Boris Johnson is being urged today to save Britain’s world-leading historic and classic car industry – including 100,000 jobs that depend on the £18billion a year automotive heritage sector.
Campaigners are warning the Prime Minister – himself a passionate car enthusiast and former motoring correspondent – that they face being strangled by a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ of red tape and scuppered by unfairly targeted ‘green’ regulations.
They warn that these could see millions of much-loved vintage vehicles driven off UK roads at the cost of invaluable employment for thousands of engineers, craftspeople, restorers and apprentices across the UK.
The Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA) launched today with a mission to protect and promote the sector and secure its long-term future.
‘Safeguard our classic car industry’: The Historic and Classic Vehicles Alliance has been setup to help protect and promote the sector and secure its long-term future
Business leaders, motor industry experts and politicians, including a former Tory transport minister, have united to urge the PM to embrace ‘the Spirit of Genevieve’ – after the classic 1953 movie centred on the annual London to Brighton vintage car rally – to help keep alive the sector.
They argue that the classic sector is as focussed on affordable classics, such as once-everyday family Fords, Austins, Morris, Minis and Rovers, as it is on luxury Rolls-Royces, Aston Martins and Bentleys.
They hope Mr Johnson’s interest in matters automotive and historical will help ‘to secure the future of a great British industry.’
As a motoring columnist in GQ magazine, the PM drove Ferraris, Bentleys, Alfa Romeos, Lotus sports cars and a host of other vehicles, as well as writing a book called ‘Life in the Fast Lane – the Johnson Guide to Cars’.
Supporters from a diverse range of backgrounds around Britain have set up the new campaign group and trade association that’s calling on Mr Johnson to safeguard the booming sector.
The not-for-profit trade organisation intends to campaign on behalf of individuals and companies in the classic vehicle world including specialist restorers, dealers, parts suppliers and a broad cross section of the multi-billion-pound industry.
The cover of Boris Johnson’s ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ book – a guide to cars
More than 100,000 skilled UK jobs are under threat because bureactic red tape and unfair and unfocussed green policies risk ‘strangling’ one of the nation’s world leading industries, it says.
They are calling on the Government and regulators to use their post-Brexit regulatory independence to help grow what they argue is a valuable sector of the economy.
They fear complex new rules around exporting and importing cars and parts to and from the EU, combined with and widespread misunderstanding of the environmental impact of vintage motoring, are damaging owners’ confidence and enthusiasm.
Launching today the alliance said: ‘More than 100,000 jobs are in peril as a combination of bureaucracy and poorly-focused environmental legislation threatens Britain’s world leading classic vehicle industry.
‘With economic revival a top priority as the UK strives to recover from the Covid pandemic, highly-skilled engineers, restorers, craftsmen and parts suppliers face uncertainty over their livelihoods.’
It added: ‘Many businesses and owners find themselves trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare as they navigate red tape surrounding the movement of vehicles and parts for sales, restoration, competition preparation and events.’
The sector ‘s contribution to the UK economy is huge, it says.
Want to find out more about the new alliance? More details of the campaign can be found at www.hcva.co.uk
The 3 million classic and historical cars on UK roads are valued at over £12billion, support 113,000 jobs, create an annual international trade turnover worth £18.3billion, and generate around £3billion tax revenue to the exchequer to help fund schools, hospitals, roads, transport and other public spending.
Significantly, the industry is spread ‘the length and breadth of the country’, with clusters of specialists operating in the West Midlands, Lancashire, Kent and Sussex – and only 5 per cent of activity based in London,
‘The trade, in which British craft skills and engineering excellence lead the world, supports around 113,000 jobs in thousands of specialist small businesses and supply chain firms. It also provides training places and apprenticeship schemes, giving opportunities to young people,’ it points out.
The new alliance also aims to ‘bust the myths and popular misconceptions’ surrounding classic cars pointing out that the well-maintained vehicles are relatively green and sustainable, because they prolong the life of great pieces of craftsmanship ‘rather than surrendering to built-in obsolescence.’
They are typically better maintained and driven sparingly – around 16 times a year covering an average 1,200 miles – and producing just a fifth (20 per cent) of CO2 emissions from using a computer and a mobile phone for a year.
The 3 million classic and historical cars on UK roads are valued at over £12billion, support 113,000 jobs, create an annual international trade turnover worth £18.3billion
These classic vehicles also generate around £3billion tax revenue to the exchequer to help fund schools, hospitals, roads, transport and other public spending
Former transport minister and F1 design guru onboard
Conservative East Sussex MP and former transport minister Nus Ghani, who has classic car trade firms in her constituency and who supports the initiative said: ‘The classic and historic vehicle industry is a great British success story that gives pleasure to millions and it would be disastrous if it suffered serious damage through neglect or ignorance.
Tory MP and former transport minister Nus Ghani supports the newly formed alliance
‘We need to do all we can to support a sector that provides thousands of highly skilled and well-paid jobs in my constituency and across the UK and preserves exemplary skills and craftsmanship.’
She added: ‘We should be looking for ways to help businesses find solutions to problems and, now more than ever, we should be making it easier – not harder – for reputable high-quality companies to serve their customers.
The classic and historic vehicle industry is a great British success story that gives pleasure to millions
East Sussex MP Nus Ghani
‘In the current economic climate we certainly can’t afford to risk letting valuable jobs die. The HCVA has my wholehearted backing.’
Chairman of the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee and former health and defence minister Philip Dunne, Conservative MP for Ludlow, added his support noting: ‘The historic and classic car sector plays an important role not only in preserving heritage, but also delivering skilled jobs.
