Last Wednesday the postie delivered a letter for the previous owners of our house. They didn’t move very far away, and after supper I walked it over to them. As I made my way along, feeling sad and bitter and ashamed and angry and fearful at what’s become of my native country and guiltily grateful to be on the other side of a more-or-less closed border from it, I wished for a distraction. Occasionally one gets one’s wish; I hadn’t even reached the end of my block when I encountered this 1995 Dodge Caravan in remarkable condition, with…
…hang on, is that…?!
Yep, it’s got Collector licence plates. This really messes with my mind, which insists Collector plates belong on ’50s-’60s-’70s cars; historic plates earlier and regular plates later than that. Here in B.C., the standards for issuance of Collector plates are extremely stringent—take a look at the approved parts and accessories chart on page 4 of the application—and cars thus registered may not be used for commuting or daily driving. So this minivan, of all things, bearing Collector plates makes me go ¿Squack?. It certainly does appear to meet the condition requirements! Arrow-straight, perfect paint, no stickers, no modifications.
Lookit there, even the headlamps aren’t clouded up, and they’re the originals—I checked.
Onward. A few streets over was this ’72 Volvo 1800ES. With a folding canvas sunroof…?! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so equipped, but I’ll admit I haven’t paid a lot of attention to this model; I prefer the boxier Volvos of that era.
This car’s quite a lot more raggedy than the Caravan—still presentable, but the closer I looked the rustier it got.
No way they’d issue Collector Plates for this one. Nevertheless, nifty to see it.
Across the street from the 1800ES, another 2nd-generation Caravan in apparently nice shape peeked out from its carport:
The next morning I went for another walk. This T123 Mercedes belongs to a neighbour. It’s a nice old driver, but not nice enough to be eligible for a Collector registration:
This Toyota HiAce camper van belongs to another neighbour:
It doesn’t actually say “Toyota” anywhere, and I had to go fishing on the web to figure out what that H-badge stands for.
The Japanese left-traffic headlamps have been replaced with right-traffic ones (because of course I looked and noticed). A much cleaner job of it than some I’ve seen.
About 25 minutes’ walk away, in a grittier area, this sad old Saab sat right there for over a month in heavy rain with its windows rolled down (not smashed; I looked) and its top growing moss:
A steady stream of down-and-out people dove into it over the weeks, and didn’t seem to find (or leave) anything of value. The car disappeared the day after I took this pic, and I’m quite sure it didn’t do so under self-propulsion; if it hadn’t any electrical problems when it was parked there, it had all of them by the end.
And back to that first ’95 Caravan, this time in daylight:
Yup, its condition holds good in daylight. I peered discreetly through the windows and saw it has about 137,000 kilometres on it; that’s under 86 kilomiles. All the back seats have been removed and it appears to have sleeping arrangements in it—no word on whether that might jeopardise the Collector status, but I guess at least so far nobody’s objected.
(gratitude to the ghost of Shelley Berman for the title of this post)
I will join you in bemusement over a Chrysler minivan with collector plates. And it doesn’t even have the wood paneling!
I like the Volvo, but would not like this particular one.
Great finds, but the disparagement against my country in your opening paragraph is most unwelcome.
I wouldn’t be so thin skinned, the U.S has done several questionable actions and I’m only talking about the last six years. As someone who lives in the U.S I know things are off and I’m not going to bury my head in the sand.
Agreed. The disparagement was also completely irrelevant to the subject at hand.
Daniel did not make a political statement. He expressed emotions precipitated by a political crisis, without expressing his particular point of view.
For all we know, Daniel could be a Proud Boy, and expressing his feelings about having the election stolen.
This is not a forum to express or vent personal political points of view. But expressing emotions as a result of the tumult that’s occurred is only human, and quite normal, as they’re always being affected by the circumstances around us. It’s quite normal to express them in the context of a post, whereby the finding of these cars provided Daniel some escape from his emotions.
Let’s be honest: One of the reasons we all come here is to escape the political and social and other tumults of our day. I hate to use the expression, but CC is a “safe space”, as long as we don’t indulge in overt politicking. But acknowledging that these tumults and circumstances exist and affect us all is only human. Pretending otherwise is…the opposite.
