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What to expect of an SGS Vehicle Inspection in the UK?

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What to expect of an SGS Vehicle Inspection in the UK?

Old December 18th, 2017, 02:12 PM
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What to expect of an SGS Vehicle Inspection in the UK?

Has anyone in the UK had experience of the DVLA carrying out an inspection, of their vintage vehicle, through a company called SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance)? They're based in Switzerland apparently which, as an aside, leads me to wonder why a UK Government Dept. has contracted this out to a Swiss-owned corporation? Don't we have a Brit one to do the job in the whole of the UK?

Back to the point though - I applied for a Registration document for my Olds 1950 Rocket Sedan and was told that SGS will be coming to see if it's an authentic 1950's model, qualifying it for road tax and MOT exemption. Other than check out the VIN, the serial number of the engine, and maybe some casting codes on casings, I'm unsure what an Inspector would look for? I'm hoping they're not going to want to take things apart. It's not that it's got anything to hide; i just don't like the thought of it. My Olds is in unrestored original condition as far as I can see.

For their part, the DVLA have given me no guidance about what to expect and when I rang SGS, for an appointment, their receptionist didn't know either. Any help would be much appreciated, from anyone who has faced this before, so that I'll be more on the front foot on the day. Many thanks.
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Old December 19th, 2017, 12:17 PM
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Sorry, I can't help you with your questions about SGS. I hope it isn't too difficult to pass. Let us know what happens. Good luck.
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Old December 19th, 2017, 02:04 PM
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Wish I could Help with an answer but after looking at the larger picture of the 50 Olds on your profile page,I'd be surprised if he don't try to buy it. Georgeous example, and my motto is "50's Olds Are Best". Welcome to C.O. Larry
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Old December 19th, 2017, 06:23 PM
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Thanks for the moral support guys. I very much appreciate it. I'll be sure to let you know how things work out.
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Old December 20th, 2017, 10:20 AM
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I had to get a Buick riviera re-registered when I bought it as a fire damaged write off.
This was done by the Vehicle Inspectorate at my nearest local office. Near Canterbury in Kent in my case.
All they wanted to do was a quick visual check, on the ground, it was done in their car park, and they wanted to verify the VIN.
Are you a member of AAC-UK or the AACI?. They offer a service helping members with such issues, a letter from them can be useful is authenticating whether or not your car is what you say it is.

Roger.
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Old December 21st, 2017, 03:56 AM
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Thanks for the info' about the car inspection and about the AAC-UK Roger. SGS have now informed me that the date of inspection is 3rd January so I'm just making sure all my documentation is in order.

I've also got a bit more information out of them about what they'll be looking for. The VIN is the first thing they will want to identify and they'll be taking lots of pictures of the car inside and out. They also want to see it start up apparently. It wouldn't surprise me if they showed the information and pictures to AAC-UK and said - does this look authentic to you. That would be ironic wouldn't it .
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Old December 22nd, 2017, 10:14 AM
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I'm assuming the car is roadworthy?. If so I don't think you need worry too much. Get as much information as you can about your car, and play nice with the SGS guys.
Here's hoping your new year gets off to good start!.

Roger.
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Old December 30th, 2017, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by rustyroger View Post
I'm assuming the car is roadworthy?. If so I don't think you need worry too much. Get as much information as you can about your car, and play nice with the SGS guys.
Here's hoping your new year gets off to good start!.

Roger.
Sorry for the late reply. The car is almost roadworthy, except for some question marks about the lights which I would appreciate some help with, if possible please. First thing is - the headlights work fine and they dip ok too. Problem is, they're still aligned to the right on both full beam and dip. I intend to have the lights realigned asap for UK roads, but I'm wondering if I'm going to be refused a V5 from the DVLA until I get them done. From your experience with the Vehicle Inspectorate, do you think they're likely to take this line?

Second thing is - I'm not sure if indicator lights on all cars in the UK have to be amber-coloured front and rear, including those on original classics. They're amber at the front, on my 88, because amber bulbs have been fitted that shine through white opaque lenses. The rear lenses are the standard red colour though, which means that the indicators obviously appear red at the rear. Have you had any indicator-colour problems with your US classics in the UK?

Third thing is - the brake lights don't work. I'm not sure if it's a switch fault or that the bulbs are blown - or could be a wiring fault. I'll be getting my trusty multimeter out tomorrow to investigate.

