Ageing cars spark safety fears

Still rolling: Richmond vehicle inspector Gary Pope with his older-than-average 1994 Toyota Hiace. The numberplate is inspired by his passion for vintage motocross bikes.
Still rolling: Richmond vehicle inspector Gary Pope with his older-than-average 1994 Toyota Hiace. The numberplate is inspired by his passion for vintage motocross bikes.

Tasman residents drive the second-oldest cars in New Zealand, figures obtained by the Motor Trade Association show.

The MTA said the average age of registered cars in the Tasman District was 16 years, three years older than the national average of 13.

Waimate had the oldest average at 17, and Waimakariri slipped into third place with an average car age of 15.75 years.

Spokesman Ian Stronach is concerned about New Zealand's fleet of elderly vehicles, saying they have serious safety implications.

"The world was very different in 1996, but the majority of our vehicle fleet was built then or before," he said.

Richmond vehicle inspector Gary Pope said cars aged 10 years or older were common at Waimea Vehicle Testing Station.

He said it was a "50-50" chance whether they were well-maintained or potentially dangerous, noting a sharp divide in the way people cared for loved classics versus older cars that they could not afford to replace.

Mr Pope is the proud owner of a 1994 Toyota Hiace, saying he had "no intention" of parting with it any time soon.

He bought the imported vehicle in 2005 because it had exceptionally low mileage, and uses it to transport his vintage motocross bikes.

Mr Pope, a motor mechanic, is able to ensure the van is safe to drive by maintaining it himself.

"It probably has its oil changed more than it gets washed though," he said.

He said many people with older cars get "stuck" with them because after a certain age, the car was not worth selling.

"It still does the same job," he said of his van.

Nelson