Some call it “future proofing,” the conversion of classic and collector vehicles from petroleum-fueled engines to propulsion by electric motors, but the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens has issued a statement saying such conversions violate its definition of “historic vehicle.”
“An increasing number of commercial outfits are offering to convert historic vehicles to run on electric power, replacing the entire drivetrain with an electric unit and batteries,” FIVA said in its statement. “In this way, they claim, it’s possible to retain the classic appearance of the vehicle while meeting modern environmental standards.
“As an additional benefit, the conversion might also increase power and performance. Some conversion companies have even obtained permission from the type approval/certification authorities to retain the original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the donor vehicle, despite more or less replacing the entire drivetrain.
“FIVA… understands the motivation of some owners to electrify their vehicles – and acknowledges that, subject to legislation and regulation, all modifications are a matter of personal choice.
“However, FIVA – as an organization dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles – cannot promote, to owners or regulators, the use of modern EV components (motors and batteries) to replace a historic vehicle’s powertrain.
FIVA would strongly recommend that any changes are reversible, with all the original components marked and safely stored. In this way, the vehicle may – if so desired in the future – be returned to its original state and may once again become a historic vehicle.”
“Conversion of historic vehicles from their original internal combustion engines to electric power doesn’t comply with the FIVA definition of a historic vehicle, nor does it support the goal of preserving historic vehicles and their related culture. In FIVA’s view, vehicles so converted cease to be historic vehicles, unless they are subject only to ‘in period’ changes.”
FIVA then reiterates its definition of history vehicle as “a mechanically propelled road vehicle” that is at least 30 years old, is preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition, is not used for daily transport and is “part of our technical and cultural heritage.”
“It is not, in our opinion, the shape or body style of a vehicle that makes it ‘historic,’ but the way in which the entire vehicle has been constructed and manufactured in its original form,” Tiddo Bresters, FIVA’s vice president for legislative matters, explains in the announcement.
“Hence if any owner, motor engineer or manufacturer chooses to make such conversions to a historic vehicle, FIVA would strongly recommend that any changes are reversible, with all the original components marked and safely stored. In this way, the vehicle may – if so desired in the future – be returned to its original state and may once again become a historic vehicle.”
So, what do you think? (And you can use the “Comments” section below to express your opinion on FIVA’s opinion.)
While you consider your response, I’ll share mine:
First of all, FIVA’s own definition of historic vehicle seems flawed in its statement that to be “historic,” a vehicle cannot be used as a daily driver. I understand why insurance companies have such a requirement, but does using, say, a 1969 Ford Mustang or 1955 Chevrolet Nomad or even a 1937 Packard to commute to and from work make that vehicle any less historic?
Secondly, FIVA states that its purpose is “preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles and related culture, as well as their safe use.”
I would emphasize the term “use,” and argue that if installing an electric power source keeps those vehicles in use — now and in a future in which petroleum fuel could be banned in some locations — than why not accept electricity as the new fuel? At the same time, however, I also support the idea of retaining the original components for potential historic authenticity.
I also would point to the “resto-mod” movement that replaces old and inefficient petroleum engines and other mechanical components, with newer, cleaner and safer technologies, for example, replacing drum brakes with discs and bias tires with radials. Again, while the exterior appearance is retained, the vehicle’s useful life has been extended.
Finally, it also seems to me that FIVA should consider any vehicle that has undergone restoration as no longer being historical because the very act of restoration violates a vehicle’s originality.