"At a time when new technology and autonomous cars are poised to change the face of motoring forever, you only need look at the similarly dramatic shift in transport at the end of the 19th Century – when horses were almost entirely replaced by motor vehicles – to see a vibrant future for classic cars as recreational vehicles. Indeed, there are some startling parallels between the environmental crisis of the 1800s, and the challenges facing the motor industry today [see footnote on 'Environmental crisis, then and now'].
"And it is right to celebrate motoring history. The automobile has – over the last hundred years or so – had a hugely liberating effect on humanity. FIVA welcomes safer, cheaper, more environmentally friendly modern vehicles as necessary transport, but as autonomous cars become the norm on arterial roads, the back roads will increasingly be available for people to enjoy classic motoring."
To mark World Motoring Heritage Year and emphasize its new mission statement, 'Protecting, preserving and promoting world motoring heritage', FIVA is planning an ongoing series of events and initiatives throughout the coming year, including:
- Periodic "Heritage Forums", bringing together the heads of the classic divisions of the major vehicle manufacturers, and symposiums on pertinent topics for all stakeholders to deliberate and debate key issues;
- Broadening the scope of FIVA to allow professional members, such as manufacturers, to contribute to and aid the movement;
- Identifying issues of global concern, lobbying the relevant authorities and raising public awareness;
- Launching FIVA-backed awards at many of the world's top events;
- Issuing FIVA ID cards based on the new technical code for historic vehicle authentication;
- The design of two World Motoring Heritage Year logos (one for cars and one for motorcycles, as below) that will soon be available as stickers to the general public.
"Now is the ideal time to celebrate the freedom, pleasure and technological advances that our motoring heritage has brought us," concludes Patrick Rollet.
FIVA is the only global organization of its kind aiming to encourage the safe use on the roads of self-propelled, mechanical vehicles more than 30 years old, but equally focused on preserving and promoting the very culture of motoring.
Footnote: Environmental crisis, then and now:
- Just as car pollution presents a major health risk in cities today, so the horse threatened human life 120 years ago.
- In 1898, New York held the world's first international urban planning conference, largely to discuss the environmental crisis facing major cities: horse manure.
- The Times in London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in manure. In New York, one pundit predicted that by 1930, horse droppings would reach as high as Manhattan's third-story windows(1).
- Horse manure led to flies, which led to diseases such as typhoid fever. In 1900, in New York alone, 20,000 deaths per year were blamed on horse manure(2).
- The planning conference of 1898 could devise no solution to the problem and hence the conference ended after three days, instead of the scheduled ten… yet within a few short years the problem had entirely disappeared, thanks to the appearance of the automobile(3).
- Far from bringing about an end to horse ownership in the developed world, however, the appearance of the motor car at the end of the 19th Century saw the horse's lot drastically improved.
- Today, there are some four million horses kept for recreational purposes in the USA alone – and the average lifespan of the horse has increased from two years for a working 'streetcar' horse(4), to around 30 years for a recreational horse today(5).
- In 2016, as alternatives to the internal combustion engine are devised and as autonomous vehicles start to appear on our roads, there is every reason to anticipate a growing appreciation of our motoring heritage and a new dawn for classic motoring. Hence FIVA, the international federation of historic vehicles, has named 2016 as World Motoring Heritage Year.