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

Newsletter October 2001

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 Ray Spencer - Editor


Edited from the minutes prepared by Paul Denter

The SVAO board attending was Chris Whillans - Chairman, Keith Corby - Secretary Treasurer, Paul Denter, Ted Jeffery, Ross McDowell, and Ray Spencer.

Treasury Report as of March 31, 2001 was $4,408.47.

Membership (paid up) was 79 clubs, 47 individuals and 9 businesses.

The newsletter and web site were discussed. Our web site, on line since January 1999, has had over 2500 hits and 13 clubs have links. In addition we have government programs links. There are over a dozen SVAO newsletters at the site. The SVAO web site and all the effort in maintenance and upkeep has been provided by the greatly appreciated efforts of Stuart Cork.

Chris talked about the status of Drive Clean and the public consultation, Licensing, Safety Inspections and Year of Manufacture Plates. He also covered our recently established working relationship with the NAAACCC on matters that link with federal and provincial jurisdiction.

Our guest speakers were Andy Soutar of the MOT discussing Safty Inspections, Ed Gill of MOE discussing Drive Clean and a presentation by the Durham Electric Vehicle Association regarding R-12 refrigerants.

If I can arrange to get soft copy we will post the entire minutes package on the web site.

Bruce's Musings
Bruce Stewart - Director

Conservation Concerns
George Carlin has a new book on the market called "Napalm and Silly Putty". For those of you who are far too young, he's the comedian who based his career on the seven words that one is (was) not allowed to utter on television. He has a wicked sense of humour and its worth the effort to read (or watch) his stuff.

In dealing with the resources of the world he states that "Geologists claim that although the world is running out of oil, there is still a 200 year supply of brake fluid." It gives one pause for thought doesn't it! I wonder if, someday in the future, all those urban assault vehicles that the great unwashed covet can be converted to run on brake fluid. Probably make for an interesting environmental problem. (I think Bruce has something against SUV's - I don't know why - they can't even get down his street! - Ed)

In the paper the other day there was an item about a couple of kids killed while racing an Acura on the westbound lanes of Steeles Avenue. Back in the bad old days, when I was still going to school, it was the common feeling that it was a lot safer to do unlawful
things on the westbound lanes of Steeles than the eastbound lanes. The Toronto boundary, went the argument, ran up the middle of Steeles and Vaughn didn't have an adequate police presence to catch the "perps". I guess this is still the case.

For a few days there were letters to the editor complaining about racers and the accidents that they cause. This was even after the appearance in the paper, buried well away from view, of a statement by the police that there was no evidence that any racing took place and that all witnesses agreed that there was only one speeding car. The "car people" were still painted as being responsible for the "accident".

People, these kids racing the "rice burners" are viewed by the aforementioned great unwashed as being part of our community. When this kind of thing happens, it reflects on all of us; at least in the minds of a sizeable number of the citizenry. (Bruce doen't like imports either! - Ed)

Some time ago, the Canadian Street Rod Association was involved in a program with the Durham Region police to combat street racing but we have no idea what, if any, progress was made in this respect. We have not heard anything from the CSRA for months so if anyone knows of progress in this regard could you please pop an update to us at or to the post box address.

Among the letters was more than one call for mandatory safety inspections. We've talked about this a lot in the past. MTO officials have told us that the relatively small number of incidents attributable to faulty machinery does not justify a system like the MOT inspections in the UK. Incidents like this one, however, and the attendant publicity could,
conceivably, force the government in that direction. We have to be prepared for this eventuality.

We have been more or less constantly pushing for club safety inspections and hope that we are making progress. I want you folks to do two things for me, for SVAO and for our community.

First, please read, commit to memory and follow the inspection procedure that Al Neufeld devised and which is posted on our web site. Your life could depend on it.

And second, many have spoken about the fear of financial liability in the case of an accident following a safety inspection. Almost all clubs have lawyers as members and most of these people are willing to help the hobby. Ask them for suggestions of wording to limit the legal validity of the inspection to a period such that liability does not exist past the inspection itself.

There has to be a solution to this problem. Those of you who have followed Andy Soutar's comments at our AGM meetings and in newsletters will appreciate the need for our being proactive in this regard. If we don't do it the province may be forced into ordering us to have the vehicles inspected, no doubt, at a substantial cost per mile of use.

End of Sermon!

Editor's note - the photos provided on the safety inspections do not have anything directly to do with Bruce's Musings - they only fortify the fact that some clubs actually do them!

Pollution Credits
The papers are announcing that Hydro's quest for pollution credits is proceeding. This is a mistake. The concept started in California at the behest of ARCO (Atlantic Richfield) and Exxon and resulted in the crushing of a lot of good cars and trucks. The crushing is still going on there and we had hoped that our opposition to the previous pilot program in Ontario would make a difference. I guess it didn't work. If you know anyone at Queen's Park - even if you don't - let your MPP know that we are not amused!

