Durban - While the KwaZulu-Natal transport department is adamant that the change of car registrations in the province will bring about positive change on the roads and market the province, car fanatics who own classic, post-vintage, vintage and veteran cars are not revving the same engine.
The enthusiasts fear their cars will become ordinary, as there is significant value attached to the current registration numbers.
The decision to change vehicle plates from town-based registrations to “KZN” plates, and probably from plastic to more expensive aluminium, has met resistance.
Former chairman of the Natal Rover Owners’ Association, Patrick Coyne, who owns a 1960 Rover, is calling for special consideration for their cars.
“Would it be too much to ask, to make a special dispensation for our cars, which have registration number plates corresponding to the year of the car’s birth?” he asked.
Coyne told the story of what he had gone through to secure the registration of his car.
“About 20 years ago, I was driving in Durban city centre and I saw a car with the registration ND 1960, which was the year my Rover was made. I chased after the car but lost it in the traffic,” he said.
At that time his car had “a different number that meant nothing to me”.
Coyne embarked on a mission to track down the owner.
“His surname was Simpson and he lived in Glenwood. The guy refused to give me the number but I didn’t give in. I sent him Christmas cards every year for five years, and eventually he called me and said he was willing to give me his car registration.”
But, while celebrating this coup, he came across a motorcycle with the same registration.
“I searched again and found the owner was from KwaMashu. At that time bikes and cars had duplicate number plates.”
Coyne said he found the owner and gave him R20 for “the sacrifice he had made”.
As far as he knows, he is now the sole possessor of “ND 1960”.
“It’s a unique number on a unique ‘classic car’. If I have to change my number plate to a meaningless row of digits, the value of my car will decline, because the number ND 1960 is a characteristic part of the car,” he said.
Coyne’s two-tone grey car has been to many places and been a part of special memories.
The retired headmaster wrote A Guide to South Africa’s Mountain Passes and Poorts, which tells of mountain roads the car had conquered.
Transport department spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said: “The issue is under discussion but there will be exception for numbers with sentimental values.
“KwaZulu-Natal has approved the policy and the department is waiting for the approval by the National Department of Transport. The MEC will then announce how the process will unfold,” he said.