21st September 2021

National Recycling Week: The classic owner’s way of life

This week marks the 18th annual National Recycling Week – an event which celebrates the social and environmental impact of recycling across the UK, and campaigns for us all to do more to support the climate crisis. Sustainability is at the heart of the event, and rightly so: by recycling more, we can have a measurable impact on our environment.

The classic car industry is already very good at recycling – it’s a habit that’s been practiced by owners for decades. A thriving secondhand parts market across hundreds of marques can attest to this… Have you ever found yourself at an autojumble gazing across rows of miscellany, as thousands of parts await their next life on another vehicle? That’s recycling in action – it’s sustainable, often cost-effective and without it, some classics couldn’t remain on the road.

Our industry has the right approach already – so how can we do more?

Seek out specialists

The internet has transformed our ability to seek out those hard-to-find parts – new, pattern items are often a quick and easy option, but asking an expert can really be worth the time.

Getting to know a reliable, knowledgeable marque-specialist is a great way to find the secondhand parts to keep your classic sustainable (and affordable). The sheer volume of stock, and the speed of turnover means that some smaller outfits may not list their inventory online, so it’s always worth picking up the phone to work out your options. You’ll also get to tap into their deep knowledge of what fits on what – and steer you round the subtle changes in parts from generation to generation of vehicle.

Get your hands dirty

A ‘make do and mend’ approach has been serving classic owners well for years… So, invest some time learning the skills required to bring pre-loved parts back to former glory. Body panels or glass items which look past their best can be transformed with paint or polish. Results can be found using all sorts of novel methods – ever heard of the toothpaste trick for headlamp restoration?

Sites like YouTube are a rich source, and you will struggle to find a topic that’s not already been covered. Owners and club forums can also point you in the right direction, and help you find the right processes and products to use. You may even find that your local authority offers evening courses and adult education sessions.

It’s never too late…

Many manufacturers now offer OEM heritage parts support for classics – but have you ever considered a whole new shell?

If your classic has succumbed to rust and is finally too far gone, how about a brand-new shell to give it a new lease of life? Although possibly not a project for the faint hearted, a growing number of classic Ford and MG owners have successfully harvested parts from their existing vehicles for fitment to a brand-new bare shell. While this isn’t always a viable option, it’s one way to continue a classic tradition of successful recycling practice.

Do you have any tips for other classic owners - or ingenious recycling stories? Let us know below...