The SVAO: Dedicated to the protection and preservation of Specialty Vehicles

Newsletter January 2000

 Table of Contents
Here and There Chris Whillans - SVAO
Safety First or Safety Day Bob Patterson - SVAO
Bruce's Musings
Historical and Specialty Vehicle Licensing Update Ray Spencer - SVAO

Attention: (Car Club recipients) Please ensure that this newsletter is forwarded to your club editor for reprint in your club publication. Any and all content of our newsletter may be reproduced and we encourage you to do so. Text files are available by email in Word format. Call the hotline or email

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - Saturday, April 15, 2000

Coming Saturday April 15, 2000 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm is our fifth Annual General Meeting at the Ford Motor Company of Canada headquarters building in Oakville (QEW and 403) - exit at Ford Drive. Please pass on this invitation to all your club members and any other interested parties.

Be there! Bring your collector car! Support your SVAO! We're anticipating an enlightening group of speakers and urge the attendance of at least one member of each club as well as corporate and individual members. Remember all is not secure with our ability to have the freedom and enjoyment of our hobby - our battles have only just begun! to table of contents

Here and There
Chris Whillans - SVAO

Ontario - There have been back room rumblings that some government officials have been considering re-interpreting the present twenty year rolling exemption for automobile emission testing. The SVAO is actively pursuing the source of these rumors and will keep the membership informed of any developments. Remember that our present rules can be changed at the stroke of a pen as they are not enshrined in any legislation but were introduced as Rules & Regulations.

Illinois - This state government is after its Toll Authority to streamline itself with the ultimate goal of getting rid of the toll structure. Here in Ontario our government seems to be heading into long term problems with its handling of the 407. However this state is presently considering a scrappage program. "Smokestack" industries that crush cars would receive emissions credits which could be used to avoid reducing their own emissions.

Alberta - As reported in Old Autos, it appears that this province is thinking about compulsory vehicle inspections for specialty vehicles. Our meeting with the appropriate authorities here have resulted in assurances that Ontario is not thinking about the same thing. Just remember that the same things were said before the Drive Clean Program arrived on our laps.

Louisiana - A recent law exempts from fender requirements vehicles that were not originally fitted with them. In addition an amendment allows for the use of fender flares in place of fenders. This law is of benefit to owners of certain specialty vehicles. This state also recently reduced the cost of licensing antique vehicles.

Delaware - This state is considering an inoperable vehicle law that would allow officials to enter private property, and with verbal notice, clean up the site including the removal of vehicles and the issuing of heavy fines.

New Jersey - A more positive approach on the same issue as this state is considering legislation that would prohibit local areas from discriminating against collectors and vehicle storage as long as these vehicles are maintained and kept behind trees, shrubs, fences or inside.

Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and New Jersey - These states are all considering or enacting legislation that would allow for use of year-of-manufacture plates. Here at home the SVAO is actively pursuing this issue with the Ministry of Transportation but making little headway due to MOT data system problems.

Washington - A recent law passed here redefines a street rod so that vehicles made after 1949 but resembling vehicles made before that date can be licensed and titled as such. Street rods are also exempted from fender requirements when used in fair weather and on suitable roads.

Vehicle Emissions Drop - According to a recent AAA report cars and light trucks are being unfairly targeted by air quality officials who should be looking elsewhere to make pollution cuts. The study found that the majority of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides came from stationery power plants, industries, commercial establishments and homes. The results came from ground level ozone testing in 25 major US cities.

These reports are just a few of the multitude of events that are constantly in need of monitoring is we are going to stay on top of all the issues that could influence the enjoyment of our specialty vehicles. Keep us informed about what you hear, better yet why don't you follow up on the issue by getting involved with the SVAO. The more people who help out, the lighter the load for everyone and the more issues that can be covered. to table of contents

Safety First or Safety Day
Bob Patterson - SVAO

The following relates to vehicle safety. When the rubber hits the road just what should it be? Many have their own idea of what is safe and acceptable, however, what the Highway Traffic Act has in mind may not go along with your way of thinking.

