Message From The Chair
Chris Willans – SVAO Chairman
Summer events are coming at a fast and furious rate so I hope that everyone
is out and enjoying themselves. The SVAO executive usually tries to get by
with a summer holiday from meetings but certain events have meant that this
summer has been an exception so far.
Bill 241 is still alive with modifications and has passed first reading during
the spring session as a renumbered Bill 20. The changes include naming nitrous
oxide as the substance that the Ministry does not want to see connected to
street vehicles. It now provides that any vehicle with a nitrous system must
have the system disconnected while on the road
with no way for connecting it from inside the vehicle. The SVAO supports these
changes to the Bill but still has concerns regarding the enforcement part of
this legislation and so will still be working with the MTO in this regard.
Early July found some of your SVAO executive and
the Minister of Transportation, Frank Klees sitting down to a very useful
round table meeting. This type of meeting is very good at getting
down to the facts
without several layers of filtering going on. One of the first comments from
the Minister was whoever was in charge of orchestrating the letter writing
campaign (Bill 241) should be congratulated as the MTO had never
seen anything like it. So, a pat on the back for those of you who took the
time to write a letter to your MPP as well as the Minister – it worked! Not
to put aside petitions (on-line or otherwise) or form letters but real, handwritten
notes are what get the job done.
Other issues discussed with Mr. Klees included our
proactive stance on safety as illustrated by many of our member clubs and
their annual safety inspections. He was really pleased to hear about that.
We also discussed street racing and possible approaches
to that problem. The SVAO told the Minister that we had a number of ideas
on that issue but that we did not feel that Bill 20 was the answer.
We went over our concerns with some parts of Bill 20 that don't seem to
us to be the correct approach without creating more problems for some of
our members. Mr. Klees responded that he was still open to suggestions
from the SVAO as to Bill 20 so your executive has been meeting again on
Licensing was another topic of discussion with the
Minister. He has promised to issue a clarification letter to all issuing
agents so that historic plates are not being suggested to people with modified
vehicles. We again brought up the idea of a "collector tag" for
those with modified vehicles or for those who did not want to be plated
under the restrictions of historic plates. The SVAO has run this idea up
the flagpole a few times but Mr. Klees asked us to send him the history
of this request and the points that we were proposing for future consideration.
The final issue from this meeting was an invitation
for the SVAO to become a member of the Transportation Policy Advisory Committee
which could head off some potential future problems. The SVAO has accepted
the Minister's offer and has sent off a letter to the Ministry outlining
our desire to be part of that committee.
The meeting was a very positive one and the SVAO
looks forward to a good working relationship with Frank Klees as the Minister
In conclusion, some people have asked me how a possible
fall election will influence the second and third readings of Bill 20.
Unfortunately my reading of tea leaves is not very good so we'll have to
wait to see
if the election is called before the legislature resumes sitting or not.
Enjoy the cruising season and make sure that you
and your clubs are helping the public's view of our hobby. As for me, it's
time for a little northerly Nashing!
Bruce Stewart - SVAO
I have been admonished by my peers with regard to my
musings in the last SVAO newsletter. It was over the top but I actually
thought it was worth a read and that it would provoke thought and discussion.
Obviously, it has done that!
Bruce Stewart - SVAO
Son of Bill 241
Our most recent battle, along with many other groups
and individuals, was with he proposed Bill 241. We won the battle on
that one but I think we lost the war. The "son of 241" is
back on the order paper and has passed first reading in the House.
The suppliers jumped on the red herring of “prescribed
equipment” in spite of our pleading and the standard nitrous oxide
(standard in all US jurisdictions where such an animal exists) codicil
The real problem with the bill (now Bill 20), is that
it gives extraordinary power to the police. There is potential for
abuse here. It's a bit of a shame that the profit motive held more
sway than the hobby itself but I guess that's free enterprise. Maybe
its time, though, that the suppliers realized that the hobby can exist without them but they have no market outside the hobby.
Idle Thoughts on the Annual General Meeting
For the first time in a number of years we were graced
with the presence of the Ontario Hand Crafted Vehicle Club. The club
disappeared for a while but is now being resurrected by new young members.
It's really great to see the organization back up and running. The
club has, in the past, done much for the collector car community. It
was the driving force in forging close relations between the “hobby” and
the Ministry of Transportation when most clubs pretended the Ministry
did not exist. If anyone out there is contemplating building a kit
or is simply interested in this segment of our community get in touch
with the club. There is a lot of talent in their ranks.
Sean Henwood…..phone (519) - 826-6873……..email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lou Trottier……….phone (905) – 799-2234…….email – email@example.com
Harry Baergen, of Transport Canada, came down from Ottawa
accompanied by Sylvain Lalime, who I believe is Harry's assistant.
They are in the process of simplifying the importation of kit cars
or, as Harry describes it, creating a straight line in the sand from
what is now a continual “one off” process and is very
labour intensive. Apparently it is very simple to gain
approval for the major portion of kits. Any components, parts or subassemblies
which are SAE approved or are built to SAE specifications are automatically
legal. It remains to be seen whether the kit manufacturers will cooperate.
Sylvain will probably be the primary contact for most
vehicles as time goes by. He can be reached by phone at (613) – 998-2310,
fax at (613) – 998-8541 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sylvain is a bit of a motorhead by the sounds of it and
drives an SVT Mustang so our future with Transport Canada appears to
be in good hands. If you are thinking of importing any vehicle, talk
to these folks first and you'll find that the process is much simpler.
Modified and Kit Car Stuff
There is a potential crisis looming for modified and
kit cars, the impact of which could be much greater than that ascribed
to Bill 20. Canadian insurance companies are refusing to cover them.
Be very careful how you answer the questionnaire which may accompany
your insurance renewal. Apparently, Canadian insurance companies are
trying to divest themselves of the unprofitable automotive end of the
business and, in some cases, can't even give the business away.
We have been told that this reluctance to insure modified
cars is due to the rice rocketeers and street racing but who knows
for sure. Everyone talks about fraudulent claims and we understand
that they are rampant but I wonder how much the no fault fiasco is
costing us. If any of our readers is in the insurance business and
is willing to help the SVAO in this area, we would appreciate any assistance
that may be available.
Do you think that the banning of nitrous oxide will put
an end to street racing? Neither do I, boys and girls. How about harassment?
Nope. We need to be able to present viable solutions to government
in meetings and would welcome any ideas that you may have for potentially
successful strategies. Also, any information that you may have regarding
strategies that have been effective in other jurisdictions would be
We have been receiving complaints about the Environment Ministry's Ontario
Smog Patrol or, as they are becoming known, the Eco-Police. Most complaints
deal with the apparent lack of professionalism within the ranks of the organization.
The professional approach exhibited by police forces and the Enforcement Branch
of the Ministry of Transportation is, we have been told, totally lacking in
the Eco-Police. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting any of these folks
but there is one thing I do know for certain. Our community is, for the most
part, completely in favor of Drive Clean and the Ministry's attempts to improve
our ecosystem. The antics of this branch, however, is providing the most negative
impact yet on the image of the Ministry.
The Vehicle Emissions Enforcement Unit is, apparently,
part of the “Environmental SWAT team of the Ministry of Environment
and Energy”. Maybe the SWAT designation has gone to their heads. They
don't let them carry guns or batons, I hope.
These inspectors can pull over any vehicle at
any time and carry out an inspection and issue tickets
under the Provincial Offences Act. One guy was actually parked in
a Tim Horton's lot with his engine shut off when he was accosted.
If the Emissions Enforcement Unit performs an inspection
on your vehicle, you will be required to meet the standards for the
model year that the vehicle is registered as on your ownership. Tickets
may be issued when a vehicle is found to have visible emissions, when
a vehicle has missing or modified emission control equipment or when
the vehicle fails an on-road emission test. In addition to tickets,
vehicle owners may be charged under the Environmental Protection Act.
