Will the EU soon prevent chrome parts from being used in classic cars?

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The EU will soon prevent chrome parts from being used on classic cars?

Will the EU soon prevent chrome parts from being used in classic cars?-parts

Chrome was once the tinsel of car designers. The coupe of the Plymouth Special De Luxe from 1948 cannot be imagined without chrome parts

Source: picture alliance / Frank Duenzl

The EU wants to put dangerous chromium compounds on the index. That puts old-timer drivers on the alert, because there may soon be no more spare parts for sparkling chrome jewelry.

E.t there was a time when plastic was frowned upon in automotive engineering. The engine was made of solid cast iron and the body was made of steel. And in order to visually enhance the whole thing, the car was given all sorts of chrome trim. Bumpers, exterior mirrors, window frames – chrome was the car designers’ tinsel.

But now the EU wants to ban chromium (VI) compounds or severely restrict their use. The reason: The so-called hexavalent chromium or chromium trioxide is highly toxic, it causes cancer and damages genes. But it also plays an essential role in the chrome-plating processes that have given car parts a noble look and protect against corrosion for decades.

According to the will of environmental politicians, chromium (VI) should be on the candidate list of the EU regulation "Reach", which regulates the registration, evaluation, approval and restriction of chemicals. The properties of substances on this list are classified as particularly "worrying".

Favorite color taiga green metallic

Will the EU soon prevent chrome parts from being used in classic cars?-soon

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Andre Wyst drives his BMW 2002 ti …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… for 16 years. And what it looks like, he wants …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… don’t stop there anytime soon. This is mainly due to the design, i.e. the clear lines, the …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… large windows and of course at the …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… Finish: Taiga green metallic, who …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… can resist already? The inner values …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… of the car are not to be despised either: two-liter four-cylinder with Weber twin carburetors, the engine has 130 hp. Fits to …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… Of course, there is also a sports steering wheel with perforated spokes. Even if …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… the car is otherwise rather sparsely equipped (no radio), so …

Source: Stefan Anker

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… Practically everyone knows that the type designation “2002” on the rear of a BMW stands for a desirable classic car.

Source: Stefan Anker

The production and use is then only possible with a permit, as the Federal Environment Agency explains. In addition to chromium, there is also discussion about an end to cadmium and certain metal alloys that were previously used in the manufacture of brake systems and motor vehicle cables. Old-timer owners in particular are now alarmed because there are usually an unusually large number of chrome parts on classic vehicles.

"Chrome in danger" warns the specialist magazine "Oldtimer Markt". In politics, however, a counter-initiative is already forming: “We are fighting for an exemption for oldtimers,” says European parliamentarian Bernd Lange (SPD) from Lower Saxony.

Grandfathering for existing classic cars

Lange is a classic car driver himself and five years ago founded the Historic Vehicle Group, an interest group for historic vehicles in the European Parliament. The committee is now negotiating with the EU Commission that spare parts for oldtimers may also be chrome-plated in the future, reports Lange.

There is already another, very far-reaching exception. It affects the exhaust gas values: If a car is at least 30 years old, you can apply for the H license plate in Germany. This means that the car is tax-favored and there is free travel in environmental zones.

Should chromium (VI) actually be banned, this would have no direct consequences for classic cars. No oldie owner would need his VW Beetle or unscrew the chrome parts of his Mercedes S-Class. However, the Reach chemicals ordinance would have serious consequences for suppliers and specialist companies.

Old military cars are cooler than classic cars

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Philipp Fakin is the largest supplier of used expedition and military vehicles in Germany. In the scene he is only known as "the Philipp from the Hanfbachtal".

Source: Fabian Hoberg

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There are around 200 vehicles on his almost 9,000 square meter property in the Hanfbachtal near Bonn. At first glance it might seem chaotic, but it does …

Source: Fabian Hoberg

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… Philipp is known nationwide as the best address for buying used military vehicles.

Source: Fabian Hoberg

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His love for expedition vehicles began at the end of the 1970s when he converted a Hanomag AL 28 for holiday tours. If something broke on the truck, he would lend a hand himselfd finally got into the trade in the large vehicles himself.

Source: Fabian Hoberg

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The off-road vehicles and trucks mostly come from old stocks and auctions where Fackin is bidding. No matter whether in Germany, Austria, Denmark, England, the SSwitzerland or the USA.

Source: Fabian Hoberg

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In addition to world travelers who are looking for something special for their expeditions, well-off private individuals and collectors are also among his customers.

Source: Fabian Hoberg

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They don’t let themselves be deterred by a little moss on the bonnet. After the sale, Philipp checks the vehicle and brings it back into good technical condition.

Source: Fabian Hoberg

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One of his most loyal customers is a sheikh from Qatar who has been buying his trucks in the Hanfbachtal for 20 years so that his court can get through the desert safely when hunting for falcons.

Source: Fabian Hoberg

"Reach" could ensure that many electroplating plants in the EU would soon have to close. During electroplating, metal surfaces are elaborately refined. Specialists remove layers of metal, pickle rust and repair corrosion scars and dents. As the last step, the sheet metal part is chrome-plated. But spare parts dealers and workshops could also get a problem if chrome parts are no longer allowed to be sold in the future.

The around two million oldtimers registered across Europe are an enormous economic factor: workshops, suppliers, associations and trade fairs generate billions in sales and secure countless jobs.

EU politician Lange owns a few classic motorcycles and a Hanomag 1.3 liter “Autobahn”. The pre-war soldier (built in 1939) is of course decorated with a lot of chrome. The fact that the EU is making an exception for the classic car scene could be helpful for Lange’s assessment of the classic car movement as an intangible cultural asset by Unesco.

The car is to become a world cultural heritage

The Automobiles Kulturgut initiative launched a corresponding application on October 31, a move by the Automobiles Kulturgut parliamentary group in the German Bundestag. The initiative wants to register the car as a world cultural heritage.

And modern cars? They should remain unaffected by the chemicals ordinance: It is true that contemporary vehicles also have plenty of chrome jewelry. Moldings and panels on bodywork and fittings only look like chrome – it’s often plastic parts on which the chrome look is sprayed.

Such a thing is of course a sacrilege for classic car owners, for them only real metal counts. A popular saying among tin nostalgics is: "Plastic Cars for Plastic People."

This post was updated on November 6, 2015.

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