Finally, I'm not sure if my 1950 Olds has been fitted with reversing lights. If so, they don't work. I'm assuming that they're the white opaque lenses at the top of the rear wings, next to the 88 emblems, but I may be mistaken. Again - a job for my voltmeter, after I've traced any wires through. I also need to re-study the wiring diagrams in the shop manual, but although it's a comprehensive book, I can't find an annotated diagram of the exterior lights on the car. It was probably too obvious at the time though, thinking about it.
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Old December 31st, 2017, 11:01 AM
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You don't need amber indicators on a vehicle made before September 1st 1965. No worries there.
Reversing lights aren't required either.
I found USA headlamps normally dip down rather than to the right.
It's normally a simple job to swap them for 7" sealed beam or halogen bulb lights with left hand dip., A look on ebay or get in touch with a local classic British car club should get you a result.
You must have working brake lights, that needs to be fixed. It's fine for them to work with the brake lights for a car of that age btw.

Just a thought, is your car 6 or 12 volt?. If it's 6 volt you may need a specialist supplier for replacement bulbs.

Hope all goes well on the 3rd.

Roger.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 12:44 PM
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Smile

Originally Posted by rustyroger View Post
You don't need amber indicators on a vehicle made before September 1st 1965. No worries there.
Reversing lights aren't required either.
I found USA headlamps normally dip down rather than to the right.
It's normally a simple job to swap them for 7" sealed beam or halogen bulb lights with left hand dip., A look on ebay or get in touch with a local classic British car club should get you a result.
You must have working brake lights, that needs to be fixed. It's fine for them to work with the brake lights for a car of that age btw.

Just a thought, is your car 6 or 12 volt?. If it's 6 volt you may need a specialist supplier for replacement bulbs.

Hope all goes well on the 3rd.

Roger.
Many thanks for the advice Roger. I very much appreciate it. The vehicle is indeed 6V, but the previous owner generously left me a few spare bulbs along with an assortment of other spares. I'm feeling much more optimistic about the 3rd January now . All the best!
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 02:38 PM
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Well today went really well. The inspection was done by a friendly guy from SGS who travelled from Manchester to see the car. He asked a few questions, including whether the car was in original condition (which it is) and took lots of pictures of the mileage display, dashboard controls, the VIN, the engine serial number and of the car in general from several angles inside and out.

I think he would have asked me to start it up, but he noticed the engine was warm from when I'd had it running earlier, so he was satisfied that it would start ok and didn't ask me to re-start it. And that was about it. He didn't check the functionality of the lights, horn, indicators (turn signals) etc.

He seemed to concentrate on whether the vehicle was original or not i.e. not chopped or hot-rodded etc. which I'm guessing would have invalidated it for road-tax and annual-testing exemption over here, which it qualifies for on account of its age. I'm assuming that any significant modification(s) e.g. engine and transmission replaced with modern ones etc. would probably void these exemptions, although I don't know where they 'draw the line'.

The inspection was done and dusted in about half an hour at most. He said to expect the Registration from DVLA to arrive in about two weeks. Happy days! Thanks for your help and advice guys. I very much appreciate it. I hope this can be of future help to anyone going through the same process over here.

Last edited by Oldslincs; January 3rd, 2018 at 03:06 PM.
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Old January 4th, 2018, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Oldslincs View Post
I'm assuming that any significant modification(s) e.g. engine and transmission replaced with modern ones etc. would probably void these exemptions, although I don't know where they 'draw the line'.
Do you mean "modified" vehicles would be taxed or registered differently in the UK. Or do you figure a "modifed" vehicle would fail the inspection and be illegal to register and drive?

I know there are states in the U.S. that have strict vehicle registration laws. Some even require installing a 3rd brake light on a classic vehicle. Luckily, OK has very lienient vehicle registration laws. As long as I pay my $30 / year my Olds is legal.

BTW, it's good to hear that everything went so smoothly. Post some pics of your Olds and the beautiful English countryside when you go cruising.
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Old January 4th, 2018, 08:54 AM
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Seems your SGS inspection was similar to the VI inspection on my Buick.
They were concerned with verifying you had the genuine article, a roadworthiness test would have to be done by a certified examiner. The Road Traffic Act requires your car to comply with the law, but that is by the way.

Excellent result!. Pleased for you.

Perhaps Custom Car or Street machine magazines have articles concerning recent legislation, they are all about modified cars after all.
Facebook, for all the misinformation flooding it does have some useful links to Government guides to the law for vehicles and modifying them. AAC-UK has a Facebook account, and should have the information you need. Look for links to official Government guides, not opinions. Opinions are like ********, we all have one, mostly they are full of s##t.