These regulations apply to all vehicles using
Ontario's highways including Non-Ontario registered vehicles .
This fact, will no doubt, have an impact on tourism. Was any thought
given to the broader impact of what they have instigated?
The “Son of 241” presents potential for police harassment
of the collector car community.
While we have heard stories about harassment incidents,
nothing has been documented and presented to us; even after we have
asked for the pertinent details. Over the years, we have met a number
of police officers. All that we have met (with the exception of one
California Highway Patrol type) have been thoroughly professional and
almost a pleasure to deal with. Let's be honest, though. When you get
stopped by a cop, it's usually not just to pass some time on his part
so pleasure is definitely relative in this case.
There are three primary organizations that may stop you
on Ontario's highways, the various police forces, the Enforcement Branch
of the Ministry of Transportation and the quickly becoming infamous
Eco-Police from the Ministry of the Environment. All of the harassment
complaints that we have received to date pertain to the latter organization.
If you feel that you are being unfairly singled out let
us know and we'll take it up with the relevant authorities. Do not
phone. Put it in writing, preferably an email to the web site at www.svao.org and
we'll present it to the proper ministry officials. Be as objective
as possible and supply full details including badge numbers and the
names of any witnesses that may have seen the incident. Vague, unfounded
accusations will change nothing. A complete, objective narrative may
We're ALIVE ! again !!
Sean Henwood – SVAO
A club for the Kit Car enthusiast in Ontario, the Ontario
Handcrafted Vehicle Club, brings together the people who want to build
and drive unique handcrafted vehicles and share their knowledge and
experience with others.
The main goal of the club is to preserve our hobby. We
are currently threatened by the many changing regulations proposed
to help curb street racing, new underwriting guidelines adopted by
all the insurance companies that state they are no longer writing NEW
business policies for modified cars and MTO guidelines to register
KIT CARS as current model year, make our cars very difficult to insure.
Insurance problem being a North American problem, not
just an Ontario problem, many States are now adopting new Custom /
Hot Rod Legislation which deals with the year of registration and emissions
issues. As a club we are searching to find a solution so we can continue
to enjoy our cars and share them with others and welcome any suggestions,
comments or input from all those affected.
This, That, and the Other Thing
Jean-Pierre Matte - SVAO
Let me start with a little story about car insurance.
I am 41 years old, have an exemplary driving record, have owned a 1971
240Z since 1984, and since 1985 it has been insured with The Co-operators
Insurance Co. Since I arrived in the GTA in 1991, the insurance people
here have had me take the car to their office at the start of every
driving season so they could take some pictures of it (inside and out).
My representative retired last year. Recently I called The Co-operators
about renewing the Z's insurance for the summer. A younger rep replaced
the one who handled my policy since 1991. I noticed the value of the
car showing on the policy was not the same as in the appraisal I had
presented them with in 2001. The rep dug deep in the file and found
it, correcting the dollar value of the car. When she looked in my file
and saw the pictures they had taken, the tone of her voice
She had suddenly come to the brilliant conclusion that
my car was “modified” and that the Underwriter may have a problem with
this. I have to think that the thought that I was a “street racer” must
have crossed her mind . The rep called me back the next day advising
me that the Underwriter would not allow this vehicle to be insured
under the same type of policy (occasionally driven hobby vehicle…not
driven to work) but would have to be insured under a significantly
more expensive policy. Needless to say I will be cancelling my policy
with them (not that they'll mind).
It's obvious that the Underwriter is not a big fan of “The
Fast and the Furious”, and that they obviously thought I had a starring
role in that film. Yeah, the car is reasonably fast, and now I am really
furious. The problem I have isn't so much that I'll have to get insurance
elsewhere, rather it is the fact that the people at this insurance
firm knew my vehicle and photographed it since 1991, and never said
anything. If I were unfortunate enough to have been involved in an
accident, it is quite likely that they would not have been able to
deliver what the policy promised. In essence I have been fulfilling
the legal requirement mandated by the government to have insurance,
insurance that it turns out would likely not have been worth the paper
it was printed on. Another thing to be aware of that was never brought
to my attention by the insurer is that there are two types of policies,
19 & 19A. My friend, Nigel White, was researching insurance for
his own vehicle, when he came across this interesting piece of critically
important information. If you have a policy with 19 on the form, the
appraised value of the vehicle is subject to re-evaluation by the insurer.
