SECTION 11 - GETTING THE CAR REGISTERED

This part deals essentially with what the bureaucratic mess you have to go through to get your car registered (Australia and more particularly ACT, NSW is a cinch compared to the ACT). The whole thing is that if you can register this in the ACT then you can get through rego anywhere. Our rego inspectors are some of the most finnicky (read pricks) in Australia. Though I heard that Queensland isn't much better. As I informed you at Step 1 you need to go have a talk to an Engineer before proceeding. It is almost a sponsorship system where they vouch for you and you bring it in occassionally and show them what you have done and they go yay or nay. I have spoken to two Automotive Engineers as nominated by Road User Services (The RTA to everyone else), and both seemed to give me hope that the project was definitely possible it was just a case of how much money and how much time I wanted to spend on it..

Now I am assuming that you have gone ahead and created the Mini Starlet Hybrid

Installation of fabricated subframe and Engine.


A Charade 1.3lt halfcut

STEP 1 Engineers Certification

As stated above I am assuming that you have just gone ahead and done it and then worried about getting it registered. While you can theoretically get it registered. It is best to go see the Engineer first. WHY? Because they know what you have to do to get the thing past rego. They are essentially a defacto rego inspector. They won't give you a certification unless they feel that it is absolutely safe. Let's face it, their certification is legally binding, if you have a crash and it is found that the car was grossly under engineered then that guy could be in alot of trouble (unlikely but possible).

Here is my experience and you can make of it what you will. I went the other route of talking to the Engineer first and then embarking on the project. This worked out well because the engineering firms in Canberra at least are also the people you are most likely to talk to when getting your custom driveshafts made up. While you could possibly cut the drive shafts from the Mini and the Suzuki and then weld them together, this is not advisable as there is a fair amount of stress going through the driveshafts and breaking one can be dangerous or do serious damage to your engine/engine bay. Plus it is also illegal in most states.

Now having talked to the Engineer (complete with clipboard!), he asked me some basic questions about the engine, the Mini and measured the wheel and track dimensions and asked some more questions. He then outlined the process for getting certified:

  1. Initial Meeting: Discuss general concept, outline proposed method of attack (note if you want to get browny points mention the use of a jig for the subframe, my engineer was impressed by this. Actually he gave a grave mumur, but hey you have take what you can get). Cost $200.
  2. Testing: Basically you give them a ring to say it is ready. You then transport the car to the local dragway (Closed in the ACT now except for tests like this obviously), where they conduct a series of tests such as weaving, braking distance etc. Hopefully they will give me a go at the quarter mile?. Cost $400.
  3. Final Certification: Based on the results of the testing (which I assume will be a thumbs up, gotta be optimistic) the Engineer will then go away and write up a report indicating that he gives his certification to the changes you have made to the car from stock essentially. So any changes you make to the car you should inform the engineer of because he can probably certify all of them for the same price. For instance things like wider wheels, increased track due to installation of vented brakes, and especially the vented brakes themselves. Cost $200.

 

Results of the Engineering Test & Final Report

Update 28 February 2006: Well guys I have my engineering certificate. Whooo Hooo. The braking test consisted of a couple of different test procedures. One was braking consistently from high speed approximately 10 times to check for brake fade. The metro 4 pots passed with ease. The other test consisted of a test for braking and change of direction which the Mini also passed well. The final brake test consisted of locking up the brakes to ensure that the rear ones didn't lock early and spin the tale around, which is to test brake bias.

The rest of the issues had already been tested earlier. So there you go done. He gave me a list of little things to tidy up on the car to ensure that I had the highest chance of passing the rego test. Also because of the seats not being able to slide forward when you hit the leaver I am having to register it as a two seater which is no big deal for me. So there you go the car is engineered now for rego. This should occur sometime next week, depending on how busy I am. I'll let you know how that goes. Also a big hello to Nassis (?) who stopped and said hello when I was parked on the side of the road.


I will include details of the test at the dragway and the salient points of the final certification report when this occurs. At this time I estimate this to be during March/April 2005 (geez how optimistic was that!). Sorry January 2006. This assumes that some of the difficult items such as driveshafts will be easily obtained in a reasonably short period of time.

 

Going over the Pits

Here I will give you the outcome of the registration inspection. I have confirmed that I have to go to the Road User Services (The ACT Version of the RTA) Test Station in Dickson, which means I really can't get away with anything. I have obtained the inspection manual that RUS use so I will be going over the car with a fine tooth comb to determine any areas where I am lacking or that could give them cause to reject my car. My engineer indicated that he has found them to be fair in their adjudications but he is an engineer, I am not, this will make a difference. Anyway details at the time.

Final Update: Well took her in for the third time on the 31st of March. All seemed to be going well, but this one guy who had been there previously when this "technical officer" came a ruined my day, kept wandering around with my paper work, and didn't seem to be doing much about stamping it passed. It became obvious that he was looking for this particular officer (even though there was another technical officer present). Mainly due to his inability to find this particular officer, meant that he had no choice but to pass it. And the technical officer on duty at the time was the same officer that had smoothed the way and given me the OK on the ID check. So I had my two pieces of paper! So I practically ran into the rego station and paid for my rego.

