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

Newsletter  November 1999

 Table of Contents
Annual General Meeting - APRIL 17, 1999:
Membership Report, by Keith Corby
Treasurer's Report, by Keith Corby

Guest Speakers

Historical and Specialty Vehicle Licensing Update ,
by Ray Spencer
Historic Licence Plates, by Ted Jeffery
The High Cost of Intolerance, by Jean-Pierre Matte

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The SVAO Chairman, Chris Whillans welcomed everyone to this our forth annual AGM. Chris outlined the history of the group. A number of members of local car clubs were concerned that, despite government assurances to the contrary, there may be some type of "clunker" or other mandated emission control program for automobiles that could seriously restrict the use and enjoyment of historic and collector vehicles that may come to Ontario. In order to meet this potential threat in a pro-active manner the SVAO was created, with a mandate to work at the Provincial and Municipal level to inform and educate all concerned. To date our dealings with the government have, at times, been slow and frustrating, but we were instrumental in obtaining an exemption from emission testing for vehicles 20 years and older. As for the future, we are continuing to work on licensing issues and, we believe we need to be a watchdog, as the regulations concerning testing exemptions could readily be altered, should the Government choose.

Chris invited anyone that has an interest in helping out, to come out to an executive meeting. If anyone is interested in attending, give one of us a call, and we'll let you know the date and time of the next one, typically they are the third Wednesday of each month at Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club (Lakeshore Blvd. at the base of Coxwell Ave., Beaches area of Toronto). Our telephone numbers are published in every newsletter.

Membership Report, by Keith Corby

As of April 16, 1999 we have 100 Clubs, 86 Individuals, and 9 Businesses. This translates into a representation of 5,000 - 6,000 people province wide.

Treasurer's Report, by Keith Corby

FINANCIAL STATEMENT - 4/1/98 - 3/31/99

 ASSETS - 4/198 - 3/31/99


 Opening Balance April 1/98


 Renewals '98


 Renewals '99


 New Memberships




 Total Assets


 EXPENSES - 4/1/98 - 3/31/99 
 Mailbox Rental

 $ 128.40





 Telephone Line








 Total Expenses


 Balance as of 3/31/99



Bruce Stewart spoke about the progress of the Province's "Drive Clean" program. We are continuing to work with the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MOEE) regarding ongoing concerns. We have asked for a presence on the governing that will oversee complaints, etc. with the operation of the Drive Clean program, as we feel that it is important for "grass roots" representation, but so far we have not had any answer. Anyone that has difficulties with the program should call the MOEE to report the details of their problem


Ted Jefferies spoke about our ongoing discussions with the Vehicle Licensing Branch, both sides expressing concern over the misuse of Historic plates and the difficulty in ending this abuse. We feel that it would be in our best interests to try to police ourselves as much as practical. Discussion is continuing about the creation of a new category (in addition to Historic plates) that we have called "Specialty" plate that would not be as restrictive as the Historic, but not as expensive as a regular registration. Progress is being made although at an extremely slow pace. Some members have asked about the possibility of "Year of Manufacture" plates. So far this is not possible with the computer system that they are using for vehicle registrations, although something may be feasible in the next millennium.


Mike Colenko of the CSRA
Street Rodding and Safety

Mike described how far this side of the hobby has come in the years since its inception.
Back then, people would do their modifications, usually a much more powerful engine and do whatever else was necessary to get running and on the road, with safety usually taking the back seat, and sometimes it was way back there, if you know what I mean. Safety wasn't nearly as big a consideration as it
is now. For the last 30 years the CSRA has been an independent, self policing group of enthusiasts that now is over 2,000 strong across Canada. They provide safety inspections for their membership and, in fact, you cannot compete for an award at a CSRA event unless your vehicle has passed a recent CSRA safety inspection. Even for those individuals with the skills to build a car it doesn't hurt for someone else to have a look to make sure that there hasn't been anything missed.

