I am writing this in the aftermath of the New Year celebrations from the delightful island of Madeira, quite a remote yet accessible small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I come here each year to escape the snow, ice and salty roads of the English winter. I say this not to inspire your envy but as an illustration of the universality of our hobby. Evidence of the passion for historic vehicles is everywhere here.
In Funchal, the capital and a popular stop off for giant cruise liners, there are regular sightings of British sports cars. MGs, Triumphs and Jaguars seem to thrive in the all year round warmth. And the rain, which is sufficient to make the flora extremely lush and magically colourful, conveniently comes predominantly at night. Yesterday's spot was a beautiful Silver Cloud, like most of the cars on the island, extremely well preserved and not over restored.
American cars of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s also seem to abound, but other vehicles are in evidence. One of the tourist buses seen around town is a 1950s Fiat and on display in the gardens adjacent to the Governor General’s residence is a delightfully patinated steam road roller built in Leeds and appropriately bleached in the sun.
Each year in May there is a two day festival celebrating these beautiful vehicles. There is a regularity rally on the almost alpine island roads culminating in a major display of all the islands historic vehicles which lines the roads of Funchal for everyone to admire.
I’m sure there all sort of gems for me still to discover, I know of at least two private collections, one in the basement bar of a Funchal hotel which also houses the biggest collection of model Ferraris I have ever seen and another near the championship golf course in the hills, but that will have to wait for another year. Next stop, airport and the prospect of frozen windscreens and salty roads back home.
It is good to be able to start off the New Year with a bit of good news. As Ian sets out in his following piece, we had a really excellent meeting with DVLA staff, including not only several of Paul Johnson’s registration team but also the senior DVLA representatives who had attended the meeting between Sir Greg Knight, the chairman of the APPHVG, and John Hayes, Minister of State at the DfT, which I mentioned in the last edition for 2016.
It was good to note that their understandings of the meeting corresponded pretty closely with mine, in that we all recognised that, while DVLA has a duty to ensure all registration matters are dealt with properly and correctly, they do wish to assist in the preservation of our motoring heritage, and have no wish to make unnecessary difficulties.
We really do look forward to a good and collaborative working relationship with DVLA in the coming period. I wish to deal here with two of the points which have in the recent past caused our members most concern.
Originality of Bodies
As you are all aware we have had a great concern, shared not just by individual applicants for V765 and age related registrations, but also by a number of people who have over many years traded in the production of representative bodies for some vehicles, where a vehicle was clearly identifiable from its chassis but the existing body was not worthy of restoration, that DVLA would not consider itself able to permit the granting of a registration to such a vehicle, no matter how good the restoration. We have as you know debated the matter extensively with DVLA, and we know that concerns were being expressed that the Federation was making no useful progress on the matter. But these things take time and this is where we now are.
We have reached an understanding with DVLA on how the treatment of replacement bodies on chassis will be dealt with through their different schemes. DVLA accept that original bodies may properly be replaced, not least because bodies deteriorate and may need replacing over time.
For vehicles applying under the V765 Scheme for the recovery of an original registration number, the applicant or supporting club should set out clearly the nature of the replacement body fitted, especially if the style is different to that quoted on a supporting original log book, which of course must always be supplied if available, as it is DVLA’s preferred primary evidence of the identity of the vehicle. The application should demonstrate that the replacement body is one that could have been placed on it from the outset or is of a style which historically has become associated with the marque.
A supporting club should also provide similar information for applications for an age related registration number, supported by dating evidence/certificate.
If this is done, DVLA should normally give favourable consideration to the application.
It follows from this that vehicles which, by reason of the completeness of their original rolling chassis components, appear entitled to apply for an age related plate should not be submitted as reconstructed classics.
The reconstructed classic category is confined to vehicles created from a collection of parts which did not originally belong to one vehicle. Reconstructed classics will continue to be subject to strict rules in which the body cannot be new but must be contemporary with the other components which have been used to create the vehicle.
We will be continuing to liaise regularly with DVLA on this matter and if any applicant considers that an application, whether for a re-registration under V765 or a dating certificate supported registration, has been rejected, despite appearing to the applicant to comply with these rules, then they should approach us and we should be able either to explain the situation or discuss it with DVLA.
It must be recognised that all these applications are based on evidence provided and information already held at DVLA. A rejection certainly does not imply a lack of care by DVLA and it will sometimes be the case that an application might need to be subject to careful review or further information.
We will be working with DVLA to develop a valid glossary of terms used to identify bodies which we will share with you when available.
Accurate V5Cs and the Vehicle Enquiry System (VES)
We have reported at length on this issue over the months. I recognise that, seen from outside, it might have appeared as if DVLA was wilfully deciding not to correct inaccurate descriptions of vehicles in their database, and thus on the Form V5C, usually by running the ‘Make’ and ‘Model’ information together in the ‘Make’ box. But it has never seemed likely to those of us dealing with the matter that DVLA staff were simply being difficult. Following our meeting in Swansea, I am satisfied that we really do understand the current position and it is also clear that DVLA understand our problem.
The default position for entries onto the DVLA database is dependent upon manufacturers’ codes which DVLA does not itself create. A code is supplied, indirectly, in respect of each new model of vehicle. This code automatically populates the fields of the database which appear as boxes D1 and D2 on the V5C. They may well populate other fields as well. It would be logical that they did.
As we all know, there are vehicles without codes, (mainly historic, but there might be others). In respect of these, it is possible for a DVLA officer to identify the vehicle by manually completing Box D1 only.
Normal practice is that, if a vehicle keeper applies for an entry on the register, and on the Form V/55/5 shows both a Make and Model, that information can only be entered into the same field, which shows as Box D1.
While this has been annoying for those seeking historical accuracy in their registration details, it did not matter for the purpose of the registration system while the database was essentially for the use of DVLA and such bodies as the police. However, with the introduction of the VES it now affects the operation of the service, as you cannot search for a vehicle affected by this problem unless you know exactly what appears in Box D1 of the Form V5C, as that records exactly what is in the database. Not everyone with a proper need to search for the vehicle details on the VES will have access to the V5C.