When a vehicle is purchased and the ownership transfer is made is has to have a safety certification. This is a good thing, but as you drive it and parts wear and depreciate the onus is on the owner to keep it in a safe and healthy condition. Both the Highway Traffic Act and the book on Ontario Traffic Offences place the liability for safety problems with the vehicle on the owner. This occurs even though the owner may not be the driver of the vehicle. Chapter 198, Section 166 of the HTA covers all motorized vehicles using the roads, whether custom, hand built, antique or daily driver. There are no exceptions, we must adhere to rules regarding safety.

When maintenance is conducted with safety in mind there can be no grey area where a defect is not either repaired or replaced. There could come a time when a loved one or friend is driving your vehicle unaware of a problem and finding themselves in a dangerous situation. The burden of responsibility and liability under the HTA goes to the driver, and the owner with easily established proof.

With older and custom vehicles not driven daily some problems are not always noticed. For this reason many car clubs have a touring inspection or safety meet. Not just a social event, this is a time to help each other spot possible problems and discuss solutions… a stitch in time, so to speak. I have heard of individuals that say no one will touch or look over their car. When I hear this I think maybe the time has
come for mandatory safety inspections, but this is the
last thing I would want. When bureaucrats enter the picture black and white will become grey and we may find our hobby in jeopardy. The Drive Clean program is a perfect example of this. Without input from the vehicle hobbyist things could have gone badly for us.

We should not be looking for more policing, we should be looking to keep our house in order so more regulations are not required for seasonal vehicles. The HTA Section 46 through 68, Chapter 198 covers most safety concerns. The vehicle is just a vehicle to the HTA and is very clear in the use of "every person shall" or "no person shall". Every officer appointed for the purpose of examining your vehicle can do just that, and also remove your licence plate putting you in the position of a costly tow. An inspection done by fellow hobbyists (preferably a licensed mechanic) may not be to the liking of all members, but if not done at the club should be done on a regular basis by a reliable and licensed mechanic of your choice.

Having a comfort feeling with many modern day mechanics or technicians can be another problem. Finding a mechanic who is interested in problems with older vehicles is becoming more difficult by the day. As specialists in electronics and fuel injection they have little interest in commutators or carburetors. This may make club members turn to fellow members for help. By staying together we provide no excuse for new regulations being brought forward. Many mechanics and technicians may feel this is wrong, after all they have taxes and shop upkeep. However, when I arrive at their shop with my Model T or "52 Chev no one is interested looking at any problem. Six volt systems and magnetos… how do they work? Many club members feel the same way having experienced the "change every part until you get the right one". In the past with older cars the idea was to repair before you replace. That meant knowing why the part was there and its function without an analyzer, and finally fixing it without buying unnecessary parts.

Alberta is apparently in the process of establishing an act to cover mandatory safety checks. According to "Old Autos" Earl Cement's, the situation is acceptable to the old car hobbyist in Alberta. This act is currently in draft version. Should it go through it would probably only be a matter of time until Ontario moves in the same direction.

With "Drive Clean" there are many discussions on the need with new cars being so much cleaner. If the government gave our fuel merchants a push to cleaner fuel perhaps the Drive Clean program would become unnecessary. With technology advances in battery and hybrid power vehicles will these test centres have a future? On the good side the Drive Clean program has pushed many older, poorly maintained and probably unsafe vehicles to the scrap yard as owners would not do expensive repairs. This has meant car lots selling junkers or "as is" are becoming scarce and the roads safer.

The SVAO would appreciate hearing from members with their views on safety testing or any other subject for that matter. Looking forward to your input. to table of contents

Bruce's Musings

Lead content
I read an interesting article recently. I can't remember where I saw it but if anyone out there noticed it and kept a copy will you please send it to me. Apparently, the body of one of those ancient hunters that was found in the Alps or the Andes, estimated at around 30,000 years old, has been subjected to forensic examination to find what could be determined about life back then. Scientists found that the lead content was about the same as is now found in folks living in very polluted areas.

