UK CLUBS VOICE FEARS ABOUT ‘DANGEROUS MODIFICATIONS’
Enthusiasts warn of consequences of ill-considered changes to standard specifications
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.