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

 Newsletter April 1999

 Table of Contents
Bruce's Musings
Pro Rata License Billing
Y2K Bug
Zoning By-Laws
Specialty Vehicle Licensing by Bruce Stewart - SVAO
This Emission Testing - What It Is All About by Bob Patterson
Drive Clean by Bruce Stewart - 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

Note: The SVAO is actively pursuing methods of having car clubs do safety checks on their vehicles and, while we have had input from some clubs on their views, we would most certainly like to hear from other clubs on their views of how such a process could work, should work, or if they feel it is not workable - what do you see as the barriers to such a program.

Bruce's Musings


This is a bit of a commercial (infomercial??) - I was going to leave this message at the end of this article but that seemed a bit too much like a bad TV strategy. Here it comes! Roy Beebe, of the Model A Club, has, for a number of months, been our primary contact with Provincial and State governments in North America. We need more volunteers to communicate and follow up a few issues that are currently, or soon will be, of interest to SVAO and our community with governments, other collector car groups and the world at large.

Issues of interest are:
· the proliferation of MTBE and other chemicals and their impact on our hobby and the environment.
· license and insurance details in other jurisdictions.
· zoning by-laws that impact our activities.
· safety testing.
· kit car and modified car policies in other jurisdictions.

Volunteers should be:
· comfortable with the internet and other forms of written communication.
· comfortable with meetings with club, business and government officials.
· preferably live close to Toronto so that we can get together and make things happen but this is not absolutely necessary.
· and, no - we do not have the budget to pay you!
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Pro Rata License Billing

Recently Chris Whillans received a fax from a club member regarding the licensing of Ontario's vehicles. The fax consisted of a copy of a memo sent to licensing offices by MTO stating that Ontario's pro-rata license fee was discontinued effective March 1, 1999. Word of this change has sped through the community and we all have been getting a lot of telephone calls and emails on the subject. At our March 9 meeting with MTO officials we were informed that this is not the case. Pro-rata billing for licenses is still allowed - at least for now!to table of contents

Y2K Bug

Kit Car and Modified Car Owners Beware!
All modified and kit cars registered prior to Dec. 31, 1999 are treated, for emission testing purposes, as being registered in 1980 or before and are, therefore, exempt from testing. Effective Jan. 1, 2000 this all changes and the date of registration is the date of the vehicle. If you are building something, get it registered as soon as possible!!!
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Zoning By-Laws

Some time ago Ted Jeffery wrote an article about off street parking in residential areas and the impact that municipal by-laws have or might have on our toys. Many people don't know that almost any activity related to storage and/or maintenance of your collector vehicle contravenes a provincial or municipal by-law. In Toronto, for instance, I am barred by law from rebuilding my car in my own garage. The law is not enforced unless there is a complaint from one of the neighbors - but it's still there!

Having spent the better part of the last month on the email trail with members of the collector car community ranging from Seattle, Vancouver and Sacramento in the west to Arlington, Virginia and rural New York city in the east, I have discovered that the problem exists throughout the continent - we'll assume that there are the requisite number of philistines present in Mexico - equal opportunity and politically correct at every turn - that's us.

The cause for all the commotion was the following item which is reprinted, in part, from the Specialty Vehicle Association of British Columbia's newsletter and should be of interest to all of us. While this item has been somewhat abridged, we have the full version at hand should anyone be in a position to present it to authorities.



The Washington Car Club Council (Washington State not DC) was instrumental in having legislation introduced to the state legislature to fight for us old car guys.

AN ACT Relating to zoning for hobby vehicles;

(1) A municipality may not adopt or implement
an ordinance or land use regulation in a manner that prohibits a person from engaging in the activities of an automotive collector in an area zoned by the municipality, so long as any collector vehicles, including parts cars, maintained and stored by the collector are located out of ordinary public view by means of inside storage, suitable fencing, trees, shrubbery, or otherwise.
(2) A person engaged in the activities of an automotive collector may conduct mechanical repairs and modifications to a vehicle located out of ordinary public view on private real property.
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Specialty Vehicle Licensing
Bruce Stewart - SVAO

Over the past couple of years, we have attended a number of meetings with Ministry of Transportation officials in an attempt to have Ontario's collector car licensing modified.

