Selling your classic car? It's FREE to list your car on Honest John Classics | No thanks

What the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars means for classics

Published 26 July 2017

Plans to ban sales of all new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 have been set out by the Government. It’s all part of its controversial clean air plan and comes just weeks after France made a similar announcement.

The clean air strategy is a complex document and as well as encouraging a move towards alternative fuels like electric or hybrid vehicles, it sets out strategies for local councils to enforce clean air zones on some of the UK’s most polluting roads.

‘Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this Government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible,’ a spokesman said.

Indeed, figures show that around 10,000 people die early every year in London because of the capital’s polluted air.

Jaguar Driving Experience

Driving experiences like this Jaguar one could soon be the best way to remember how cars used to be.

Some people fear that this could spell the end of the road for the classic car movement – let’s face it, older vehicles are hardly the cleanest. But, on reflection, we think the ban could actually be good news for the majority of classics.

After all, with no petrol and diesel vehicles leaving the showroom after 2040, where will petrolheads get their fix? From older cars, of course. If manufacturers are smart, this could lead to the creation of heritage experience and driving days giving people the chance to relive the former glories of the internal combustion engine.

Classic car hire companies could also see an increase in demand as people look to take a trip down memory lane. By 2040, driving a 2016 Ford Focus RS through North Wales will be just as attractive as guiding a Morris Minor through the Cotswolds.

Regardless of your political views, this Government has generally been supportive of classic cars. For a start, it reintroduced the rolling tax exemption for older vehicles – albeit at 40 years rather than 25.

Goodwood Revival (2)

Historic motorsport events like Goodwood Revival could become more popular than ever.

But it sends a message that Whitehall does value the sector. Not only do classic cars provide a sense of heritage and history that appeals to tourists in the same way that the Tower of London does, but the classic industry is worth a lot of money.

How much? Well, according to the latest figures £5.5bn – with around 35,000 people employed in the sector. And while older cars aren’t the cleanest, the damage they’re able to do is limited.

Let’s face it, you rarely see a Jensen Interceptor stuck in congestion in London, its V8 burbling away returning a single figure mpg and struggling to keep cool – older cars just aren’t designed to cope with modern stop-start traffic.

Most classic owners will avoid congested roads and motorways at all costs, often favouring a more scenic route for the few times a year they’re used and making the most of our green and pleasant land. In fact, the same study shows that older vehicles cover on average just over 1000 miles a year.

When you think about it, banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles could actually save many modern or future classics from the crusher. After all, these will be the last of a dying breed – museum pieces and memories of a time before all cars became electric. Something to be celebrated.


   on 26 July 2017

That's great all the time there are still petrol/diesel stations to fill up our classic cars which are themselves less able to travel long distances between fuel stations due to their lower MPG's

Nick Cliffe    on 26 July 2017

The price of fossil fuels will probably rise through the stratosphere as the economies of scale in obtaining and processing it become gradually less effective with demand shifting to electric. Maybe we'll see most classic vehicles being converted to run on biofuel? Other than that, the rarity and appeal of all true classics ancient and modern will probably see their values increase long term. The sound and spectacle of petrol engined cars in particular can never be eclipsed by electric cars and so we'll see classic car shows and racing events drawing ever more huge audiences.

Edited by Nick Cliffe on 26/07/2017 at 15:27

Big Alf    on 27 July 2017

Whilst I'm sure you're right, the price of petrol & Diesel will rise. Maybe the govt will soften the blow by cutting fuel duty. Today if petroleum costs £1.15 litre, the cost before duty is only £0.38/litre and there will be no point taxing at a high rate as the govt won't get much revenue from low volume sales.

Edited by Big Alf on 27/07/2017 at 00:03

John Lauder    on 27 July 2017

I'm not sure the Price of Fuel will rocket after 2040 as the UK and several EU countries opt for Leccy cars there will be an on over supply and those countries selling oil will be offering the stuff at rock bottome prices to ensure that countries Like India and China stay loyal to Oil to avoid a glut.

The big losers will be UK Business who are being hamstrung by being forced to spend More money on less useful and lower range vehicles while those countries that do not opt to do the same will have a financial advantage due to them not having to spend Trillions to appease a Green Lobby.

Edited by John Lauder on 27/07/2017 at 20:55

Pete4L    on 26 July 2017

I agree, there are just so many issues with all of these proposals. Will a modern "Dirty" diesel bought brand new today be considered a classic in 2040? Will diesel & petrol be available from the mid century onwards? How will the government raise the revenue it takes on fossil fuels at the moment be raised on electric vehicles of the future? Thankfully for me I'll probably be dead by then... but I fear that the mobility we have now will be restricted to the wealthiest folk in society in the future. I can see future governments forcing today's petrol's & diesels off the roads by massive hikes in fuel prices. Classic car ownership will be a totally luxury pursuit, I can envisage petrol & diesel easily at around £20 per litre by the middle of this century.