I do not see Daniel’s emotional responses to the current situation, which is historically unprecedented, as “disparaging”. Frankly, it’s very hard to not be deeply affected emotionally. Denial is not a exactly healthy response, in my opinion.
And as a native-born American who only recently moved to Canada, it’s not like Daniel has somehow lost his right to have an honest emotional reaction.
And technically, it’s not “irrelevant” to the subject at hand. All of us here commonly place our finds in an emotional context.
Well said Paul.
I hope it’s also politically neutral to say, as a Canadian, that there is still nothing that the United States and its amazingly talented and energetic citizens cannot achieve if they set their minds to it. That’s always been true and it still is, despite challenges that come up. You can’t read the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and not have respect for, and a high level of confidence in, the society that created them.
That wasn’t disparagement, Jason, it was me putting my car-spotting walk in context. Painting a picture, if you will. Otherwise the post would’ve read like the specification pages of a service manual, dry as last year’s matzo. I made a passing reference to current events because that’s what was running round my head, but if something else had been on my mind, I’d’ve probably made mention of—I donno—cats, rabbits, and snakes or something. 🤓
For what it’s worth, although I agree that for the most part politics, or at least current affairs, should be avoided here, I didn’t find it at all disparaging. I think the fact that a once-ubiquitous minivan could lift Daniel’s spirits set a good context. Though I was waiting to learn that it was a turbo 5 speed. Now THAT would be a bona fide collector’s vehicle.
I come here to get away from all that stuff.
Me too! Thanks for the feedback; I’m glad my intent came through clearly for you.
It’s his country too, isn’t it? “what’s become of my native country”
I like my native country, as much as I like a whole lot of other ones. Now let’s talk about cars, OK?
There are 17 colour glossy photographs of cars in this post, and 496 out of 587 words are about cars. That’s just a hair under 84½ per cent, which is a fairly stout majority. It’s over 87 per cent if we count each photo as a word, but a picture is usually and customarily held to be worth a thousand words, so by that measure this post is fully 2,980 per cent about cars, which I have to think would meet any reasonable person’s standard of talking about cars. If you still can’t quite get there from here, we could include the comments, though if we’re doing that I’d best end this one here, because every word I add is dragging down the average. 🚗 🚙 🚘 🚔
I am similar to you more than you know, and I am so not on board with your tone 80% of the time. You flat out come across arrogant and rude.
“ If you still can’t quite get there from here ”
Prime example. You write for the site and choose this type of language? So disrespectful. I don’t really know what to think about “this”, but for real tone it down. Nobody wins in these battles over who knows what.
»EDITED« to remove my jackassed replies. I apologise, cjiguy. That was not up to spec; I was out of line, and I thank you sincerely for your original critique. I’m going to have another go at thinking carefully about it.
I was referring to your reply comments, not your articles. Hence the quote. Can’t exactly filter that out until it’s too late.
Oh, sorry, Eric! My Canadian spelling, syntax, and vocabulary appear to have given you ideas that aggrieved you. I’m actually a native (there’s that word again!) speaker of American, though, and I’m just as much a taxpaying, voting, natural-born citizen of the United States as I assume you are, so habbout you join me in three big American cheers for freedom of expression, eh! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
I’m sorry, but after all my work on Parler was shut down, I’m not feeling a lot of freedom of expression.
OMG; I know, right?! It’s like when Google unceremoniously shut down their G social network, and those on it were suddenly faced with their inability to affect private companies’ business decisions—not even the ones that meant ending access to their resources for people to put words up on the internet for free via a particular channel! It was just, like, »blink« gone!
You’re still free to express. Infact, you just did so. You just need to provide your own soapbox. Free market at work.
Thanks for the minivan photos and a bummer about the Saab. Sure is nice to see those Chrysler Corporation minivans still toodling along.
I haven’t seen hardly any Canadian vehicles in Oregon this year and Alaska vehicles are pretty rare too.
I thought this was going to be about the fogged windows.
After reading the article I followed the link to the Collector Vehicle regulations.
