rallies the troops in anticipation of a political classic car witch-hunt
2 017 may be remembered as the year of the death warrant for the motor car. The government’s announcement that all new cars and vans must be electric by 2040 is the biggest change to personal mobility for a century. Backed into a corner by the Greens and their High Court action to lower roadside nitrogen dioxide levels, Michael Gove had no option but to drop his bombshell announcement. A massive chorus of worried voices have already asked all the obvious questions about the practicalities of such a radical ban but we old car owners need to ask some too. Will the car-hating Green Party try to legislate classic cars off the road as well, and what are we going to do to protect our hobby from the marginal politicians that nobody votes for? This is one of the most important questions our industry and hobby will ever face.
My experience of dealing with Westminster, the European Commission and green politicians isn’t great. Heavy on evangelism but light on facts, they rarely have any significant experience of roads, cars or fuel and exist in a political bubble. Their assumptions are often questionable and the pollution and gridlock in our cities are largely the results of the unintended consequence of their poor transport policies. Gove’s nuclear announcement was a political reaction to a European Commission claim that 40,000 of us die prematurely as a result of diesel pollution. Look at those EC figures, do the sums and look at their tables, and you’ll see that per capita those deaths are actually premature by just 3.5 hours. But this mischievous headline in an executive summary has made politicians all over Europe tremble and firmly embedded itself as an immutable truth in the media. The war on cars just got very serious indeed.
And we’re a prime target. We’re in their crosshairs right now. Our low-tech cars will be painted as an environmental beelzebub spewing out unfiltered tailpipe emissions. We’ll be seen as unreconstructed Luddites, resistant to change and selfishly enjoying the dirty technology of a forgotten era. You can already hear the lectures from the greens from their lofty moral high ground. But what they don’t realise is that most classic cars travel only a few hundred miles a year and their collective emissions add up to a raindrop in an ocean. We preserve rather than consume and the CO2 produced to originally build our cars has been dissipated over decades. Nobody knows what percentage of NOX, CO2 or particulate emissions comes from our classics because it’s too small to measure. I bet more NOX and PMS come from the nation’s millions of wood-burning Agas than from the exhaust pipes of our classics.
But we need to roll our sleeves up and get ready for the Big Fight. Write to your MP and to Number 10 and demand an undertaking that our hobby with its 35,000 jobs and £5 billion of economic activity will be protected. Demand that they really will understand how little we use our cars and how tiny our collective emissions actually are. Because if we don’t the greens will deal a mortal blow to our innocent and charming hobby. We’re squaring up to the most serious threat to our hobby for 100 years and we all need to fight back hard.
We can’t allow ill-informed policy decisions to kill the joy of analogue driving, says Quentin