Edited by Pete4L on 26/07/2017 at 15:16

   on 26 July 2017

That's great and all but there won't be any where to get petrol for them

anglebox    on 26 July 2017

Cars running around in 2040 will still need petrol and diesel. The move only applies to new car sales (about 2.7m of 30m cars on UK roads). Plus, plug-in hybrids have a petrol (or diesel) engine and so will still require fuel.

mark greenwood    on 26 July 2017

b***** enviromental crap,i for one hope it goes wrong,i like my old cars and want fuel for them,i dont want electric car nothing more than a computer on wheels they can shove em

   on 26 July 2017

It's not PC to point out that the real problem is that there are too many of us walking/driving around the planet. Why doesn't green peace concentrate in passing laws to stop people from multiplying so mindlessly???
Petrol/diesel cars or not, ecological problems will only get worse as the world's population increases at an astonishing pace!!
I love my classics and I intend to use them as much as possible while I can!! I don't have kids so I've done my bit for the planet :-)

julian young    on 26 July 2017

This will bring about mass exporting of petrol and diesel cars

raginmad    on 26 July 2017

Hope you are right as I am just about to buy a Jag MK2 to do up and maybe replace my Xtype

   on 26 July 2017

Is there a date when Petrol and Diesel won't be for sale? 2050? 2100?

John Lauder    on 27 July 2017

Probably never, the Governments over the last few years have strayed off course more times than blind rats in a maze, We'll let things go on as is, move the date back a few times then when Halley's comet passes by in 2061 they'll have decided that GW, Nox deaths and Brexit inspired famines were all utter nonsense and that without diesel the world will die...more so as those that run Electric cars get their dangly bits fried through invisible electrical fields given off by their Lithium battey pack and our bees fall out the sky as they silently drive past on route to their next Radio therapy appointment.

Edited by John Lauder on 27/07/2017 at 21:11

   on 27 July 2017

If any one is unsure Just look at Kodak ? then base your opinion on that The market is driven by supply and demand PETROL WILL BE A LUXURY only for the few It will not be viable to produce if cars run on Electric.

So us Classic Car Lovers will hopefully be able to buy the cars we want not for investment Only for what they was inteded for pure enjoyment. Cant wait to buy that ? for a lot less then it is now roll on 2040

Carl Pereira    on 27 July 2017

It seems planes and shipping cause more pollution than cars (, so are we going to see electric planes and ships as well?

Jai Cozzi    on 27 July 2017

I may explore retro fitting electric technology to my classic car. I know a few others have already done this successfully.

Nick Cliffe    on 27 July 2017

I was thinking about how long the world's lithium supplies would last if and when electric vehicles replace combustion powered vehicles. Although there is currently enough lithium available through mining and brine extraction to last us several decades into the future there is another substance that battery manufacture requires; rare earth metals. The supply of this is very limited and mining it is causing absolute environmental devastation in China where 95% of the world's supply is located. Raping the planet is no understatement as far as rare earth metal mining is concerned and the dust alone that this creates is making thousands of people ill. Here is a small extract published in February 2017 from which is an authoritative source of information on the battery industry: "Rather than worrying about a lack of lithium, there could be shortages of rare earth materials, should the EV replace the conventional car. One such material is the permanent magnet for the electric motors. Permanent magnets make one of the most energy-efficient motors. China controls about 95 percent of the global market for rare earth metals and expects to use most of these resources for its own production. Export of rare earth materials is tightly controlled. " Personally, I would like to see a lot more money being put into developing additives for ethanol which would minimise or stop the solvents in it dissolving fuel system components. as well as stopping the dreaded gunge developing in cars that are only driven infrequently. If they can do that and build a decent supply chain then the future may look a little more assured for classic cars.

Edited by Nick Cliffe on 27/07/2017 at 11:44

James Hurdman    on 27 July 2017

I love old cars. Love them. However, this is the beginning of the end for ALL cars run on petrol or diesel. Quite simply, in due course there will be no petrol stations for people to fill up in. Unless classic car owners convert them to electric, which kind of destroys the whole reason for having them in my view, they will only be found in museums. I can't see the powers that be permitting people to bulk purchase petrol and storing it at their home. Classic car prices can only really go one way. Down.

John Lauder    on 27 July 2017

I'm not convinced this will happen in this time span, the £trillions it'll cost the UK and France alone will set Alarm bells ring all round the world, and if they see that us and France are committing Economic suicide in pursuit of our Politicians Green Dream then those other countries watching from the sidelines will say..stuff that, and they will not make it Optional and Up to their own people as to whether they want to run Diesels, Petrol or Electric cars.

