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

Newsletter July 2003

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 Bruce Stewart at pstewart@interlog.com Ray Spencer - Editor

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 this issue.

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 of Transportation.

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!

Mea Culpa

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's Musings

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 was added.

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.

Contacts are:

Sean Henwood…..phone (519) - 826-6873……..email – shenwood@sympatico.ca

Lou Trottier……….phone (905) – 799-2234…….email – lou_trottier@rogers.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 lalimes@tc.gc.ca .

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.

Street Racing

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 helpful.

Eco-Police

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?

Harassment

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 change things.

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. With the

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

Insurance Woes

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 changed dramatically.

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 president himself.

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 fine.

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 again.

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 appreciate it.

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