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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

How to keep classic cars from being put to pasture
By Larry Edsall

Larry Edsall at ClassicCars.com Did you know:

  • That the typical charcoal-fired barbecue grill emits three times more carbon-based pollution than the average classic car?
  • That if you put a personal computer and a classic car’s engine block into a landfill, it will take three times as long for the computer to decompose -- and even then you’re still left with carcinogenic "rare-earth" metals)?
  • That the average collector car isn’t a high-end auction-block princess is valued at $25,000?
  • That the average classic car owner isn’t a multi-millionaire benefiting from federal tax cuts for the wealthy but has an annual income of just slightly more than $75,000 a year?
  • That North American car clubs and classic car shows and other aspects of the collector car hobby generate nearly $60 million a year for charities?

We now know the above, and more, thanks to work of the Historic Vehicle Association.

"The job of the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) is to advocate for you and all enthusiasts, clubs, businesses and institutions involved with historic motoring," it says in one of the group’s brochures. "Our role is especially important right now as, increasingly, historic vehicles and our rights to freely use them suffer from the combined effects of disappearing infrastructure, regulatory action and technological evolution."

Basically, what HVA strives to do is to keep "Yesterday’s Vehicles on Tomorrow’s Roads."

That means the HVA is involved such things as making sure there will be fuel for those vehicles, that cars with old-tech powertrains won’t face discrimination under new-tech emission regulations, that there will be people with the knowledge and skills to keep aging vehicles in good running order, and that there will be a supply of parts for those people to use to repair and maintain those vehicles.

The HVA was founded in 2009 by Hagerty Collector Car Insurance, which for many years had played a leadership role in looking out for its 400,000 clients. Through those clients and the insurance company’s involvement in the hobby, Hagerty recognized the political pressure being faced by the collector car hobby.

Hagerty also knew that while there were more than 15,000 car clubs in the United States, and perhaps another 500 in Canada, they were focused on single marques, social events and car shows, not in any kind of coordinated effort to deal with things such as "cash-for-clunkers" or legislation to increase the use of ethanol in automotive fuel.

On the HVA website (www.historicvehicle.org) you can find many things, including an interactive map showing gas stations that offer fuel that contains no ethanol, which can be harmful to old-fashioned engines.

"We want to be a credible resource. We don’t want to be just another mailing list," Carmel Roberts said this week when she presented the HVA and its mission to the Phoenix Automotive Press Association.

Roberts was the HVA’s first employee (the staff now includes five people). She is an attorney whose experience includes working for an insurance trade group and as legal counsel to an entire state senate. Her title at HVA is director of government relations. Ironically, she spoke in Phoenix the same day that the Arizona state legislature voted to exempt classic cars from the state’s automotive emission-test regulations.

Roberts noted that classic cars comprise only 1 percent of the passenger cars on the road, generally are among the best-maintained of those cars, and do very little polluting because of that maintenance and the fact they are driven an average of only 300 miles each year.

Someone asked why HVA was so concerned about the future for old cars; after all, cars replaced horses but people still own horses.

"Yes," Roberts responded, "but we don’t want our cars to be put out to pasture."

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