The thing I found from this particular process is that most of the guys there while being pedantic are pretty reasonable. But if you get one of the guys, especially these technical officers, then it can be a real problem. Plus despite what they say, they don't seem to know all the legislative and design rules issues. I am just glad I got through as there could have been a situation where I might have not been able to register it.

Update 24 March 2006: Well as you may not know I went through rego inspection a second time on Friday the 24th of March. This was not a good run as I ran into a particular "technical officer" who proceeded to make my life a living hell. Basically he deemed my engineering report not specific enough in regard to the brakes and subframe.

In addition it did not pass the ID check because the guy wanted me to get an import certificate for the halfcut! I rang Rolins who confirmed my suspicions that import cerficates are only given when a full car is imported, and that halfcuts and engines do not receive them (which is why they cut the car in half). So I went away pretty pissed off.

I spoke to my engineer who called the technical officer at the station, but got no reply. I even faxed the report off to the inspector and he never got back to me or my engineer. Which in my opinion just goes to prove that the whole thing was not about the report or

Update 15 Mar 2006: I went over the pits on Monday (13th) and while it didn't pass the issue to be resolved are minimal and barring one of the inspectors deciding to review the car again it should pass. Basically the issues brought up were things that if I had left it for a while longer probably would have been resolved but at least by taking it over the pits I know what I have to resolve before the re-test which is booked for next Friday (24th of March).

The issue to resolve are:

  1. Secure the air filter - this will require making a bracket up (not too difficult)
  2. Rear brakes - one I wasn't expecting. Basically they didn't even come close to locking up the rear wheels!
  3. LH High Beam - The connecting plug to this headlight is a little iffy, if I jiggle it the high beams come on so I think I will pull both wires out of the plug and simply hard wire this particular circuit.
  4. Door Card - I didn't get around to sourcing a door car so during the weekend I am going to get some black vinyl and some fibre board and make up two new cards
  5. Rear Taillight spliters - basically the auto electricians who did the work on the taillights left the spliters out - buggers!
  6. Loose Tie Rod Bolt - The one that connects to the LH lower control arm. Obviously the guys who did my wheel alignment were real thorough.
  7. ID Check - This the only serious one. Basically because I cut the cowl for the original radiator off (and the chassis number with it) I have to get an ID check, and since all my belongings along with rego papers invoices etc went with it I don't know how I am going to prove ownership. Plus this sucks anyway because I am still on the RTA system as owner so I don't why am even having to bother surely all I have to do is get the number placed somewhere on the chassis again. It may have to with the fact that the guy who printed out the inspection paper for them to look at ticked the rego transfer box instead (dickhead).
  8. Exhaust Db Test - Oh one good thing even though I got a 96.6 to 98 Db rating on the exhaust they gave it an advisory status so I at least got through that.

I have already resolved the high beam issue the wire simply required a push into the plug and now its fine, so that was nice. I have also done up the loose tie rod bolt (thanks wheel aligner!). I will make up the brace to hold the air filter on the weekend (should be pretty simple). I will also make up some splitters for the rear taillights, which were so kindly left off by the auto electrician. I will also be making up some custom door cards with black vinyl.

The serious issues are the back brakes and the ID check. They didn't even come close to passing muster in the brake test for both pedal brake and hand brake. So I will book it asap to have the brake guys sort it out (more money). The ID check is a funny one. The car is still registered in my name and has been since 2002. I also renewing the rego not transferring it. I think some of the confusion has arisen due to the fact that the dickhead at who print the inspection form crossed the transfer of rego box instead of renewal. But the main reason was because I chopped off the chassis id number because I got rid of the entire radiator cowl from the side of the engine bay. I am still making enquiries on this issue to see if I can resolve it before I go for the second inspection.

As always I will update this section once the next inspection is conducted...

 

Registered

If you see new details here it means I have the car registered. If so there will be a party. Also I will put some compressed video up of the car going along etc (maybe just a little burnout?).

It has been a long journey but now it has come to an end at least as far as getting it roadworthy. Obviously there will be developments but overall I am pretty happy with it just the way it is.

Thanks You's

Well the first and most important thank you have to go to my lovely wife Fedi, her patience and help have been endless and her support boundless. I think if it had been anyone else it may not have happened, so thanks baby.

A thanks should also go to Brad, firstly for simply confirming that it could be done, but also for his advice, even though some of my questions must have seem stupid. Thanks Brad.

And a thanks to all the guys at Ausmini, but also the guys in the ACT Mini club especially, Mick and Rob, who came around, gave their advice and generally kept me level when I came close to chucking it in. Thanks guys.

So there you go, 20 months worth of work, at least 1500 manhours, and probably $9,000 and there you go one Starlet GT engined Mini. Hope you enjoyed the trip I did (most of the time).

Cheers

Matt

BACK TO SECTION 9 - FINALISING ENGINE INSTALLATION
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BACK TO SECTION 1
BACK TO THE START - STARLET GT CONVERSION