Fess up to the Feds for all our sakes


Author: James ElliottPublished:

As the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs starts delving our hobby to empower its elbow against the expenses cheats in parliament (OK, that's a bit strong, but I have to get your attention!), it got me wondering about the scale of our hobby. And more importantly, the difficult task that faces the FBHVC.

Tackling the latter issue first, the poor old Federation (a sort of kindly uncle watching over all of us, but armed with a baseball bat should anyone get threatening) has one hell of a fundamental dilemma. And that is that the bigger and more impressive the stats of classic car ownership and usage, the bigger the bat it carries, but the bigger the potential opposition it may stir up.

In an ideal world, the results would say that our hobby is a massive industry, generating squillions of pounds and vital to the national economy (which it is), but that no one actually uses the cars very much causing lots of nasty pollution or raising any road safety issues (which is rather less true, I hope).

Of course, they could exaggerate the figures (rather as some people might fiddle their expenses claims, there I go again), but they assure me that there is no need. And hats off to the Feds, so far they have managed this balancing act with great aplomb.

So, how big is our hobby-cum-industry? Well, the last big survey was in 2006 (with a supplement added in 2009) and the results, considering the Fed is the first to admit that given much of the trade's unwillingness to reveal its full income the numbers could be ridiculously conservative, are eye-opening. If you are not familiar with them, I just thought I would share a few, hopefully interesting, snippets about who we are, what we do and what we spend.

Our hobby is worth £3 billion a year (that's enough for 182,000 duck houses apparently) including £300 million in exports and employs close to 30,000 people in the UK, 52% of whom are under 45 (the point being that we are training up and providing work for a new generation, you see).

Then there are the cars. In a great demonstration of the Fed juggling its data as mentioned about, there are 400,000 road legal classic in the UK, BUT 83% are used fewer than three times a week and 65% of them travel fewer than 900 miles a year (shame on you, 65% of owners). Mind you, this point allows me to post lots of piccies of my classics being used so you don't have to stare at a wall of text. Here's another...

Historic vehicles account for a mere (ahem) 1.3% of vehicles (note, not cars) on the roads in the UK. Of the cars, Triumph is king, followed by Austin, Morris and Zundapp (nah, it's actually MG in fourth), then Jaguar, Ford and Riley.

So what about us, the hobbyists? We are younger and poorer than usually assumed and our cars are less valuable with 67% of them valued at under £10,000. No shock to me there, just some reassurance that I am amongst friends of similar brokeness!

The majority of us consider our vehicles to be in very good condition (that makes me a minority, don't start discriminating against me), and 30% of all enthusiasts are engineers (makes sense, I guess).

If the stats are bigger than you expected, you also need to bear a few things in mind. For a start, there is the point made earlier about trade revenues, but also remember that the survey only considers vehicles owned by members of FBHVC clubs and your classic only counts as a historic vehicle for the sake of the survey if it is 30 years old. So, this might be a big lump of ice, but it is still only the tip.

If you would like to know more about all this, the Federation has rather usefully made all these reports available for download at its website. To take part in this year's survey click here




I looked at and completed the survey compiled by the FBHVC regarding the future of the historic/classic car hobby, regrettably I was very disappointed ,it appeared to be a case of "the blind leading the blind ", I have seen better surveys for soap/detergent sales, this was supposed to be for a major national interest involving manufacturing, retail and the restoration industry, on top of the DIY, social and human interest IE RACING, SHOWS & CLUBS. After spending 15 years living and working in Germany in motor sport and having to deal with the TUV (Teknischer-Ueberwachung) on a regular basis it is obvious that this type of “old boy” approach just will not work, we need a much more business like attitude with lots of indisputable facts and figures. The BRITISH motoring enthusiasts are very naïve about the restrictive regulations currently enforced in the EU, which will shortly be coming here as the move to harmonise the vehicle regulations in 27 different countries take over . If your response is ;- “yawn”, don’t worry that’s normal for England , just ask someone from Holland or Belgium what a bad time their having with the MOT and vehicle registration. My advice is get with the FBHVC now, they need all the help available to fight for YOU !!



I totally agree with RolyMo in that the survey looks amateur - not encouraging at all to those of us who run classics on a day to day basis and are not merely in the good weather clan.  I am also a member of a number of classic clubs (VW Camper, VW Cabriolets and Alpine OC) and each of them are not conversant with the Federation or its actual aims.  The support and power of the people can win in democratic environments, incl the EU, so a little more effort in selling the cause at club level may develop a stronger front and I don't think will tip the fine balance James talks of. Just my thoughts.

Chris M Brice


Now it seems the FBHVC did not warn us about the introduction of more stringent MOT testing procedures to be used in GB, Come-on guys, "wake up at the back",we need to be told what is about to decend on us next from the great horrendous EU office of europeon sabotage. In the USA they have the equivilant of FBHVC in the form of SEMA which regularily issues notices of impending new legislation, giving everyone the opportunity to debate and if necessary oppose the items that cause them distress, We need prior knowledge and an energetic response to save our hobby.


Add your comment

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br> <img>
  • You may quote other posts using [quote] tags.

More information about formatting options

You must be logged in to comment
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.