Historic Vehicle Body Slams BEV Conversions

A leading body dedicated to preserving historic vehicles has slammed the growing trend to convert them to BEV powertrains.

In a trend that many classic vehicle fans would consider vandalism, there have been several high profile conversions backed by major automakers including the Volkswagen Beetle, the Aston Martin DB6 and, highest profile of all, the Jaguar E-Type driven by Prince Harry after his wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018.

This trend has alarmed the prestigious Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) especially where the conversion replaces the entire drivetrain with an electric unit and batteries. It says that while some conversion companies have succeeded in obtaining permission to retain the original Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the donor vehicle, despite not having the original drivetrain.

In a strongly worded statement, it said: “FIVA… 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.”

Tiddo Bresters, FIVA’s vice-president, legislation, concluded: “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.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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