MODIFIED CARS WILL FAIL EU SAFETY TESTS
FBHVC warns Government that German-led scheme forcing classics into new technical definition is a recipe for disaster
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.