While it is generally agreed between us and DVLA that it would be best if the Model could be entered separately the current system architecture simply does not permit manual entry into Box D2. And as DVLA are in the course of updating their system software and hardware, it is not currently possible for them to request system alterations. They are however giving serious consideration to including an ability to make a manual entry into Box D2 as part of the requirements for the system when it is ‘re-platformed’.
In the short term this is bad news for those of us who have a vehicle with no manufacturer’s code but would like the vehicle Make and Model details to be accurately shown for simple reasons of historical accuracy. I am afraid this is simply not currently possible.
Obviously, if it is in some cases not possible to complete Box D2, the operation of the DVLA database does not require an entry in Box D2. Indeed I myself have two cars in respect of which V5C Box D2 in their V5C is blank. We have the assurance from DVLA that, if any keeper wishes to ensure that their vehicle will be searchable on the VES, and it currently is not because Box D1 shows both Make and Model combined, it will be possible to apply to have the database, and thus the V5C, amended to show only the Make, in Box D1, leaving Box D2 empty.
There is no compulsion on anyone to take this course of action, but it is available.
I would also recommend that people making new applications for registrations, particularly in respect of older overseas vehicles, which are likely not to have relevant codes, do not complete the Model portion of the V55/5, though I would recommend that if you choose to do this you explain in writing what you have done, to avoid the application simply being rejected for incompleteness.
If I hear of any progress on the inclusion of the ability to have manual input into Box D2 I will let you know.
I set out in the last Newsletter in some detail how the Federation had responded to the Consultations on Roadworthiness Testing from the Department for Transport (DfT)
We have as yet no indication of what conclusions DfT has drawn from the responses to its consultation. So we do not know if the DfT will proceed with its preferred option, a right to exemption from MoT testing for ‘Vehicles of Historic Interest’ over 40 years old. As we explained, we were concerned that the proposal, and particularly the proposed use of the existing ‘8 point rule’ to decide upon what constituted such a vehicle, were not fully thought out, that the proposed distinction was difficult to make and indeed that the 8 point rule was not really suitable for the assessment of vehicles which had not been disassembled, as most would not have been. On the assumption that DfT will probably proceed with providing the right to exemption as they intended however, we have written to DfT directly asking that they discuss the issues with us before they are implemented. We will be seeking the support of the APPHVG in getting such a dialogue under way.
Low Emissions Zones
We are aware that members are constantly concerned that the roll-out of Low Emission Zones, currently being rebranded by the Department of the Environment Farming and the Regions (DEFRA) as Clean Air Zones, as they affect more than the emissions from vehicles, will cause constraints on the use of their historic vehicles. The signs remain good that our special position as the protectors of heritage is recognised in government, of whichever political stripe. There have been two recent developments, both of these good.
The first is that in its move to bring forward the implementation of the proposed Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London and to extend its boundaries, initiated by the current Mayor, Transport for London (TfL) has nevertheless been clear that vehicles in the historic registration class remain exempt. There was concern that in the interim measure, to introduce an ‘Old Vehicle Surcharge’ into the existing London Congestion Charge until the ULEZ is in place, historic vehicles were not to be excluded. This was not truly illogical as historic vehicles have of course always been liable to pay the London Congestion Charge itself. However, following their initial consultation, TfL recognised the inconsistency with ULEZ policy and their current proposals, set out in the implementing legislation, do introduce an exclusion from liability for the surcharge.
The Federation, in response to a second consultation from TfL setting out these proposals, has asked that a method be found of extending the exemption to vehicles from overseas, particularly as we are aware that schemes in several neighbouring countries do offer such an exemption to visiting historic vehicles.
Interestingly, their logic is that these charges are an economic encouragement for people to change their non-compliant vehicles, and that this does not apply to vehicles deliberately preserved for the purposes of historic heritage.
That same argument to justify the exemption of historic vehicles has been produced in the consultation which DEFRA and DfT together issued in October to cover future Clean Air Zones, the first of which are slated to occur in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton. The proposals provide a common consistent framework for local authorities to follow in setting up these Zones and make clear that departures from the framework would need to be approved centrally.
The Federation responded positively to this consultation, again requesting that a method be found to exempt visiting foreign historic vehicles as well. We also sought confirmation from Government that they would not readily accede to a local departure from the policy on exemption of historic vehicles set out in the framework.
There has been some concern expressed by some members that in making these responses the Federation has simply confirmed our support for the proposed exemptions on the basis put forward by the authorities, rather than restating the arguments about the small numbers of vehicles involved and the likely rarity of their taking advantage of the exemption. That must be a matter of judgement, but in our view, it is better, in consultation responses where we agree with the proposal, simply to express that agreement.
As anticipated we met with DVLA in late November last year and following the discussions between the Federation and the Minister, John Hayes, this meeting was attended not only by our regular contacts but also by more senior staff from the Agency. It proved to be very friendly and constructive, indeed what had appeared to be an impossibly long agenda was completed with positive progress on many topics. Bob has reported on major items from this in his column so I will pick up on some more detailed issues.
DVLA were at pains to assure us that although they were surprised by the continuing volume of applications to register historic vehicles under the various available schemes they did not consider it to be a problem. They reported around ten late conversion applications per year and about 2000 V765 applications.
In response to a question DVLA clarified their attitude to dating and other information sourced from the internet. Wikipedia is never acceptable as a reference but other sources will be considered on their merits. The onus is on the supporting club to explain the origin of the information and why it should be considered reliable. We were told that on occasion DVLA merely receive a screen print from an unspecified website with no further explanation. In a general discussion around the detail of the current DVLA requirements for documents to support registration applications Agency staff agreed with us that these were not always entirely clear or easy to find. It was explained that DVLA have no control on the layout of the gov.uk website. We stressed that FBHVC are always ready to help in any way they can and some suggestions were put forward concerning ways in which we might be able to assist with bringing these requirements to the notice of clubs and individual members. DVLA have undertaken to review the whole subject and in addition to look again at the wording of their rejection letters. They readily agreed that any lack of clarity and subsequent confusion only serves to make the process more difficult for all concerned.
