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What is it really?

Some years ago — actually February 10, 1997 — I registered my then–newly finished Porsche Speedster replica, built around the shortened chassis of a late ’60s Volkswagen Beetle.

This reconfigured chassis was allocated a new VIN number, though the necessary LVVTA paperwork did mention the original chassis number as well.

The Certificate of Registration that I received made no mention of the old chassis number, only the VIN, yet somehow managed to note that I was the ninth owner of what went on the road as a brand-new vehicle.

I found this ‘interesting’ to say the least, and a query at the time yielded a polite response from the Motor Registration Centre at Palmerston North that same month, which in essence said, ‘sorry, but can’t help you — them’s the rules’

So, I was legally the ninth owner of a new vehicle because part of a chassis with a number on had been used in its construction — having been shortened by 255mm — while all other parts had come from elsewhere.


I let this slide at the time, but coming across the correspondence again more recently — in June 2014 — I tried once more to have this weird arrangement clarified, maintaining that I have either a one-owner vehicle first registered in 1997 — or a nineowner vehicle first registered in 1968.

I received a response by phone from the NZTA to the effect that the problem was understood, and the matter was under consideration. I was left with the impression that someone would get back to me, sometime.

I took no more action for a little over a year before trying again to get a meaningful response — after another month in limbo, I have now received what seems to be the ultimate non-answer. This explained that a ‘substantial amount of data needs to be removed, changed and added before the outcome can be advised’, and that the matter has been passed to systems administrators.


The interesting bit is that, even after all this time, no one can indicate the likely outcome, as it isn’t known whether or not the recommended changes to the Motor Vehicle Register can be made — and, to cap it all off, there is no timeframe advice “due to the sheer amount of data recorded”

So, 18 years down the track — and for no-one-knows-how-much longer — this silly situation persists, with no one able or willing to indicate what the so-called recommended changes might be or even when it may be solved — always assuming it will be.

I have no intention of selling the car — it would be likely to cause serious family debate — but, should it come to that, my ability to accurately describe its history would be somewhat more involved than usual and probably quite unconvincing.

If and when there is anything meaningful to report, I will pass it on — meantime, it would be interesting to know if I am alone in this particular bureaucratic wilderness.

Despite, as he puts it, “ knocking on the door of 80”, Dave still enjoys driving both his home-built sports cars — the ‘nineowner’ Porsche Speedster mentioned, and his lovely XK120 replica. Those with longer memories will recall that Dave used to be our ‘Wellington Diary’ columnist. AGW

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