Just because you no longer need an mot test (annual safety inspection for our transatlantic friends) you should still give it thorough check over at least once a year, even if you cover very few miles. You have a 68 year old car, it shouldn't be a surprise that some parts might be worn out. I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, I want you to have a reliable fun to drive car.

PS, can we have some pictures please?.

Roger.
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Old January 4th, 2018, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Olds64 View Post
Do you mean "modified" vehicles would be taxed or registered differently in the UK. Or do you figure a "modifed" vehicle would fail the inspection and be illegal to register and drive?

I know there are states in the U.S. that have strict vehicle registration laws. Some even require installing a 3rd brake light on a classic vehicle. Luckily, OK has very lienient vehicle registration laws. As long as I pay my $30 / year my Olds is legal.

BTW, it's good to hear that everything went so smoothly. Post some pics of your Olds and the beautiful English countryside when you go cruising.
Good questions you raise there - and to clarify things so that I don't end up scaring future UK buyers of American classics - this is what I know about the subject, although I'm not an expert by any means (official info' to be found here: https://www.gov.uk/historic-vehicles ).
  • Vehicles made before 1977 are exempt from annual Vehicle tax. If car qualifies, typical costs £140-200 and up, according to CO2 emission rating
  • Vehicles made before 1960 are exempt from annual MOT (annual roadworthiness check) Costs typically £35-50.
  • My Olds was made in 1950, so it's exempt from each of the above, but because it's not been Registered before, in UK, the DVLA (equivalent to DMV), need to check its provenance - hence the official Inspection.
  • If a classical/historic car is modified so that its character becomes 'modern', tax exemptions don't apply. I'm not sure where the line is drawn exactly- probably the installation of main mechanicals e.g. new engine or transmission - possibly some major electric/electronic upgrades?
  • Vintage American vehicles wouldn't be illegal to drive over here or refused a Registration because of modifications. As long as the cars were roadworthy - they'd just be registered as modern vehicles if the classical / modern line was crossed, that's all.
Why are historic vehicles are exempt from the MOT roadworthiness test? I think it's because, over time, many rule changes have occurred in car construction, - features either impossible or impractical to retrofit on historic cars, so most of the check-sheet would be ticked 'Not Applicable'.

So, the onus is on us as owners to keep our classics in safe nick because of reasons moral and ethical, sufficient in themselves of course, and we're of a breed that hates things not working properly aren't we. In addition though, we can still 'get done' by the Police for driving unsafe vehicles if they pull us over for a spot check. I hope that clarifies things about the UK picture. Might be useful if you ever find yourself selling a classic to a Brit in future . I will indeed take some more pictures of my Olds in the English countryside and it will be my pleasure to upload them here . .

Last edited by Oldslincs; January 4th, 2018 at 01:07 PM.
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Old January 4th, 2018, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rustyroger View Post
Seems your SGS inspection was similar to the VI inspection on my Buick.
They were concerned with verifying you had the genuine article, a roadworthiness test would have to be done by a certified examiner. The Road Traffic Act requires your car to comply with the law, but that is by the way.

Excellent result!. Pleased for you.

Perhaps Custom Car or Street machine magazines have articles concerning recent legislation, they are all about modified cars after all.
Facebook, for all the misinformation flooding it does have some useful links to Government guides to the law for vehicles and modifying them. AAC-UK has a Facebook account, and should have the information you need. Look for links to official Government guides, not opinions. Opinions are like ********, we all have one, mostly they are full of s##t.

Just because you no longer need an mot test (annual safety inspection for our transatlantic friends) you should still give it thorough check over at least once a year, even if you cover very few miles. You have a 68 year old car, it shouldn't be a surprise that some parts might be worn out. I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, I want you to have a reliable fun to drive car.

PS, can we have some pictures please?.

Roger.
Thanks for the congrat's Roger. I'm with you all the way in what you say above. Your post made me laugh out loud - about opinions . Never heard that one before, and found it so funny - and the bonus is that it's true.

Btw, you're not being a wet blanket about the checks on components. Just now, I'm taking a break from repairing the sun visor that I've removed from the driver's side. Only a minor thing in many ways, but vital in others. We can't help ourselves but do these things can we? Enjoying myself working from the top (almost) down. I'm expecting things to get a little oilier as I progress. Pictures to follow. All the best.
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Old January 5th, 2018, 05:22 AM
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Thanks for the clarification. We definitely look forward to updates.
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