A licence is essentially a tax on road usage and in fact, licence fees in many jurisdictions were instituted and justified on the basis that they formed a large part of the cost of road and highway building and maintenance - just like gasoline taxes! A number of organizations are attempting to have gasoline taxes earmarked for highways - why not licence fees also? But that is a fight for another group at another time.

Insofar as the average collector car is driven about 800 miles per year (that costs you 10 cents per mile just for your licence) - you can figure it out in kilometers - we pay an inordinate amount for the use of our toys. The objects of our meetings with MTO, therefore, are:

· to lower our license costs and, hence, our cost per mile of operation.
· to gain recognition that there are significant community benefits, both aesthetic and economic, resulting from the existence of our toys.
· to provide the basis for insurance coverage which would be less expensive than regular coverage and less restrictive than existing policies such as Silver Wheels.

To this end, a number of suggestions cum requests have been made to the ministry.

Historical Plates

In many jurisdictions antique or historical plates are issued when the vehicle is over 25 years, rather than 30 years, as in Ontario. We understand that the provinces and territories are split fairly evenly with respect to the 25 vs 30 year limit and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has requested that the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators investigate standardizing this limit across the country.

Many jurisdictions do not require annual validations of antique or historical vehicle licences. Much like small trailer licences in Ontario, the plates are issued for the duration of time that the vehicle remains in the possession of the owner and that the vehicle conforms to the usage restrictions placed on antique or historical vehicles. We have asked that the current annual validation of Ontario's Historical plates either be carried out at no cost or discontinued.

Historical plates are too restrictive for an owner who desires to drive their collector vehicle and, although we are not really supposed to recognize the fact, historical plates are open to a lot of abuse. We feel that MTO should strictly enforce the regulations. The institution of Historical licence plates resulted from a great deal of work by a number of members of our community and abusing the plates does a disservice to the endeavors of these people. We have also requested that the Historical Vehicle regulations be amended to allow vehicle modifications made specifically for safety and/or environmental reasons.

Year of Manufacture Plates

A number of "old car" owners (as differentiated from "old" car owners) - feel that the use of a licence plate of the same year as the vehicle was manufactured would add authenticity to the vehicle. While year of manufacture plates are used in a number of jurisdictions and their use may eventually be allowed in Ontario, convincing MOT and working out the details will take years rather than months. One seemingly insignificant snag to using these plates is the fact that the Highway Traffic Act makes it unlawful to restore plates. Ongoing discussions will, no doubt, present a number of problems that must be solved before these collectors can be accommodated.

Regular Plates

Any request for changes to the regulations regarding regular plates would, of course, impact every vehicle in Ontario. This is not and never was our intention.
Those of you who have birthdays in November are ideally situated to buy a plate for your car when you put it on the road in the spring and pay on a pro rata basis for the months of usage. (Providing the MTO does not implement annualized fees).

We recently disseminated information received from MTO regarding joint plate ownership as a means of choosing an expiry date for your plate validation. Unfortunately, not all licensing offices are familiar with the mechanics of this transaction and delays on Ray Spencer's use of this procedure prompted us to ask MTO to issue instructions for the procedure. The bad part of Ray's changing his plate was the time and hassle of getting the job done - the good part is that everyone in the licence office now knows him when he goes there!

Collector Plates

British Columbia has provision for a "Collector" plate. Over 10,000 vehicles are currently licensed in this manner; the plate being less restrictive than regular licensing but less restrictive than an Antique or Historical Plate. Ontario needs a collector plate. Our vehicles are part of our Province's heritage. Many are donated or left to museums by their owners (i.e. Bud MacDougald's cars were left to the Oshawa Museum) but too many are being lost to Ontario (i.e. Bernie Aaron's Deusey).

