Serious investigation of the extent and value of historic vehicle activities in the United Kingdom started after a 1996 conference organised by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs [FBHVC] at the British Motor Industry Heritage Centre at Gaydon. This was organised by Geoff Smith, who would become Chairman of FBHVC in 1997, and who had prompted one of the speakers to appeal for academic help to enable FBHVC to gain quantitative knowledge about what they were representing in order to improve their ability to influence legislators.
Dr. Chris Hart, at the time a researcher with the University of Central England [UCE], was a delegate and wrote to FBHVC’s President, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, offering his assistance. Chris and Geoff got together and planned a study that would measure the economic turnover, level of employment and environmental impact that could be ascribed to interest in, and use of, historic vehicles in UK. This was readily agreed by the FBHVC committee. The work was undertaken with the help of Denis Reardon, one of Chris’s colleagues at UCE.
A survey was undertaken amongst the members of FBHVC’s clubs to gather data on individual spending and usage patterns in parallel with another survey involving organisations serving the historic vehicle community, such as the clubs themselves, traders, publishers and museums.
The results of this initial research were announced at Westminster in 1997 and received much positive publicity. The data proved highly beneficial for countering potentially adverse legislation in the UK and was also used by the Federation Internationale des Vehicules Anciens (which also lacked quantitative data) to support their approaches to the Brussels bureaucracy.
Publication of this work resulted in an approach from Dr. Paul Frost, an experienced researcher at the University of Brighton [UoB], who had a personal involvement in the historic vehicle movement through his http://www.motorbase.com project. Consequently, Paul Frost, Chris Hart and Geoff Smith came together to lay the foundations for the HVRI. They were joined by Dr. Brian Holdstock, also a researcher at UoB, Stephen Laing, curator of the Heritage Motor Centre, and Denis Reardon and set HVRI up as a Limited Liability Company in November 2002 before obtaining recognition as an educational charitable trust a year later.
This group has since been joined by Dr. Jaime Kaminski, a researcher at the University of Brighton with particular expertise in economic impact studies, and Jim Whyman, a freelance motor club administrator and previous secretary of FBHVC.