Add some va-va-voom with vintage vehicles

Following a pilot scheme in 2009, more than a dozen Heritage Open Days venues - including a school, a postal museum, a dockyard, several stately homes and even a Victorian cemetery - welcomed displays of historic vehicles in 2011.

© Roy Dowding - Classic home and carriage captured together

Co-ordinated through the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), the scheme was the UK’s answer to the very successful arrangement that has been operating in other European countries for some years now.

The Federation 

The FBHVC has almost 500 subscriber clubs and societies with a membership of over 250,000, in addition to individual and trade supporters and several major museums. It exists to uphold the freedom to use old vehicles on the road, by representing the interests of owners of such vehicles to government officials and legislators both in the UK and Europe, through its membership of the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA).

Besides its legislative monitoring and lobbying roles, it performs important research on additives and alternative materials, necessary to obviate the sometimes harmful effects of modern fuels, and actively encourages the ongoing development of trades and skills required to ensure the future maintenance and perpetuity of members' vehicles.  

As a member of The Heritage Alliance and Europa Nostra, the Federation also highlights historic vehicles as an essential part of our cultural heritage nationally and internationally.

Historic sites and vehicles

FIVA has for some years staged programmes across Europe linking historic vehicles with heritage events, in particular the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (the European Heritage Days) in France. These have proved extremely popular and of enormous mutual benefit to the participating vehicles and crews, the locations and their many visitors. The FBHVC is keen to replicate this success in the UK by co-ordinating its members' activities over Heritage Open Days.

The vehicles can add atmosphere to an event and, in virtually all instances, an unexpected but warmly appreciated point of interest to visits. For the clubs, it is an opportunity to show off and talk about their lovingly maintained vehicles.

Of course, not all sites that take part in Heritage Open Days are suitable or capable of supporting a show of old vehicles. But there are hundreds that are! If you are interested in hosting a display at your venue, here are some pointers you may take into consideration:

Most importantly, there needs to be somewhere appropriate (good access, space and surface) for the vehicles to park; within the view of the visitors but not in the way! As to the number of vehicles attending, this will depend mostly upon each individual venue. If a large car park or sports field is available, a display of 50 or so is quite feasible. But if space is at a premium, perhaps a dozen well-chosen vehicles would be perfect, while one of the 2011 venues had just one specifically-themed car (which was all there was room for!). Vehicle clubs will see their involvement in Heritage Open Days also as an opportunity for a day trip. Therefore, nearby refreshment facilities and an interesting venue to enjoy and explore will raise your chances to attract a crew.

If your venue would benefit from the inclusion of heritage vehicles, be they motorcycles, cars or commercials, please contact the FBHVC:
Roy Dowding, HODs Co-ordinator, 01728 668100 or email: or via the Secretary, 01865 400845, email: