Historic Clubs Close Ranks

Presented by Lord Montagu, Derek Grossmark and Euro MP Brian Cassidy, the Historic Vehicle Clubs Committee held an Open General Meeting at the RAC Club on July 23 at which proposals were accepted for the formation of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs. The Federation currently represents 170 historic vehicle clubs and caters for everything from cycle-motors to traction engines.

Shaken by an article in the Daily Mail, the committee was quick off the mark to persuade government ministers and MPs to issue denials that repressive legislation banning any vehicle more than twenty years old from the road was imminent.

Grossmark, HVCC chairman, had also been to Brussels where he met Georgios Anastassopoulos, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, who had gone on record as saying that “older vehicles should be, as a general rule, exempted from Community legislation, provided they are only used for specific occasions and as such do not participate in general traffic.” The meeting heard, though, that this gentleman’s sympathy was now leaning towards the historic vehicle movement.

Despite the present threat receding after assurances from various bodies, the Federation has taken the wise precaution of hiring a professional lobbyist to stalk the corridors of power in Brussels and Strasbourg to protect its interests.

The cost of this will be met by a special “Eurofund” to which some of the larger clubs have already contributed nearly £5000. The Federation is also taking over the votes of the Veteran Car Club and the Vintage Sports Car Club on FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens), the European body representing old vehicle interests.

It is our duty to support the Federation in its quest to protect old vehicles. L-registered cars, a familiar enough sight on the road today, will be twenty years old in 1922, and if the bureaucracy in Brussels were to follow Belgian legislation, for example, such cars would be restricted to within 15km of home and could not be used at night. If Dutch regulations were used, vehicles over 30 years old could not be used more than 60 days a year.

There is also the threat of retrospective legislation which, in a transport context, might mean that the standards new vehicles have to conform to would be applied to older ones as well.

Even if for no other reason than adding your name to the hundreds of thousands who have already done so, it is essential to join a car club and to ensure that it is affiliated to the Federation to give it greater strength and a louder voice. Do not be complacent, as restrictive legislation is an ever-present threat looming over the movement.