Electrified vintage cars: the controversy

Electrification is pushing its pawns in all sectors of the automobile, and in particular on the collection market. And this greatly worries the International Federation of Old Vehicles, which issues this warning: ” vehicles thus converted cease to be considered as old vehicles .”

Does electrification really rhyme with a classic car? For some manufacturers, the answer is positive. In recent months, it has emerged including conversions “official” signed Aston Martin (a DB6 Volante 1970) or Jaguar, which hit an E-Type. Last summer, we remember that Renault presented an electric 4L at a gathering of amateurs.

Volkswagen meanwhile recently unveiled an electrified Beetle convertible, and announces that other models are likely to experience the same fate: “we are working to prepare the Combi platform, and an e-Porsche 356 could also see the light of day. ‘future ‘, specifies a brand manager.

In short, a movement has started. It should be said that for vehicles essentially called to carry out Sunday exits at peaceful pace, a range of 150 to 200 km is more than enough.

Add to that an interview reduced to its simplest expression, for the benefit of peace of mind and maintenance costs, and we understand that an increasing number of amateurs can be tempted.

In France, we also see companies appearing which offer to electrify old models, and in particular the Citroën Mehari which lends itself particularly well to exercise.

Concern of purists

However, if it is still perfectly marginal, this phenomenon already worries the International Federation of Old Vehicles (FIVA).

In a press release just published, its Vice-President responsible for legislation Tiddo Bresters specifies that ” it is neither the shape nor the body style of a vehicle that makes it ‘old’, but the way the vehicle in its entirety has been constructed and manufactured in its original form. Therefore, if an owner, engineer or automobile manufacturer chooses to make this type of conversion on an old vehicle, FIVA strongly recommends that the modifications be reversible, with all the original components marked and stored securely. Thus, the vehicle can, if desired in the future, return to its original state and become an old vehicle again. 

And the FIVA, to denounce the possibility for certain conversion companies to obtain certification bodies “to keep the identification number of the donor’s original vehicle, despite the more or less important replacement of the transmission system“. This switch to electric would therefore contribute in a certain way to “distort” the collection market.

To put things right, FIVA recalls that to be considered “old” a vehicle must be “mechanically propelled”, at least 30 years old, not be used as a daily mode of transport, kept and maintained in correct conditions from a historical point of view, and be part of our technical and cultural heritage.

We will be careful not to take sides in this quarrel between “old-old” and “old-modern”. But it is clear that the felted approval provided by an electric motorization corresponds perfectly to the conduct of a “collection” model.

Provided, of course, that the conversion is carried out by serious people and avoids tinkering which could prove to be extremely dangerous for oneself and other users.

It is surprising, however, that FIVA forgets to cite the main defect in electrical technology. This will indeed deprive you of the essential charm that comes with driving a collector thermal vehicle: an engine that breaks down in the open countryside on a rainy Sunday at the end of the afternoon, when you are 50 km away from your home …