The Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) is the UKs largest promoter of historic motorsport and organises over 35 events each tear. These include 5 major race meetings at some of the UK's best circuits; hillclimbs at venues such as Prescott, Loton Park and Wiscombe Park, sprints at Brooklands and Goodwood together with navigational rallies, tours and many social events.
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There are any number of definitions of the term ‘Vintage’ even when applied only to motor cars the following information is more accurately ‘a’ definition rather than ‘the’ definition. That said, this definition is that recognised by both the Motor Sports Association (MSA) and the FIA who are the respectively the governing bodies of motor sport in the UK and internationally.
The MSA quotes a number of period definitions as follows:
A – (Veteran) Cars built before 1 Jan 1905.
B – (Edwardian) Cars built between 1 Jan1905 and 31 Dec 1918.
C – (Vintage) Cars built between 1 Jan 1919 and 31 Dec 1930.
D – (Post Vintage Thoroughbred) Cars built between 1 Jan 1931 and 31 Dec 1946.
E – Cars built between 1 Jan 1947 and 31 Dec 1961 (up to 31 Dec 1960 for single-seater and two-seater racing cars).
F – Cars built between 1 Jan 1962 and 31 Dec 1965 (from 1 Jan 1961 for single-seater and two-seater racing cars and up to 31 Dec 1966 for Formula 2).
G – Cars built between 1 Jan 1966 (1 Jan 1964 for Formula 3) and 31 Dec 1971 that are no longer eligible for current Competition.
H – Cars built between 1 Jan 1972 and 31 Dec 1976 that are no longer eligible for current Competition.
The VSCC uses the same definition for Vintage but will accept, as suitable for ‘driving’ membership, all cars built before and including 31 Dec 1930.
Even though this is now widely accepted it was, in fact, the VSCC that set this date, early in its history. The intention when the Club was started was merely to ensure a car was of a certain age before being accepted for competition rather than to set a fixed date in history after which a car would not be accepted. The question of the age of eligible cars is one which proved to be pivotal to the continuing history of the Club. Initially it was intended that a five-year-old rule would be on a rolling date basis and that in, say, 1937 a 1932 car would be allowed to compete. However it did not take long for this to change. At the Annual General Meeting in January 1936 the Captain, Tim Carson, proposed that “During 1936, driving membership of the Club should be limited to owners of cars manufactured prior to 31st Dec 1930”. He went on to suggest that unless the membership numbers declined, the limit should be kept at 31st Dec 1930. Press Secretary, Cecil Clutton, said that he favoured 1930 as the limit year because it marked a definite period in motor car manufacture and that from 1930 onwards a new type of (mass produced) sports-car had become popular, a type which was not particularly desired in the Club. One member complained that if the proposed alteration to the rules were carried, the cars in the Club would eventually become so old that they would disintegrate and that if a later date were not subsequently adopted the membership of the Club would decrease. Captain A W Phillips of the Royal Automobile Club, even then the rule makers of motor sport, was not present but was quoted as saying that he considered it absolutely essential for the well-being of the Club that the year of eligibility for driving membership should not be advanced. There was further debate around the subject before a vote was taken which resulted in 23 – 5 votes in favour of keeping the date at 31 December 1930 and thus establishing the identity of the Club as it was then and as it still exists today.
Thereafter the VSCC accepts a number of cars known as Post-Vintage Thoroughbred but, unlike the MSA, the Club has a cut-off for PVT cars at 31 Dec 1940. A number of marques and models are recognised by the VSCC as PVT against an approved list that currently looks like this:
AUSTIN 7(up to 1934 Pre-Ruby & Nippy, Speedy, Grasshopper and "65")
BSA (FWD Models and Scout)
CADILLAC (V8 up to and including series 10, Vl2 and V16)
CITROEN (FWD cars only)
FIAT (508C, 508CMM, Balilla Sports and 2 Seat Coupes)
HOTCHKISS (Excluding Amilcar)
HUMBER (I.O.E up to 1932)
JENSEN (The Ford V8 engine is not accepted for use in other cars or Specials)
LINCOLN (Excluding Zephyr and Mercury)
MG (VA, TA and TB only accepted in Standard form. The X PAG Engine will not be accepted in other vehicles or in specials)
MORGAN (4/4 & V twin cars)
MORRIS (OHC Minor)
PACKARD (12 cyl and 8 cyl only.Excluding "120" series and derivatives)
PEUGEOT 402, 402L and 402DS
RAILTON (6 & 8 cylinder cars)
SINGER (9 hp & 1.5 Ltr Sports, Le Mans and TT cars)
SUNBEAM (Pre Roots)
WOLSELEY HORNET (Sports and Hornet Special)
In addition other cars may be accepted at the discretion of the Committee.
The PVT list is a constant source of debate!
Now there is the question of what is a sports car. No particular criteria are laid down for acceptance for a Vintage or PVT car but there are certain rules for competition, and these have been extant for many years. Currently the MSA describes a sports-car as follows:
A car having either a non-detachable or a detachable roof with no more than one door on each side and a minimum of two seats situated one on each side of the longitudinal centreline. The two seats must be crossed by the same transversal plane. Interior dimensions must be inferior to the minimum dimensions applicable to Touring Cars. Sports Racing Cars. Two-seater open or closed racing car, built for the sole purpose of taking part in races on closed circuits. Closed cars must have a windscreen and two doors (one on each side of the cockpit)
The VSCC further refines the definition of a sports-car as follows:
Open cars with road equipment to UK legal requirements. This to include wings, windscreen, full size battery, efficient silencer and working lights; these must include two headlamps of appropriate minimum dimensions (a single lamp may be accepted if originally fitted). If originally fitted they must have starter and dynamo. They must have at least two seats and a working reverse gear.
So, as you can see there is no easy answer to the question. It must be stressed that you do not need to have a Vintage or PVT car to join the Club and you do not need to have an eligibility document for a VSCC car unless you intend to compete with it. For example, any Pre-1931 car will be acceptable for ‘driving’ membership of the Club but some of these may not be suitable for competition and would not be issued with an eligibility document.