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

Newsletter May 2004

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 pstewart@interlog.com - Editor

Major Changes

Since our formation in 1995 the SVAO has been blessed with a number of hardworking volunteers who have given untold hours of time and effort to the association. Now for some that has been a steady nine years of work and we are going to be saying
thanks and best wishes to a few of them as they now step away from the SVAO. Bruce Stewart and Ted Jeffery have decided that their personal situations need more of their attention while Ray Spencer has found that a move and business pressures have
dictated a need for more time. (Since Ray was editor of this newsletter, you will notice a change in format as your two-fingered typist/chairman puts this together). Bruce will continue as a director but in a less active way. The SVAO would like to thank these
gentlemen for their efforts and wish them well. All three have said that they have a strong interest in the future successes of the
SVAO.

New members to the executive of the SVAO are Bob Klowak and Frank Malfara. Frank has been on the SVAO executive before and has been invovled with street rodding for a long time. "Big" Bob is the current President of the Canadian Street Rod Association and is well known in the old car world. The SVAO welcomes both volunteers on board.

As noted this edition is being put together by your chairman who is not the most computer savy retiree in the world so any mistakes, screw-ups, etc are mine. Yes, I have recently joined the wonderful world of retirement and already notice that there are not enough hours in the day to get all of my projects done. How did I ever manage to find time for paid employment before and get other things done?

Volunteers

This seems to be a constant call but the SVAO cannot exist without a core of people to monitor the various government agencies and levels (provincial and municipal). Many of the executive have been here since the beginning nine years ago and would like some relief. They are for the most part people who are already on the executive of their clubs and so are very involved in the hobby. This does not mean that they won't be around for advice and guidance but there is plenty of room for new blood.

The tasks at hand are, for the moment, mainly ones of keeping in touch with various officials at the different government offices and making sure that these officials remember that the SVAO is out here available for consultation before rules and regulations are developed into law. Officials are often transferred, promoted or not re-elected and so just keeping in touch can take some effort.These tasks can usually be done by e-mail or telephone. The executive meets once a month in the Toronto area but not everyone can do this so some report in by phone or computer.

The SVAO is in need of concerned individuals who will take the time to let us know of situations which they hear about that are not helping our hobby. A call to one of the executive would be appreciated if you have an area of concern because often that is how the SVAO first hears about trouble spots. The more eyes and ears that are out there, the sooner the SVAO can try to help out.

News Around the Hobby

Spring seems to be struggling but it has finally arrived. The SVAO rminds you to make sure that your vehicle is top notch when it comes to safety. We want the public to view our vehicles as the neat things that they are, not sitting on the shoulder of the road broken down or involved in an accident. Remember that in the public's eyes, we are only as good as our weakest link!

The SVAO, as a stakeholder with the Ministry of Transportation, has been informed that there will be changes to the rules and regulations of the Highway Traffic Act coming from our new government but at this time we have not seen these changes. One change will be that licensed truck mechanics will only be able to certify trucks and that licensed automobile mechanics will only be able to certify automobiles. Let's keep our eyes
and ears open for other changes so as not to have a repeat of last year's Bill 241.

The USA continues to have areas that propose laws that concern the old car hobbyist and they have had areas of success in battling these misinformed efforts. Keep an eye on these developments as sometimes these things head north and let us know of your concerns.Their law making system is considerably different the ours and most of the time that is to our benefit. In the USA, most legislators can propose a law if they can find a seconder for their suggested legislation. This can lead to a whole bunch of nonsense if close tabs aren't kept on the respective legislatures. In Canada most legislation comes from the governing party so that is why it is important groups like the SVAO have access to the initial consulting process. If we can point out the problems early, they hopefully won't show up later as legislation or rules and regulations..