It was also explained to us that in a small number of cases DVLA have information on their record for a particular registration of which the applicant is not aware. For instance, they cited an example where a vehicle being submitted for a V765 already had been noted for late conversion, but the current owner did not know. This can affect how DVLA process the application and the conclusion they come to. We again requested greater transparency in these cases to assist the applicant to understand the process.
Regular readers (if there are such people!) may recall that we were informed that for the first three months of 2016 the frequency of vehicle inspections for registration applications supported by dating certificates would be increased as DVLA wished to improve their knowledge of the process, particularly with reference to the period of validity for dating certificates. This exercise was completed and indicated that in just over a quarter of cases the inspection showed up discrepancies of one form or another. Thus DVLA have concluded that dating certificates will continue to only be accepted for up to 12 months after their issue. It should be remembered that registration applications supported by dating certificates refers to vehicles of all ages, not just historic.
We were able to obtain clarification on one point which has, I know, quite rightly caused much concern amongst historic vehicle owners. In the case of a vehicle considered as a reconstructed classic, and in some other instances where DVLA have reason to question an existing chassis/frame number, a 17 character DVLA VIN will be issued which must be stamped onto the vehicle. Any existing chassis/frame number must be scored through to cancel it but it is not necessary to remove or obliterate the old number.
Other points to come up in discussion included the possibility of a second DVLA clubs’ meeting to follow on from that of September 2015 not least so that those who applied to attend but were excluded because of numbers would get a chance to have a direct interface with DVLA. We were told that this is still very much a possibility but that DVLA wished to consider some of the points the Federation had raised with them before going out again to the clubs. Obviously we will keep you informed on this.
We also returned to the topic of vehicles whose V5C bears the note ‘Declared new at first registration’ but which were nevertheless actually manufactured some time before they were registered. DVLA have agreed to reconsider the meaning of ‘new’ in the context of VED exemption.
DVLA also informed us that while they still require an inspection of the particular vehicle in question to support a manufacturers heritage certificate they are now able to use SGS for these inspections rather than burden the club. These inspections are required because the heritage certificates are only extracts from the manufacturers records and basically state that a vehicle with the stated chassis number was manufactured on the specified date, it is necessary in addition to ensure that the vehicle exists and is what it is claimed to be.
In closing I will pass on another snippet of information that might help someone, this was gleaned from correspondence with DVLA prior to our meeting. Vehicles originally registered in Northern Ireland but on which there has been no activity on the record for a number of years may not have had their record automatically migrated to the DVLA system. However DVLA do have the ability to search the archive records held in NI.
The Federation responded to the recent Department for Transport consultation on Amendments to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations Order expressing our concerns about the use of fuel containing ethanol in historic vehicles.
We have just received a letter from DfT which includes the following statements, which we think we should share with you.
‘You [FBHVC] note that the protection and requirement to make available E5 in the Motor Fuel (Composition and Contents) Regulations has not been required as E10 has not been rolled out. You also ask that all possible steps will be taken to ensure the continued widespread availability throughout the United Kingdom of a petrol fuel grade with no more than 5% ethanol, and when E10 might be introduced.
We are in regular contact with suppliers on the potential roll out of E10 and there are no immediate plans to roll out that E10 in the UK, and we aim to consult this year on proposals to amend the Motor Fuel (Composition and Content) Regulations to ensure an E5 petrol grade is made available in the event that E10 is rolled out in the UK.’
This should serve to allay fears of a rapid introduction in the UK of E10 fuel and phase out of E5.”
50th Anniversary General Assembly Paris, November, 2016
Photos courtesy of Tiddo Bresters, FIVA
As the General Assembly marked the culmination of FIVA’s World Motoring Heritage Year there were a number of additional events during the week.
The first of these was a Symposium on Trade Skills and Youth held at in the Michelin Auditorium of the Automobile Club de France in the Place de la Concorde on Wednesday 15 November. The culmination of this event was a colloquium of young members of FIVA organisations from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Poland and the USA on what FIVA and its members need to do to ensure the continued relevance of the historic vehicle movement to youth. In this inspiring event, our representatives Claire Sorrell and Matt Tompkins acquitted themselves particularly well.
There was also an exhibition of historic vehicles held throughout the week at the headquarters of UNESCO, which cemented one of the achievements of this year, which was to have the patronage of UNESCO for World Motoring Heritage Year. FIVA needs to build on this over the coming years as recognition of the cultural importance of historic vehicles around the world is a useful adjunct to maintaining the ability to use these vehicles in a time of increasing concern about the overall effect of vehicles on the climate and on public health.
On the Sunday immediately following the GA, the French Federation organised a Tour de Paris, attended by around 200 historic cars, from the very early to fairly recent, including several wonderful examples of French automotive style from Delages and Delahayes to Facel Vegas. British manufacturers were represented by several Jaguars and I myself participated in my 1973 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV. The Tour, which included most of the major sights of Paris, and included not one but two navigations of the Place Charles de Gaulle around the Arc de Triomphe, was extremely well received by the public.
Prior to the GA itself, FBHVC had been pressing, through a resolution for debate at the GA, to restore recognition of the importance of the use of historic vehicles on the road, which had become diluted during World Motoring Heritage Year. The result was that the FIVA General Committee produced, just before the GA, the ‘Declaration of Paris’, to define the immediate future activities of FIVA.
The GA was admirably chaired by our own Andrew Burt and was held in an extremely good and constructive atmosphere.
At the GA:
Our congratulations are due to both Paul and Tony.
Next year’s GA is planned to be in Bucharest.
The Paris Declaration
What is the Paris Declaration?