Yes!!! This is what ‘antique’, ‘vintage’ or ‘collector’ plates should be. Factory original, and you get the plate when the vehicle is completed. No works in progress. No resto-rods. License them as something else.
My understanding of the ‘antique’ (or equivalent) plate is to legally allow vehicles that cannot pass state inspection due to the required equipment didn’t exist at the time of its manufacture. And, the understanding that said vehicle would be in deliberately limited use. (That was definitely Pennsylvania’s attitude back in the late Sixties when I got into the hobby.). Unfortunately, over the years the attitude has expanded.
I disagree, much of that is so arbitrary and it doesn’t stop resto rods, you can change the intake and carb, put “dress up” kits on the engine, change the radio to a “period” correct unit (no CD player for older than 97) use 1″ different tires, lift or lower it up to 1″, aftermarket wheels, change the color, upgrade the brakes, switch to 12v and on and on. So one of the dumbest definitions I’ve seen.
I agree with the intent of the stringency—they don’t want people abusing the Collector-plate programme to sneak out of paying what it costs to register and insure a car, and they don’t want rolling wrecks given a nudge, a wink, and a Collector plate.
But you’re certainly right that the standards are arbitrary and silly, obviously put together by a committee without much knowledge or understanding. An era-correct replacement radio is okeh, but a paint colour that is merely era-correct will not do; it must be a colour that was available on that model in that year. The engine has to be equipped as originally, except a replacement intake manifold is okeh, except not a high-rise one, because…um…because they said so. Electronic ignition is okeh, in the interest of increased reliability and reduced exhaust emissions, but electronic fuel injection isn’t—because that could lead to increased reliability and reduced exhaust emissions. No stickers whatsoever, of any kind, except factory- or dealer-installed ones, so that means no era-correct bumper stickers, then, because…um…look, there’s a lot of math. No window tint on vehicles before 1992, because of the Great Window Tint Schism of 1991—we do not discuss it with outsiders. Tires can be 1 inch different in size. Not 2 inches, not an inch and an eighth, one inch, just like it says in the Bible.
The more you look, the less the list makes sense. “Era-correct DOT approved lights” do not exist, because there is nothing such as a “DOT approved light” even in the United States where there’s a thing such as the DOT, and especially not in Canada where there’s not, and even if there were, lights other than DOT-certified ones are permitted by Canadian safety standards.
When I moved to this province, I had high hopes its public auto insurance system would be less of a shambolic scam than the predatory, extortionate private industry in Ontario. That hope was quickly and thoroughly dashed.
In Michigan, the car has to be 25 years old. No equipment requirements, no inspections, no tests. $30 for a 5 year plate. Yes, there are usage limitations, but no one seems to ever check. Taking the car out for a ride occasionally to keep it functional is fine.
I now have two cars with historic plates. When I look at them, it’s hard to believe that they are 38 and 26 years old respectively.
Well, yeah, Michigan. There will never be any kind of roadworthiness inspection (or any other kind) there, because such things are viewed as an affront to the auto industry. I have seen many rolling wrecks in Michigan—and I drove a few there, too.
The more I consider the random things that are and are not allowed it sounds like it was written by one person who decided he was the arbitrator of taste in old cars and knows just enough to know what he doesn’t like and if he doesn’t like it too bad.
As you mentioned color that has to have been available on that particular model, and if you change the color you must do things like the firewall. Presumably because the writer finds it tacky if the any of the old color can be found.
They also apparently aren’t a fan of music and certainly don’t want people to in an era inappropriate way. So if you want to listen to your own collection of music and you own a certain era car you better have kept your collection of 8-track tapes, and hope they still work. Many of the rules seem to be designed to keep things looking original but a hidden audio system is a no no, because you can’t have music, because I said so.
Many of the changes that are allowed seem to be written with the tone that the car owner should be incredibly grateful for being allowed to do. Like being able to use radial tires, modern paint materials and converting to 12v, you know use stuff that isn’t obsolete.
It also shows that there are things they definitely just don’t like, so too bad, so sad, not allowed, like stickers. Never mind that at one time every gas station, five and dime and tourist trap had a big rack of bumper stickers because they sold like hotcakes and could be found on everything from a VW to a Cadillac. You also radio stations and political candidates giving them out as fast as they could.