Our Government by their usual carpet banning of all things bad instead of a more pragmatic change through education approach to this will be our downfall, we'll not need to worry about our Classic cars soon as we'll be to busy worrying about where our next meal is coming from as we sink beneath the waves of recession that being uncompetitive though increased costs brings.

We will go electric eventually, indeed the whole world will, but that time is not 2040, it'll be more likely 2100/2150 when a lack of oil drives the need for invention and things move on apace, they'll need a massive drive to build many dozen more power stations before they can power all those miillions of Electric cars, and they take take 10 years before they can agree on the building of just one power station let alone Dozens, and what would they run on..Gas, Diesel, Coal or that monster...Nuclear!

Then Multiply that by the other 194 Countries in the world! just Aint going to happen in any of our lifetimes unless Oil drys up and that's unlikey as they keep finding new reserves and then tell us we are good for another 150 years at our present consumption rates, and that'll stretch out even longer with the more electric cars that appear..

   on 27 July 2017

Clive Mills.

Given that we cant build a new nuclear power station inside 30 years and it has been stated that we may need 4 to cover the requirement if all vehicles went electric they better get started quickly! lets see what the greenies think of that.
No nice burble from V8s, any one seen formula E! enough said.

   on 27 July 2017

It's a seismic change for sure... Maybe an opportunity to not be utterly beholden to despotic regimes ad infinitum?

Just a thought

   on 27 July 2017

If they go ahead with it by 2040 I think petrol will obviously be hard to come by and expensive only for the real Wealthy people I think running a classic car or classic motorcycle will be out of reach for most of us also running these vehicles does require parts and I think some of the pattern part manufacturers will probably go iinto decline so a lot of classics will probably end up in a museum I cannot see them producing batteries sufficiently powerful enough to be used in lorrys which deliver goods to shops and supermarkets I think these big ideas are not going to work like they think unless technology comes on in leaps and bounds. ??

Dan Clelland    on 29 July 2017

I personally, don't think that this will become a reality. HJ uses the term vehicles, whereas all other reports only mention cars. It's not really been thought through and seems like a false hope to appease the green lobbyists.
EV's will be no use to haulers, caravanners, and many more, and this still doesn't address the issues of aircraft, trains etc. Indeed, the decision has just been taken NOT to electrify the Midlands rail networks, as previously promised.
Once the research shows the carbon footprint of producing EV's including the batteries, and the need to generate more electricity, I suspect the target will be gently shelved. Notwithstanding, apart from Volvo, other manufacturers have not yet committed to the production of electric-only vehicles, and other countries have not signed up either.

Chris C    on 29 July 2017

Diesel will still be around since replacements for trucks, tractors, offhighway vehicles, oil central heating systems, etc, etc, won't be ready in time. Petrol vehicles could be converted to LPG. We might go back to the early days of motoring and buying fuel in cans from hardware shops, chemists, etc! There's always burning charcoal to make gas like they did in WW2...

Look what happened when leaded fuel and solvent paints were supposedly phased out....

Vehicles will still be made in the UK with petrol/diesel engines for export to countries that haven't gone 100% electric.

I also predict that current lithium battery technology by 2040 will be well out of date. Isn't it about time that heavy lead/acid batteries were phased out in vehicles?

I haven't heard much mention of motorbikes?

How about a ban on all 2 stroke engines, eg in garden power tools?

Neil Plucknett    on 31 July 2017

Of all the sources of pollution cars are amongst the least worst. OK - we all go get electric cars - then the pollution moves up the chain to the generating stations which instead of running for short periods through out the day run 24x7x365.
And the big polluters are still there - HGV's, buses, aircraft and ships.
To the best of my knowledge there is no all electric or PHEV replacement for a 40 tonne articulated tractor or even a 7.5 tonne multi-drop truck. Nor is there one for buses larger than 16 seats or so.
Certainly nothing to replace aviation engines and although some ultramodern cruise ships are being built that run on LPG over 99.9% of the worlds maritime fleet still use either diesel engines or oil fired boilers and it will be centuries before these get replaced.
National Grid reckon another 10 power stations will need to be built and on-line before 2040 to cope with the demand else we will be facing brown-outs in winter. Someone will have to pay for these so its a fair bet the price of electricity is going to soar. The treasury is going to be out of pocket by billions in lost revenue from sales and then road tax - that has to be reclaimed from somewhere so its odds on the EV's currently exempt from road tax will find themselves having it levied.

Brian Kain    on 1 August 2017

Sadly our politicians think of nothing other than getting re-elected so that their blue chip pensions are maintained. Why don't they seek advice from all interested parties before making these knee jerk decisions which are impossible to implement? The laws of supply and demand cannot be ignored and, as some have already pointed out, we shall be putting ourselves at a considerable commercial disadvantage if this madness becomes a reality.