FIVA is celebrating its first 50 years in 2016. From the organisation formed in Paris in 1966, when only a few people had a hobby-based interest in historic vehicles, we have grown to become the globally recognised organisation for the preservation, protection and promotion and use of historic vehicles and all related culture.
FIVA has declared 2016 to be World Motoring Heritage Year and a major achievement is to have the patronage of UNESCO. UNESCO is the United Nations ‘intellectual agency’ caring for, among other things, the cultural heritage of the world. In a way, we can say that we really do not own our historic vehicles, we merely keep them for generations to come. This can be seen as an act of taking care of a very significant part of our cultural heritage.
We must however realise that what got us here, will not keep us here. We have to recognise that the world is changing, for better or worse. Preferences of historic vehicle owners change, globalisation changes our preconditions and we can clearly detect an ever-increasing tendency by governments to regulate all and everything.
The Paris Declaration is thus a collection of statements by FIVA’s General Committee for a) our perception of the surrounding world and b) our focus areas. It is inspired not least by the recent proposal from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs to the 2016 General Assembly, but also by contacts over the years with other members.
The declaration is a document that is valid for the near future only. As circumstances change, FIVA needs to constantly seek the best solutions in order to maintain and increase its relevance.
FIVA’s General Committee recognises the following facts:
1. The development of mechanically propelled road vehicles has dramatically changed the history of the world and made it much more inclusive by providing transport for people and freight. Historic vehicles are showing a vital part of the history of travel and transport by road we need to increasingly make everyone, including policy-makers, authorities and media, aware of this fact.
2. Viewing ownership of historic vehicles as an act of maintaining our cultural heritage, as opposed to a mere hobby, makes our movement much more acceptable to all.
3. Historic vehicles are of different sorts. We must always remember that there are vehicles on two, three, four or more wheels and there are vehicles made for very different purposes like steam and military vehicles, buses, vans, campers, lorries, tractors and also some for very specialised duties.
4. FIVA needs to be an inclusive organisation, therefore not judging the historic or cultural merit of one historic vehicle against another.
5. There is a recognisable trend globally for governments and authorities to further regulate all types of road transport for economic, road safety and environmental reasons. This can create risks for how we can use our historic vehicles.
6. FIVA’s ambitions will always be larger than its resources. It is therefore important to carefully consider all pros and cons before deciding on expenditure.
7. Membership fees are not enough to allow for all of FIVA’s ambitions. Other sources of income are therefore necessary.
8. ANFs and other members are key sources of knowledge for the national and regional aspects of the historic vehicle movement.
Prioritised focus areas
a. Internal and external communication. This includes recognising the needs of different target groups and always bearing in mind that although what we say is important, it is even more important how we are perceived and understood. This focus area includes further development of our webpage, social media and also developing ways to better communicate with all our members and ensure communication does not unreasonably prejudice the interests of any member organisation.
b. Development of FIVA into a truly global umbrella organisation. For example by encouraging the active participation of all commissions; stimulating ANFs and other members to share knowledge and best practice of dealing with policy-makers, authorities and non-governmental organisations, safeguarding trade and skills, organising events and of course ways to attract younger generations.
c. Additional income. Further develop our cooperation with professional members and other potential partners but bearing in mind that this must always result in a positive cash flow for FIVA.
d. Cost control. All activities must be carefully considered, for example costs for external consultants. Costs for participating in prestige or other events, if not paid for by the organiser, shall always be balanced against the value to FIVA and its members.
e. Keeping our vehicles on the road. This includes monitoring and influencing trends and regulations for both road usage and for the availability of fuels, parts and other necessities. It also includes preserving the knowledge about the use, maintenance and restoration of our vehicles on a global basis.
TRADE AND SKILLS
Apprentice Awards at the Classic Car Show
The Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham gave us the opportunity to celebrate the skills the new classic car apprentices are learning at Bicester College and at P & A Wood in Essex.
Three awards were made on the main stage at the show in front of a very appreciative audience.
The first presentation was made to the best apprentice at Bicester College. Dhugal Hunt, the course tutor, chose Matt Gamble as his classic vehicle apprentice of the year and he was rewarded with a cheque for £250 that was generously given by the Morris Minor Owners Club. Ray Newell of the MMOC made the presentation to Matt with Dhugal Hunt also present to applaud his best apprentice for 2016.
The second apprenticeship award was made by the Sir Henry Royce Foundation to the apprentices at P & A Wood. The trustees of the Sir Henry Royce Foundation were so impressed with all eight of the current apprentices at P & A Wood that they decided to give a multitool to each apprentice as well as giving a prize to the best apprentice. For 2016 the apprentice of the year award was given to William Florey and he was awarded a very special medal and certificate to celebrate his success. All the apprentices were awarded their prizes at the show in front of their apprentice manager, Mark Hews and the course tutors from North London Garages.
The third prize was the Malcolm Davy Award that is organised each year by the Alvis Owner Club. Each year Owen Swinerd of the Alvis Owner Club sets the apprentices the challenge of designing a tool to be used on a classic vehicle. The competition is open to any apprentice who is on the classic car scheme and this applied to the apprentices at both Bicester College and P & A Wood. Each student has to design, specify materials and make the tool together with giving a written summary of their project.
There were eleven entrants for the competition with seven from P & A Wood apprentices and four from Bicester College. The tools included a door/window regulator pin remover, an exhaust tappet locking device, a wheel nut thread recovery system, a camber gauge and a cam bucket guide reamer.
But the winner for 2016 was Joe Mellor of Tim Walker Restorations for designing and producing a valve spring compressor for the multi spring valve arrangement on pre-war Alvis cars. Joe is an apprentice at Bicester College on the classic vehicle apprenticeship scheme and it was great to have a winner who works on Alvis cars with an award made by the Alvis Owner Club. The magnificent prize of a full Snap-On tool set worth £1700 was presented to Joe by Janet Davy and Brian Maile, Chairman, Alvis Owner Club on the main stage.
