Spent a fascinating evening at the Houses of Parliament last night, mixing with the glitterati of the two houses – the few brave souls fighting for the rights of classic car owners in those sumptuous corridors of power – and a motley crew of hacks all standing like ironing boards in seldom-worn ties and suits (or jackets that at least looked a vaguely similar colour to their trousers).The big news while we shuffled our creaky smart shoes uncomfortably on the thick carpet in the spectacular River Room, sipping from the largest wine glasses I have ever seen, trying to keep up with the MPs and secretly craving a nice warm pint of bitter, was the launch of the Federation's latest mind-boggling stats summarising what a colossal hobby we are part of.The second big news was the (admittedly expected) bluster from politicians reassuring us of the future security of our hobby. I say bluster not in a negative way, that's just how politicians talk. And before you think it, yes, the same can be said for us hacks. Plus, these are the good guys, the ones on our side.The big conversation point in the wind-down, however, was the consultation document over the potential scrapping of the MoT for pre-1960 classics.Amazingly, I couldn't find anyone in favour of it. Condensing several long discussions into two key points, they were:As owners we all seem to like the reassurance of a second pair of eyes checking over our cars and warning us of potential problems to come (a bargain at £50-odd quid a year).As enthusiasts, we all fear the repercussions for our hobby of the inevitable consequence when an unroadworthy MoT-exempt car (and there are guaranteed to be some) causes havoc, destruction and maybe even death.So, what to do about it?Well, instead of scrapping the MoT entirely, surely a basic belts and braces safety check could be introduced for cars of a certain age. The fact that it doesn't fit into the one-size-fits-all streamlining and computerising of the MoT industry doesn't stop it being by far the most sensible solution.Failing that, as the red wine was topped up and we started supping our way back to the bottom of the glass, a few of us now rather less vertical and rapidly heading towards horizontal journos started to spot an amazing business opportunity, to set up our own nationwide basic safety check business if and when the MoT is scrapped.Then we would lobby the powers that be to introduce a scheme – much like they have with household boilers - that no MoT-exempt classic can be sold as a runner without a certificate from one of our nationwide centres ensuring its basic safety. Ker-ching.They would have to have a snappy, zeitgeisty name, of course, something meaningless and pathetic like iChecks or eSafety, but I can tell you with equal certainty that we will never get around to doing anything about it.And that is why I share this genius idea here: if some enterprising enthusiast is reading this and wants to put the plan in action, you already have a guaranteed annual customer in me.In the meantime, perhaps it is better that we all just get this silly idea thrown out (or at least amended to something that is of use to us) so make sure you read the consultation document here and have your say here.
| 7 Dec 2011