Historic-Plated Cars - Torrens 416

By: Glenn Torrens

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plates plates

It's ironic, but without a bit more officialdom, the freedoms we enjoy with historic-plated cars could be doomed, reckons Glenn Torrens

There's no doubt the historic permit (H-plate) schemes in Victoria and NSW (and now South Oz) are great. They’ve breathed new life into the classic car scene: No longer are enthusiasts restricted to driving only to car shows. Abide by some simple requirements and we can drive a cool older car anywhere, for dozens of days each year.

It means people are now driving cool classic cars more often: shopping; taking kids to weekend sport or fish ‘n chips on a sunny Sunday. None of this was possible under the restricted-use/event-only type schemes that were in place before.

It also means people are now buying more cool old cars to put on H plates: With the freedom of being able to drive anywhere, people are seeing the appeal in ordinary cars – not just the prestige and performance stuff. Prices are on the rise and with more of these cars being put back into regular use rather than being scrapped, mechanics and restoration businesses are booking-in more work… everyone is happy!

I reckon it’s great! These days, I’m just as likely to go shopping in my 1979 VB Commodore SL wagon as I would in my ordinary daily-driver. Collecting the groceries is so much more fun in a cool car than a mundane, modern, moron-mobile!

I wish the new limited use H-plate scheme had been around seven or eight years ago. Back then, I owned an HQ Holden Premier that I found 20 years ago in a car yard in Wagga Wagga after a night on the booze with my mate Mossy. Then, the Q-ey was around the same age as a VR Calais is now and was loaded: V8 auto, air-con, power-steer, buckets and cloth. I decided to sell it in about 2010; one of the reasons being I wasn’t driving it enough to justify the $1000+ annual rego and insurance costs. But for $49 per year (as rego would cost me today) I’d still own it! Especially now it’s worth around three times what I sold it for – ouch!

But with freedom comes free-loaders: I’ve seen 1980s shit-box wagons with ladders on the roof and I’d’ve bet a beer the bloke wearing overalls behind the wheel was doing more than simply enjoying cruising in his classic car on a miserable Monday in Melbourne.

So that’s why I reckon the privilege of enjoying H-plate cars should be only for people who have paid full-freight registration on something else first. I reckon this will just about eliminate the bludgers who are using the H-plate systems for the cheap rego, such as that grizzled old house painter I saw that rainy afternoon near the Unique Cars office. Think of the privilege of affordable H-plates as a ‘thank you’ for paying your way in society with a full contribution to our government coffers first.

There’s another related aspect to this, too: It will deny the critics of the H-plate scheme – such as people in, say, government positions capable of dismantling or modifying the system – any ammunition to undermine the system many of us enthusiasts enjoy.


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