Three things about it fascinated me:
1. I guess they didn't have unleaded gas back then.
2. I wonder why Ethyl Corporation isn't screaming the news from the rooftops.
3. Aren't you glad that you're paying $20,000 or so more for your new daily driver so that lead can be eliminated and we'll all be healthier?

Drive Clean
We have heard of two new problems created by the Drive Clean program. A car owner, who was advised by MTO to switch his plate between his toy car and his beater every Spring and Fall to save licensing fees, has been told that an emission test is required when he switches the plate. Another, one of the fortunate few with a birthday in the right month was just purchasing a sticker for the six remaining months of the year. This owner was also told that an emission test was required before the sticker could be renewed.

We contacted MOE and attempted to find out what had changed. The following is a quick and dirty synopsis of a number of Emails.

Drive Clean is using the MTO Vehicle Registration System to ensure that vehicles are tested that should be tested.

When Drive Clean began last April we (MOE) became aware of some loopholes. These are the major ones.

1. People who wanted to sell used vehicles would transfer the vehicle ownership, unplated, to the new owner without a Drive Clean test, and then once the new owner's name was on the permit they would buy the validation sticker.

2. People were able to transfer a plate with validation from a newer vehicle to an older vehicle (that probably would not pass) to avoid the Drive Clean test.

Granted, not everyone knew about these loopholes, but they were becoming common knowledge and something had to be done. MTO proposed how their system could be programmed to close these loopholes, and we (MOE) agreed that they should proceed. MTO made these changes and has notified their licensing offices. However, since there are a large variety of transactions relating to vehicle permits, there is confusion, and we need to clarify which transactions require a Drive Clean test and which do not. And that is what we are in the process of doing.

At the time of the changes, MTO indicated that some people would be included who were not necessarily trying to avoid a Drive Clean test (e.g., have one plate for two vehicles, or want to switch plates between vehicles for whatever reason). We believe this is a very small part of the population. To date we have not found a way to distinguish these transactions from the other transactions that require a test.

We plan to make a summary of these changes available to the public shortly. It is difficult to justify the cost of notifying approximately one third of the households in Ontario through a direct notice of changes that affect only a few. That is where we stand today. Again, we want to make sure all the vehicles requiring a test get tested, and we will continue to look for ways to improve the program and keep it fair.

We still plan in January 2000 to adjust 1980 standards so that specialty vehicles of all types should be able to pass if their engines are running properly.

And you thought we poor consumers were the only ones confused by the program! Should anyone hear more on this or have a problem getting a specialty
vehicle licensed, please let us know. We have frequent contact with both MTO and MOE but cannot raise problems unless we hear of them. If you have a question that the government can answer, and it is better if you get the answer directly from the ministry rather than through SVAO, contact one of the following. Do not phone. Write, fax or email in order to receive a written reply that will provide a record and carry weight in any later discussions. The mailing address is:

Drive Clean Office
Ministry of the Environment
4th Floor, 40 St. Clair Ave. W
Toronto M4V 1M2

David Crump and Peter Campbell may be emailed at the following addresses. While he is extremely busy with the program, Peter has never made us wait more than one business day for a reply.

Kit and Modified Car Registration
We have heard of a number of owners of kit cars and what the ministry refers to as hot rods which are less than 20 years old experiencing difficulties with Drive Clean. If your kit car or other was registered within the last 20 years and not registered as a vehicle older than the MOE cut-off date, check your files for the information that you gave MTO for the registration.

Exemption from testing depends on the engine fitted to your vehicle, provided that the engine is not older than the chassis. If your engine was registered as the current year at that time, there may still be some hope of resolving the situation.

Contact the manufacturer of your engine. Inform the manufacturer that all engines less than 20 years old require emission testing by MOE and ask for official confirmation that your engine (remember to include the serial number) was built prior to 1980 or, if built subsequent to that date, was built as a replacement engine built to a pre-1980 specification. When you receive this confirmation, contact MTO and have the registration information changed and retain copies of the manufacturer's letter for use in your dealings with the test centre.

As we understand the procedure, you will still receive a notice to report to the test centre but on showing proof that your engine is exempt from testing, you will be able to renew your sticker. We have no idea whether there is a charge for this "service" but, no doubt, the ministry will have issued instructions to the test centres.

