Letters Issue 12

Dear SM,
I have a couple of question to ask. I have good Tudor body, which I want to make into a rat rod style but well-made hot rod. First, with these new laws coming in on original parts I’m concerned should I even start? I’m not an engineer so will have to pay someone to build it.
What is your view on this? How are other guys going to get their odd parts cars through an MoT? The only way I see is to get a very professional rod building company to build it and to get it passed as roadworthy, but this could cost a fortune. What is the future for our hobby?
Dave Bell, via email

Hi David,
As far as these new laws/regulations go, it’s difficult to say because it seems nobody 100% understands them; least of all the people who made the laws in the first place! As far as I can tell, if you have a pre-1978 car, after the middle of May, when you come to tax the car online, you will be asked “Is the vehicle modified (“substantially altered”)?” If you tick no, your car is MoT and tax exempt. If you tick yes, you will still have to take your car for an MoT. That’s all.

Everything else concerns vehicle identity, which may only become an issue if your vehicle is called in for IVA, which, being a “new build,” is possible. That all boils down to the Construction & Use 8-point rule – Google it if you’re not familiar. I can sorta see the DVLA’s point of view on this one – if you’ve built a 1932 Ford, though not one single part of that car was made by Ford in 1932, then it ain’t gonna be registered as a ’32 Ford. It used to be common that people would buy a scrap car, say a Ford 100E, and register their rod using the 100E’s log book and VIN plate. Yes, it’s a victimless crime (nobody buys a ’32 roadster and then says “Hang on, this isn’t a Ford Prefect, I’ve been duped!”), but from the DVLA/VOSA’s point of view, what the builder has done is, essentially, ringing.

I’d say that the best bet for your Tudor body would be to base the build on one donor vehicle chassis. Common separate-chassis donors include Reliant Scimitars, Triumph Spitfire/Herald (rather puny backbone chassis, not really rod material), various London taxis, many pre-2000 Americans, pick-ups such as Mazda B2000s and even some Land Rovers, though your best bet may be a kit car chassis (as long as it’s already been registered). Pick one that most closely suits your body and alter the body to suit the chassis, not vice versa – the 8-point rule should then allow you to keep the chassis’ VIN and be registered as a body swap.

As for the future, nothing’s going to get any easier, but if we wanted easy we’d go out and buy a nice, new Volkswagen. As always, we’ll find ways of adapting. Best of luck with your build!

Dear SM,
You asked who is doing something interesting with a CF? (What’s Old, April issue) Well, my CF just had its first outing to the Practical Classics and Restoration show at the NEC. The van is seven years in the making and the interior is not done yet. I must say I had a lot of interest at the show, and even the Stig and Mike Brewster approved.
Pieter Smit, via email