This is the type of policy that I had. 19A means that the appraised
value will stand, though I have to believe you would likely have to
get the vehicle re-appraised every couple of years to keep it current.
Bottom line is this… I would call whoever it is that insures your car,
and ask some pointed questions, because it is quite possible that the
insurance you have isn't quite what you thought it was. I still have
many other policies with these people and I will be setting up a meeting
with the owner to discuss these issues, and voice my absolute displeasure
about these matters.
The Big Finish
Here are a few more details to let everyone know how
the story ends. I had heard about Tony Lant's Custom Wheels Insurance
plan, and it sounded like it would be my salvation. I spoke to them
over the phone, described the car to them and what it was I required
in terms of car insurance. They advised me to come up with my appraisal
to sign some forms, no problem, I am on my way. To make a long story
short, they had no problem insuring the vehicle, if I removed each
and every sticker that is on it. They cannot insure a “commercial” vehicle.
Despite the fact that I was willing to put in writing, that I am not
sponsored by anyone in any way shape or form, they would not relent. “Remove
the stickers or no insurance”, that was from Tony Lant, the company
I went home with the half completed insurance forms,
getting psyched up for some heavy duty sticker removal. Not yet having
removed a single sticker, the next morning I called The Co-operators
(still my insurance company for my daily driver… and I'm really starting
to think the name of their company is somewhat inappropriate) just
to see what they could do re insuring the Z, as they said they had
come up with a new policy which was substantially more expensive.
Turns out they were willing to insure the car as is,
on the less desirable “19” form (which leaves you at higher risk for
devaluation of your appraised vehicles value) for what, at this point,
seemed like a reasonable amount - $661.00 for 6months, and I don't
have to remove the stickers. I say do it, here's my Mastercard number.
Bill Husar, Eastern VP and certifiable car nut, wanted
me to call him with a progress report so I did. He said he has his “fleet” insured
with The Co-operators, and that he has a contact he'll talk to re the
problems I am having. He called back, they could do nothing, but his
contact there referred him to a company where her son has his truck
insured. You may want to note this: A. McAfee & Associates
Insurance Brokers Ltd. Tel: 705 726 9941 - ask for Mary Lou Ryan.
They were more than happy to insure my vehicle for less
than half of what The Co-operators wanted, on the 19-A form and the
stickers stay on! They actually did better for my daily driver as well.
Needless to say nothing I own is insured with The Co-operators anymore.
…and the Lord said, “Let there be light”…
Jean-Pierre Matte - SVAO
…and generally speaking there was light, except
that is, for my ‘71 240. Oh sure, there was light everywhere else, but
the glow emanating from the Z's headlights, was more akin to a small
gathering of fireflies, than that of modern automotive lighting. You
could say that I had entered my own personal version of the “Dark Ages”.
That was back in 1985, and since then, many brave souls have tackled
the Z's electrical problem. At least 5 people have tried their hand at
sorting this out. None succeeded in resolving the problems that have
plagued my 240 for lo these many years . (this could be a case of
Japanese engineers copying British engineers – aka Lucas, Lord of Darkness! – Ed.)
My car had at least 3 previous owners. From what I can
gather, they had wide ranging aspirations, twisted ambitions or perhaps
they were misguided dreams. The owner I bought the car from, once boasted
of having 5 people, camping gear and beer in the Z. That little wilderness
expedition over backwoods paths would explain the floorboards being
pushed up several inches. Dieter did an excellent job hammering them
back into their proper position. My car had at least 3 previous colours,
but this and the floors and the mangled rear fenders, were things that
could easily be fixed or overlooked.
