2 June 2010

HVA: Keeping Yesterday's Vehicles on Tomorrows Roads

Meet the Historic Vehicle Association: a brand-new organization with a mission.

What, me worry? It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you want to take your historic car, truck or motorcycle out for a ride. But it may not always be as simple as hopping in your car, starting the engine and heading out for the open road.

Will you be able to get the fuel you need? Will your 50- or 60-year-old machine be legal on tomorrow’s roads without modern emissions equipment, crumple zones, air bags, sophisticated traction control, antilock brakes or other technologies of the future? In five or 10 years, will you be able to find the parts, somebody to work on your car or the technical support required to keep a historic vehicle running?

Concern for the historic vehicle community When Hagerty asked in its annual hobby survey what impact ethanol-blended fuels, emission restrictions and increased government regulations will have on their rights to maintain and use historic vehicles, two-thirds of the respondents expressed concern. Most felt advocacy groups were not focused on historic vehicles and that too little was being done.

At the heart of the issue is the fact that technology and public policy seem to be advancing and developing with a growing bias against the traditional automobile and the combustion engine. On the surface, the arguments are hard to dispute. Cleaner, safer vehicles; less pollution and congestion; reduced petroleum dependence – all are things we would wish for our children and grandchildren. But each of these initiatives, if advanced in the narrow view, will certainly have direct and indirect influences on how we work on and enjoy historic vehicles.

Few of these trends are new. Safety, emission and fuel economy campaigns have been active since the late ’60s and early ’70s. Historically, we’ve been successful with the “limited use equals limited impact” defense, and numerous manageable exemptions have been granted to owners of historic vehicles. However, as new vehicles become cleaner, safer and more efficient, historic vehicles – by comparison – risk becoming the bad guys. Society at large may no longer view historic vehicles as interesting novelties but more as nuisances, which may weaken our ability to create and maintain exemptions.

If regulations and laws are enacted without considering their effect on historic vehicles, we may eventually find ourselves in a world with few historic vehicles. This won’t happen because anyone set out intentionally to squash the hobby, but as a result of increased regulations, restrictions and growing expenses that could make ownership and use of historic vehicles increasingly impractical, causing clubs, events, museums and other hobby-businesses to dwindle in number. Before long, historic automobiles, trucks and motorcycles could go the way of the horse, to be seen only at fairs, in parades and at other special events.

Enter the Historic Vehicle Association The Historic Vehicle Association, or HVA, was formed to prevent scenarios like the above from playing out. Its mission is to keep “Yesterday’s Vehicles on Tomorrow’s Roads” by establishing a collaborative, unified platform among historic vehicle enthusiasts and supporting the various organizations, institutions and activities that enable us to enjoy historic motoring.

The HVA is actively:

  • Monitoring social, environmental, technological and regulatory developments for their immediate and potential impact on historic vehicles.
  • Collecting data to establish fact-based positions relative to the industrial heritage, cultural contribution, economic significance and low environmental impact of historic vehicles.
  • Developing tools and processes to identify and classify historic vehicles in order to carve out specific protections and exemptions.
  • Working to develop a comprehensive, collaborative network across all makes and models of the hobby to promote and preserve the vital and necessary infrastructure.

These resources will be leveraged to shape favorable public opinion and policy on behalf of the historic vehicle community. At the same time the HVA will be working to support the hobby from the inside – serving the clubs, events, museums, libraries, schools, institutions and businesses that form the fabric and infrastructure of the historic vehicle lifestyle.

The HVA is an independent organization that has emerged from the Hagerty Plus program launched by Hagerty Insurance in 2002. The Hagerty Plus mission was to serve the historic vehicle community by protecting the rights of owners and supporting the activities and lifestyle surrounding historic vehicle ownership. These efforts took the form of legislative, youth and issue advocacy; charitable initiatives; and as an information resource promoting the care and use of historic vehicles. In order to serve the entire historic vehicle community and leverage the resources of groups like ours around the globe, Hagerty chose to separate these benevolent initiatives from its core business and reorganize these support programs as the Historic Vehicle Association.

The HVA was ratified as the U.S. and Canadian National Authority by the international body Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) last October. Though FIVA was established in 1966, until now there was no representation in North America. Their mission, like ours, is to protect the continued use of historic vehicles in the face of any adverse legislation. With the addition of the HVA, FIVA – with more than 1.5 million members – is now represented in 62 countries.

The Historic Vehicle Association serves Hagerty’s 400,000 historic car owners and the historic vehicle community at large in the United States and Canada. We hope to grow the membership to more than one million in the next few years and are currently addressing a number of industry research and legislative initiatives. Later this year we will pursue membership from individuals and organizations that share our commitment to historic vehicles.

We look forward to having our new Web site (historicvehicle.org) fully operational in the coming months, and you can check there to monitor our progress and activities in support of historic vehicles.

Stay tuned as we gear up. Inquiries are welcome at info@historicvehicle.org.

One of the founders of the Historic Vehicle Association, Greg Stropes has worked closely with Hagerty and FIVA to develop an organization to protect the interests of North American historic vehicle owners.

To see this article in its original format, view the pdf version of the Summer 2010 issue of Hagerty magazine.

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