Modern classic cars under threat due to electrical component shortage

The new generation of classic cars may not be around long enough to gain full classic status.

It seems that the continuation of classic cars for the future may be under threat as the next generation may suffer due to a shortage of electronic parts. Cars from the eighties, nineties and even noughties that are already being considered classics, but these digital era vehicles are not being catered for in the parts market when it comes to major electrical components like ECUs, safety equipment, heating and ventilation systems.

The Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens (FIVA) has urged clubs and their members, as well as representative bodies such as the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Club (FBHVC), to take action before it’s too late. Speaking to Old Cars Weekly, Stephan Joest President of Amicale Citroën Internationale and a consultant in vehicle components said, “We are not sufficiently prepared. We currently still have a window of opportunity when it’s possible to preserve existing stocks of electronic components and their digital source codes; and if we don’t we will be unable to replace ECU’s easily.”

The statistics are worrying, with 50% of 40 year old ECUs fresh out the box being dead on arrival and no longer fit for purpose. This is due to digital ageing, which is the physical ageing of electronic components that takes place whether or not the component is in use. This problem also applies to specific diagnostic equipment that identifies ECU faults.

Manufacturers and their part supplies are under no obligation to maintain spare parts once a vehicle is no longer in production, although some parts companies are continuing to produce a back catalogue of crucial electrical parts for certain modern classics.

Dipi-ling Fritz Cirener is head of Bosch Automotive Tradition, one of the few firms currently producing spare electronics for modern classics. “To keep upcoming generations of classic cars running will be more challenging than in the past” he commented to Old Cars Weekly. “Together with car manufacturers, we are currently working on this topic although there is still a long way to go, but it will be worth it.”

Let’s hope this is sooner rather than later, before too many of the latest generation of classic cars are left unrepaired.