In the UK a system exists so that buildings are protected if they have a special architectural and historic interest. Surely we should be listing cars as well.
Recently details have emerged about some of the cars that were lost under the 2009 scrappage scheme where owners were given £2,000 to scrap their old cars when traded in for shiny new motors.
The list of cars that were scrapped in return for a £2,000 discount off a new car was brain-numblingly painful for anyone with the remotest interest in cars, or even with an aesthetic eye. Lancia Delta HF Integrales, BMW 2002s, Mercedes 560 SECs, Porsche 928s and many more were lawfully destroyed by the state in return for a discount off a crappy Korean hatchback.
We need to learn from our (and our government's) mistakes and protect certain older cars to ensure they are protected and cannot be scrapped or tastelessly modified whether under a future scrappage scheme or just by ignorant owners.
Under our car listing scheme those who buy and own these cars will be required to keep them in a certain condition, to protect them from idiotic modifications and to display them at at least one event per year so they can be enjoyed by the public.
If a listed car requires major work to keep it in roadworthy condition and the owner cannot afford the work they can then apply for a grant, just as the owners of listed buildings are able to.
Listed buildings come in three categories, Grade II covers 92% of all listings, Grade II* provides extra protection for 5.5% of buildings and Grade I protects buildings of exceptional interest and importance and covers just 2.5% of all listings.
In the car world we are a bit more modern so I'd go for an update to the numbering system at the very least with Grades 1, 2 and 3 where Grade 1 is the most important.
A board should be formed consisting of men and women who know their onions about cars and who would select those models to be listed. That board would debate and elect the list which would be updated annually. Car Listings Board members would include luminaries such as Ian Callum, James May (but NOT Jeremy Clarkson) and the Earl of March.
As to the listings themselves I've my own ideas but asked Twitter for examples. These were some suggestions.
Grade 3 - Ford Cortina Mk1, Ford Escort Mk1, Maserati Biturbo (all variants), BMW E24 6-Series, Triumph 1300, Austin Mini, Jaguar E-Type S3, Porsche 928, Porsche 924, Porsche 911 Classic, 964 and 993, Volvo P1800 and 1800ES, Ferrari 308, Land Rover Series 1, Mercedes 560 SEC, Lancia Stratos
Grade 2 - Austin Mini Cooper, Jaguar E-Type S1 and S2, Ford Escort Mk1 RS and Mexico
Grade 1 - Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, Ford GT40
The list and grades are endlessly debatable, which is why the selection of members to the Car Listings Board should be performed with the utmost diligence.
Let me know your suggestions for our new system of car listings.
By Matt Hubbard