Some kind soul recently forwarded a virus to me. (possibly drives an SUV or import! - Ed). I thought that the Email was from a friend and opened it. As a result all of my Email files etc. are gone. If you are waiting for an answer on something, I apologize, but the files got lost in the reformatting of the hard drive. Be careful when you receive Email.

Year of Manufacture Plates
The "How to" Process from MOT Web Site

The process of registering for Year of Manufacture licence plates is expected to take between two and three weeks. The registration criteria and process are as follows: - To be eligible for a Year of Manufacture plate, vehicles must be at least 30 years old, and remain substantially unchanged or unmodified from the manufacturer's original product. - To apply for Year of Manufacture plate registration, vehicle owners must send the historic plates (note - this should be the Year of Manufacture Plate - not to be confused with the Historic Plate --ed) and the vehicle's registration permit to the Ministry of Transportation by registered mail or courier. - MTO will authenticate the plates and send a letter of approval to the vehicle's owner. - The vehicle's owner may then bring the ministry's letter of approval to a local licence issuing office, and pay the permit fee of $10 and the annual validation fee, which is currently $74. - The plates will then be registered and can be attached to the vehicle. Year of Manufacture plates will entitle vintage vehicles to unrestricted use of the province's roads and highways throughout the year. They can also be transferred with a historic vehicle to its new owner. For more information visit

Drive Clean Kit Car Exemption
From the MOE Web Site

The minister announced that, effective January 1, 2002:
· Vehicle owners will have 12 months after a Drive Clean pass is issued to renew a vehicle's registration or change ownership, up from six months.
· The approximately 500 "kit" cars registered in the province will be exempt from Drive Clean testing.
In other improvements to the Drive Clean regulations, the Ministry of the Environment has:
· Empowered the director of the Drive Clean Office to suspend or decertify emissions inspectors and repair technicians who do not obey program rules.
· Clarified wording and definitions in Drive Clean regulations;
· Made it possible for light-duty diesel vehicles to be tested at heavy-duty diesel facilities;
· Included provisions to use vehicles' on-board diagnostics in the Drive Clean program;

The Drive Clean Office is also exploring partnerships with willing municipalities to implement annual testing for taxis.

In June, the minister announced that the Repair Cost Limit (RCL) would be a permanent part of the Drive Clean program, to assist vehicle owners who cannot afford to fully repair or replace vehicles with serious emissions problems. The RCL puts a maximum on the amount that must be spent on emissions-related repairs, in order for the vehicle to qualify for a conditional pass for registration renewal. The RCL is $200 for the first two years in each phase area of Drive Clean and then rises to $450.

For further information on Drive Clean, please contact the Drive Clean Call Centre at 1-888-758-2999 or visit More information on Ontario's clean air initiatives is available at

Kit Cars
So, it looks like the changes promised to us by Dan Newman when he was environment minister have come to pass. Now all of those kit cars out there are exempt from emission testing. But are they?

As I understand it, and I may be wrong, kit cars registered as kit have the "KIT" designation as part of their VIN on the ownership. If yours was not registered this way it may be worth a trip to your local license bureau, armed with the documents used for the original registration, to ensure that the vehicle is, indeed, indicated as a kit in MTO files.

If anyone out there has personal experience in this area could you please drop us a quick note to the web site and we'll get it into the next newsletter for the edification of the masses.

Vehicle Licensing
Bruce Stewart - SVAO


Currently, in the United Kingdom, any vehicle which is 25 years or older, is insured and has passed the UK Ministry Of Transport safety check is licensed at no cost to the owner. While desirable and possibly attainable in the long run, we feel that a similar program in Ontario is some time away.

There are, we have ascertained, approximately 9,000 Historical plates issued in Ontario. The rules governing the use of Historical plates are too restrictive for the average enthusiast, thus creating the potential for their abuse. The licensing laws should be strictly enforced and any abuse of Historic plates eliminated.

While mileage is reported at license renewal, we understand that this data is not stored in the MTO computer. This should be changed. In addition to the
obvious consumer benefit with respect to used cars, storing vehicle mileage could be helpful in tracking mileage of population segments and could form the basis for a specialty vehicle license plate policy. We were surprised that MTO does not use this data. Emissions tests for newer vehicles would be an ideal alternate source of this data.


The primary objective is to ensure that the collector car community is treated in an equitable manner vis a vis the rest of Ontario's motorists.

Historical Plates

The only material changes that we advocate for historic plates is that no charge should be made for license stickers. These cars are part of the Province's heritage and, if as we are advocating, the "Historical" regulations are strictly upheld these vehicles could not be used for regular transportation.

Usage constraints to remain almost as at present.

