The motor industry is in uproar over the Cape Town traffic department’s efforts to clamp down on modified cars as part of their actions against illegal street racers, the Cape Argus reports.
Even seemingly simple modifications, such as wider or larger wheels and tyres, larger exhausts, or any fittings not clearly specified by the car’s manufacturer, may now have a motorist running the risk of having a car declared unroadworthy.
The city’s traffic officers have been stopping cars they saw as having been modified and removing their licence disks, forcing the owners to go through a roadworthy process.
Traffic department spokesman Richard Coleman pointed out that regulations stated no modifications could be made to any vehicle that was not specified by the manufacturer, and that all work on cars had to be done by individuals or organisations who carried a letter of authority regarding the specific car.
Essentially, no modifications were legal, including lowering a car or changing the wheel size, he said.
Owners of modified cars complained that they were being victimised by traffic officers even when the modifications they made were with proper, high-quality components that were recognised around the world.
But Coleman contended that the mere action of lowering a car made it unsafe on the road. When asked how it could be unsafe if the Federation Internationale d’Automobile (FIA) allowed the lowering of cars for competitive motor racing, he said it would be safe for the track but not for the road.
This week the city said that it was renewing its focus on fast-tracking regulations to tackle illegal racing. This would include imposing heavier fines, impounding vehicles and calling for longer jail sentences for those caught breaking the law.