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The Scene Down Under - (In Victoria, Australia)
The following is a brief discussion about the scene in Victoria and the likely future of the Morris Minor.
In Victoria, a Certificate of Roadworthiness is required when a vehicle is sold, re-registered or has been issued with a Vehicle Defect or Un-roadworthiness Notice. A Certificate of Roadworthiness can only be issued by a Licensed Vehicle Tester after it has passed a roadworthiness inspection. The inspection is basically a safety check of the vehicle to ensure that any safety related components have not worn or deteriorated to the extent that the vehicle is unsafe for normal road use. It should be noted that it is not a check on the mechanical reliability or general condition of the vehicle. VicRoads (www.vicroads.vic.gov.au) is the government authority with the responsibility for supervising Roadworthiness requirements.Pressure is being brought on the government by the automotive industry to introduce compulsory annual Roadworthiness testing. The argument for compulsory testing is to remove old polluting and un-roadworthy cars from the roads.
MODIFICATIONS - LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
The law in Victoria requires that vehicles intended for use on a highway must not be modified except with the approval of, or in accordance with, guidelines issued by VicRoads. In many cases the guidelines require the modifications to be inspected by VicRoads or to be the subject of an Engineer's Report.
An Engineer's Report is a technical assessment report issued by an appropriately qualified engineer to certify that the modified vehicle has been inspected and that all modifications have been carried out and completed in accordance with recognised standards and codes of practice and that the vehicle in its modified form continues to comply with the Standards of Registration. A list of approved engineers is available from VicRoads.
Modifications that require an Engineer's Report include components of axles, suspension and steering modified by heating or welding, body-chassis structural alterations, non-standard engines, modification to brakes such as conversion from drum to disc brakes.
An Engineer's Report can range from $AUD700 to $AUD2000 and may require welded joints to be x-rayed. The law does ensure that modified vehicles are safe to drive on roads. However, the requirements can make the task of modifying a Morris Minor very difficult and expensive. It is also a deterrent to many owners thinking of modifying their Morry - it being easier and cheaper to buy a more powerful and modern car. I guess the bottom line is that more people would own modified Morris Minors if this law did not exist!
The Morris Minor Car Club of Victoria has noticed a change of membership over recent years. Fewer young people are joining or staying in the Club while older people are starting to predominate. The days of young people buying a cheap Morry for transport seems to have gone. A significant number of cars are being scrapped. In addition, there appears to be fewer members using their Morry for every day transport.
The interest of members appears to be moving to restoring cars for use on Club events. The cars in demand are the rarer models; convertibles, woodies and utes.
The car is now more likely to be owned by the serious collector and restorer.
Most parts down under are easily obtained. However, panel parts such as mudguards, doors, bonnets and boot lids are becoming scarce (both new and good second hand parts). The major supplier of parts in Melbourne has noticed a downturn in demand and is branching into other models of cars to keep his business viable.
Looking into the crystal ball we see . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ?
- The Morry becoming a Classic collectors car that is used only on special occasions.
- Some spare parts becoming difficult to obtain.
- A general decline in the number Members of Veteran, Vintage & Classic Car Clubs as the younger Generations seem to lack the interest in, and practical skills to maintain these marvelous vehicles.