Panel discussion led by industry experts identifies imminent threats to the future of the hobby
On August 13th in Carmel, California, the HVA hosted an exclusive media symposium for a panel discussion on the “Top Threats to The Collector Car Hobby.”
“Monterey Classic Car Week is a mecca for collector car enthusiasts and provided a great setting to discuss some of the most important issues facing the future of the collector car hobby,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty Insurance Agency. “We are pleased some of the industry’s most notable leaders could join us for an honest and open discussion on some of the key threats and what we can do to ensure that the HVA’s mission to ‘keep yesterday’s vehicles on tomorrow’s roads’ remains a probable reality.”
While traditionally historic vehicles have not been the direct focus of attacks, technology and public policy are advancing and developing with a growing bias against the traditional automobile and the combustion engine. Increasingly, historic vehicle owners are taking an unfair hit from what is otherwise well-intentioned regulatory action. It is important to keep in mind that while we all support cleaner air, safer vehicles, and petroleum independence, we must be mindful that broad-sweeping, ill-conceived strategies can unintentionally impact our ability to freely use and maintain historic vehicles.
The most immediate threats to the collector car hobby discussed during the panel included:
- Disappearing Infrastructure – Evolving transportation technology means the skills essential for repairing, restoring, and manufacturing parts for historic vehicles might eventually erode if not nurtured and supported. If there is any question about this, one has only to consider how many steam-locomotive technicians work in major cities today. So too, then, may dissolve the capacity to rebuild carburetors, troubleshoot breaker-point ignitions, and repair tube radios as these likewise become relics of our industrial past.
- Environmental Regulations – At a state level there remains keen interest in emissions. Currently, there are 93 bills in 26 different states that deal specifically with emissions. As new cars become increasingly cleaner and the number of cleaner cars on the road grows, the more historic vehicles may shift in status from novelty to nuisance. This means that as state air-quality standards get proportionately tighter, the number of cars meeting lower emissions standards will grow, which will make older, more polluting vehicles a bigger, more visible target.
- Alternative Fuels – The U.S. is on track to comply with the federal law requiring us to quadruple our production of alternative fuels by 2020. The EPA and Department of Energy are working jointly to implement the most aggressive alternative fuel-production standards that include E-85 and the highest corporate average fuel economy standards. The direct consequence of wide spread, pervasive implementation of alternative fuel on historic vehicle owners is evident – a disappearing fuel infrastructure.
- Aging Demographic – The average age of the historic vehicle hobbyist is 55, and 75 percent of the hobby is 46 years old or older. Social, economic and technical forces conspire to divert the interest of youths away from the automobile. If these trends continue unabated, we will continue to see the hobby age decline along with the number of enthusiasts and the value of vehicles. Clubs will shrink and support services will become scarcer as more enthusiasts exit the hobby than enter it.
While these issues are definite challenges historical vehicle collectors will likely face in the near future, many more threats exist. So what do you think?