The Mad Mullahs of Motoring, who run The Federation of Veteran, Vintage & Classic Vehicle Clubs, are at it again.These are the troglodytes who tried very hard to oppose the current Club Permit Scheme which has been such a raging success in Victoria, but now they are trying to sabotage the scheme as well. They can't get over the fact that giving all those freedoms to the owners of old cars to use them outside of strictly club organised events has diminished their control. Now they are prepared to piss in the soup.
     How could these troglodytes be a threat to the Aussie ute? Well, the threat is actually bigger than that. It's also a threat to all "Specials", that is cars with non-factory bodies, again, a very Aussie motoring tradition, especially in the 1920's and '30's where factory bodies were taken off their chassis, and bodies, often of a sporting nature, were built on them to their owner's taste.
     The story is complicated, so I will sum it up as best I can.
     Vicroads is in  the process of considering what rules it should apply to Permit vehicles that are modified in some way, but are not hotrods. In these deliberations they have met with the Federation, and the other peak body , The Association of Motoring Clubs Inc, AOMC.
      The AOMC recently held a meeting to discuss all of this, and their report is available by clicking
HERE. It is scary reading if you own a ute or a special. I urge all to read it.
      Vicroads being a bureaucracy want a simple solution to a complex problem.
      "
It is clear that in some quarters of VicRoads the intention is that the rules to be applied to modified CPS vehicles should be those recently introduced for vehicles on full registration.
Those rules are contained in documents known as VSI 8 and VSB 14."
    
     
     "VSI 8 is a VicRoads document specifying what changes may be made to vehicle without it requiring inspection and certification by an engineer authorised by VicRoads (these are appointed under a scheme known as the Vehicle Assessment Signatory Scheme (VASS)). VASS inspectors are independent businesses and conduct their inspections use the standards and test procedures laid down in VSB 14. They set their own charges and often inspection costs run into many hundreds or thousands of dollars.
VSI 8, as re-written in October 2011, can be found at
www.vicroads.vic.gov.au and by
clicking on "vehicle standards" under Registration on the map of VicRoads.
     VSB 14 is a nationally developed code and can be found at the Commonwealth Dept. of Infrastructure's website
www.infrastructure.gov.au under "top requests" on their home page.
It is a very large and complex document.
In essence these rules would make the definition of a modified vehicle very narrow and would mean that a very large number of CPS vehicles would be caught in the net, meaning that quite minor alterations which have evolved on cars over many decades would require VASS inspection."
    
These two documents VSI 8 and VSB 14 are targetting modern post 1969 cars, and are totally unsuited to pre-1949 cars. I shall give two examples close to home.
     On the left is a photo of myself, Klara, and Arfur Long at the end of the 1st Feral Frolic when we went down the length of the Murray, from Snow to Surf. The pic is at the mouth in SA.
    I bought my MG TC in early 1967, I was 18, it was 20. It was a pig of a car to drive because of the atrocious Bishop Cam steering box. About 25 years ago I finally gave in and put in a Datsun steering box conversion (thanks Ray Skewes), and a couple of wedges under the axle. Instead of tacking down the road and expecting every bump to send me headlong into an oncoming truck, the thing is now manageable. Not perfect, but manageable. Is it a "modified" car. I don't think so, but  it will cost money to have it tested if I go down that route. Will it pass the modern test?
I don't know, and I may have to go back to the dangerous Bishop Cam.
    The other car is Arfur's A Model Ford. He bought this from a bloke in Geelong years ago. It has never been out of registration and bears its original number plate, (which is probably worth more than the Ute).
     If Arfur were to "do up" the engine by putting in new pistons and a decent cam to take account of new fuels, he would probably gain at least 21% more power. Under the proposed regulations, he would have to also do the following: put in modern dual circuit brakes, lap-sash seat belts, two speed wipers, a demister system, modern tyres, and a collapsible steering column!
    And then there is the problem of the body. It is modified. He would have the choice of destroying the ancient ute, and turning it back to a tourer, or have it tested under the testing system for unitary construction bodies, which it would fail, as would any coach-built body on a chassis.
    Therein lies the threat. No coach built body, constructed of wood framing, whether it was built by the factory, or by a private coach builder would pass the test for unitary construction.
    "Ah!" you say,"this won't effect me as I have a permit already for my ute, or special." But it will, because permits for individual cars are not transferable. So, you will not be able to take the car off a permit, nor will you be able to sell it because it would not be able to get on the road again. It would be worthless.
    "Ah!" you say, "The Roller on the left is fully registered, it would not effect them." Wrong, it would apply to all modified cars when applying for registration or permits.
   