My same-year Dodge Intrepid, which just got new original-color paint after the original Chrysler primer finally let go of the color coat after 20 years, would easily qualify except perhaps for its aftermarket-replica headlights (maybe they would qualify anyway) and its status as a daily driver of sorts. It alternates with others in the “fleet” and in fact is in a parking spot in front of the workplace, right now. I had added discreet pinstriping to it but that disappeared with the repaint.
I have a 1995 Dodge Intrepid (tried to post about it earlier but it did not appear) which just got an original-color repaint after the Chrysler primer let go of the base coat after 20 years. It has one-size wider tires on original wheels, which is OK. It lost its discreet aftermarket pinstripe with the new paint. But I upgraded the original AM-FM-cassette player in the dash with a drop-in Chrysler AM-FM-CD-cassette from a 1997 model. It has Taiwanese aftermarket replacement headlights (I could polish the original ones, actually). And it is a semi-daily driver, right now parked in a spot on front of the workplace.
I do appreciate those rules intended to preserve the originality of the cars, though a two-year newer radio in the original style from a car with the same dash seems picky.
I think there’s probably a fair amount of leeway in stuff like this—they don’t go over the car with a dentist’s mirror, looking for factory part numbers on the shock absorber grommets and making sure they match the numbers in their database. I doubt if there’s anyone at ICBC who could (or would care to) give a speech like this one about how that p’ticular stereo wasn’t available til ’97, and even then only in the upper-tier Chrysler models.
I’d love to have collector plates for my VW, because they are about a third of the cost of regular plates. But, the Ontario rules are ridiculous, you can only be driving to a repair shop or a sanctioned car event. I talked to a Studebaker owner who had collector plates and got a ticket driving to work on a sunny Friday, so he had to switch back.
And yes, I still think of that generation of Caravan as relatively young, like me… 🙂 🙂
I’m not very familiar with Gen 2 Voyagavans. Would those rear seats have had wheels to assist in their removal from the back, or would they still have had the clawed bottoms as did the Gen.1?
For this white example to be in such great shape, is a testament to someone having garaged it a lot, to have only driven an average of 5,500 kms a year, or thereabout.
As a Canadian I join in your anger at the recent events in DC, and hope for better days ahead.
We had a ’94 Grand Caravan that did not have the wheels under the seats. I believe the ’95’s were similar. I think the ’96’s were the 1st to have the new “Aircraft Inspired Easy Rollout Seats” or something like that. The rollers would retract when the seats were mounted. Used up until the “Stow & Go” seats were used.
I’m amazed at the condition of this van in Canada. Our ’94 was a rust bucket, but that was after about 15 years and 235,000 miles. On the original 4 speed Ultra Drive! The transmission finally went but by then the van was too far gone to save.
As for the headlights not being foggy, I can’t remember if they had plastic or glass lenses.
Plastic lenses—that’s what makes the condition of these originals so remarkable.
Okay, thanks. Our van never got real bad headlights either. That’s why I wasn’t sure.
The (likely) Webasto sunroof on the ES was not (to the best of my knowledge) available from the factory, but I’ve seen a few ES so equipped. I think it was a dealer option. And “a few” means 3 or 4, which isn’t a lot of the 7087 ES that were ever made.
Here’s one for sale in the UK. The ad claims it’s a factory sunroof, but I’m not 100% convinced.
I don’t notice many (any?) Historic Plates here in California, as I don’t go to car shows, but recall “Horseless Carriage” plates from when I was young. So I checked the DMV site, and while we do do have Historic plates, the Horseless Carriage plates have an interesting definition:
Horseless Carriage License Plates are issued to two types of motor vehicles:
– With an engine size of 16 or more cylinders manufactured prior to 1965.
– Manufactured in 1922 or before.
What do you think prompted the selection of the 1965 date? Were there any 16 cylinder cars after the Cadillacs and Marmons of the early thirties?
In Nevada, a “horseless carriage” is defined as any vehicle manufactured “on or before 1915”. I can’t imagine many 106-year-old cars being driven on the street; I’ve never seen even one of these plates.