I would like to thank the Alvis Owner Club for their continued support of the apprentice scheme and particular thanks go to Owen Swinerd for his continued hard work in making the Malcolm Davy Award so successful.
Club Insurance Scheme
Having met with both Aston Scott and Peter James Insurance during the year I am pleased to be able to report that FBHVC continues to support these two insurers for all aspects of club insurance. As reported in earlier newsletters we have looked carefully at how clubs can obtain insurance for critical parts if they are involved in the sale of these and particularly to the USA and Canada. I am pleased to be able to report that both Aston Scott and Peter James can provide this cover if requested.
My recommendation is to think what cover your club needs and get more than one quote to make sure you get the right cover at the best price for your members.
ORGANISING A CLUB TRACK DAY
For many the mere words, Track Day conjures up images of hyped up youths in souped up Subarus in a triumph of frenzy over talent. Then there are the tales of those continental forays to the old Nurburgring which end badly, buried in the Armco.
But it shouldn’t be like this. A track day properly organised and run can be a brilliant club day out where members can exercise their vehicles in a controlled and safe environment freed from the constraints of traffic and speed cameras and where they can explore the performance potential of their pride and joy and also push against the limits of their own skill and experience.
To mark the Federation’s partnership with Britain’s newest motorsport venue, Blyton Park, Geoff Lancaster, who has organised club track days for the Maserati Club, provides a club guide to organising a safe and enjoyable track day.
Over the last decade the popularity of organised track days has blossomed. Pretty much every licensed track in the UK runs events open to the general public using in many cases their day to day road car and such is the popularity that many people now use dedicated track day cars. These range from ex- racers, and modified hot hatches to purpose-designed track weapons like the Caterham 7, Ariel Atom and KTM X-Bow.
Public track days however can be a bit of a lottery. You can’t control who or what will turn up to your session. How can you ensure that you are not on track with the loony who keeps launching do-or-die lunges up the inside in the braking zone for corners?
Well, club track days provide the answer. The participants mostly all know each other. This fact alone has a civilising effect and in any case, should a maverick emerge, a vigilant organiser and a quiet private word are usually all that is needed to calm things down.
The other two factors which set the tone for the day, and build in safety, are the rules of the track and the format for the day.
Let’s look at these in turn. Apart from a mechanical breakdown there are really only two circumstances which can result in a mishap on track. In the first the driver simply drives beyond the limits of his or his car’s performance. Depending on the track, this may result in merely a harmless spin and some wounded pride. If there are hard objects involved, usually banks or Armco barriers the consequences can be more serious.
When considering the choice of track it is always wise therefore to select a venue where there are generous run offs or gravel traps to prevent impact with the scenery. The latter tend to be found on circuits used for Grand Prix or professional motorcycle championships and these naturally command higher hire fees. When the Federation decided to partner with Blyton Park, safety and value were our key criteria. Blyton is built on a former RAF bomber base in Lincolnshire. It is therefore very big and very flat as the RAF has an aversion to flying into anything hard close to the ground! You would be extremely unlucky to do any damage spinning out at Blyton.
The second circumstance which has potential for mishap is that when two or more vehicles attempt to occupy the same space, such as in overtaking or braking. Here the track rules come into play. At public track days organisers often operate what is known as an ‘open pit lane’. This is where for any given session the cars with permission to go out on track may leave the pits or come in at will. It is therefore possible for all the permitted cars to be circulating simultaneously, increasing the likelihood of cars encountering each other.
Club track days at Blyton do not work like this. There are several configurations available at Blyton but say we are using the longest outer circuit, then an upper limit of entrants for the day will be twenty vehicles. Vehicles wishing to join the track are controlled by traffic lights, and the Clerk of the Course (effectively the Chief Marshal) controls these lights from a control tower which has an unobstructed view of the entire circuit. On showing the green light a car will be introduced to the circuit, followed by at intervals the next three in the queue. Only four cars are on track at any one time and they are spaced out to reduce the potential for an encounter. Drivers are not mandated to a certain number of laps but the briefing advice given is not to exceed six or seven laps per session to permit engine, tyre, brakes and most importantly, driver cooling! As cars leave the circuit, at their discretion, a new car will be introduced. In practice this system works extremely well and in my experience gives everyone over the day more than enough track time for most appetites with very little queuing. In some cases the prudent organiser will group entrants of similar performance or experience together and this is just a case of using common sense. Clearly it would be foolish to have Austin Sevens circulating with Lamborghinis (although some of the VSCC Sevens I’ve seen would probably give them a run for their money!)
Even taking these sensible precautions it is inevitable that cars will encounter each other on track. In this case the following rules are mandatory. Overtaking is only permitted on the straight, not in the corners and absolutely not in the braking zone up the inside (budding Jos Verstappens need not apply!). When encountering another slower car on circuit take up a position a safe distance behind and wait. If however you see a faster car behind you should acknowledge you have seen him, indicate and move to the inside of the track allowing him to overtake on the right hand side. It sounds a bit complicated but in practice you very quickly get used to it. This is all very clearly explained in the driver briefing that all entrants must attend and this covers other subjects such as safety in the paddock, track layout and an explanation of cone placement. This last point is an aid to helping drive the circuit on what racers call the ‘racing line’.
A typical club track day will start with registration (signing on) at 0900hrs. Entrants will be required to sign a disclaimer for the circuit and usually the organising club will have its own disclaimer. If you have your own helmet you can use it (drivers of open cars must wear a full face version) and it will be examined, otherwise you can hire one from the circuit. You don’t need any other special clothing but you are required to have your arms covered and to drive with the windows closed. If you have a towing eye in your tool kit, fit it. Should you need assistance from the recovery truck it will prevent any (further?) damage to your vehicle.
Once everyone is signed on, there is a mandatory safety briefing by the Clerk of the Course. Much as in racing, for the purposes of the day, the Clerk is God. His word is law. Disobey his instruction or argue with him and you will be driving home without a refund! Actually, Richard, the clerk at Blyton is a delightful man and rules with an exceptionally light touch. He is nonetheless completely in charge and utterly obsessed with your safety.