The tree huggers are making progress?
At a recent conference, Patricia A. Woertz, the president of Chevron Products told the attendees that "getting between the driving public and their cars is every bit as risky as telling your neighbors how to raise their kids".

In 1995, at the same conference, Dave O'Reilly, then president of Chevron Products, expressed deep concern about environmental policy. Reflecting on the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, O'Reilly said "We've got a consumer-acceptance problem. All of us - Congress, the EPA, the environmental lobby, the oxygenate lobby, the oil industry - we all must share responsibility for this state of affairs. In creating America's fuels policy, we forgot the driving public, and we've all been preoccupied with our own particular interests".

Sounds a bit like MOE's approach doesn't it!

Sundry News Regarding Emission and Testing
In Arizona, 13 emissions test station technicians were nabbed on suspicion of taking bribes. Newspapers reported that state lawmakers will zero-in on the high-profile arrests. An Arizona legislative committee was formed last December examining whether the emissions test is worth its expense and hassle to motorists.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted a new regulation that reduces by over 70 percent the smog-forming emissions from portable gas cans????? But what does that really mean to the public?

Why are a majority of the environmental articles located on the Internet under "Finance" or "Business?"

More Auto Emissions Test News
These are just in case you ever have the idea that
Ontario is the only place with tree hugging zealots who feel that the automobile must be replaced by the bicycle.

The Illinois EPA reports it received 276 claims of automobile damage caused by the new IM-240 dynamometer emissions test in February and March 1999. The new test was launched on February 1 and is employed in 139 test lanes at 35 test stations. Motorists interviewed reported test damage ranging from blown head gaskets to "destroyed" engines and transmissions. One such "accident" involving a 1986 Ford pickup truck is interesting. After driving the truck off the dynamometer, the test driver got out of the vehicle, leaving the door open, the engine running, and the shift in reverse. The driverless vehicle backed up, hitting a solid post that smashed the open door and bent the truck's frame. The firm to which IEPA has contracted the IM-240 test operation has routinely refused to compensate motorists who claim their vehicles were damaged by the test. In turn, IEPA has refused to act on motorists' complaints, referring vehicle owners with claims to the Better Business Bureau.

Makes you feel all warm and comfortable inside doesn't it.

Thought for the millennium
Another day done, all targets met, all systems fully operational, all customers fully satisfied, all staff keen and well motivated, all pigs fed and ready to fly.

For those of us who are approaching computer literacy, there is a wealth of knowledge on the internet. The following sights are worth a trip.

Someone, presumably with nothing better to do, has input the specifications of all cars known to him on a web site. I have checked it and it is worth a visit, particularly if you want the manufacturer's specs for your car.

This one I have been to. It's in Hungary and KTUD is apparently an acronym for library studies. It probably started as some sort of a project for someone's degree. The site consists of histories and pictures of some of the world's more obscure automobiles; mostly European, but there are some from this side of
the pond also. It has some useful links to other sites

Togetherness is Not Only Nice but Necessary
I heard that someone at a cruise suggested that there were too many rods among the old cars or vice versa. We've got to stick together in the hobby guys. When the zealots are trying to put us on bicycles or the "public inconveniences" we can't afford infighting.
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Historical and Specialty Vehicle Licensing Update
Ray Spencer - SVAO

In our last newsletter I mentioned that Gabriel Sekaly, Director - Licensing and Controls Branch from the MOT was taking our proposal for reduced licensing fees for specialty vehicles to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators meeting. Unfortunately there was no interest in pursuing this reduced fee on a national level. Heaven forbid there should be any continuity on such a simple matter! The SVAO however, wishes to thank Mr. Sekaly for his efforts in this matter - a lot of work was done on our behalf.

Our proposal is now back to a discussion level with the Ministry. We have heard rumors once again about the return to full year validation which means, regardless of your birth date or if you changed your licence to a joint ownership to select your own end date, we may all end up paying a full year fee. This FYV could be repositioned possibly in conjunction with a graphic plate at a reduced fee. More on this at the AGM. to table of contents


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