En­thu­si­asts warn of con­se­quences of ill-con­sid­ered changes to stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tions

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Rob Mar­shall

Clas­sic car clubs from across the UK are speak­ing out about po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous and il­le­gal mod­i­fi­ca­tions to ve­hi­cles – and their fears of ac­ci­dents wait­ing to hap­pen. Clubs are now of­fer­ing spe­cific ad­vice about al­ter­ations that are caus­ing them concerns.

The clas­sic car world en­joys a di­verse range of pe­riod and non-stan­dard ve­hi­cles but, while many mod­i­fi­ca­tions are safe and law­ful, clubs are be­com­ing more wor­ried.

Old Skool Ford club mem­bers boast a wide range of mod­i­fied and stan­dard clas­sics. A club spokesman says: ‘In my ex­pe­ri­ence, even if un­safe and il­le­gal mod­i­fi­ca­tions are found, the sit­u­a­tion tends to be self­polic­ing be­fore the club needs to be­come in­volved. How­ever, stretched tyres are a no­table ex­cep­tion and Old Skool Ford not only dis­cour­ages them but would also like clearer def­i­ni­tions of what is per­mit­ted.’

The Cam­bridge- Ox­ford Own­ers’ Club also high­lights is­sues with wheels be­ing DIY-adapted to suit a non-orig­i­nal ap­pli­ca­tion. Club ex­pert – and CCW con­trib­u­tor – John Lakey says: ‘One thing that wor­ries me is peo­ple forc­ing wheels to fit an­other car with the same PCD [pitch cir­cle di­am­e­ter] but one with a big­ger stud hole and larger cen­tre bore.

‘MGB Rostyles on Austin Cam­bridges come to mind; the only thing that seats them se­curely are the wheel nuts. Al­loy wheels honed-out to make them fit a sub­tly dif­fer­ent PCD fall un­der the same is­sue.’

The XJS Club says its main area of con­cern is the use of larger wheels, spac­ers and tyres. Spokesman Martin Glid­don ex­plains: ‘All of this up­sets the steer­ing and sus­pen­sion ge­om­e­try that the man­u­fac­turer so painstak­ingly re­searched and im­ple­mented.’ He also crit­i­cises retro­fit­ted Jaguar ‘ leaper’ bon­net mas­cots, and adds: ‘Apart from wreck­ing a per­fectly good bon­net, th­ese are il­le­gal and are an MoT fail­ure, though no one seems to bother about that. I’m just wait­ing for the first pedes­trian to be killed by a leaper stab­bing them, as they ride up and over the bon­net in an ac­ci­dent. I se­ri­ously doubt if an in­sur­ance claim would be ac­cepted and I sus­pect that the boys in blue would also have a lot to say about it as well.’

But some well-in­ten­tioned mod­i­fi­ca­tion to clas­sics can also be dan­ger­ous, as Peter Win­ney, chair­man of the Austin Ten Driv­ers’ Club, adds.

Short­age of ex­am­in­ers

‘A cou­ple of our mem­bers have sug­gested us­ing mod­ern sealed bear­ings in their rear axles to cure leak­ing oil seals,’ he says. ‘ We strongly rec­om­mend against their use, be­cause sealed bear­ings are not suit­able for this au­to­mo­tive ap­pli­ca­tion and are li­able to seize. The in­ner bear­ing races are not the same width as the orig­i­nal Austin de­sign, and are un­able to trans­fer corner­ing loads.’

For­mer po­lice of­fi­cer Bob Is­sac, di­rec­tor of the Volvo Own­ers’ Club, says: ‘ With a cur­rent short­age of trained po­lice and Gov­ern­ment ve­hi­cle ex­am­in­ers, un­road­wor­thy cars are run­ning around freely, es­pe­cially as own­ers tend not to be aware of the reg­u­la­tions.’

Clubs were also wor­ried about ma­jor me­chan­i­cal mod­i­fi­ca­tions that in­volved cut­ting into either the mono­coque, or chas­sis. Th­ese kind of al­ter­ations would nul­lify the af­fected ve­hi­cle’s orig­i­nal identity from the DVLA stand­point, which means either a Q plate and, pos­si­bly, a new VIN, be­ing nec­es­sary.

The XJS Club says the use of larger af­ter­mar­ket wheels on some cars is an area of con­cern.

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