SVAO's AGM

Our annual general meeting was not held this spring for a number of reasons:
1) we were unable to use our usual location and couldn't find a suitable substitute on short notice;
2) there really weren't any earth-breaking events taking place that needed discussing;
3) with the changes within the executive, there weren't the personnel to put forth a meaningful agenda with appropriate guest speakers. We shall see what the fall brings in this regard. The SVAO is not going away but until there is a little more help, it may go into more of a monitoring mode for a period of time.

From Your Directors

Jean-Pierre Matte is a member of the Z Car Club and has been an executive member of the SVAO for a good few years. Here is an article by him for your enjoyment:

Adventures in the Automotive Realm

Let’s go back to October 18th 2003. The weekend before, we had just gotten back from an incredible drive from the National Z Car convention in Nashua New Hampshire. A squadron of Zs racing northwards on the sun drenched Interstate. A timeless moment. October is winding down, and the "Z Season" is nearing the end. A big finish is planned, and the following weekend is shaping up to be a busy one.

Mark Michael MacKew, the club’s legal expert, had organized a Wine Tour in the Lake Erie region just east of Windsor. Everyone was to meet at his place at 9am. The night before, Nigel and I discuss what time to leave at. We figure if we are rolling by 7:30 am there should be lots of time. The next Saturday morning the alarm goes off shortly before 7am. I am getting ready to go, and Patricia, still comfortably nestled in bed, asks me what time Nigel and I intend on getting to Chatham. I answer 9am. In looking at Pat’s face, I could see the wheels turning, not always a good sign. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, here is where the clever tie in about not having enough time comes in. Incredulously, she asks me if I really think that is enough time to get there? You know what? It isn’t. If I had come up with this timeline on my own I could understand being so
far off, after all I am abysmal with numbers. Nigel isn’t, for Nigel, numbers are fun. He has driven the Windsor / Toronto corridor so many times he could do it blindfolded. Boy did we get this wrong. We leave at 7:30, Chatham is at least 30 mins the other side of London. It takes at least 1hr & 30 mins to get to London... Two white Zs are rolling under threatening skies and gas pedals meet their respective firewalls. Good thing
Law Enforcement took the day off.

Nigel’s fuel injected Turbocharged ‘73 can be electronically configured on the fly to get decent gas mileage when operating in the "closed loop" mode. My ‘71 triple Weber’d, 3:90’d mobile fuel crisis, does not have that luxury. I had to fuel up in Scarborough shortly after leaving and again at the Sunoco in London, to ensure I had enough fuel for wine touring. We were definitely playing a losing game of beat the clock. Even so, we
only arrived about 15 mins late. Fortunately, Michael had left instructions on what route the group, which had already left, would be taking. My friend Chris, a Chatham resident, had been waiting for us at Michael’s house. With time as the enemy, we take off with horsepower and a navigator who has local area knowledge, and head for the first Winery on the tour. We arrive and the parking lot is empty. 15 mins later, Zs start
rolling in. In all fairness our less than scenic short cut was a good one, and they obviously took their time getting there.

It was a great day of wine touring, sampling wine, loading up on complimentary cheese and breadsticks to stave off hunger. We toured three wineries that day. All very different, all very interesting, all equipped with a vast array of stainless steel plumbing. I think an auto enthusiast finds comfort when in the presence of all that stainless. Even though we are in a winery, the business end of these establishments have a very
mechanical feel to them.

There was a dinner planned at the end of the day, that I unfortunately would not be able to attend. I had festivities I needed to attend that evening. I mentioned to Michael that I would not tour the last winery as I had to get back to Pickering in time for my plans that evening. Michael convinced me to stick around because he wanted to have the group photographed by an Oil Well on the Erie shoreline. We find the Oil Well, we take the
pictures and it is now 5 o’clock and I am virtually out of fuel and beginning to run out of time.

