Electrification of classic Jaguars - FIVA and FBHVC clarify their position

The subject of converting classic cars from internal combustion engines to electric motive power has been one that has sparked great discussion and debate in recent months. Indeed a story we ran in last week's Friday Spotlight article on Silverstone based company Lunaz also sparked responses from Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club members.

The discussions have been generated, on the whole, by an increase in the number of companies appearing in the UK offering conversion work on historic vehicles. This is also reflected across Europe, so much so, that FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens), have released a statement clarifying their position on the matter.

The FBHVC (Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs) of which the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club is a member, have stated that they were consulted on the creation of the FIVA stance and supported it wholly .

David Whale, Chairman of the FBHVC said; “Whilst we must fully accept that owners are free to do what they wish with their historic vehicles, we must make clear our definition of those converted vehicles in terms of their historic status. We, like FIVA, feel that the combustion engine and related engineering, is a key part of the heritage of a vehicle and is crucial to how it looks, sounds, smells and feels in order to represent the era in which it was constructed as a historical piece.”

They were also keen to point out that new cars built with electric power in the image of a classic car (like those built by Jaguar Classic) were considered entirely modern cars.


FIVA's position statement


An increasing number of commercial outfits are offering to convert historic vehicles to run on electric power, replacing the entire drivetrain with an electric unit and batteries.

In this way, they claim, it’s possible to retain the classic appearance of the vehicle while meeting modern environmental standards. As an additional benefit, the conversion might also increase power and performance. Some conversion companies have even obtained permission from the type approval/certification authorities to retain the original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the donor vehicle, despite more or less replacing the entire drivetrain.

Impact on the historic vehicle movement

Conversion of historical vehicles from their original internal combustion engines to electric power does not comply with the FIVA definition of a historic vehicle, cannot be carried out in accordance with the Charter of Turin, and does not truly achieve the goal of preserving historical vehicles. Vehicles so converted cease to be historic vehicles, except for “in period” changes.

FIVA’s Position

FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens or international federation of historic vehicles) understands the motivation of some owners to electrify their vehicles – and acknowledges that, subject to legislation and regulation, all modifications are a matter of personal choice.

However, FIVA – as an organisation dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles – cannot promote, to owners or regulators, the use of modern EV components (motors and batteries) to replace a historic vehicle’s powertrain.

Conversion of historic vehicles from their original internal combustion engines to electric power doesn’t comply with the FIVA definition of a historic vehicle, nor does it support the goal of preserving historic vehicles and their related culture. In FIVA’s view, vehicles so converted cease to be historic vehicles, unless they are subject only to ‘in period’ changes.

According to FIVA, a historic vehicle is ‘a mechanically propelled road vehicle’ that is:

• at least 30 years old

• preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition

• not used as a means of daily transport

• part of our technical and cultural heritage

Concludes Tiddo Bresters, FIVA’s Vice President, Legislation, “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.

Hence if any owner, motor engineer or manufacturer chooses to make such conversions to a historic vehicle, 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.”

What you thought

Jaguar Enthusiast Club members reacted to the news of electric conversions being offered for classic Jaguars.

What a terrible shame of treating classic cars in this way with electric conversions for some people to make a quick buck. What is it all coming to this madness has to stop!

Dave H, XK8 owner.

It would be fair to say that any agenda which seems to be prioritising the replacement of 'proper' engines in classics with electric motors is anything but the type of 'support' which will be increasingly needed to maintain classic cars as classic cars.Especially in view of the fact that I even view the rush to electric at the new end of the market as a pointless reinvention of an already failed technology for road vehicle use. .I think I'd rather destroy my series 3 with a sledge hammer than replace its V12 engine with an electric motor.

Geoff B, XJ6 owner.

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