Over the years the inspectors have, on occasion, found some scary things with the cars, from cracked frames, loose Pitman arms, incorrectly fitted fuel lines and leaks, etc., and owners have been grateful that these problems have been caught before any incident occurred. That said, owners are now looking for cars that are safe, comfortable, as well as FAST. These days most cars are built to a very high standard and pass the inspection without any problem.

Andy Soutar - re Safety
Ministry of Transportation

Andy has considerable experience with cars and other vehicles. He has worked as a mechanic, done safety checks for the MTO, and is a car enthusiast himself and now works with the enforcement branch.

From time to time there have been rumours of some kind of mandatory safety inspections for light duty trucks and cars reaching our ears here at the SVAO, so Andy spoke about this issue. Andy does not believe that any such program is under consideration at any level of the Government, and since he is attached to the enforcement branch, he is in a good
position to know. At the present time 20% of the vehicles in Ontario are inspected each year due to the current regulations requiring a Safety Certificate when a vehicle is licensed to a new owner. Heavy duty and commercial vehicles are required to have an annual safety inspection. Some changes occurring now will require that any vehicle repaired and re-licensed for the road after being written off will have a permanent "brand" on it, so that an unsuspecting buyer will be aware of the vehicle's history. Such vehicles will need more extensive certification done so that it can be assured that they do not have structural defects that would impair their safe operation. The only exemption to this is vehicles over thirty years do not receive the rebuilt "brand" attached to them.

The best thing for us in the hobby is to continue to be pro-active about the safety of our cars and do club inspections. If this is not practical, and if you have any doubts whatsoever about your vehicle's integrity, have inspected by a professional mechanic that is familiar with your vehicle.

Peter Campbell - re: Drive Clean
Ministry of Environment and Energy

Peter recently joined the MOEE as a replacement in Environment for Mike Young who has left the Ministry to pursue other interests.

Peter provided us with the history and an update of the Drive Clean program. This is, as we all know, a mandatory Inspection and Maintenance program that started in the GTA and Hamilton-Wentworth areas and will spread to other urban areas of the Province. The exception is heavy duty vehicles (over 4,500 kgs) which will be tested irrespective of where they reside. All gasoline/propane/natural gas vehicles will be dyno tested, on equipment approved by the Government, at an accredited Drive Clean Facility. Vehicles will be tested according to the standards for the vehicle's particular model year and drive train, plus a reasonable allowance for wear and tear. These standards are set in advance and the operator cannot alter them. Each facility is audited and any that have an unusual pass/fail rate will be investigated.

For heavy diesel vehicles there is a special test called "Snap Acceleration Opacity Test" SAE J1667.

Technicians and Sales staff will first have to successfully complete an approved training program.

Your vehicle will have to pass a pre-test. To prevent damage the dynamometer or an unsafe condition for the technician, all emission control equipment must be there, tires and suspension components must be in a safe condition and there can be no serious fluid leaks.

From the "scuttlebutt "that I have heard the pre-test seems to be the most controversial. This seems to present the best opportunity for an unscrupulous operator to rip off the customer. This is because there are no hard and fast standards for the pre-test. It is the opinion of each technician just how serious an oil leak needs to be before it needs repairing. Should you feel the shop is being too strict on the pre-test then take it to another one. There should be no charge to you for the pre-test.
If your vehicle fails, you will need to get repairs and have it re-tested. Cost of the retest, if done at the same facility, is $15. Of the $30, $10 goes to the program administration at the Environment Ministry.

A rolling 20 year exemption applies for specialty vehicles, and for modified or hand built vehicles the model year of the car is used. If you have a donor vehicle that is over the 20 year mark you are fine, even if you're running a really tricked out late model engine (that would likely be illegal in a late model car). If you don't fall into these categories, you may have a tough time. For instance, a certain popular hand built (supplied in kit form) sports car has an engine supplied with it that has a date in the 1990's attached to it, even though it is likely that these were manufactured in the 60's and 70's. These car owners have had trouble getting their cars licensed. The solution in this case has been to use an engine serial number to come up with a likely build date earlier than 1980 and use that. If you are in this situation and are having troubles call me and we'll try to help you through it.