     The pic on the right is of Francis Birtles in The Sundowner, the car he drove from London to Melbourne in 1927-8, as well as on many other record attempts. He took the tourer body off the Bean after the 1924 trip featured in "The Long Lead", (which you will find in the archive section) and had a special body put on to his own specifications. Just as well that the car is in a museum, because under the proposed scheme it could never get on the road again.
     "But, it's only just a proposal at this stage isn't it? And anyhow, why pick on the Federation?"
     Yes, at the moment it is only a proposal, but it is important to do something at this stage. It is always easier to influence something in progress, than to fight against a fait accomplis.
     And the AOMC position is radically different from that of the Federation. The AOMC position is this:
    AOMC contends that the regulation of modified vehicles on the CPS is not well served by a quick-fix approach but would be more effective if focussed on the type of vehicles causing concern. Suggestions that this would entail significant cost or take a long time are spurious. There is no need to develop another cumbersome framework of rules.
     The AOMC proposal simply requires an addendum to VSSS (or a separate CPS rule) that would treat older vehicles in three age categories, based on construction technology and performance character…
- Up to 1949
- 1949-1969
- 1969 on
     Each of these categories would have a simple set of rules to determine changes requiring VASS/VSB 14 assessment
Vehicles modified to the extent that requires VASS/VSB 14 assessment would be placed on a new CPS plate type. Such a set of simple rules could look like…
Pre-1949
(Including vehicle models made after 1948 to a pre-1948 specification) and vehicles built after 1948 with separate chassis and coachbuilt bodywork)
Departure from the following will define the vehicle as "modified" and its modifications will be subject to assessment under the relevant provisions of VSB 14*
Wheel diameter to be no more than 75mm smaller or tyres 25mm wider than that fitted originally to this make and model series. Tyre size to be no less than 15 inches in diameter and to have an aspect ratio no less than 0.80
Ride height to be no more than 50mm lower than original for this make and model series
Major components (engine, gearbox, axles, steering and brakes) must be to pattern for a vehicle of this period and type and to a design no later than the end of the decade following the vehicle date or 1948, whichever is earlier.
Construction methods, materials and appearance must be in accordance with vehicles of that date and type.
*
VSB 14 requirements for beaming and torsion testing, fitment of non-period technology components or systems or requiring modification to the body/chassis structure will not apply
1948 to 1969
(Including models made after 1969 to a pre-1969 design) Departure from the following parameters will define the vehicle as modified and its modifications will be subject to assessment under the relevant provisions of VSB 14*
Tyre size to be no more than 25mm smaller in diameter or 50mm wider than that fitted originally to this make and model series. Tyre aspect ratio to not be less than 0.65
Ride height to be no more than 50 mm lower than original for this make and model series
Major components (engine, gearbox, axles, steering and brakes) must be to pattern for a vehicle of this period and type and manufactured no later than the end of the decade following the vehicle date.
Body/chassis changes beyond that allowed in VSI 8
Construction methods, materials and appearance must be in accordance with vehicles of that date and type when new.
No change to engine or power resulting in a power-to-mass ratio more than 130kw/tonne.
NB Conversion from left to right hand drive to be inspected under VSB 14
*
VSB 14 requirements for fitment of non-period technology components or systems or requiring modification to the body/chassis structure will not apply
1969 onwards
Vehicles must conform to the requirements of VSI 8/VSB 14
    
    
So from this you can see that Utes and Specials are perfectly safe as long as : "Construction methods, materials and appearance must be in accordance with vehicles of that date and type."   
    And the Federation?  According to the AOMC report:
       "
The other peak body which has been in discussion with VicRoads on this matter is the Federation of Veteran, Vintage and Classic Vehicle Clubs. The President of the Federation has recently issued a letter strongly urging VicRoads to immediately implement VSI 8/VSB14 for the CPS without any alteration or amendment."
   
So there you have it. The Federation basically are willing to sacrifice an enormous number of members and their cars in this dummy spit.
    What to do?
    If your club is a member of the Federation I would make your feelings known to your Rep. To all Club members, whether they are affiliated to either of the two bodies, or none of them, then write a letter to Vicroads, either as a group as we intend to do, giving names, addresses, and cars, and strongly urgeing Vicroads to adopt the AOMC position. Perhaps point out that proposed amendments would seriously threaten two historically important groups of cars; the farm utes, and the Specials.
     The address is:
Mr Mario Cattapan
Manager, Registration and Licensing
Business Practices (Development)
VicRoads
60 Denmark Street
Kew 3101


   Our letter can be viewed HERE . You can use it if you wish, or modify it, or whatever. Remember it is better to be pro-active before the event, than sorry after it.
Cheers The Wolf