China Begins to Recognize Vintage Cars

Did you know that China allowed the importation of vintage cars in 2019? Alas, it was for cars 100 years old and older. What’s the use of that? Of course, since 1949, China has been the People’s Republic, a developing nation without an auto industry and little understanding of automotive history. Today, China has the largest automotive market in the world and, interestingly, the country is starting to realize automotive history is a thing.

Until recently, China had a rule that required vehicles to be crushed once they reach 15 years. It’s now estimated China has at least a million cars are at least 15 years old and, as such, they stand the chance of spearheading China’s classic car scene. Chinese authorities recognize this, so the Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce, Sheng Qiuping, met with officials from the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) in Paris to discuss the future of classic cars in China.

Cars like this 1987 Mercedes-Benz S-class and the above Porsche were at a post-conference tour on a temporary import permit.

In return, FIVA president Tiddo Bresters was invited to April’s China International Classic Car Industry Outlook conference. China wants to address the development of its classic vehicle sector and determine what exactly is a classic in China. Other topics of consideration include the potential reform of import policies, and the importance of international cooperation.

“While the Chinese authorities are taking a suitably cautious approach to legislative changes – not least because of environmental concerns – there is definitely a sea-change in attitudes towards historic vehicles,” says the FIVA president.

Apparently, these two men are the impetus for regulating the classic car scene in China. Are takeovers in the horizon? (Cao Lei)

FIVA was founded in 1966 as a “worldwide organization dedicated to the protection, preservation and promotion of historic vehicles and related culture, as well as their safe use” when several automotive associations and clubs from different countries felt a need for a worldwide organization to promote the interests of old-car hobbyists internationally. Since 2017, FIVA has even been a non-governmental partner of UNESCO.

“We have spent much time discussing matters with governments and officials across China and we have reason to believe that the spring of China’s classic car industry is approaching,” says Gui’an Zong, President of the Classic Vehicle Union of China. “Working with FIVA, we hope to promote the rapid development of China’s classic car industry.”

Adds Bresters, Attracting younger people to the historic vehicle movement is a mainstay of FIVA’s aims, so to see this in a country with a potentially a vast contribution to make to the preservation of our automotive heritage is very encouraging.”