Should it be on classic plates – what do you reckon #3

By: Glenn Torrens, Unique Cars magazine

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Young GT gets into a debate over whether his old Sigma is entitled to be on club plates.

Should it be on classic plates – what do you reckon #3
GT's very tidy Sigma, aka Project Beige.

IF YOU’RE reading this, I reckon you’ll understand the appeal of cool old cars. You’ll understand the passion and the commitment and the fun and the mateship surrounding them. You’ll probably own something nice as a Sunday cruiser and enjoy going to car shows and events. Maybe you’ll go to the pub with a bunch of people who are linked by owning and enjoying classic cars or street machines.

You’ll also understand that not all people enjoy classic cars. Some people think they’re just old pieces of crap.

Which brings me – in a round-about way – to a conversation I had at a service station recently.  I was there in my ‘new’ 1983 Mitsubishi Sigma getting some petrol on a Tuesday afternoon when some bloke wandered over and took a good look at my car. It’s not the first time that’s happened; with its glorious beige paint and an old-school black Aunger louvre on the back window, car nuts often give it the thumbs-up.

But this bloke didn’t. He sort-of accused me of being a cheat.

Ol’ Mate’s accusation was loosely based on the fact that my Sigma wears NSW Historic plates and it was Tuesday, not Sunday. So, because I obviously wasn’t going to a weekend car show and Historic plates cost less than $100 per year, I was somehow ripping-off the good citizens of NSW.

Well, umm, no. I was perfectly entitled to be standing in a big Shell servo pumping petrol into my Historic-plated Sigma on a sunny Tuesday. What Ol’ Mate didn’t know was that in October 2015 there was an amendment to the Historic car club permit scheme in NSW that allows enthusiast members of recognised car clubs to drive an historic car for 60 days per year for general use. It’s a great log-book based scheme (similar to the Victorian permit scheme introduced five or six years ago) and I encourage our NSW readers to use it to enjoy their classic cars more often.

I very calmly and clearly explained the new 60-day scheme to Ol’ Mate and after he umm’ed and ahh’d for a bit, he nodded a begrudging apology and wandered off.

But you know what? Maybe Ol’ Mate had a point. I live in NSW but also spend time in Melbourne where there’s a healthy classic car scene: near the Unique Cars office, I see cool old Mustangs and Commodores and Vals and Falcons and Camaros and Jags, all being used and cruised on weekdays. It’s great.

However, sometimes I see things like paint-spattered mid-80s Camry wagons loaded with (for instance) ladders on the roof or towing a box trailer with a concrete mixer wearing the red Historic plates. The word on the street is, some people are buying several old cars and using them, in turn, as daily drivers to avoid the cost of one full-fee registration. It’s a loophole… but it’s obviously not the intention of the Historic permit scheme.

Yes, I own more than one classic car rolling on Historic plates and, yes, I occasionally drive these cars to work (to photo shoots for Unique Cars or Street Machine magazine) as it’s more fun to arrive in a classic beige Sigma than my boring white late-model Hilux that is, of course, on full rego.

But, I’m thinking that as well as the required car club membership, us real car enthusiasts should pay full-whack rego on one vehicle before being entitled to cut-price or pro-rata historic rego. That will prevent shonky tradies rorting the historic rego scheme with two or three old bombs being passed-off as classics… so non-enthusiasts like Ol’ Mate I met in the servo can piss off and worry about other things. What do you reckon?

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