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Fred's "DMV" adventure

10 YEARS AFTER—THE PROJECT REGISTRATION--THE NY TWO STEP I got hooked on the kit car idea back in 1990 when memories of my 1962 Austin Healy kept me up nights. My next-door neighbor had purchased a restored 66 Healey and encouraged me to buy and restore one of my own. The idea of beating out fenders, chasing rust, sewing upholstery and yanking on old shorted wires just didn’t appeal to me. A Kit Car magazine and a trip to Kent Burchell’s garage to see his his pristine British Racing Green Saxon got me started. My wife, Virginia endorsed the Sebring project thinking it would get me home from the office before 7 PM and keep me home on Saturdays. After building a work area in the barn, doing the pre-assembly, getting wiring completed and engine running I got to the “assemble and align the body sections” to the frame. That process took 9 years. So much for coming home early or working on the car on weekends. Life just kept rearranging my priorities and the Kit always came out last. Of course, Classic Roadsters also got acquired by company X and then went out of and then back into business. This was not a problem for parts but did disrupt the technical support end of the deal. I got a lot of moral support from Kent over that nine-year period. He went after another project during this time and completed most of it last year. His success and focus on car projects was something I tried hard to achieve. Real progress on the completing the important details like body final alignment, installing seats and interior was handled by my very fortunate association with Mark Phillips and his heated/air conditioned garage. From October ’99 to May of 2000 the Kit (aka Sebring) resided in Marks comfy garage. Work continued despite the Phillips dog, “Chevy Austin” complaining every time I came in the yard with my Ford wagon. Mark’s workmanship and work ethic resulted in the Sebring being ready for the registration process at the end of May. I made the decision to try the inexpensive and QUICK NYS DMV procedure in getting Sebring legal for the road. Early in June I visit DMV in Albany with my mv-272 and mv-529 completed to the best of my ability. The review process is brief and I am told that there would be no problems with the next step; getting the Kit inspected by the Field Investigation folks on Central Ave. This is where they check to make sure you haven’t stolen important stuff like the engine and transmission. Can’t drive the car there, so arrange a flatbed to get Sebring there. On the way you need to get an official weight certificate. That was done at Meisners next door just before a rainstorm—Forgot to mention, Sebring has no top yet. The 272 forms are slipped through a one-way window and we sit in the waiting room for “the call”. While in the waiting room another “motor head” gets his car impounded for some illegal parts. Do I sweat—you bet!!! Once the “call” comes, the armed inspectors open the garage doors and point you to the viewing area. After several questions and the longest one hour I have ever been through, you get your VIN number pasted to the fire wall. Now Sebring is an official car in the eyes of Gov. Pataki. Opps, not so fast--. Here I am thinking that the Pataki armed inspectors verified the loads of serial numbers for headlights, taillights, landing lights and tires. Not so!!! My form mv-529 is still at the DMV Technical Services Bureau (aka Techies) in Albany. I learn this after a two week wait by my mailbox expecting the “ Sebring is good to go” letter. When I finally call, I learn that the armed inspectors don’t talk to the Techies even though they are both DMV departments. Sounds like a General Electric clone. I also learn that the Techies have misplaced my forms, photos and various legal documents. No bother mate, the next day Sebring is found. However, I am told, Sebring has a problem. The Ford V-8 (1968 version) needs more than the PVC valve that came installed. We need a thermostatic air cleaner too. O Boy and we are off the bone yard to seek such an animal. $20.00 later we have a real beauty that goes straight to the sandblast and paint booth. After the restoration, comes the installation. Move the coil, shim the air cleaner, make up hose to exhaust manifold and modify the hood prop rod so the hood will close. I am really proud of my quick mod job. I fully expect the Techies to admire my workmanship at the home of Sebring. Instead I learn they are under-manned and would I please take a picture and bring it in. No problem as we are now near the end of July. At DMV Techie hangout I get my computer Notice of Acceptability and I am off and running. Not so quick!!! I must get an official car inspection certificate before I can register rather than having the 10 day grace period to do so with a “regular” car. Yet another flatbed ride for Sebring. Thanks to Dave Anker we get the job done with an official sticker and an exciting ride around the block—an Anker specialty. Its now August 1 and we have driven 5 miles—1/2 a mile per year… Sebring is ready for NYS Plates, her rear end shaking with anticipation… August 3 we are ready to go downtown to DMV with money in hand. One more look at the seemingly one inch of forms and a sinking feeling invades my stomach. The Techie form says register as Year 2000 custom. The VIN form states it should be a 1990 custom. I call the Techie hangout and report—“Albany we have a problem”. I get “Oh gosh” from the other end of the line. As it is a Friday, there is little can be done. One week goes by and it appears that the armed inspectors won’t change their form or communicate what has to be done. I learn that the car must be registered as the year it was completed, not when the kit was purchased. The Techie’s tell me that all will be OK and to have the folks at DMV downtown call if there is a problem. August 18 and it is a sunny day. I feel confident and tell Sebring not to worry. I’d be back with plates soon. At DMV I don’t get past first base. They need original and not copy of bill of sale for kit. I leave with tail between legs and sneak into the house so Sebring doesn’t see me. A call to North Dakota brings no joy--Classic Roadsters can’t help. Rooting through piles of parts receipts, I find a scrap of a “balance due” notice. I return to DMV and run into a clerk that has never seen a Kit Car registered. She gets really excited as I try to calm her down. Her supervisor rescues both of us. She understands. Everything looks ok. Not so fast. My insurance card says 1990, not 2000 custom. Rejected again—I start to sob, tears running down this AARP face. The supervisor, an AARP member herself, understands. “Call your agent and get a new insurance card faxed here”. OK. After ½ hour, agent Lisa comes through and I am back in the DMV line. New clerk—a little panic on my side but that disappears when she pulls those beautiful NYS plates from under the counter. On the way home, I wonder if Sebring will really appreciate all I have gone through to get her on a winding road at the first opportunity. If you readers decide to avoid some of these wheel bending curbs don’t hesitate; pick up the phone and call 1-800-Avoid DMV Pain or contact me at 518-374- 9399. Those members out of range of Governor Pataki should consult their local authorities or go straight to the nearest establishment serving your beverage of choice. by Fred