If you are a car lover, owning a classic is a no-brainer. It’s not about the speed and efficiency but the experience and sheer joy that comes with having a piece of history. The 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 has been known to dominate films. While the likes of the 1969 Dodge Charger and Chevy Camaro have influenced iconic pop culture.
After the government announced the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, classic car lovers are left wondering about their beloved relics’ future. What will it mean for a classic car owner when the petrol and diesel ban comes into effect?
The Government’s Plan for Petrol and Diesel Vehicles
The UK government is set to meet net-zero emissions by 2050. In this plan, the proposed petrol and diesel ban will affect the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. And hybrid cars by 2035. The initial target was 2040, but the ban has been moved forward to make the 2050 target more feasible.
The Petrol Ban – What will Happen to Classic Cars
1. Drop-in Value of Used Cars
The value for used cars will take a hit. At least in the short run, as new car showrooms seek to sell before 2030. However, it will allow petrolheads to explore models in advance. Not because they will be cheap, but for owning a piece of the future classics.
Even cars that aren’t officially 40 years and older to be classified as classics will be in high demand. By 2040, a 1967 Mini Cooper Classic will be as appealing as a 1994 Aston Martin DB7.
Since classic cars hold their residual value quite well, it may still cost a fortune to own a highly-valued model. However, the worry remains that electric cars could mean that the future generation is only interested in clean, efficient automobiles. This is because the cost of running and maintaining a rarity will increase thanks to road tax charges, high fuel charges, and rare spare parts.
2. Increase in Value of Classic Cars
While a drop in the value of used cars is possible, the ban may positively affect classic cars. More people may be looking to have a piece of history as petrol cars come to the end of an era.
First editions like the Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer 365 GT4BB will increase in value. So will final editions of vehicles like the Porsche 968 and Honda Acura Integra discontinued in 1991 and 2001. These vehicles will offer people the chance to relive the glory days of the internal combustion engine. And if you happen to have a 1966 Ford Zodiac or any classic car of the 1960s, your car will be fit for the museum and sought-after as a collector’s item. Hence its value will increase.
It is even possible for final edition models to be regarded as classic vehicles even before hitting the 40-year mark.
For petrol heads, you will be able to take advantage of older motors. The classic cars market will offer a chance for restoring a classic where you can use recycled parts and offer the car back to the market.
3. Preservation of Classic Cars
The classic car industry is estimated to be worth £7.5 billion. This is huge considering these cars account for only 0.6% of all licensed vehicles in Britain and average only 1000 miles per year. As such, it is unlikely the government will ignore this industry when the ban rolls out.
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) is petitioning the government to let the industry remain unaffected by the ban. Another enthusiast classic car collector, Sir Greg Knight, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group (APPHVG), believes that the government should preserve older cars by exempting them from the ban.
A ban on classic cars would be a significant loss of our cultural and engineering heritage. It would spark outrage among enthusiasts and collectors against the government.
4. Enjoy a Heritage Experience
Classic cars are too few to represent an urgent environmental threat. In the wake of 2040, where electric, driverless cars are the in-thing, classic cars will represent the freedom of driving yourself. This aspect alone will make heritage festivals more popular.
Festivals like the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and Goodwood Revival will help the community to enjoy the culture which surrounds classic cars.
What About Electrifying a Classic Car?
The prospect of electrifying a classic car comes with the promise of using your historic even 100 years from now. But would you want to see the iconic VW Bug running on battery? Some enthusiasts will call this desecration. Others see it as injecting life into an unroadworthy vehicle and making it legal again.
But don’t jump for joy just yet. Converting a historic into an EV is extremely costly. You can expect to pay from £70,000 to get a 1960s Volkswagen running on batteries. As such, only those with deep pockets can consider taking this route.
If it comes down to going electric to stay on the road, purists would rather spend a fortune to convert a classic into an EV. This is because of the soulful and distinctive design of classic cars that is nowhere close to electric vehicles’ tasteless designs.
The Future of Classic Cars in Low Emission Zones
You may have fallen foul of the charges for driving a classic in Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone or London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zones. But after campaigns by Classic & Sports Car enthusiasts, you can now drive your historic without paying daily charges if you live in London.
But with the government focused on curbing emissions, we can see more of these zones being introduced and eventually, it will present a challenge for historic car drivers.
Classic cars are not being banned. But the industry will change after the government rolls out the petrol and diesel ban. Campaigns to protect classic vehicle owners’ rights to keep old cars on the road will continue to shape. Even as the world prepares for a future driven by electric vehicles, classic cars will remain with us for the longest time.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.