Howard Buchanan    on 4 August 2017

10K dead p.a. from breathing polluted air in London? 40K dead nationally? These figures are big, fat lies, plucked from the air (geddit?) as propaganda by anthropogenic global warming fanatics living in cloud cuckoo land who will eventually deliver to the British taxpayer the biggest bill in history. One which is based on either a mass delusion or a colossal fraud.
Air conditions in big Chinese and Indian cities are far, far worse than they are erroneously alleged to be here, yet there's absolutely no sign whatever of their populations reducing in numbers. Quite the contrary!

Richard Parker    on 19 August 2017

I am always appalled at the arrogance with which our government rides roughshod over its electorate .
Whilst i think that producing cleaner vehicles is a good thing, expecting people to trade in a well looked after 1994 peugeot or similar that does 70 mpg and cost £500 as mine did and may have ten years left in it in order to buy a nice clean electric one costing up £ 20,000 or more tells us they do not live in the real world .
There are thousands of families struggleing to run cars that cost less than £ 2000.00 pounds, they have neither the money to buy these new cars or on the other hand rent them .
The scrappage scheme finnished any chance that you could run a decent car cheaply as all cars post around 2000 have systems that are complex and expensive to fix which usually means the car will get scrapped well before its time for the sake of some small expensive component, that is not saving the planet .
You would probably have to produce at least two new cars in the time mine has been on the road.
I run and restore old classics for a hobby,they are easy to fix,dont depreciate, tax free, and above all they are fun,given how much people use them they are not a problem to our planet ,what is a problem to our planet is a government that rubber stamps licences by an environment secretary to fracking companies to explore for shale gas which will allow them to drill under your house pour poisenous chemicals down a well hole and emit methane gas into the atmosphere,now thats really called screwing the planet !
Richard Parker

James A    on 18 September 2017

Given there is a nationwide shortage of electric power generation, lithium (although I read the Cornish tin mines are to be investigated for its production). A point to take into consideration. Not all of us have garages or off road parking, so there will now be thousands of cables laid across footpaths for the unwary to trip on, think of the blind, handicapped, etc., How the legal beagles will rub their hands together - litigation unlimited. Or will the government dig up the roads and lay underground facilities, ha, ha, ha, (yes I have fairies at the bottom of my garden). Then there are the wags who will take delight unplugging cars or the shifty, swapping leads to charge their vehicle at the neighbours expense.

I think we will have not only our older vehicles, but the newer ones with us for a long time yet.

   on 15 October 2017

Would just like to comment , and raise awerness , of people or disabled children , about the diesel and petrol car ban, we have our 7 year old daughter , Local hospital neglection at birth, leaving us with a big struggle day to day, we live in rural north norfolk , and travel around to hospitals round the country , we do more than 25.000 miles per year , not by choice , but must, keep our daughter busy , with actives, days out , say our normal day out to pleasure wood hills , is 104 mile round trip , were only their 2 hours depending on her behaviour , so we are total relie on our vw transporter this vechiel is over 3 ton in weight , and average around 26 mpgs , my daughter has sever eperlepsiy , witch involves hospital ambulance out, we have no time to say , right I need to charge our car , what about power cuts , we live sourroned by woods, trees always causing electric failed in our area , last year we went 3 days without power , can some one please fight our corner with these day to day tasks that we face, we do not own a normal size car , like I've said we own a vw transporter 3 ton in weight and long wheel base , with electric tail lift ramp, also my daughter has DVD player , sensory mood lights on in the car, our phones on charge , air con on use the battery ect ect , please publish this, and help save outhers in this madness , I totally under stand for the cut down in emissions , but why not slow speed down , and put extra filters in exhausts , thank you Ian and family ,

marknorth    on 24 October 2017

cars will run on natural gas or lpg found in the large bottles used for mobile homes , gas will be around for a long time to come think about it, just convert your old classic to lpg if you are still around in 2040. there will be ways and means of making the petrol engine run even if there is no petrol.

Southerly95    on 3 November 2017

So what will the power generating stations be running on in 2040? Given our poor commitment to nuclear energy it will probably be augmented by coal!

Zelek Uther    on 12 November 2017

Power generation is becoming more decentralised as more people are installing solar panels on their roof. Tesla are bringing out their solar roof which will be cheaper to install than a traditional tile roof. We don't need more power stations, each household can generate all the power it needs itself (and that includes charging the household electric cars). This is not sci-fi, people are doing this today.

Abel Higgins    on 14 December 2023

When it comes to reliable exterior deep cleaning services in Watson ACT and its vicinity, Canberra Pressure Cleaning is the answer. Our application of cutting-edge equipment and top-notch pressure cleaning techniques distinguishes us, achieving outstanding results for surfaces of different types, regardless of the scope of the external cleaning assignment.

Add a comment


Compare classic car insurance quotes and buy online. A friendly service offering access to a range of policies and benefits.

Get a quote