Some clubs provide a professional instructor (ARDS accredited) and I can highly recommend this added feature as even a short fifteen minute session on track can transform your driving in terms of both speed and safety.
Some tracks at this point will simply throw the gates open and let the boys and girls play. This is not the Blyton way. Next the entrants are lined up behind a course car (currently a McLaren!) and do three sighting laps, with the pace gradually increasing before returning to the paddock. This having been completed the track is open for the day. There will be a one hour break for lunch to give everyone including the track marshals a well- earned break. As with all tracks there is a noise limit attached to the planning consents. Proximity of housing dictates how strict these limits are. In Blyton’s case the limit is 95 decibels at a distance of 20 metres and is a drive-by meter; it should be achievable by most roadgoing vehicles.
A track day can be a safe and very enjoyable club event. Of course many clubs already run them, but if you are thinking about introducing this to your club, I hope these notes are helpful. If you want any further advice I am happy to help or indeed Richard Usher at Blyton Park runs club events throughout the year and is vastly experienced and always pleased to help.
It’s also worth noting that on such a large site as Blyton there are other possibilities for motoring themed activity. On site for example there is a rallycross, track, a fun kart track, acres of tarmac suitable for autotests and auto solos and some clubs run weekend meets with track action, live music, food and all the other festival trappings. There are good facilities for camping and even electric hook-ups for caravans and motorhomes.
Richard Usher Blyton Park, Old Blyton Airfield, Kirton Road, Blyton, DN21 3PE
Phone: 01427 628922
Special offer to FBHVC member clubs
To mark our association with Blyton Park Circuit and as a further demonstration of Blyton's support for our aims, the Federation has negotiated very special hire rates for its member clubs for the 2017 track day season. These rates are only available to FBHVC member clubs and represent a significant discount from this year's published rates. Rates vary depending on the time of year so if you are interested you should contact circuit owner Richard Usher (see above for contact details) to enquire about availability.
Now the festive season is past we can get down to looking at the amazing number of activities that are open to us in 2017, including Drive it Day in April and Heritage Open Days in September.
For Drive It Day we will be making posters available which can be downloaded from our website www.fbhvc.co.uk and printed in a variety of sizes to suit club needs, and to which you can add your event details. Once again Dragonfly Design have rally plates, both dated an undated, at competitive rates for FBHVC members. Tel: 01832 710071, www.dragonflyhouse.co.uk.
Personally, one of my favourites is the Vintage Revival at Monthlery, the banked track inspired by Brooklands but still usable for ‘displays’. Entries are for pre-1940 machines of two, three and four wheels by groups in half hour slots. They are led off by a modern high performance enthusiastically driven pace car. The motorcycle sessions see up to 100 bikes on the track – only in France!
Having a break also gives a chance for reflection, including a review of our ‘projects’. Trying to keep mobile heritage mobile is always a challenge. It also gives time to think about what inspired us to get involved with a particular vehicle.
With my Vintage Motorcycle Club hat on, I am involved with organising the admissions for an event in Kent in August. Amazingly, the first week in January is intense as the rush of entrants comes forth. This includes a number from Holland and France.
One Dutch lady enters regularly on a 1931 Ariel VB sidevalve. When I had the chance to ask why the Ariel, I thought I might get a response that would reference the great designer Val Page or a mention of Ariel being the ‘spirit of the air’. Instead the response was she wanted a machine that went ‘chuff-chuff’!
I finally managed to get my electronic version of Practical Classics magazine working in January and was interested to read John Simister’s contribution on the reasoning behind buying classics. Whatever post-purchase logical justification was made to Mrs S, the truth seemed to be more related to a gut feeling.
Moving up the value chain, though no doubt with the same enthusiasm level, I caught an article in The Times of 3 January where William Medcalf was interviewed about the vintage Bentley company he runs. Our events director, Tony Davies, leaped on one sentence, namely, ‘Such is the quality of the original engineering that vintage Bentleys are increasing in value not simply because they are a collectible but because they can still be driven — and driven hard’. Which is reinforced by William’s inspiration related to being a navigator/mechanic on the 2007 Peking-Paris Rally.
In conclusion, enjoy using your machine safely in 2017, whether it goes ‘chuff-chuff’, is a cheeky Imp or a £900,000 vintage Bentley.
Link to The Times article https://goo.gl/FfmKqj
TECHNICAL AND EVENTS
Well 2017 is upon us and the longer days are on their way – hooray! We can think about getting our classics out and enjoying them again; always assuming you have done your routine maintenance and repairs during the darker nights of course.
One again the HRCR Open Day at Gaydon has been and gone. This was another successful day for organisers and enthusiasts alike; especially if you were lucky enough to get a ticket for the evening Motoring News Rally Championship Forum chaired by Howard Davies - thank you HRCR. I’m sure you will find something to interest you if you have a look at www.hrcr.co.uk/the-club-that-invented-historic-rallying.
A new event is on the calendar for you owners of pre-war cars – the Shamrock Vintage Challenge organised by Irish Racing Green under the leadership of Mickey Gabbett, Michael Jackson and Shane Houlihan. You can’t get a more experienced and friendly team than that. The event takes place from 20-23 May 2018 in the Dungarvan and Kilkenny areas of Ireland. Have a look at www.irishracinggreen.com for further details. If my experience of rallying in Ireland is anything to go by you won’t be disappointed.
As usual the variety of scenic tours is available for your enjoyment of the classic scene during the coming months. These really are to be recommended if you want some enjoyable low-key outings in your classic vehicle. Have a look at www.hrcr.co.uk/hrcr-championships/scenic-tours-series. Who knows, you might even find a great photo of your car or even get an entry on one or two of the early rounds if you’re lucky.
For other HRCR events www.hrcr.co.uk/events is the place to look. A real variety of events is available throughout the year. But again don’t delay, entries fill up very quickly these days.