‘I wish HCVA success as they look to address issues facing the owners, enthusiasts and the industry as we emerge from the impact of the pandemic and seek to re-energise the economy.’
Professor Gordon Murray – the legendary F1 car designer who has recently launched his own motor brand – has backed the alliance
Harry Whale (pictured) is the founding director of the new HCVA. He’s a classic car specialist within the world of historic auctions and a racer of historic cars
Emma Crickmay, joint managing director of Bentley and Rolls-Royce specialists Frank Dale & Stepsons in Camberley, Surrey
It also has the support of legendary Formula 1, supercar and green electric car designer Professor Gordon Murray whose 1992 McLaren F1 supercar has become a collectors’ item and who is currently overseeing a £300million investment to create a technology campus in Surrey and to produde a new £2.8million T50 supercar from 2022.
Porsche 911 is most searched classic car
Data from Europe’s leading website for classic car sales, Car & Classic, has highlighted a ‘significant shift’ in the volume and type of cars enthusiasts are searching for after a year of restrictions and lockdowns.
Popular classics such as MGB GT, Volkswagen Beetle and Ford Cortina have slipped down the rankings, with ‘dream’ sports cars moving up, its latest report says.
Instead, the Porsche 911 is now the most searched for vehicle, followed by the Jaguar E-Type.
The 911 replaces the Ford Capri on the website that has seen a 39 per cent rise in vehicle searches of its top 200 cars, with buyers feeling now is the time to search for the dream car they always wanted.
First quarter year-on-year data shows that modern classics have also risen in popularity, with the 1980s E30 BMW 3 Series now the third most searched for car on the site.
Japanese classics have also experienced a surge in interest. Enthusiasts have also warmed to ’80s hot hatches with a 25 per cent rise in the number of searches for an XR2 and 44 percent for the Ford Escort XR3i.
Japanese marques are also increasing in favour, with the Toyota Supra, Mazda RX-7 and Toyota MR2 now featuring in the top 16 with the Nissan Skyline moving up 131 places to 27th place.
Incredibly, there were also 10,000 searches for Reliant Robins in the first three months of 2021.
‘So many of us spend time ‘car and classicing’- searching through the 40-odd thousand cars we list for sale either in our classifieds or auction,’ says Chris Pollitt, head of editorial at Car & Classic.
‘The searches highlight how the pandemic is driving and accelerating change in the classic car field. For some, it has meant more time to start a new project, for others, money saved not going on holiday could mean now buying the dream car they always wanted to own.’
Professor Murray said: ‘It has always been important to support individuals, companies and organisations that preserve our automotive heritage.
‘The restoration and preservation of classic cars keeps our rich history in the automotive sector alive for future generations.
‘As we move towards electrification and ever more stringent regulations, in my view it will become even more important to support and protect our classic automotive heritage.’
Founding HCVA director Harry Whale, a classic car specialist within the world of historic auctions and a racer of historic cars said: ‘Our sector is a great British success story and has been for decades.
‘But it’s in serious jeopardy and may not survive to continue providing opportunities for future generations if we don’t act now.
‘In a world of mind-boggling bureaucracy, with environmental and other legislation looming, we need to ensure the voice of the industry and owners is heard and understood by regulators and those in power.’
Fellow director Henry Pearman, founder and CEO of Eagle E-Types, which has been restoring and upgrading E-types since 1984 added: ‘Classic and historic vehicles invariably bring a smile to the face of people who see them on our roads or TV screens.
‘We have to join together to correct a host of myths and misconceptions and to protect and celebrate the world we love.’
HCVA advisory board member Emma Crickmay, joint managing director of Bentley and Rolls-Royce specialists Frank Dale & Stepsons in Camberley, Surrey, said action was needed to protect jobs and create new and diverse training opportunities for young apprentices: ‘It’s investment in the future.
‘There is a passion, enthusiasm and devotion to the craftsmanship, materials and traditional skills of the individuals who work tirelessly restoring classic cars.’
They educate and delight owners and enthusiasts ‘ and light up a child’s face in wonder when they glide by’, she said:
‘I’ve been that child and I’m now that enthusiast.’
Classic older cars are also under threat from anti-pollution measures, including the extension of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) from October 25, when drivers of non-compliant vehicles will have to pay £12.50 per day to use them.
Owners of post-1981 ‘modern classics’ (such as the Mini Cooper, Mazda MX-5 and Peugeot 205 GTi) would pay £650 a year to drive them once a week.
Experts at car specialists Hagerty say it will have a ‘devastating’ effect. Cars more than 40 years old are exempt.
Britain’s classic car businesses and events that are worth a visit…
Bicester Heritage’s scrambles are always well attended. Image shows hundreds of Porsche cars in attendance
Bicester Heritage on a former RAF base in the town is now home to more than 40 specialist and historic car firms with a combined turnover of more than £40million and is expanding rapidly, as well as holding regular open days and ‘scrambles’ for families and enthusiasts. Read our interview with Bicester Heritage boss Dan Geoghegan
The new Great British Car Journey Museum opened at Ambergate in Derbyshire on Saturday (May 22nd ) to showcase up to 100 nostalgic cars from the once-commonplace Austin Allegro and Morris Minor to the Ford Cortina and Capri and Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit. It joins existing museums like Brooklands in Surrey and the British Motor Museum at Gaydon in Warwickshire in celebrating classics.
The Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional showcases more unusual classics
A celebration of once commonplace cars that are now a rarity on UK roads is planned at the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire on Saturday 31 July. Organisers said: ‘It showcases much maligned and long forgotten ‘ordinary’ classic cars and commercial vehicles of the late 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s and the best examples of some of the most mundane cars ever built’.
SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.