5th July 2022


Conversations about how we’ll fuel our classics in the future are a regular occurrence at Footman James HQ. We’re often asked about the viable solutions for greener classic motoring – whether through electrification, carbon offsetting or alternative ‘synthetic’ fuels.

But while electrifying classic cars is still a highly divisive topic, synthetic fuels seem a genuinely promising prospect, offering reduced emissions for everyone while maintaining the true mechanical character of your price and joy.

Earlier this year, we reported that FJ ambassador Harry Metcalfe had joined the conversation, asking whether sustainable fuels will be the answer for enthusiasts. Harry put Coryton’s Sustain biofuel to the test using his Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, going head-to-head with modern EV and PHEV vehicles to see which is the kindest to the environment. Watch the video here.

We’re now hearing of another new significant milestone for Coryton Sustain after Jaguar racing specialist CKL Developments used the fuel to compete at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed event. According to FJ partners, the Historic & Classic Vehicle Association (HCVA), the results were overwhelmingly positive.

Using a customer’s Jaguar E-Type, CKL Developments trialled a bespoke specialist synthetic fuel mix which was designed to match the characteristics of conventional high-octane fuel. Using a lead-free valve lubricant and a mix containing no ethanol, the E-Type reportedly ran faultlessly all day and delivered the same performance as conventional racing fuels.

The HCVA has recognised the success as a major step towards net-zero CO2 emissions for the historic and classic sector and says it will support efforts to develop and test the fuels on a range of vehicles, working alongside Coryton and CKL Developments.

Garry Wilson, CEO at HCVA, commented: “We are pleased to support the future of our historic and classic industry through the development of these fuels and are extremely thankful to Coryton and CKL Developments for this first test and also to the customer who allowed the use of his car. The car will feature shortly in a display in Parliament demonstrating the full range of future options available for carbon reduction in the motorsport and historic sectors.

James Fraser, MD of CKL Developments, said: “The test went well. The car didn’t miss a beat all day. We look forward to developing these fuel technologies further to support the whole classic car sector.

David Richardson, Director at Coryton, said: “Sustainable fuels can play a huge role in the future of historic and classic cars, and it's fantastic to be starting to put some fuels to the test. We look forward to working with the HCVA and its members including CKL Developments to advance these fuels for the sector."

Do you think synthetic fuels are the solution for greener classic motoring? Let us know in the comments.

Whilst the above details of the test use of this new synthetic fuel are set out four questions arise: 1. Although it is stated that this fuel is ethanol free it is not clear what alternative product is incorporated and whether this is free of the issues arising with pump fuel. Ethanol, as we are aware in either 5% or 10%, causes damage to fuel lines and seals in carburettors, so is this resolved in this new product? 2. What will the availability of this fuel be in future, as without easy access countrywide we will not be able to take on longer journeys, without resorting to standard petrol en-route? 3. As this fuel will be produced in relatively small quantities, what will be the price per litre/gallon and where will it be obtained? 4. What will be the Octane Rating for this fuel, bearing in mind at present the maximum pump octane at Esso and Shell is 99. This does not equate with the figure from some years ago when "Esso Golden" was rated at 105. Those were the days!!

EJagV12, 30/07/2022

I think it is a good way forward, but we enthusiasts need to be able to access such fuels. I use my classics for club events, especially touring. When will this be a practical fuel for the many enthusiasts like me? If this is to be a practical fuel, HMG needs to support it. How do we get the classic car movement to be an effective lobby?

Hobbit , 30/07/2022

This sounds almost too good to be true! It will be nice to know more about its storage life, and any effect it may have on fuel tank lining and seals, and maybe it will not destroy the paint finish on a motorcycle fuel tank.

Chris, 11/07/2022