Wednesday, 25 May 2011

People depress me.

Yesterday I got around to looking at the recent government red tape site.

Yes I know it’s probably a waste of time, just a rerun of the previous ignored attempt to divert people’s ire at the system, but I looked anyhow. This month it is about aspects of road transport, something that affects me as I run a couple of classic cars. Maybe someone will read it and take notice, you never know?

When the road tax concession for historic cars was introduced it was set at 25 years old. One of Gordo Browns first vindictive acts as chancellor was to stop the clock, so now only pre 1972 cars get any concession. This has resulted in a whole era of cars from the 70s almost disappearing because ordinary hobby enthusiasts get no inducement to renovate and preserve them. Indeed they are more expensive to tax than many modern cars. The 70s was hardly a high point for English engineering, encompassing such unloved marvels as the BL Allegro (with built in nanny and square steering wheel), the Maxi etc, but even iconic cars like the coke bottle Escorts and Cortinas, Sweeny type Granada and early Saab99 have all but vanished, so it would be sensible if people could be encouraged to preserve them.

Then there are MOTs. Notwithstanding that there are some potentially dangerous high performance old vehicles most are not. Old girls like mine struggle to breach 50mph and cover a few hundred (or fewer) local miles each summer yet have the same MOT regime as a high mileage car in daily use. We even have to pay for overheads and costs of sophisticated equipment (like emissions testing) that are inapplicable to an old car. A simple test of structure, brakes and steering is all these old cars were designed for.

Next we have SORN and now continuous insurance regulations. These are simply a nightmare. My classic car insurance is conditional on having an ordinary ‘daily car’ and the classic is restricted in mileage and to non commercial non commuting use.  With just two classic cars, generally only one in use at a time, and neither on the road for more than a few summer months each year, I am forever getting MOTs, SORNing one, claiming free road tax on the other. I really can’t see any young uninsured scrote choosing to drive round the estate and do wheelies in a 50 year old Morris Minor, they would be in for serious disappointment! In any case all vehicle details, tax status, MOT dates, are on a database and checked by omnipresent cameras so what’s the point of these regulations other than as a stick to beat up ordinary people? My guess is that they will soon start charging an ‘administration fee’ for making a SORN declaration, the ultimate aim being continuous taxation of car ownership.

The depressing stuff is because so many of the site commentators don’t want to remove red tape at all but on a site asking for reduction ideas they are arguing for more of the damn stuff! There are almost howls of protest that the government should even consider lessening the MOT rules on ordinary cars. Suggesting an MOT after 4 years instead of 3 and a two year MOT period is tantamount to suggesting the end of the world to these imbeciles. They seem to think that every vehicle becomes a death trap 366 days after the MOT or when 3 years one day old. Classic owners tend to recognise reality, every vehicle is a potential death trap from day 1 unless looked after properly. The MOT is a useful reminder to look underneath at things hidden so even I wouldn’t want to abolish it completely, even for very low mileage classics, but needing one every 200 miles is ridiculous when a classics is essentially under permanent ongoing maintenance.

Not content with the current 3 year old then every year MOT cycle some of the commentators actually want to tighten it. Suggesting a regularly stamped service book should be mandatory for a pass and that dealers could do the annual service and MOT together.  Perfectly fine if you have a newish car and the anniversaries line up and you are incapable of wielding a spanner yourself, but such people clearly have no idea whatsoever of the real world. My service manuals ran out in about 1970 and annual servicing is a meaningless exercise on a 50 year old car, indeed they were 6 monthly because in those days winter oil and summer oil were different viscosity. And you were advised to change to or from winter tyres at the same time, something we could usefully relearn perhaps?

But where do these idiots come from, who live in a tiny bubble of reality and long for more authority and more rules to command their lives? Do we breed them nowadays or is this the result of a decade of nanny state and authoritarian brainwashing? It’s depressing wherever they come from!

1 comment:

  1. Nice thoughtful post Woodsy. It is to the credit of those like you that we can marvel at some of the iconic cars we have produced.

    Only the other week I came across an old Triumph (forget the model but it was their answer to the Rover 2000) which the chap had had from new - not a mark on it and all 'home maintained'!