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1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS (5)
Monday, 22nd December, 2014
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Are classic cars a greener and cheaper alternative?

Driving a classic car can make you the envy of your peers with many classics boasting a distinguished appearance and achieving almost iconic status. However, did you know that classic cars can be practical too – helping the environment and lowering the cost of car insurance? Here we look at why using your classic car as a main or secondary vehicle could be beneficial both for the quality of the air we breathe and for your wallet.

Why classic cars can be a better choice for the environment
In May 2009, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders claimed that new cars deliver more environmental benefits because pre-1999 vehicles were fitted with Euro 2 compliant engines as standard as opposed to the Euro 4 and Euro 5 engines of modern day vehicles. However, while the emissions of some newer vehicles may be lower than those of some classic cars this doesn’t tell the whole story.

Firstly, the manufacture of new cars itself produces pollution. According to figures from the EU Commission, everything from mining metals to the energy used in assembly accounts for around 15 per cent of a typical vehicle’s lifetime emissions. Then there are the emissions that occur during the transportation of vehicle parts and then of the vehicles themselves from their manufacturing base to dealerships.

Without stringent vehicle recycling schemes in place, taking older vehicles off the road is, according to Andrew Davis, director of the Environmental Transport Association, “money down the drain”. Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, is also critical of the idea that taking classic cars off the road can be better for the environment, pointing out that at 14 years old, half of all vehicles are still on the road.

Furthermore, many modern cars have higher emissions than classic vehicles. Sports utility vehicles, luxury cars and powerful modern day muscle cars often have emissions in excess of 200g/km of carbon dioxide. With this in mind, if a classic car owner exchanged his/her car for a more modern alternative they may not opt for a vehicle that offers significant emission reductions because most classic car owners tend to be interested in cars based on performance and appearance rather than efficiency.

The argument for longevity
Several car manufacturers support a so-called ‘high mileage’ club, with the likes of Volvo and Honda sponsoring high mileage clubs for drivers with more than 100,000 miles registered. Generally, the economic trade-off of purchase versus repair plays into the decision to keep a vehicle running - but in the case of many classic cars, there is added motivation because of the prestige nature of the vehicles. Indeed the majority of classic cars are noted for their upkeep which limits the effects of rust and other factors related to the body of a car that are prime limits to extended longevity. Indeed many non-commercial vehicles have recorded travel in excess of one million miles, in part because they have been well maintained.

Why classic cars earn lower car insurance premiums
Classic cars often qualify for lower car insurance premiums than conventional, modern cars. This is because most insurers deem that classic cars usually travel fewer miles, are kept in better condition and are normally stored in a garage, reducing the risk of theft. By contrast, new cars generally face high car insurance premiums because of their high values – they often cost more to replace in the event of a theft or write-off. In fact, the most fuel efficient modern cars, such as hybrid and electric cars can face even higher premiums because of their unusual parts that can be more costly to repair and replace.
Classic car owners can also take advantage of specialist car insurance schemes designed for their vehicles. Policy features may include agreed valuations – so you know from the outset how much your car is worth in case it is written off; laid-up insurance, if your classic car is being worked on as a project; hire cover if you plan to rent out the vehicle; and track day cover if you want to participate in rallies, hill climbs and other events.

If you take the maintenance of your classic car seriously and join a manufacturer or owner’s club to learn more about the vehicle you could even be entitled to a further discount on your premium. There are also reductions available for owners who use their classic car as a secondary vehicle in the household and are able to agree to an annual mileage limit.

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