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For several months now, classic car owners in Sweden have been able to buy a catalytic converter developed specifically for classic cars. It works on cars with carburettors and doesn’t – like normal catalysts – require fuel injection and a lambda sensor. The Swedish producer of these catalysts claim reduced CO, HC and NOX in the exhaust gases, just as they even say it will reduce the smell of the exhaust fumes.

With this it would appear, that we now have the option of becoming not just greener classic car owners, but also a better human being. This catalytic converter works in a very similar way to those used on modern cars, by the hot exhaust fumes meeting a special mix of the precious metals platinum, rhodium and palladium found within the catalyst, which then transforms the exhaust to less toxic gasses and even totally breaking down certain parts of the gases. However, where it differs from catalysts used on modern cars, is in the lack of ceramic coating of the internal components. Instead a much higher amount of rhodium is used in order to lower the levels of nitric oxide.

This is how the catalytic converter looks, and it comes in a variety of different sizes and shapes, so there should be one which will fit onto your classic.

If these catalytic converters actually do what they are claimed to do – and one must presume that the manufacturer indeed knows what they’re talking about – then surely it’s a great idea to retrofit one of these to your classic. As modern cars seem to constantly get cleaner, greener and more odorfree, our old cars are of course quite the contrast, and are by some regarded as nothing but a burden to our environment. The price for one of these classic car catalytic converters is approximately 2,000 Swedish Kroner or 200 Euro, and they come in various sizes to suit different cars, and ought to be simple to fit too.

But the big question is of course: Are we going to bother with the efforts of fitting a catalytic converter to our classic?  Even though we all have, and live under, increased requirements for reducing air pollution these days, there isn’t any legally enforceable legislation yet when it comes to this particular subject. So you would be doing it purely out of your own good will. Personally, I’m leaning towards wanting to contribute, and am indeed considering fitting such an air purifier to my old exhaust systems.

This picture is from the on-going test by the Swedish magazine “Klassiker”. Picture courtesy of Frans Johansson.

The Swedish classic car magazine “Klassiker” have launched into testing a couple of old cars fitted with these catalysts. They are being very thorough about the whole test too, and we can expect a conclusion which besides the catalysts immediate effect, also looks at the results of multiple cold-starts and exposing them to various driving patterns.

In the meantime, we can discuss ethical standards and our ability to take initiative. What’s your view on retro-fitted catalytic converters for classic cars?

 

 

 

About The Author

Søren Navntoft

All cars are lovable. Especially if they are Italian or French. I prefer them kept original, showing as few changes as possible. Sherry, a good cup of coffee and the sound of Miles Davis is the good life. Søren's keeper is a 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV - but he continually flirts with French connections such as DS, 2CV and R4.

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4 Responses

  1. Dave Leadbetter

    Interesting. I suppose the technology to produce carb friendly cats must have already been developed in the 1970s for smog regulations in the States. We’re already contributing to the environment by not wastefully throwing our old cars away of course, but ethically, reduction in emissions can’t be a bad thing and this technology may help counter the inevitable day when our cars may be deemed too polluting to allow unlimited mileage or access to certain zones. It would be interesting to know how effective these retro fit cats are and what impact is felt on power output?

    Reply
  2. Anders Bilidt
    Anders Bilidt

    I very much agree with Dave.
    The results found by the Swedish magazine “Klassiker” will be interesting. Both in regards to just how much these catalysts manage to reduce pollution, but definitely also in regards to how it may or may not effect the performance of our classic cars. Not least, how long can one expect such a catalyst to last?
    If the results found in Sweden er positive, then I would certainly seriously consider fitting one to my classics – even though I’m not legally obliged to do so…

    Reply
  3. Simon Grice

    I’d be worried about changing the exhaust note on my Alfasud. The sound is a percentage of the fun.

    Reply
  4. Anders Bilidt
    Anders Bilidt

    Ouuuu… Simon, you don’t want to risk that!! The exhaust note on any Alfa is holy. We all know that… ;-)
    It’s a fair point – I doubt there’s any classic car enthusiast who would disagree that it would be lovely if we could all be a bit more green. But as Dave pointed out, we don’t want it to have an impact on the performance of the car, and as you point out, also not on the lovely exhaust rasp which so many classics have…

    Reply

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