How would you like to own a classic Corvette and not be allowed to drive it because of the special way it’s painted?
That’s the problem a South Australia man faces because his 1970 Corvette – once owned by country music star Jeannie C. Riley of “Harper Valley PTA” fame – is decorated with tasteful blue stripes and small stars.
“I took it down to Regency Park to get the roadworthy inspection,” the Corvette owner explained, “and at the end of the day apart from a few minor issues of fixing suspension and things, the main issue is the color of the car is not original as manufactured and that’s the blue stripes on the car.”
According to South Australia regulations covering classic cars more than 30 years old, left-hand drive vehicles have to be in their original state to be registered and driven legally.
“I was more than shocked because I said, but the car is white, I haven’t changed the color of the car – it’s not red, it came from the factory as white. I don’t know what’s got to do with safety,” the Corvette owner said.
But he’ s not the only collector car enthusiast up in arms down under, though.
“They just make things difficult for no reason at all,” says Peter Hannah, whose 1957 Ford Fairlane Retractable was refused a registration because the fan blade is blue and not black. The inspectors also refused to believe that the unusual car was an authentic Ford even when he showed them a bundle of paperwork.
Another classic car buff, Tony Carter, says that some folks have resorted to buying land in neighboring Victoria to get a mailing address so they can register their cars there.
Carter thinks the law is jeopardizing safety rather than enhancing it. “A lot of cars now have got a lot older, and also parts that are available for those cars aren’t always original ones,” he says. “But we aren’t allowed to fix them because (the parts are not) original. I can’t even put disc brakes on this car and make it as a safety upgrade. The argument is, ‘Oh, well, it stopped perfectly well in 1962, it’ll stop perfectly well today.’ Well, traffic conditions are totally different than what they were back in 1962.”
The Corvette owner, meanwhile, has been given limited options, either spend $10,000 to paint the car solid white or spend $15,000 to $20,000 converting it to right-hand drive, both of which he says he can’t afford to do.
“What we’d like to see is a left-hand drive car be treated exactly the same as a right-hand drive,” Carter said, “no discrimination whatsoever.”
The Transport Department, to their credit, says it’s willing to listen to the car clubs and may recommend minor changes in the law.
“I’m speaking on behalf of everybody,” the Corvette owner says, “and I’m hoping with the sun still shining that before winter comes, I can get it registered. I just want to drive my car.”
If you’d like to show your support for this beleaguered Corvette owner, visit www.todaytonightadelaide.com.au to voice your opinion.