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Roar of disgust at radical EU plan for classic cars

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 07, 2012

Classic and vintage cars, often modified for safety reasons, would fall foul of the regulations, as would modified 'hot hatches'

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Bureaucrats in Brussels want to make modified and most classic cars illegal under radical reforms which would affect millions of Brits, it emerged yesterday.

The European Commission has proposed a shake-up of the MoT which could cost thousands of jobs and cripple an industry.

If approved, all vehicles would have to remain identical to the specification they were in when they left the factory, covering everything from uprated brakes on a classic car to adding larger alloy wheels to a hot hatch.

The Department for Transport has now written to 240 organisations asking for their thoughts on the EU’s proposals, with a large number expressing concerns.

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One of the suggestions is that all “components of the vehicle must comply with characteristics at the time of the first registration. This may prevent most modifications to vehicles without further approval of the vehicle”.

This would affect millions of motorists who spend billions of pounds per year modifying cars as a hobby or for safety.

Motoring organisations including the AA and the Association of Car Enthusiasts (ACE), have stepped forward to criticise the “ridiculous” proposals.

Vanessa Guyll, from the AA, said: “We don’t want this and we’re very much against it.

“If every car with a modification was breaking down and having problems then that would be different but they don’t. Most modifications don’t affect a car’s safety. This would affect everything from changing a car’s wheels to fitting a bodykit.

“No one enjoys taking their car for an MoT but our system is pretty good. It would cost testing stations a lot and there is not much money to be made from an MoT. The plan is ridiculous.”

ACE’s Barry Cornes said the proposals were unbelievable and unworkable, adding: “You would need to know every minute detail about every model of car ever made.

“You can take an older car like the Jenson Interceptor and have it completely overhauled with modern components for £100,000. The inference is that it would then become illegal.

“Lots of older cars underwent modifications like brake lights and wipers to make them safer. They would be illegal. How is that possible?

“We think it is totally farcical. This is so frightening when you consider the amount of jobs which could be lost. I haven’t heard from anyone who thinks it is a good idea.”

The EU also wants to exempt all cars more than 30 years old from testing, providing the vehicle “has been maintained in its original condition, including appearance”.

This is based on the vehicle having not “sustained any change in technical characteristics of its main components”.

Classic cars which fail to meet the criteria would be subject to new regulations. The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs labelled the plan “unworkable and completely unacceptable”. It said in a statement: “Modifications, alterations and improvements are all part of the history of the motor vehicles and the older the vehicle, the more likely it has been altered at some stage.

“There is no database of original specifications for UK vehicles, so testing to original ‘technical specifications’ is simply pie-in-the-sky.”

More than 28,000 people are employed in the historic car industry in the UK, with the FBHVC estimating it contributes £4.3 billion to the economy.

The UK Independence Party has been inundated with letters from concerned motorists, claiming to have had “the biggest postbag in years”.

Ray Finch, press officer at UKIP, said: “British people are known for their hobbies and people who enjoy classic and modified cars hate this. It is interfering for the sake of interfering.”

A statement from the DfT said: “This document is a proposal rather than final legislation. It is still far too early to comment on specifics of the legislation.”

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  • ChaniMoon  |  September 08 2012, 11:14AM

    When our Morris Minor was made, it wasn't fitted with seatbelts. This proposal is going nowhere, but even if it did there's no way I'm taking them out!

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  • donna_kebab  |  September 08 2012, 9:37AM

    So, if this gets passed as law, we just do what the rest of Europe does with legislation that doesn't suit - ignore it.!

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