The following guidelines or restrictions have been suggested for the issuing of a Collec-tor Plate in Ontario.
· Annual stickers should cost 10% of that of a regular plate.
· There should be no age restriction on the issuing of these plates.
· The annual mileage of collector plated vehicles should be strictly regulated (say 8,000 kilome-ters or 5,000 miles). If the vehicle exceeds this limit the owner must, at renewal time, pay the full regular plate sticker cost for the new year after paying the remainder of full license fee for the year just ending; this before a renewal sticker can be issued.
· A collector-plated vehicle can not be for primary transportation.
· A collector-plated commercial vehicle can not carry a load for profit.

Administrative and organizational problems negate the issuing of a new and totally unique plate by MTO at this time. While this might be possible in the long run, it is doubtful as the proliferation of plate types creates a multitude of problems for the ministry and for licence issuers.

It has been suggested that we might be able to receive all of the benefits of a collector plate with a modified version of the province's graphic plate that you have all seen with Blue Jay or Hamilton Tiger Cat logos. Unfortunately we have not, as yet, seen a proposal that provides any kind of solution. Discussions with MTO officials will continue.

Can you discuss this among yourselves and let us have your input regarding the proposal and/or the process.
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This Emission Testing - What It Is All About
Bob Patterson

Smog, this pollution which is taking over our daily thoughts - what can we as individuals do about it? We all want to breath clean air and most people attempt to keep it that way. Smog, that yellowish brown haze that we see hanging over cities in warm, still air some people would have you believe that it is created only by the automobile. Not so. There are many other contributors to this problem. Smog is comprised of ground level ozone (the same ozone that when high in the atmosphere protects us from UV radiation) mixed with pollutants from industry as well as vehicle emissions. The automobile, the easiest target, is not the largest polluter. We all know that transit, trucking, industrial processes and, even Mother Nature, are the basic contributors. Plus, Southern Ontario receives a considerable amount from winds, compliments of the USA.

Smog, a word formed by combining smoke and fog, really is a combination of ozone, many other chemicals, particulates, organic and metallic compounds. The basic ingredients are:

· Ozone - A colorless gas produced through photo chemical action on hydro carbons and nitrogen oxides. It is responsible for much of the crop losses to agriculture.
· Nitrogen Oxide - A toxic gas formed through the combustion process in fossil fuel heating and engine combustion. It will combine with rain to form acid rain.
· Carbon Monoxide - An odorless, tasteless gas formed through fossil fuel heating and engine combustion which can stop oxygenation to blood to organ and body tissues.
· Volatile Organic Compounds - Very small particles of solid matter or vapor which stays suspended in the atmosphere. It can be soot, dust, smoke, evaporating paints, lacquers, or oils from new roadways.
· Sulphur Dioxide - Noted by the rotten egg smell, a colorless gas and another product of combustion. This gas is responsible for some questionable circumstances related to emissions testing. Gasoline sold in Ontario has a sulpur content over 300 ppm, south of the border it is 150 ppm and, in California, it is less than 50 ppm. According to the EPA, when the gas is cleaner the engine runs cleaner.

Ozone is the catalyst which binds these contributors together using photochemical action of the sun creating smog. This dirty air can only be dispersed by wind or rain (acid rain). With no air movement it may be held over a region for considerable time causing respiratory problems, food crop contamination and affect water quality. Burning 100 gallons of gasoline creates 2 pounds of hydro carbons, volatile organic compounds and sulphur.

In earlier days coal and wood fires used for heating was thought to be acceptable. Some people in the last century attempted to establish smoke control bylaws. In London, England in December 1952, 4000 people died in 5 days due to a killer fog that settled over the city. In America, the eastern seaboard was becoming unbearable. In the early 50's Harry Truman called for a nationwide technical conference that developed into the EPA. Canada followed their lead with the Ministry of the Environment.

Our Ontario Ministry funded the Clear Air Motor Vehicle Emission Inspection Facility. Their job was to establish guidelines for testing. The SVAO worked to establish a rapport with their advisory board in order to provide input to the inevitable. Having had contacts with other provinces and states we knew many of the trials and tribulations of fellow car enthusiasts. We know why this testing is not working the way the politicians say it will. We know the tricks to beat the analyzer (clean for a day, you don't say!). Will there be rogue technicians? How long will this testing be viable? Auto manufacturers have been forced to reduce emissions over the years for the internal combustion engine. Now we progress into hybrids - gas/electric, turbine/electric, hydrogen. Will this test equipment be viable then?

