5 April 2023

There's about to be a lot more historic vehicles on Canberra's roads

| James Coleman
Join the conversation
Classic car

Historic vehicles outside the ACT Legislative Assembly. Photo: James Coleman.

Edgar Grima is often asked for rides in his classic silver Jaguar but up until now, that hasn’t been easy. But it’s got nothing to do with the fact the car is the result of British engineering and, therefore, may not always be in the mood to start.

Under the ACT’s concessional registration rules, owners of cars with Vintage, Veteran or Historic (VVH) status have been limited to driving for testing purposes, car club events, or other special occasions.

That changed when ACT Minister for Transport Chris Steel announced a new concessional registration scheme to enable “more Sunday drives”.

READ ALSO It’s official: Canberra’s sharpest shooter reckons VW’s new ‘Shooting Brake’ lives up to the name

“The key purpose of this improved scheme is to support Canberra’s motoring community with discounted registration for older vehicles which are used on a limited basis by people as a hobby,” he said.

“This scheme recognises that these cars are not a daily drive and that we shouldn’t penalise enthusiasts who own additional VVH vehicles by charging full registration.”

Since 1985, owners of classic vehicles in the ACT have been able to obtain cheaper registration by joining one of 75 local clubs affiliated with the Council of ACT Motor Clubs.

The Council was appointed by the ACT Government to manage the scheme, which includes three categories: Veteran covers those vehicles built before 1919; Vintage, those built between 1919 and 1930; and Historic, anywhere from 1931 to 30 years old.

A full year’s registration costs $59, in addition to a smaller $40.10 third-party insurance figure.

But the terms and conditions were strict. All VVH vehicles had to wear specific numberplates (ruling out any personalisation), and driving was capped at 3000 kilometres per year, and only for legitimate reasons. A logbook – with penalties for not filling it out – ensured compliance.

The new scheme mirrors the concessional registration rules in NSW, where motorcycles and modified vehicles are included, and owners can drive up to 60 days per year in addition to official club events. Any valid ACT numberplate – including custom plates – can also be tied to the registration.

READ ALSO ‘Groundbreaking’ Canberra project reveals how EV owners can make at least $400 a year

“This scheme has been in place in other jurisdictions for some time,” Mr Steel said.

“We have heard anecdotally that some of these vehicles are registered interstate. We’d like to see people register their VVH vehicles here in the ACT so they’re properly insured and owners can drive about on ACT roads and show off their fantastic cars.”

President Roger Amos joined the Council of ACT Motor Clubs in 1988 while seeking advice for his Vauxhall restoration project. He said the Council first started negotiating the changes with the ACT Government five years ago, even if they make the scheme harder to manage.

“We’re lagging behind a bit,” he said.

“In the past, we could recognise a Historic car because it had a specific Historic numberplate, but now, we won’t know. The only people who will know are the police, so it’s going to be harder for us to control the use of these cars.”

As the proud owner of an original 1950 Holden 48-215 (FX) and 1957 MGA, ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman welcomed the news.

“My Holden has the numberplate ’48 215′, so it’ll be great for me to be able to keep that and still go to the new 60-day registration scheme,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to being able to drive it around a bit more, and maybe do a few more weddings and formals as well. This is a wonderful way to celebrate Canberra’s motoring history.”

Then there are the 2400 current Historic vehicle owners like Edgar, looking forward to more drives of the Jag.

READ ALSO Parked in an EV spot but not charging? That’ll cost you, according to little-known ACT road rules

He picked up the 1964 Jaguar MK2 4.2 15 years ago after a friend spotted it languishing in a paddock near Macs Reef Road off the Federal Highway. It was in a bad way, so he spent the next seven years rebuilding it from the ground up, swapping its white exterior and burgundy leather-lined cabin for silver and black, respectively. He also dropped in a larger 4.2-litre six-cylinder engine from a later model.

“Everything else is completely original, even the headlining on the roof,” he says.

Edgar’s collection also includes another 1967 Jaguar MK2 and a 1924 vintage Dodge.

“I’ve run out of room in the garage for another car,” he said.

More information on the VVH arrangements, including the new guidelines and conditions, is available on the Access Canberra website.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

How much has to be old?
Ship of theseus or car of theseus?

I see that you still have to be a member of a club. Not very helpful.

Surely the Greens and no original thought Pocock will protest this

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.