First things first, Chris and I bid farewell to the horde of Zs at the Oil well site and head back towards Michael’s place in Chatham so I can drop Chris off. After a day of wine touring I am nearly on empty. I need to find gas and I need to find it fast. We drive through small town after small town, most of these don’t have much of anything in them, let alone gas stations. Matter of fact the towns have the appearance of being closed
down, they’re inhabited, but you’d never know by looking at them. There came a point where after having gone North quite a ways, we had to double back Westward, away from Chatham, because that was the quickest way to the nearest town. Quite disheartening. Found a truck stop which had fuel and a restaurant. I wolf down a "hot hamburger dinner", head back to Chatham, drop Chris off, and finally make my way East toget to the 401 exit. It is now 6:10, the sun is setting, the sky is blue. I have to be home by 9pm, and I have at least 2.5 hrs of driving ahead of me.

The sun was setting, the motor was humming, conditions were perfect. At this pace I should make pretty good time. Before long it was dark, and traffic was not particularly heavy and I come upon a white early 90’s VW Passat. I’m cruising at 120 and closing in on him. I pull out to the left and ease past him, takes a while, but I eventually pull back in front when I am safe distance ahead of him. Moments later he comes rushing
up behind me and passes me, pulling in ahead. I maintain my speed and once again pass him. This goes on a couple more times until I get fed up and get my speed up to 140, holding that speed for 5 minutes before letting up, and pass him once and for all. Years ago I rode with someone driving the same year Passat (different colour), and they could not stand getting passed either. If passed, this person would get enraged and go rocketing past the person who had just passed him. Either Passats have a weird effect on some people, or it’s testosterone out of control. Perhaps this was a relative.

Next up was the mid 90’s Honda sedan. The crowd in the Honda had a different take on livening up people’s night driving experience. I had caught up to this Honda, it had at least 5 people jammed in it. Either they liked my car or couldn’t figure out what it was, because once I had passed them, they stayed in my blind spot for at least ten miles. Once again the speed limit was disregarded in order to lose this car. It was shortly after this that the rain began to fall. Up ‘til then the only thing hitting my windshield were thousands of hapless insects. The windshield was plastered with them, but visibility wasn’t affected. Although annoying, the light rain was beading up and rolling off. It wasn’t until I had caught up to a transport that things got exciting. By that point the rain had increased, and the mist coming off the truck forces me to start the wipers. Big
mistake. With the first pass, they smeared dead bugs into a greasy film across my windshield, and no amount of rain would remove them. It didn’t help that the squirt nozzle on the driver’s side was for unknown reasons, inoperative. It was pitch black and I could barely see the road. There was construction happening on this stretch of road, and the cement dividers were up, no shoulder, and with the lack of visibility I was
suffering, pulling over wasn’t a safe option. I decided to slow down somewhat and keep pressing forward. So much for making good time. I eventually came upon a service centre 40 kms out of Mississauga, where I could do a pit stop and scrape the bugs off the window. Believe me, it took 5 minutes of serious scrubbing to get them off.

Rolling once more. I am approaching Mississauga, and the rain has picked up. All summer I had managed to keep the car out of the rain. I was paying for it now. The real fun was about to begin, as Sweden was about to make its contribution to the evening’s shennanigans. It’s raining pretty hard now, I am in the express lanes moving through traffic rather efficiently, but the density of traffic is increasing. It’s going to be close,
but I have a viable shot at making the promised ETA of 9pm. Domestic bliss is riding on this. However, some clown in a 900 series Saab had different ideas. I come up on him in the far left express lane, I am clearly moving faster than him, but he won’t pull over and let me by. As much as I don’t want to, I am going to pass him on the right, traffic is heavy, this will be easier said than done. I make my move to the right, the Saab sees me going for it and picks up the pace to block me from getting in. In abysmal driving conditions, this clown decides to play games. Generally speaking I am a very calm individual, but that’s been known to change. By now Genghis Khan is my role model, and I am thinking criminal thoughts. It took 10 minutes of dueling with the Saab, in the worst possible driving conditions, before I was able to overtake him by using a combination of reckless velocity and weaving through cars, ultimately passing him by going into the far right hand lane. Having tortuously made my way back into the far left express lane, he was now engulfed in mist, in my rearview. As a result of the variety of adventures I experienced on the trip home, I have hired a team of military engineers to work out the details of mounting Sidewinder missiles to my car.

