|Posted on September 27, 2010 at 12:35 AM|
Looking through recent issues of Practical Classics, it would appear that the classic car has fallen out of favor with the majority of Britain. Cities such as Edinburgh have now passed laws preventing classic cars from operating within the city. In North America, we have “schemes” that trade bus passes or bicycles for what are considered “old polluting cars”. Such ideas are interesting given that they do not address the entire situation.
We have all had this conversation in one form or another, and all usually end with the same phrase – “for the amount I drive the car it should not really matter’. Now lets go beyond that and look at the numbers behind car production (unfortunately, I cannot compile data for only one year in question, so I will have to cover decades for a true picture). It has been estimated that a modern car consumes twenty-seven barrels (42 gallon barrels) of oil in its manufacture and that does not address that materials consumed.
In 1956, domestic car producers used 45 million tons of iron. Some would think that modern cars would require less material, though that must be countered with increase in demand. In 1994 it is estimated that the car industry required 64.8 billion tons of iron for production. This is only to address one component required in manufacture. Once the numbers are realized, it is easy to see how driving and maintaining a European classic (most of which achieve 20+ MPG, or more than an SUV) can actually be seen as an environmentally responsible act. In using your car, you are prolonging the life of your daily driver.
In the latest issue of Sports Car Market, Keith Martin states that he feels that most classics are now well beyond their designed life span and that they live on due to the enthusiasm of car types. Given that the newest Triumph/MG is now twenty seven years old I think that it speaks to both the quality and character of the cars. For all of its promising technology, I do not feel that three decades from Prius’ will be going on ice cream runs – simply put they are a lovely appliance. More over it will be interesting to see how green the recycling and supply of the 500volt battery pack required for the Prius will be.
In driving and restoring these classics, is it possible that we are actually, in some way, “recycling”???