Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Way Forward

About five years ago, I started building my idea of an 'ultimate Herald' (see the August 2007 entry). The car started as a way of using up some of my horde of spares, and as it was being built from scratch, I couldn't see any reason to keep it standard, like my 13/60. It's a coupe because they look stunning, with completely revised suspension and a Rover V8. Why the Rover? Mostly because I used to run a Range Rover and loved the engine. Even as standard they're light, torquey and sound fantastic. A heavy metal angel with straight pipes! And big torque in a light car can make for a stunning driver's car.

When I moved to Oz two years ago, the project was stuffed in my father's garage. I've bought a few new bits like a big front brake kit, and had a few bits machined ('cos nothing shipped from the UK has simply bolted on, oh no!). Apart from that not a lot has happened, as it's hard to restore a car when you're working in another country. However, one day soon Dad will want his garage back, so I'm about to get the ball rolling again.

Step 1 was to visit Earl Gilchrist, a 'compliance engineer', as Australian states have different, and often stricter, regulations on vehicle modifications than New Zealand, or just about anywhere come to think of it. I showed him what we'd done so far, and what the end result should be. He liked it, especially the engineering plans drawn up by the New Zealand engineer who build the front and rear suspension. However, given the extensive chassis modifications and engine size, he declared it almost impossible to certify for Queensland roads. It would have to be built as a 'scratch-built' car with new space-frame chassis, and comply with all 2009 ADR (Australian Design Regulation) requirements. These include emissions, impact resistance and chassis rigidity. Some modern manufacturers struggle with the ADRs - Ariel Atoms don't pass muster, for example.

I wasn't surprised, after stories I'd heard about the ever-changing panoply of rules and regulators. In terms of silliness, a V8 Herald is up there with stuffing a Merlin V12 in a Bentley chassis, which I also like... Earl did suggest, though, that if the car was registered in New Zealand, it would be able to be imported without being subjected to full ADR scrutiny. I still have to confirm this with Queensland Transport, but it's a way forward as the Herald has been built with New Zealand certification in mind. Even if it transpires that ADR compliance will still apply I still want to build it, as I return to NZ once or twice a year, and it would be nice to have a Herald on both sides of the ditch.

I won't be able to do much of the work from 3000km away though, so it'll have to be handed over to the engineer to finish the chassis and then a bodyshop to get the panel and paint done, and then a trimmer to install carpet and headlining... I'm just hoping it will be worth it.


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