The rest of the “classic” or “old timer” plates exist entirely as a way to dodge smog checks in the (parts of) the two of 16 counties that have smog checks. Those plates actually cost more than “daily driver” plates, so if you live in one of the places where smog check is not required, or if your car is from 1967 or before (no smog check required) there isn’t any reason to get a special plate.
Dual CC effect! There is a burgundy Chryco minivan identical to this one, that someone has just parked on the street not far from me, apparently restoring it to running condition. It has those elegant lace wheels; also, weather permitting, I’m going to assist a friend of mine in getting a replacement top for his Saab convertible. One was found in a local automobile “recycling” yard! The emotions he expressed upon coming upon a perfect top were priceless! 🙂
Texas “antique” car plates came with the requirement that they not be used for daily driving. We got around that, because someone would inevitably ask about the car and we would then “educate” them. That and the lack enforcement by the police.
Ontario Historic Vehicle plates are similar. You can get them for any car 30 years old or older, at a substantial discount. But their legal use is extremely limited, to unmodified cars on a drive to the mechanic, demonstration drives for sale, and trips to sanctioned car events. Car club trips and most car shows don’t qualify. But I know plenty of people who use them for general pleasure car use and some errands, which risks a $170 ticket.
I looked into the BC Collector plate regs some years ago. As a non-car owner for many years, but still with a hankering for something that would give a city-dweller some pleasure, I was thinking that something like a nice BMW E30 combined with those famous reduced insurance rates would be perfect for a very occasional driver. I’d be happy to live with severely restricted annual usage if that were the issue – five thousand km a year would be fine – but the requirement that it can’t be your only vehicle eliminates it as a practical option.
Daniel, the photos look like you are in the Kits. I’d love to go car spotting with you some day.
Naw, I’m over toward East Van, though I did drive over to Kits just the other day to buy a bunch of really good ice cream. Carspotting, fer sher! One day after this smelly ol’ pandemic will be over.
Years ago, anything older than 25 years was legally a “classic car” here (or a collector car, if you wish), which meant fully road tax free.
But too many old Mercedes-Benz diesels (W123-W124 and the W201 Baby-Benz) became popular as road tax free, daily drivers. Plenty of them available, often in a good condition. These were high-quality cars, you know.
So 25 was changed into 40 years. That’ll teach them!
At this point, first registration prior to Jan. 14, 1981 means official, classic car status. Like a W123 diesel. Oh, wait… Next year the W201. And let’s not forget all peak-Brougham-era-land yachts!
California is pretty lax with the assigning of the Historical Vehicle plates. I don’t know about the enforcement. There are no specific mileage limits, but the law states that it must be over 25 years old and primarily used for historical purposes, parades, shows, exhibitions. That leaves a lot of latitude for interpretation. Not daily transportation. The owner must have other cars for that purpose, but with ride sharing apps, I suppose that couldn’t be enforced easily.
Last year I placed my ’89 Jaguar XJS on Historical registration. Prior to this it had always been licensed and insured, but it’s a long range project that is fully driveable but doesn’t get driven much spending most of it’s time in the garage. It passed the last two smog tests with flying colors, but as an complicated old car, I always worry. If it fails you can’t complete the registration and even if you pay the registration you are not supposed to drive the car, until it complies.
With the Historical registration it is exempt from the smog check requirement, one less worry. Registration fees are supposed to be reduced to 30.00 but Triple A didn’t understand or accept that, so they told me me to go to the local DMV. I just paid the regular reg, I saved 90.00 on the smog test so it was a wash in my eyes.
I’ve read the statutes and discussions on the Antique car forums and the car can be driven to service appointments, garages, etc. and I believe, for “exercise.” I’m retired so I couldn’t be accused of driving my car to “work” since I don’t anymore. I still have it on conventional insurance. Knowing Calif. I suppose that if someone was cited for misuse of this statute they’d probably be charged with some vehicle code violation, plus have to pay at least one year’s registration fess and penalties.
By doing this I’m just putting the car in a holding pattern until it is older than 35 years old when I think that it’s status will legally change. Personally, I would prefer it to be on regular registration, but I’m just laying low for a while.