Clocked clas­sics rack up risks

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

Clock­ing – al­ter­ing a car’s odome­ter read­ing – is on the rise in the UK, es­pe­cially if you buy a clas­sic with a dig­i­tal odome­ter.

The prac­tice in­creased by 25 per cent be­tween 2014 and 2016 ac­cord­ing to a Novem­ber re­port from the Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (LGA).

The in­de­pen­dent group, which rep­re­sents 370 coun­cils across Eng­land and Wales, called for mileage cor­rec­tion ser­vices and al­ter­ation soft­ware – which al­low odome­ter fig­ures to be dig­i­tally ‘wound back’

– to be made il­le­gal. Its statis­tics re­ported that one in 16 so-equipped cars in the UK have some kind of mileage dis­crep­ancy.

EU leg­is­la­tion out­law­ing this form of clock­ing has been pro­posed, but has yet to be brought into UK law. Re­gard­less of the Brexit out­come, the LGA wants to make sure that this leg­is­la­tion is car­ried over.

The LGA’s Safer and Stronger Com­mu­ni­ties Board chair, Coun­cil­lor Si­mon Black­burn, said: ‘ Trad­ing Stan­dards teams across the coun­try of­ten re­ceive more com­plaints about used cars than any­thing else. This is why the pro­posed EU ban on mileage cor­rec­tion ser­vices needs to be made part of UK law as soon as pos­si­ble, oth­er­wise thou­sands more cars will con­tinue to be clocked, jeop­ar­dis­ing the safety of cars and pas­sen­gers on UK roads.’

Dig­i­tal odome­ters found favour dur­ing the mid-Eight­ies; claims of their im­preg­nabil­ity were fos­tered by the Jaguar XJ40’s ‘un­clock­able’ Lu­cas bin­na­cle, which made sev­eral ap­pear­ances on con­tem­po­rary episodes of Top Gear.

John-Joe Vol­lans, ed­i­tor of CCW’s sis­ter ti­tle, Mod­ern Clas­sics, urged buy­ers of cars with dig­i­tal odome­ters to re­main vig­i­lant, as well as check­ing the MoT his­tory of their po­ten­tial pur­chase on­line. He said: ‘Dig­i­tal era clas­sics are a dif­fer­ent ball game to clas­sics of pre­vi­ous decades. The old ana­logue method of wind­ing back the miles of­ten had some tell-tale signs. Chief among them was the fact that the num­bers of­ten didn’t roll around ex­actly level, show­ing that the odome­ter had been tam­pered with. Dig­i­tal speedos ob­vi­ously don’t show any signs.

‘Check the MoT his­tory tal­lies. Has there been a sig­nif­i­cant drop in use in the past few years? If so, find out why. Com­bine this with a thor­ough check of the car’s con­di­tion; seats, steer­ing wheel and gear­stick leather (if fit­ted), which will all show signs of high miles. If in doubt, trust your gut, if it seems too good to be true, or if there’s some­thing not quite adding up, walk away.’ mot-his­ lo­

clas­sics with dig­i­tal odome­ters can and are be­ing clocked, an lGa re­port has found.

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