As more options for electrifying classic cars come to market, enthusiasts have come to embrace the idea of converting old, oil-burning cars to electric powertrains. But a worldwide preservation group is speaking out against it.
They call themselves the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA), or the international federation of historic vehicles. FIVA isn't simply a handful of Luddites with a megaphone; the organization has been affiliated with UNESCO since 2017.
According to a statement released on Friday, FIVA is less than pleased with owners and builders who try to pass off electrified builds as classics. The organization refuses to promote the electrification of classic cars, especially if the process is irreversible. As it turns out, in the eyes of experts, "classic" is more than skin-deep.
"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," said Tiddo Bresters, FIVA’s vice president in charge of legislation.
FIVA defines historic vehicles as any mechanically propelled road vehicle that is at least 30 years old, preserved and maintained in an historically correct condition, not used as a means of daily transport, and part of our technical and cultural heritage.
We suspect there are plenty of enthusiasts who would take issue with some of those qualifications, especially those who driver older, well-preserved and maintained vehicles on a semi-regular basis, and those who have developed attachments to cars that aren't universally considered to be interesting or of particular significance.
So, there are holes in FIVA's argument—perhaps large enough to drive a classic vehicle through—but at the same time, most enthusiasts who engage in any sort of resto-modding are fully aware that the results will turn up the nose of a typical concours judge.
FIVA is willing to compromise, to a degree anyway. If you convert your electrified car back to gas, they'll give it their stamp of approval.
"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."
Electrification is more than just hobby modification; some automakers have even gotten into the game, and Aston Martin and Jaguar even offer overhauls that are reversible, meeting FIVA's standards for acceptable conversions.