I am not particularly proud of the "driving tactics" I exhibited to get around my "friend" in the Saab, regardless, I was past him and shooting for home, both hands welded to the steering wheel. Pickering is now in my sights and it’s going to be close. A familiar exit ramp beckons. I could feel the rage and tension draining from my body as I pulled into the driveway. I pried my fingers from the wheel. The transformation was complete. With 7 minutes to spare, I was once again human. Good thing too, as a night of merriment and excess was waiting to be had by all. Into the wee hours we go.

At this point you must figure the story is just about over. To be honest with you, I thought it was too. But things don’t always work out the way you had planned. Earlier that summer, I had committed to showing up at Mosport International Speedway on Sunday, to do some work for the
Children’s Wish foundation. Myself and a variety of other cars and their owners, would be giving rides to unfortunate kids stricken with a variety of illnesses as well as their parents. I went to bed at around 3am that evening, and because of the rain, I was convinced that the event would be scrubbed. The Driver’s Meeting was at 8:30 am, I didn’t even set the alarm.

I am snuggled in bed, it’s nice and warm, I am right where I want to be. Life is good....but I hear this incessant knocking, and it won’t stop. I open my eyes, and fall out of bed. It’s 7:30 Sunday morning. The sun is out and the road is partly dry, and there are contractors at my next door neighbours, installing new windows??? I cannot sleep through this. I stagger over to the phone and call my contact re the Mosport event. "It can’t possibly still be on can it?" It is. I’m told to forget the Driver’s Meeting and get down there. On 4 1/2 hours of sleep, I hit the road once more.

It turned out to be a wonderful Sunday. The sun was out, it was fairly warm for late October, and the track was waiting. I got signed in and got the car lined up in the Pit Lane. A huge lineup of really excited youngsters were there. Boys and girls of all ages, tall ones, short ones. The parents were there too, and they all couldn’t wait to get strapped into a car and go out on the track. Harnessed into the Z, I felt like an antique piece of furniture that had just tumbled down a flight of stairs. I was considerably less than razor sharp, yet I could still appreciate the paradox before me. It was such a happy scene, with so many happy people, on such a beautiful day. Underneath it all, completely out of sight, was incredible pain and sadness. I am still moved when I think about it. When I was asked if I wanted to participate in this event, thoughts of driving the big road
circuit at Mosport prompted me to say yes. After all, I hadn’t been on it since 1994. Of course I said that I wanted to help the unfortunate kids, and I meant it when I said it. Now I could feel it.

All manner of cars were lined up, a variety of Ferraris and Porsches an Alfa, a Subaru WRX and many more. There were many real race cars there, as well as my 240, which was masquerading as one. It was such a thrill to see these little kids being asked which car they wanted a ride in, and having them point to your vehicle. The attendants there would strap them in tight, and you could see the look of anticipation spreading
across their faces. They would look across at me, confident they were in good hands, after all, this car has stickers and a roll cage, the driver must know what he is doing, right? Well, sort of. The rules were simple: No passing, one Off Road Excursion, and your day was over. I managed to get 11 thrilling laps in before they called a break for Lunch. Many people scoff at the notion of a race driver being an athlete. I say let these
people try a few laps at the limit of their abilities on any major racetrack. I scarfed down some pizza and pop that was generously provided for lunch, and did a tour of the grounds. By the time track activities had resumed, I had only one thing on my mind, getting home and going to bed. I was overcome with exhaustion. To go back on the track would have been irresponsible. I said my goodbyes and fell into the car. I crept out of
the paddock area and hit the road. The sun was shining and the car ran like a top all the way home. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open.

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