FBHVC warns Gov­ern­ment that Ger­man-led scheme forc­ing clas­sics into new tech­ni­cal def­i­ni­tion is a recipe for dis­as­ter

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Front Page - Mur­ray Scul­lion

The Fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish His­toric Ve­hi­cle Clubs has ac­cused the Gov­ern­ment of rail­road­ing thou­sands of clas­sics into re­stric­tive Ger­man-style safety rules. It says the Depart­ment for Trans­port’s pre­ferred op­tion of cre­at­ing a new ‘ Ve­hi­cle of His­toric In­ter­est’ cat­e­gory will mean thou­sands of lightly mod­i­fied clas­sics will be un­able to pass safety tests.

The FBHVC has also crit­i­cised the DfT for stick­ing rigidly to the EU-led pro­pos­als de­spite the im­pend­ing Brexit set for mid-2018.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Ge­off Lan­cas­ter fears a Ger­man-style sys­tem will hin­der UK clas­sic own­ers. ‘ What the DfT doesn’t re­alise is that we’re very dif­fer­ent cul­tur­ally from the Ger­mans,’ he says.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish His­toric Ve­hi­cle Clubs has ac­cused the UK Gov­ern­ment of try­ing to rail­road thou­sands of clas­sics into a hugely re­stric­tive Ger­manstyle class of ve­hi­cles.

This his­toric sec­tor, Ve­hi­cle of His­toric In­ter­est, could re­strict mod­er­ate and safe mod­i­fi­ca­tions be­ing made to clas­sics – or even force own­ers to re­turn their ve­hi­cles to pre-mod­i­fied and less safe con­di­tion.

In a no holds barred re­sponse to the Depart­ment for Trans­port’s EU Road­wor­thi­ness Direc­tive pro­posal the FBHVC high­lights sev­eral prob­lems with the DfT’s han­dling of the con­sul­ta­tion.

In it, the FBHVC crit­i­cises the DfT for fol­low­ing EU Di­rec­tives to the let­ter, and of­fer­ing lit­tle to no ac­knowl­edge­ment of Brexit – de­spite Bri­tain’s in­ten­tion to start the process of leav­ing the EU next year. The Gov­ern­ment’s stance on the mat­ter is that it needs to ad­here to EU rules for now. But by the time the con­sul­ta­tion comes into place in 2018 the UK is ex­pected to have left the union.

One of the main con­cerns is with mod­i­fi­ca­tions, as the EU Di­rec­tives aren’t that spe­cific about what is con­sid­ered to be ‘mod­i­fied’ on an his­toric ve­hi­cle.

Ge­off Lan­cas­ter, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for the FBHVC, says he fears over-rigid in­ter­pre­ta­tions ru­in­ing clas­sic own­er­ship. He says: ‘There are sug­ges­tions that we might adopt the Ger­man model of very rigid spec­i­fi­ca­tions. But what the DfT doesn’t re­alise is that we’re very dif­fer­ent cul­tur­ally.

‘In the case of mod­i­fi­ca­tions, from our point of view, the Gov­ern­ment should not be ar­biters of au­then­tic­ity. It should only be an ar­biter of road safety. Why should au­thor­i­ties care about au­then­tic­ity? We care, clubs care, but it shouldn’t af­fect the Gov­ern­ment. The only is­sue is com­pli­ance in road safety.’

Along with clas­sic en­thu­si­asts in the UK, the FBHVC be­lieves there are nu­mer­ous ques­tions on the Road­wor­thi­ness Direc­tive that the DfT has failed to an­swer.

Asked by Clas­sic Car Weekly to re­spond specif­i­cally to the mod­i­fi­ca­tions is­sue raised by road­wor­thi­ness test­ing pro­pos­als, a spokesman for the DfT says: ‘Clas­sic cars are an im­por­tant part of this na­tion’s mo­tor­ing heritage. It is im­por­tant that en­thu­si­asts can con­tinue to en­joy them and that these ve­hi­cles are safe and ap­pro­pri­ately main­tained.

‘ We have con­sulted on plans to ex­empt ve­hi­cles over 40 years old from MoTs. The re­sponses are now be­ing con­sid­ered and we will re­spond in due course.’

Clubs are al­ready re­port­ing some ‘orig­i­nal­ity’ is­sues. A mem­ber of the Mor­ris Mi­nor Own­ers’ Club was hav­ing a Trav­eller recom­mis­sioned and ap­plied for restora­tion of the reg­is­tra­tion plate. He had the cor­rect doc­u­ments, but the DVLA re­quested an in­spec­tion, farmed out to an in­de­pen­dent agent. The orig­i­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tion traf­fi­ca­tors had been re­placed with flash­ing in­di­ca­tors and the in­spec­tor threw it out – mean­ing the car had to go through in­di­vid­ual type ap­proval and was put on a Q-plate.

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