The vehicle must be a minimum of twenty-five years old rather than the present thirty years. This would bring Ontario in line with the international community.

The vehicle must be substantially unchanged or unmodified from the original manufacturer's specifications. This is the same as at present but should be amended to allow modifications made specifically to make the vehicle safer and/or environmentally more friendly.

The vehicle may be used on public highways for exhibitions, tours or similar functions organized by properly constituted automobile clubs and for parades. This is unchanged from the current regulations.

Regular Plates

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation should institute, for want of a better name, a "toy" sticker. Most specialty vehicles receive limited seasonal use. Licensing for part of a year was previously charged on a pro rata basis but this is no longer the case.

Research carried out by the SVAO indicates an annual average usage of approximately 800 miles. The cost per mile for licensing is far in excess of reasonable!

The Ministry of Transportation should institute a summer season sticker covering the period May to October for half of the annual fee.

"Specialty" or "Collector" Plates

The Specialty Vehicle Association of British Columbia was instrumental in the institution of a "Collector" plate in BC and over 10,000 vehicles were plated this way in 1996. We feel that the time has come for Ontario to follow this lead. The following restrictions are suggested for collector plates.

Annual stickers should cost 10% of that of a regular plate.

There should be no vehicle age restriction on the issuing of these plates.

The annual mileage of specialty or collector plated vehicles should be strictly regulated (say 8,000 kilometers 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 would be before a renewal sticker can be issued.

A specialty plated vehicle plate can not be for primary transportation.

A specialty or collector plated commercial vehicle can not carry a load for profit.

Year of Manufacture (YOM) Plates

Thanks to the efforts of the Model A Club, Ontario drivers of antique vehicles are now allowed to use an original Ontario license plate of the vehicle's year of manufacture (actually the model year of the vehicle). On the surface, this seems to address the concerns of those members of the community who were pressing for YOM plates. There are restrictions, however.

· YOM plates apply only to unmodified vehicles which would also qualify for Historical plates. The only advantages here are the aesthetics of the plate and the absence of usage restrictions.
· The license number sequence must be unique.
· The sticker for the YOM plate is the same cost as that of a regular license plate.


SVAO's initial concern was the institution of a collector plate, with the option of YOM plates in the future. As stated above, however, the Model A Club was successful in obtaining approval of YOM plates. While this development is of great interest to a part of our community, the majority, we feel, would be happier with some form of collector plate.

Historical Plates

No changes have been made. MTO officials were less than impressed with our advocacy of "free" stickers although precedents exist in the UK, as noted above, and in Canada and the US. We intend to keep this discussion going.

The most productive method of handling Historical plates would be to eliminate stickers altogether and issue a plate for the vehicle which would remain valid until ownership changed. This also has precedents in Australia, various European countries, the US and Canada.

Regular Plates

We lost this one in spades. Previously, plate renewals were on a pro rata basis for portions of the year. After ascertaining the proper procedures for changing renewal dates and publishing same, we were greeted with the news that any use of the plate during the year required the payment of the fee for the entire year.

"Specialty" or "Collector" Plates

A number of meetings have been held with MTO licensing policy personnel. While there has been relative consistency in MTO at the middle management level, there has been none at higher levels, creating a situation where those at the upper management levels are changed before we have the opportunity to present our case. These meetings were, to some extent, involved with nit picking our suggestions. The process led us to believe that we were making progress and made us a bit more hopeful than was probably warranted.

A number of arguments were presented to bolster our case.
· The precedent for a collector plate exists in BC and other North American jurisdictions.
· It would be less expensive for the average collector who, contrary to popular opinion, is not independently wealthy.
· It could be structured to require less work on the Ministry's behalf and reduce ministerial costs.
· It would provide a medium for tracking collector vehicles and would give them a bit higher profile in the community at large.
· It is a small price to pay for the maintenance of Ontario's heritage, particularly in view of the vast impact of the automotive industry on our economy.

We were informed that MTO would be willing to look with more favour on our requests if the other provinces and territories were interested in standardizing statutes and regulations across the country. Our proposal was
presented at the meeting of the Canadian Council of Motor Vehicle Administrators. The Director of the MTO Licencing and Policy office made a presentation on our behalf urging standardization of collector car licensing across the country. Our proposal was based on the best features of each of the provinces and states. To make a long story short, the other Canadian jurisdictions had no interest in our proposal.

MTO then proposed our use of a graphic plate (much the same that purchased by Maple Leaf and Blue Jay fans) and a regular price sticker. This was interesting but increased rather than decreased the operating costs of a collector vehicle.

We have made a counterproposal, suggesting that a graphic plate be used in conjunction with an historical sticker. This would add some cost up front but would result in long term savings.

This is where things currently stand and to coin an old phrase, the ball is in their court (and they are doing nothing with it). We are proceeding with further attempts to gain a collector plate.



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