By Mike Atwal
13th February 2020

In Defence of The Classic

Dear Lord/Lady Justice,

I’m going to speak from the heart, shoot from the hip, back myself up with some statistics, and embrace my new grey hairs as an excuse to try and pull apart the green-drive in full swing at the moment. I’m defending the combustion engine classic today.

Let’s get the statistics out of the way first. Tesla’s share price rocketed by almost 20% in a single day recently. Tesla stock, as a matter of fact is up 3,173% since 2010. Battery range balanced with charging time is starting to become dangerously convenient.

It clearly shows the race to finish line “Electric” is firmly on for the car industry, with more and more completely electric cars being produced and making their way onto the globe’s tarmac network, scattering the landscape with charging points. Although I would like to address the issue of the lacking drive in electric infrastructure that cannot keep up with the high demand for them.

I recently had a quick chat with a BMW i3 owner who was having a charging point installed in his new garage. We made friends the moment I parked my old 8 series next to his i3. He proudly said he can drive for a few hundred miles after a 5 hour charge. He also proudly stated that his little boy who is seven will grow up on electric cars.

I felt happy for the little lad; but I instantly thought three things:

“Lucky him not to know better.”

“And why is he so fascinated with my 8 series then?”

“And…if I had a kid, they must know what a V8 is. And want one desperately. End of.”

And yep, that’s me shooting from the hip. Here’s a few reasons why I fired those particular text bullets at this “let’s go green initiative:” and yourself my Lord/Lady.

Does it really work out green overall in the end to produce the batteries for EVs? All that mining and so forth. Currently China have seen massive increases in carbon emissions, some 35-50% of emissions in electric vehicles arise from battery production as the need to extract more raw materials than would be needed in IC vehicles is less. All the extra load on power stations. Seems to me more pollution?

Why isn’t there such a vigor to remove cigarettes that pollute? Or the irrigated water it takes to supply the new vegan/vegetarian movement, let alone how much pollution is made into shipping these healthy goods?

Maintaining and using a classic car in the aim of doing so forever surely pays greater respect to the environment that was once impacted a little from its production. Right?

What about when the cost effective warm welcome from zero emissions cities in the form of favorable taxes and free parking turns into this:

“As of 2028, all vehicles classified as EVs will be subject to XYZ tax. Additionally, in order to facilitate more electric scooter lanes, parking restrictions will be in place from the 1st of Feb 2028 onwards.”

I’m not being facetious or sarcastic, I’m simply recalling some echoes of how Diesel was pushed in its day, and we know where we are with that little gem of let’s go green.

I accept that when I fire my old 8 series up it certainly pollutes it’s immediate environment, and producing unleaded is not without harm. But I sense electric cars are perhaps only green in that very moment they operate, perhaps hiding bigger overall damage to our world from it’s production and charging process.

The bigger longer term impact to the environment is a long way from being assessed and measured; we will only know in the end. Lucky we are just beginning.

We also live in an economical environment where automation and a drastic shift in job roles in different sectors such as engineering will have a huge impact. Owning a classic car and preserving history and heritage could save jobs, hear me out. There will still be a need for internal combustion engines amongst many other sectors; airplanes, military, shipping (kind of) and wiping the world dry of all vehicles could damage the engineering industry significantly, if these skills are still not refined and learned. Owning a classic can keep that aspirational engineer working whilst he learns the skills he needs to progress in that role.

To conclude my grey hair fuelled freedom of speech moment, cars like these two beauties below will never be defunct; because if you can’t burn unleaded one day, I am sure the EV conversion scene will be the next big thing by then.

Yours Sincerely,

Mike ‘Petrolhead’ Atwal.



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