Oxymoron – The Australian Street Car

Perhaps a year or two ago, when my Dad first saw my tattoos he laughed at me and told me how they were a waste of money. I relished that this moment had finally arrived. For my answer had already been rehearsed as I pointed to his fine china cabinet. I laughed back “well at least I don’t have a cupboard of ceramics and glassware I’m not allowed to use”.

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I really enjoy cars. And because I like modifying cars, I’ve modified mine with the goal of reflecting my personality through my Silvia (wasn’t allowed to get the number plate “dickhead” so a screamer pipe had to suffice). The very best part of it all would be that I can legally drive it whenever I want for the cost of about $800 per year. But the real lame part is that, even though my little Silvia actually has legitimate registration and I hold a driver’s license without a single offence – in the sense of a street car, my Silvia has become my Dad’s fine china cabinet.

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Perhaps because I’m too young, or never really opted to involve myself in the local car scene, I don’t really know where it all started. However at some point in time, the car enthusiast collectively became classified as a hoon and as a result, became the most hated group of people in Australia that aren’t actually doing anything wrong. I’ll have random people yell at me “slow down you moron” when I’m driving 30km/hr in a 40 zone. I had some bloke angrily say to me “I hope you don’t drive that thing like a moron” the last time I was getting out of my car in a shopping centre. Although the reality is, none of us really care what a bunch of docile sheep think of us. On the contrary, there is a viscous cycle of media blowing any occurrence involving a modified car way out of proportion. This leads to the aforementioned docile sheep of the nation having some form of new fear engrossed within them about some kid they see down the road washing his car every weekend and admiring his new set of wheels. Suddenly half the nation whom barely think for themselves believe there’s a problem that doesn’t really exist. The next thing we know, there’s an abundance of new anti-hoon laws where in some states; “Wilfully driving in a way that creates unnecessary noise” carries a significantly harsher penalty than driving under the influence or drugs or alcohol, or speeding in excess of 40km/hr over the speed limit.

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At this point, some pen-pusher will always say something along the lines of “well don’t hoon and you won’t get caught”. This brings us to our biggest issue: We don’t hoon and we still get caughtCountless times, we get pulled over for simply driving at the speed limit on a main road somewhere in a daily commute, to be hassled and more than often defected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for dangerous, unmaintained vehicles getting defected. But when the focus is on items of modified cars that don’t compromise safety in anyway yet there’s thousands of AU Falcons going around on rooted balljoints and brakes that have never been serviced, it really makes you wonder why the focus is on us. Then there’s this example that is the most frustrating issue – Following the Australian Design Rules (ADR) doesn’t really keep me in the clear. I have a friend named Chris. He’s perhaps quite a bit more mature than I. Resultantly, when he last built a street car he decided he would make it completely legal by making sure all parts he used and changes he made to his car were ADR compliant and didn’t require engineering. Even after all the extra money he spent to ensure his car was legally sound, he still received a defect for something as trivial as a non compliant steering wheel – even though the steering wheel was actually compliant. He then put the car through vehicle inspection without change only for it to pass without any issue – however he still had to pay his $264 inspection fee for a completely unnecessary inspection.

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There’s nothing quite as therapeutic and relaxing as enjoying your car on a sunny Sunday morning. However it’s just not the same when you only have your Grandpa Edition Mazda 323 to drive because it’s not worth the risk and hassle of being relentlessly targeted in anything else enjoyable in your fleet.

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And like many others, what was once my street car continues to turn into a fine china cabinet as it sits in the driveway gathering layers of dust, awaiting it’s one day of the month where a race track hosts an event.

Alex

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