If you need to contact Drive Clean for any reason, 1-888-758-2999, or, if you're on the web, you can contact them at

Chris thanked everyone for taking time out to attend our AGM this year, and thanked our guest speakers, Mike Colenko from the CSRA, Andy Soutar from the MTO and Peter Campbell from the MOEE.

A special thank you once again to FORD MOTOR COMPANY of CANADA for the use of their fine meeting room. to table of contents

Historical and Specialty Vehicle Licensing Update
Ray Spencer - SVAO

In mid October Gabriel Sekaly, Director - Licensing and Control Branch - Operations, took our Historical and Specialty Vehicle Licensing proposal to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators D & V Meeting. We will be providing a further update in our next issue on the results of that meeting.

Our specific reason for this was to table a proposal to create a new licence category for "specialty" or "collector" vehicles which do not fit into the "historic" category.

Following is a summary of our proposal and supporting rationales:

1 Harmonize historic vehicle standards nationally to create a uniform minimum vehicle age and standardize specifications.

2 Waive historical vehicle fees nationally as they are part of our heritage, not used for primary transportation or used commercially, and are often displayed in heritage shows and cultural events.

3 Establish collector/specialty vehicle standards to distinguish between historic vehicles and vehicles which do not fit the historic definition but are still unique. This would provide uniform standards for an alternative licensing program and maintain the integrity of the historic plate programs, and would clearly define what constitutes a collector or specialty vehicle excluding age as a criterion.

4 Specify limits of use for collector/specialty vehicles to differentiate between historic, collector and regular plated vehicles. This would set limits for use to a maximum annual mileage (eg. 8,000km). Penalty for exceeding maximum mileage would be full validation the next year, and there would be a a prohibition against primary transportation or commercial use.

5 Establish lower collector/specialty vehicle fees (eg, 10% of full validation) as collector/specialty vehicles are also part of our national heritage, not used for primary transportation or commercial use and may be part of a larger collection.

6 Establish provincially a format of collector/specialty licence plates possibly using the graphic plates or a separate plate.

7 Issue "year of manufacture" plates for historic or collector vehicles. Currently computer systems and issuing offices may not support re-issuance of already existing licence plate series and there may be some possible enforcement issues.

Historic Licence Plates
Ted Jeffery - SVAO

Since my last report on licence plates I have been keeping a record of Historical Plates being used improperly. I have acquired quite a long list from my few car shows and cruises.

For those not sure of the use of Historical Plates, let me explain. Back in the early sixties, the historic and Antique car clubs were able to convince the Provincial Government to produce the special plates for cars that were RESTORED TO ORIGINAL as they would have come from the original manufacturers. This was a big break for the car hobby.

This meant lower cost for plate renewal as it was noted these cars were usually winter stored and not driven too many miles during the summer months.

During the past three to five years the Historical Plate has been badly abused. Too many owners of cars with a restored antique body or even a fibreglass replica body and a souped up engine and/or modern drive train have been taking advantage of these plates because of the lower cost.

It has been rumored that the MTO has also noticed the misuse of the Historical Plates. They are looking into ways to police this problem and fine those who continue to misuse these plates.

The SVAO has been working with the MTO to obtain collector plates or stickers for the other car hobbyists. It will make our negotiating difficult to obtain such lower cost stickers or plates while this abuse continues. We in the SVAO can use your help in convincing those you see using Historical Plates illegally to use what is proper for their special vehicle.