The automobile manufacturers have been pushed to clean up their end. The fuel standards need to change. Why has our government given the oil industry until 2005 to improve their quality? Comparisons within North America would certainly handicap Ontario test results and indicate the failure of your vehicle may be due to the government not doing its job. There are many questions for the politicians - keep asking them! Clean air is the goal we all wish to attain. Take an active roll on this issue. Send your faxes and emails to the Ministry of the Environment and send us a copy.
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Drive Clean
Bruce Stewart - SVAO

In their last newsletter, the Specialty Vehicle Association of British Columbia ran the following headline over an article discussing Ontario's Drive Clean program. The SVABC considers our emission regulation enlightened compared to other jurisdictions.

At recent club meetings attended by SVAO executives a number of questions have been asked about the administration and fairness of Ontario's DriveClean program. Full details are available from the ministry through its various publications, at their web site or by telephone. The following is from email received from the ministry.

Ontario's program is administered by ProtectAir, a private company that was the successful bidder on contracts covering Training, QA/QC and Information System(s). ProtectAir was the best prepared for Ontario's program and ministry personnel will be working closely with them and with other contractors to ensure that the program operates in a fair and equitable manner.

How will I know if the test results and the repairs are fair?
· Drive Clean facilities must have equipment and staff that are certified by the ministry for emission testing and/or repairs.
· Your vehicle test results will be compared with emission standards set for your particular year and model of vehicle.
· Facilities will be audited to ensure proper testing and repair procedures are followed.
· Facilities, inspectors doing the tests, and certified technicians doing the repairs at accredited facilities will also be monitored continuously for pass/fail rate and irregularities.

Who is looking out for me, the car owner?
· A multi-stakeholder advisory board will be formed to review the delivery of the program and advise on major program decisions. This board will report directly to the Minister of the Environment and will include representatives from government, consumer and environmental groups, as well as industry sector representatives.

NOTE: SVAO has asked for and has been told that it will be represented on this board.

If my vehicle "fails" how much will it cost?
· You will receive a page titled "Common Causes Of Excessive Exhaust Emissions" describing some of the possible causes of failure. You may take the vehicle for repairs to an accredited Drive Clean repair facility, a local garage, or do it yourself, then bring it back for retesting. You will not have to spend more than $200 for repairs completed within 60 days before the retest, provided that repairs were done at a Drive Clean facility.

What is this repair cost limit?
· The repair cost limit is available only during 1999 and 2000 in the GTA and Hamilton-Wentworth, and during 2001 and 2002 in the other urban centres and commuting zones. To qualify, you need to have only those repairs done, up to $200 at a Drive Clean Facility, that are expected to improve emissions. The limit allows some repairs to be done to improve emissions, puts a ceiling on the repair costs, and provides two years for the owner to make adequate repairs or to find another vehicle. The conditional pass obtained from using the repair cost limit will allow you to renew your registration, but will not allow you to resell the vehicle to be plated within the program area.

How will Drive Clean protect drivers from having unnecessary repairs done to their vehicles?

· Only Drive Clean inspectors certified by MOE can conduct tests.
· Test procedures are fully automated and all possible steps have been taken to make them tamper proof.
· Testing facilities are continuously audited for abnormalities. Any abnormalities are quickly identified and investigated.
· MOE certifies emissions repair technicians to conduct repairs at accredited Drive Clean facilities and audits their repairs to ensure they are necessary and cost effective.
· The Drive Clean Call Centre will provide directions to motorists who wish to question or dispute the test or repairs done at an accredited Drive Clean Test only, Test and Repair, or Repair only Facility.

NOTE: The bold text emphasis in the preceding article is by the SVAO - not the ministry's.

IMPORTANT MTO INFORMATION re Kit Car & Modified Vehicle Registration Booklet Requests:
Contact Patti Roberts at 416-235-4770 or email to

 SVAO MEMBERSHIP - 1998-1999

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