Socialist mayor to ban all pre-1997 cars from Paris, whether classic or just ordinary old cars

1932 Bugatti Type 49 Coupe

Pre-1997 cars, including this 1932 Bugatti Type 49 Coupe, as well as a lowly Renault 4, would be banned from Paris, according to a plan by Paris’ Socialist mayor.

Have a classic French car, a Voison or Delahaye, perhaps, or for that matter, one of those symbols of French mobility, the Citroen DS or the outdated but still serviceable Renault 2CV? Or any car, for that matter, made before 1997? Forget the City of Lights. Paris may make it illegal to shine your headlights on the avenues and rues if a plan to keep cars built before 1997 out of the city and its close-in suburbs goes into effect.

The Socialist Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe is behind a plan that would ban older cars, whether classic or just old, to help curb pollution. Stricter emissions rules went into effect in the European Union in 1997, hence the cutoff date. But motorcycles built before 2004 will also be forbidden, the mayor saying the older bikes are the “most polluting and noisiest”.

Critics of the plan, however, claim that the plan unfairly burdens the poor. “If you’re driving a 17-year-old car there’s usually a reason and it’s certainly not for fun,” Claude Fauconnier, vice-president of the French Friends of the 2CV Club, told Reuters, calling the ban of older cars “’another harebrained idea’ to please ecologists and wealthy Parisians, that ignores the day-to-day reality of the less-well-off.”

According to the Telegraph, Philippe Goujon, head of the Right-wing opposition UMP federation in the Paris council, said it is politically motivated, intended to make Anne Hidalgo, the deputy he hopes will succeed him in 2014, appear “greener” than the Greens. Goujon called the the ban “anti-social, anti-surbuban and anti-motorist.”

The proposal needs government endorsement, however, and is to be submitted to a ministerial council in January. It would take effect in September, 2014.

As for poor Parisians if that happens? When it comes to Paris, let them drive cake.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.