The computer age will eventually catch up with all of us in time so why not beat them to solving the problem ourselves? Remember the SVAO cannot help you without you helping us having things work properly and legally. to table of contents

The High Cost of Intolerance
Jean-Pierre Matte - SVAO

The pursuit of enjoyment of life through automobiles has been a part of the North American culture since the arrival of the first vehicle. There's little point going into the evolution of the automobile as most of us know how we got here. We enjoy them in a variety of ways….. ways that are dictated by a sense of individuality that can ultimately lead to some very interesting creations.

Regardless of how our cars end up or what we do to them, one thing can be said with certainty…. the people that own these machines are automobile enthusiasts. We, in very different ways, and for very different reasons, love our cars.

People's approach to their automotive hobby is as different as the many places and cultures from which we come. Individuals of all ages and genders pursue the enjoyment of their cars. It is something many of us do, a true freedom of expression, something that feels of more and more importance in this ever changing world of massive corporate mergers and cookie cutter production. It is in the interests of monolithic insurance companies and revenue hungry governments to promote and pursue a faceless society as it is more cost efficient and much easier to run. For many of us our automobile is one of the few remaining avenues by which we can express ourselves as individuals in an increasingly drab day to day existence.

You have probably noted a bit of an Orwellian theme developing here, and maybe you are wondering why. Well, while it's nice to think of ourselves as rugged and noble individuals in the face of an oppressive, institutional or governmental foe, members of and increasingly bland society. There is unfortunately an ugly undercurrent that flows in our hobby. This is an attitude that threatens all of us. Some may find this somewhat surprising, since we all seem to have so
much in common, being that we are all car enthusiasts.

Sadly, as is so often the case with the human race, we in effect become our own worst enemies. Instead of focusing our energies and confronting the forces and interests that actively seek to curtail, restrict, and sometimes even legislate us into non-existence, we instead bicker amongst ourselves. We point fingers at factions within our hobby, at those who are different and not like our self-righteous selves. Some within the hobby have come to the conclusion that their own type of expression is worthier than what others are pursuing.

Every generation of car hobbyist has often endured the prejudices of the previous generation, as if something that is new is not as worthy. Remember that what is new will be old, and that all that is old was once new. As with any hobby, be it guns, boats, airplanes, music, etc., people pursue them at different levels of intensity. Invariably some will step beyond the bounds of common sense or even the law. This has always been the case, but do consider that individuals act of their own accord and do not represent all who look or sound like them. We all started in this hobby at different times and for different reasons. It is not as if it we are like royalty... something you were born into. No one group is more right than any other. We are all different, yet in many ways (and some may have a problem with this) we are all very much alike.

To sum it up, let's not lose sight of the big picture that threatens all of us. Hard fought for legislation, of favour to many of us, can be changed on a whim. On an individual level, let's try to act responsibly. Think before doing something that
could be somewhat unsafe or be seen in a poor light. Let's put our differences aside and get along. By doing this, we can band together, even if only for our own selfish interests, and fight the good fight to preserve our hobby. I know that's what I intend doing.

Maybe you're still not convinced this recent crop of auto enthusiasts in their much newer vehicles are anything like you. Consider the chicken scene in "Rebel Without a Cause", "The Wild Ones" which tarred motorcyclists for decades, the Beachboys singing about their fine 409's, Little Deuce Coupe's and GTO's. What about George Lucas' 1970's era classic, American Graffiti, where Harrison Ford rolls over a '55 Chevy while street racing in the 60s? Where were you in '62 and what were you up to? What about Woodward Avenue in Detroit, where the Big 3 auto makers would roll out the heavy iron under cover of darkness, to do some "street testing"? None of what's happening now is new. Nothing in life is without risk or danger. Always with the good comes the bad. Like them or not, those are the rules on planet Earth. You cannot legislate peace and harmony into existence. Rock 'n Roll, vehicular carnage and horsepower have been with us from the beginning. And you know what? They will continue in some form, until vehicles of all types are banned. And even then….

 SVAO MEMBERSHIP - 1998-1999

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