HERO’s Three Legs of Mann is a good weekend event in mid-March if you want a real challenge. Perhaps not an event for first-timers I suggest heroevents.eu/event-type/three-legs-of-mann but definitely a challenge for the more experienced amongst you. However, the Summer Trial really is a nice relaxed event very suitable for newcomers or novices. heroevents.eu/event-type/summer-trial will tell you all you need to know.
For adventures further afield have a look at www.endurorally.com/pages/coming-rally-events. ERA really does put on a great cross-section of events as does RallyRound UK rallyround.co.uk with Japan, Europe and Mediterranean locations featuring in their 2017 calendar.
Indeed all three of the UK’s principle organisers of top-class classic rallies are now putting some of their events onto the FIVA international calendar which is a sign of the continued progress being made.
Finally on the FIVA front – congratulations are due to our Paul Loveridge on his election to the post of FIVA Vice President – Technical. A well-deserved ‘promotion’ in my view. And, due to a recent resignation, I have been asked to take over the FIVA VP - Events post. I guess another year of hard work on behalf of FIVA won’t age me too much!
The Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club reminds us that Murray Walker OBE has recently celebrated his 93rd birthday. Murray, famous (notorious) for his motor racing commentaries is the son of Graham Walker, motor cycle racer, and journalist who established the Sunbeam Club during his time at ‘Sunbeamland’ in the 1920s.
The bulletin of the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club reminds us that Redditch was the centre of the needle making industry in the 19th century – which led on to the manufacture of springs. The connection is that a Redditch company is making a batch of hairpin valve springs for the Matchless engines. The company is 180 years old and is still making needles.
There is an excellent photo-reportage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the Aston Martin Owners’ Club quarterly magazine which features many of the iconic cars which graced the proceedings with their presence.
The Light Industrial Truck Club magazine has a feature on the extraordinary pedestrian controlled lift truck produced by Lancing Bagnall for London Transport to pick up the front of a Routemaster bus. Has anybody got one?
An interesting article in the Riley RM Club magazine on the subject of lead wiping reminds us that this technique is of especial interest to owners and restorers of cars with timber frames under a steel skin. The lead joints will tolerate the flexing of the body when the car is moving.
The journal of the Fire Service Preservation Group has the heartening story of the 1930 Merryweather pump which is now under restoration after enduring a very traumatic last few years.
There is an advert in the magazine of the Manchester Historic Vehicle Club for Valvolene oils which claims that the company has just celebrated its 150th year. Is this the oldest oil company?
The Military Vehicle Trust magazine reminds us that 2016 was the 75th anniversary of the Diamond T truck and that 25 of them attended the Yorkshire Wartime Experience Show.
The Southern Daimler & Lanchester Club magazine has a short feature on the Icona Volcano, the world’s first ever titanium car. Don’t all rush at once with your cheque books. At the moment there is only the one and the price tag is £2.1 million.
There is a magnificent study of Alan Sparkes’ Fowler BB1 doing its bit for global warming on the cover of the magazine of the National Traction Engine Trust. The centre spread is equally impressive with a line-up of more than 30 engines at the World Ploughing Championships.
The Lea-Francis Owners’ Club magazine informs us that the lap record of the Isle of Man TT course for a Lea-Francis motor cycle has been broken by John Hayes with a lap at 35 mph.
The story of the DAF Siluro is recounted in the magazine of the DAF Owners’ Club. Illustrating the hypothesis of possible personal risks from the electrical systems in the latest generation of electric cars, it is noted that the latest Bentley Bentayga has a 48 volt DC system.
The London Austin Seven Owners’ Club magazine relates the story of Reinhard Heydrich’s Mercedes 320 Type B coupe which was involved in the (successful) assassination attempt. After a false start, the actual car was located in a barn near Prague and it has now been restored. Also a cartoon has one enthusiast telling an onlooker that he has changed so many bits that only the rust is original.
Staying with Austin Sevens, the cover of the Pre-war Austin Seven Club magazine has a delightful photograph of competitors returning to the paddock at Loton Park in August and a reflective article on scrap yards in the ‘golden age’ deploring the change to recycling depots.
If you ever wondered what the inside of a First World War tank looked like, then the article in the Daimler & Lanchester Owners’ Club reveals all – including, of course, the Daimler sleeve valve engine. There is also an illustrated article on the interAvto, the first sat-nav, from 1930. How many survive? The extraordinary conversion of an Enfield 8000 into a record breaker is recounted. This conversion which includes the starter batteries for a Bell Super Cobra attack helicopter enables this tiny car to reach 100 mph in less than 6 seconds whilst remaining road legal, tax exempt and free from the London congestion charge.
The centre spread of the Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club magazine shows the impressive interior of the spares scheme stores.
The magazine of the Standard Motor Club informs us that the Duke of Edinburgh’s first car was a 1935 Standard Nine.
It is the 25th anniversary of the Reliant Kitten Register, congratulations! The current edition of their magazine has a brief article on the Cipher, one of three survivors of the six that were made. Is there someone who can tell us more about this striking looking little car?
There is a 1921 Austin 20 on display in the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. The magazine of the Devon Vintage Car Club tells us all about it and of the extraordinary adventures in Africa of Archibald Edmund Filby.
There is an extremely interesting and comprehensively illustrated article on the MG 6R4 in the magazine of the MG Car Club. There is also the sad news that the last MG3 and MG GS cars have been turned out from Longbridge, thus ending car production of the site which commenced in 1906.
The Talbot Owners’ Club are planning to mark the 85th anniversary of the Talbot victory in the 1932 Alpine Trial with a celebration tour starting from Reims on 30 June - 8 July.
The journal of the Dormobile Owners’ Club reminds us that a wise man does not keep a sledge hammer and a slow computer in the same room.
A remarkable statistic is quoted in the magazine of the H & H CV Club. In 1890 electrically powered cars outsold other propelled cars by ten to one!
