Director for Motorcycles and Chairman of the Fédération Suisse des Véhicules Anciens (FSVA) was supported by the well-known conservator-restorer Gundula Tutt and Rainer Hindrischedt, DAVC, Germany, and Chairman of the FIVA Technical Commission until the autumn of 2010, and Mark Gessler, USA, FIVA Vice President and Chairman of the FIVA Technical Commission. FIVA President Horst Brüning followed an supported the group through all steps.
 
At this time the draft Turin Charter is being reviewed by the FIVA members world-wide. It is to be adopted at the next General Assembly.
In its present form, the Charter runs to three pages and is divided in to a general section and 15 Articles.
 
The purpose of the Charter is to preserve the historic substance of historic vehicles unaltered and ensure through their active use, maintenance, conservation, restoration and repair that future generations can enjoy these cultural treasures.
 
As defined in the Turin Charter; the collective term historic vehicles includes automobiles, motorcycles, utilitarian vehicles, trailers, bicycles und other mechanically operated vehicles as well as non-rail ground vehicles driven by steam, electric power, fossil fuels or muscle power.
 
The Charter can also be applied to historic buildings and facilities directly connected to historic vehicles, such as factories, fuel stations or individual roads or routes. The Charter also aims to preserve traditional trade crafts and techniques as well as the knowledge and skills for manufacturing and operating historic vehicles.
 
The Charter defines the terminology and explains the importance of care, maintenance, conservation, restoration and repair when it comes to historic vehicles and meeting the requirements of cultural heritage privileges.
 
The 15 Articles of the Charter lay out the foundations and pillars of a historic vehicles movement of the future.
 
The Charter’s intention is the comprehensive protection of vehicles and preservation of their history in material and immaterial documents as well as the connections with the development of society. It also aims at ensuring the operation of historic vehicles, in particular on public roads, and at passing traditional skills on to future generations. Documentation relating to the vehicles and their histories are to be put together and stored in safe places. The most important aspects include transparency, precise long-term documentation of restorative activities and respect of the historic original. The draft Charter also addresses the role of authorities and organisations and advocates charitable status. Collections, blueprints, schematics and documents accessible to researchers should be recognised and protected as part of the cultural heritage.
 
To show how the Charter can be applied in everyday practice, the FIVA plans to publish a small handbook containing progress reports and practical workshop tips.
 
Summary
 
The FIVA is developing a strategy which will ensure the preservation of historic vehicles world-wide as licenced means of transport.
 
On a diplomatic level, the FIVA hopes to achieve this with reference to the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 14 November 1970, which is enforced by 120 signatory states.
 
The Turin Charter is grounded on experience from everyday practice. After successfully passing international review within FIVA, the Charter will become the internationally binding reference for the historic vehicles movement.
 
The Turin Charter advocates the rediscovery of self-evident values and shows ways and possibilities to successfully pursue its goal. If the FIVA strategy is successful, the standards for the entire historic vehicles movements will be set higher. Many will enjoy this prospect, others less. This is exactly why the Charter is needed.

30 Mar 2011