Restoration and The Law

The law on rebuilt and altered vehicles and kit cars is an interesting piece of legislation and, out of curiosity, I checked out the DVLA’s website for their advice on the subject. Unsurprisingly, they have quite a lot of advice and, like so many things in English Law, is drafted vaguley enough to keep the lawyers busy for months if a curious policeman should start asking awkward questions. So, for the record, this is my intepretation on the position when considering Rebuilt Vehicles in the light of extensive restorations as are often carried out on older vehicles such as this one.

The DVLA is interested in the identity of the vehicle and, when a vehicle is rebuilt, how much of the original vehicle is retained and how much is imported. Is it the original which has simply been repaired or have so many new or different parts been used in the rebuilding process that the original vehicle has been effectively broken up? They have a scoring system which awards points for major components (engine, gearbox, axles, etc) but the major criterion is the original chassis or bodyshell (monocoque). If the vehicle is adjudged to be no longer original enough or where there is evidence that two vehicles have been welded together to form one (“cut and shut”), it is subject to a special inspection (for which a fee is payable) and the DVLA will then issue a “Q” number plate. They don’t seem to mind new metal being imported in the form of newly made pressings or even NOS parts, but body parts taken from another previously registered vehicle creates problems.

Now, in my view, if that were to be taken literally, then any time an enthusiast replaces a rusty sill with one taken from a scrap yard, then the car could qualify as altered, require an inspection and should receive a new “Q” number plate. The same would apply to any vehicle heavily customised if the bodyshell is altered – shortened or lowered for example. So some common sense needs to be applied. How serious does the alteration have to be or how much of another pre-registered vehicle would have to be imported before you fell foul of these Regulations?

If you’re interested, you can read all about the regulations at The DVLA’s Vehicle Information Page.