In a similar vein, the NECPWA magazine tells us that in life you need only two tools: WD40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move, but should, use the WD40; if it moves but shouldn’t, use the duct tape.
The journal of the BSA Owners’ Club tells us the story of what is believed to be the oldest A7 twin in existence. (Unless you know better...)
The Morris Register has found another of those delightful pieces of 1930s artwork from the Morris Owner magazine to grace the cover of their December issue.
There is an excellent mini-biography of motor cycle and car maestro Piero Taruffi in the magazine of the Lancia Motor Club.
The magazine of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club is as big and impressive as their cars. There is a feature on the four-cylinder XK100 that never went into production which featured a 2.0 litre DOHC engine. It would appear that this unit’s brief moment in the limelight was as the power unit in the MG EX 135. And for those of you who like a challenge there is a useful and informative article on testing for electrical short circuits. Finally, there is a report on the British Race Festival held at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.
Allard Owners certainly believe in getting amongst it as their newsletter is full of the achievements of Allard owners using their cars in the sorts of activities for which they were intended. There is also a brief feature on the new-build Allard JR which is under construction at the Allard Sports Car Works in Gloucester.
The very impressive Rover P4 Drivers’ Guild year book has a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated feature on how to buy the best Rover P4. There is one big issue, however, windscreen replacement does present a significant problem.
The cover of the magazine of the Historic BMW Club is a striking aerial photograph of the Club’s National Festival Centenary event at Gaydon - has anyone counted the cars?
There is a comprehensive illustrated report on the VMCC Levis Trial in the journal of the BSA Owners’ Club. This 90 mile road trial re-enacts the spirit of the original event where the principal trophy is a cup presented in the 1930s by the Levis Company. (Nothing to do with jeans...)
The Cambridge and District Classic Car Club remind us that the American Air Museum at Duxford has just re-opened after a major refit and is well worth a visit.
The meticulous preparations for a tour of Spain and France with two adults and three small children in a 1929 Chummy (and trailer) are described in the magazine of the Scottish Austin Seven Club.
The Deux Chevaux Club magazine recommends a visit to the Prickwillow Pumping Station if you have a weakness for big stationary engines.
The TR Register have really enjoyed themselves in 2016 at the Goodwood Revival, at their International Weekend on the wide-open spaces of the Lincolnshire Show Ground and at the Scottish Weekend held in conjunction with the Bo’ness Hillclimb and Heritage weekend.
The Bentley Drivers’ Club Review is full of reports of Bentleys being used with verve and vigour. From Kop Hill and AMOC Silverstone and getting down and dirty at the VSCC Welsh Trial to reports on activities in Colorado and in Yorkshire (!) and on the first 8-litres Rally in the Black Forest. 8-Litre Bentleys would appear to be not only very impressive but very thirsty - 8.7 mpg and 4 litres of oil were used – but what are such trifles when set against the pleasures of motoring?
The newsletter of the Knighton Historic Vehicle Club reminds us of the only Olympic Games where a motoring event was included. The 1936 Berlin Olympic included a nine day 2500 mile rally. The only British entrant was Miss Betty Haig driving a 1.5 litre Singer Le Mans. Miss Haig was the first driver to enter the Olympic Stadium and therefore was awarded the gold medal. The Singer still survives - BLN 291.
There is an interesting map in the journal of the Austin Healey Club showing most of the motor sport venues extant in 1964.
Every year we receive a weighty tome from the Jersey Old Motor Club. This year is extra special as it commemorates the club’s golden jubilee. It makes for a really good read and includes such bon mots as this observation which is attributed to Albert Einstein, ‘Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves’.
The MG Car Club is planning a special 70th birthday Round Britain Rally for Y Types. The total distance will be 1,834 miles divided into 37 stages - half of which will proceed clockwise and the others anti-clockwise.
There is a progress report on the land steam record motorcycle in the magazine of the National Steam Car Association.
The magazine of the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum lays down a bit of a challenge. A Leyland PD1A supplied new to Peterhead in 1947 currently resides in Pensacola, Florida. The owner (McGuire’s Irish Bar) is willing to exchange it for another British bus. The logistics and costs would be significant – but somewhere there will be an enthusiast who likes a challenge.
There is a comprehensive report on the Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run in the magazine and a useful check list to apply to your car if you are contemplating participation in competitive or non-competitive events.
The centre spread of the magazine of the Austin A30 –A35 Owners’ Club is a striking photograph of a seemingly immaculate four-owners-from-new AS3 that has never been restored.
There are some useful suggestions for winter storage preparations in the Morris Minor Owners’ Club magazine plus a feature on a Morris Minor factory in southern Sri Lanka.
The Pre-1950 American Car Club magazine has photographs of the millionth Ford produced in Canada in 1931 and the twenty millionth Ford - a 1931 Model A - being driven off the line by Henry himself. It is quoted that the Model A was the first car to have safety glass in the windshield. There is also a feature on a 1929 Studebaker House Car, the precursor of today’s mobile homes, in remarkably unmolested condition. It was due to be auctioned in Houston with a guide price of $125,000 to $175,000. The magazine also features the Beller Museum’s collection of mainly unrestored Ford Model As and Bs.
Some useful information on the Zenith 24T2 carburettor in the newsletter of the Bristol Austin Seven Club.
Boston Classic Car Club News tells us that the last remaining wooden village store is in Corby Glen.
The Colchester Vintage Motor Club newsletter tells us that at the outbreak of the Great War the French army had 265 motor vehicles whilst the British Army had none.
Foden Society News tells us that Owen Springs of Rotherham seem to be the only people who are prepared to tackle man-sized springs.
There are some misty eyed reminiscences of the 1950s Practical Motorist (Cam’s Comic) in the Micro Maniacs magazine.
Welcome to the following clubs and museums that have just joined us:
Bo Peep Club
Isle of Man Motoring Museum
The International Guild of Specialist Engineers
Transport Museum, Wythall