Thursday June 30, 2016
Recent reports from the classic car movement in France have been making headlines on both sides of the channel, and it’s a much bigger deal than just EURO 16 or Brexit!
First they were ‘Out’ - banned from the city, victim to every Parisian’s right to clean air and a healthier environment.
And now they’re ‘In’ again, saved by Parisian people power, common sense and the kind of romance and ‘joi de vivre’ that only the French possess.
Vive La Rolls Royce!
When the news broke that Paris was to ban all cars manufactured before 1997 from driving in the city the French classic car community was in uproar. July 1st 2016 would see a complete ban on cars that were 20+ years old between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Monday to Friday. No allowances were made in the legislation for classic car drivers. It was a blanket ban that also included any motorbike made before 2000.
Air quality was the principal reason given, and the plan was to extend the ban to any vehicle more than ten years old by 2020 – a move that would seemingly exclude up to half a million vehicles from the city based on today’s estimates, which suggest that around 10% of all cars in Paris today were first registered before 1997.
The scheme was clearly designed to be well policed, with drivers who want to enter or drive in the city having to register for a windscreen sticker, with fines of up to £350 for those who break the rules.
Quelle dommage. Et sacré bleu mon ami!
At almost the eleventh hour, enter those nice ladies and gents from Fédération Francaise des Véhicules d'Epoque, (FFVE), more or less the French equivalent of the UK’s Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs.
Following a good deal of pressure and expert negotiations, the FFVE were able to obtain concessions for certain types of vehicle, specifically those considered to be ‘Collection’ cars.
The new deal means that any car that is 30 years or older which qualifies for the special ‘Collection’ sticker will be exempt from the new law, and can be driven in the city at any time, while any old car not considered a classic will have a ‘Normal’ sticker, effectively banning it from the streets of Paris without a potentially hefty fine during the week.
Not content with securing the concession, the FFVE are believed to be continuing negotiations with French authorities to gain a similar break for owners of modern classics, or Youngtimers, as they’re sometimes known in the classic car movement.
The current deal would, for instance, exclude a cherished and well maintained MX5 MK1 or a much loved ’96 SLK or Boxster. Madness, when you think about it.
Hopefully the French sense of Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite will win out, and the modern classic owners will get their very own exemption stickers.
Are We Safe?
Regrettably for classic car enthusiasts, (but luckily for anyone living there and needing to breathe) Paris isn’t the only city implementing this kind of ban. Delhi has one in place already, which unlike the rather more sensible French ban, excludes all vehicles over 15 years old.
There are even published plans for Transport for London (TfL) to implement a similar approach here in the UK by 2020, and this is where the great British car clubs and our very own Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs will be needed, along with the support of each and every one of us enthusiasts, from the E Type and Bristol owner to the Imp & Reliant Robin driver.
Consultations conducted by TfL, and which ended in early 2015 appear not to have been published or acted upon yet, and while plans for London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) do allow an exemption for ‘Historic vehicles’, it is currently defining only those made before 1975 as ‘Historic’. I know a Mini Cooper S that would argue differently.
The published plans for ULEZ in 2020 seem to indicate that if you drive a diesel engine car which is more than five years old, or a petrol car older than 14 years, it’s going to cost you £12.50 a day to drive in London, although whether this is in addition to the current congestion charge of £11.50 per day isn’t clear.
What do you think of the ban?
You can check your car’s eligibility here: