24th March 2022

Are sustainable biofuels the future of classic motoring?

Today’s motoring enthusiast is getting something of an overload when it comes to EV technology. The benefits of a switch to electric are numerous – the shift may even support the use of our piston-powered classics long into the future – but the debate around the best way forward is often complex and not always agreed upon.

Hydrogen-powered propulsion could be an alternative, but what about biofuels? Within the automotive industry, biofuels seem to have lost some visibility in recent years, without as many high-profile advocates or major investors as the EV sector.

This comparatively low profile for biofuels seems a shame - especially as it might be a viable option for those of us passionate about keeping our cars on the road and wanting an affordable, technically straightforward, and sustainable solution.

The fact is, biofuels aren’t a new way of refilling the tank. Brazil has been a major producer of ethanol fuel for automotive use for decades. The fuel is now typically blended in varying amounts with petrol (termed as flex fuel) but previously global auto manufacturers with Brazilian subsidiaries produced E100 cars that ran solely on ethanol.

The first of these was a Fiat 147 which was launched right back in 1979 and it’s estimated that nearly 6 million E100 cars - not even a whiff of petroleum involved - found a customer. So, not a small-scale or experimental business.

It seems unlikely we’ll see a widespread return of motorists opting to run their diesel motors on vegetable oil – though this millennium-era solution now seems a sustainable, forward-thinking method from a small section of enthusiasts, to whom the Bosch fuel pump became the holy grail.

Footman James ambassador Harry Metcalfe recently covered the topic of biofuels in an episode of Harry’s garage, describing biofuels as a particularly intriguing topic and asking whether sustainable fuels will be the answer for enthusiasts. Sustain, a biofuel manufactured by Coryton using biomass waste, is tested using Harry’s Rolls Royce Silver Shadow during the short film, tested head-to-head against modern EV and PHEV vehicles to see which is the kindest to the environment.

The adoption of sustainable fuels may feel like a milestone far into the future, but we’ve already heard concerns from FJ clients about when fuel shortages might become a contentious issue. The good news as highlighted in our March blog, What Will Happen to Classic Cars After 2035, is that our parliamentarians are evidently supportive of the classic community’s concerns, and fully appreciative of its cultural and financial value.

Historic & Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA) representative Guy Lachlan recently met with the Transport Select Committee to offer the perspective of classic enthusiasts, hoping to alleviate concerns from owners who’d prefer to keep their car running on conventional fuel.

Following Guy’s appearance at Westminster, the HCVA gave us the following statement about what happens next:

“Following on from the HCVA successful support of the Transport Select Committee review of the availability of future fuels in early march, last week the HCVA CEO, Garry Wilson and its public affairs lead, from Keystone Consulting, David Cuthbertson visited London for the organisations first round of meetings with parliamentarians in Westminster. A set of excellent meetings were held discussing the HCVA’s range of positive campaign actions. The politicians are all Classic Vehicle enthusiasts from both sides of the House, including the Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Historic Vehicles and Motorsports, members of the Transport Select Committee and a member of the Lords. A range of follow up actions were agreed and the HCVA look forward to working with these passionate classic-owning individuals.”

Do you think biofuels could be the solution to the future of classic motoring? Let us know in the comments...


Hi Yes, only approx 13 years left, clock ticking, so we must have some governmental response soon. True, biofuels have taken a back seat in recent years, so could be worth a look, and potentially save too much chopping and changing on classic car conversions to run on biofuels.

Adibouy , 27/03/2022

I used to have a Citroen BX 19RD and then a Citroen Xantia and ran both on Bio-fuel without any problems. I made my own fuel until my suppliers closed down, again without any problems.

Jim., 26/03/2022

I’ve been putting power 4 and Aspen fuel in my bikes and Reliant Robins for a while now it’s not something I can use continually as it is expensive but it’s a great way of cleaning the carburettors hopefully it will become more affordable in near future. Although the way petrol prices are going it going to be the same price soon Respect Dino

Dino, 26/03/2022