There’s a downside to replacing the engines in old cars with electric motors.

They might be better for the environment, but they lose their historical significance.

That’s the warning from the International Federation of Historic Vehicles (FIVA) which has warned owners against the practice of turning their cars in to EVs.

FIVA is an organisation dedicated to the preservation, protection and promotion of historic vehicles.

As such it says it cannot promote — to owners or regulators — the use of modern EV components to replace a historic vehicle’s powertrain.

This means electric motors and batteries.

Conversion of historic vehicles from their original internal combustion engines to electric power does not comply with the FIVA definition of a historic vehicle, nor does it support the goal of preserving historic vehicles and their related culture.

Vehicles so converted cease to be historic vehicles, unless they are subject only to ‘in period’ changes.

FIVA’s warning comes in the wake of an increasing number of commercial outfits offering to convert historic vehicles to run on electric power, replacing the entire drivetrain with an electric unit and batteries.

FIVA’s Tiddo Bresters explained it’s not 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.”

According to FIVA, an 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

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History goes with the ICE


Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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