On a more troublesome level, was that some of these previous
owners had electrical ambitions way beyond their abilities. Look, I
will be the first to admit I don't have a clue about wiring and like
matters, but at least I am aware, that I don't have a clue. When I
need some type of electrical modification done, I will seek out someone
who appears to know what they are doing, more about that later. The
intrepid souls who owned my car, ventured bravely forth, wire strippers
and electrical tape in hand, and oh what a mess they made. Looking
at the carnage they left behind, it is hard to understand exactly what
they were trying to accomplish.
For certain, someone tried to augment the stock lighting
with some driving lights, some of the forensic studies of my wiring,
indicated as much. There was also evidence of some creative attempts
at hooking up a sound system in the car. The previous owner had installed
a $2,500 system in the car, back in the early Eighties, (remember them?)
that was something. At least the thieves thought so, ‘cause they broke
into the car twice trying to steal it. This resulted in me picking
out broken glass for years after purchasing the Z. Most of the work
that was done on the car's wiring, were “band aid” type solutions,
never really addressing the fundamental issues that caused the problems
in the first place. The lights were such, that there were no Low Beams
to speak of, the amber marker lights on most cars threw more light
than my Low Beams did. The only way to drive, was to have the High
Beams on all of the time. On “High” they were like a good set of Low
Beams, but not as good as your average High Beams.
Around 1987, I bought a Lucas Quartz Halogen Conversion Kit at Canadian
Tire, thinking this might help. It was no better than the original
Z's Sealed Beam units. In denial, I blamed Lucas, the “Prince of Darkness”,
and resigned myself to low grade lighting for many more years, after
yet another attempt to fix it had failed.
Back in 1994, in the early days of the club,
I was lucky enough to meet the person who would years later go on
to become my “Incandescent Saviour”. When I met Nigel White, I knew
he was studying some type of technological discipline. Much to my
delight in later years, I came to find that Nigel is an Electronics
Technologist, who can design circuit boards (good for when I develop
my cloaking device), and enjoys a good wiring challenge. Nigel has
been aware of the pathetic state my lighting was in, and had been
thinking about a resolution for quite some time. Early in May, Nigel
ran the stock wiring through some relays, bypassing the weak original
equipment set up. This would theoretically bypass many week points,
and resistance issues in the Headlight Switch, and all should be
It wasn't. Oh, there was a marginal improvement,
but not the degree expected. Nigel thought about it some more, and
near the end of May, had another shot at the wiring. Ultimately rewiring
everything from the headlights back to the wiring harness. He came
up with some classic stuff. In a span of 2 feet of wiring, there
were at least 4 splices. The connection to the wiring harness was
so corroded it looked like barnacles were growing on the male part
of the plug. The female end was equally bad. There were bare and
exposed wires, and connections hanging by a thread. Stephen King
has nothing on the horrors that I witnessed that day. Nigel cooly
declared war on the situation, shredding, cutting, stripping, soldering
wires, that afternoon. My life flashed before me several times, as
I saw the wiring being dismantled wire for wire, before my very eyes.
For my part, I did much of the grunt work, as this helped relieve
much of the tension created by seeing my car getting torn apart….yet
Only this time, it's different. It works now!
I have real headlights, just like a “normal” car. And it only took
19 or so years. If this is starting to sound like an advertisement
for Nigel White Electrical Contracting, you could certainly take
it that way. He works flexible hours, and his rates are extremely
affordable, and besides, many mechanics I have spoken to, admit to
not being fans of electrical work. You'd be doing them a favour.
And this is the sick part, Nigel actually enjoys electricals. There's
leverage if ever I saw it. Seriously, Nigel's a great guy with a
lot of talent, and as a charter member of the Brotherhood of the
Damned (he has his own impressive credentials), he is always eager
to help a fellow club member in trouble.
To everyone else out there who gave my wiring,
their best shot, I thank you as well. You all tried to help and I