One of the very best things about a trip to CES is the opportunity to see cars that never make it to Australian shores. This is not because they are horrible to drive (even though sometimes they are) or because there is no place for ‘yank tanks’ in Australia (because for large families or tradies they make perfect sense). It is simply because the economies of scale do not support a case for making a lot of models in both left and right hand drive.
It is a stark reality for both monarchists and cricket fans that outside of the old British Empire most of the world doesn’t tolerate constitutional monarchies or know their cherries from their googlies. Likewise, outside of the Empire, everyone else drives on the right. Japan is one of the exceptions, but even this relates to a weird historical quirk involving Britain’s support of early Japanese railway infrastructure.
Switching to left hand drive won’t be as simple as changing a few street signs, so how do we gain access to the right hand drive fleet?
If you live in the Eastern states and your ride is more than 30 years old you can register it as is, without conversion to right hand drive. Easily done and regularly seen, especially with fans of classic American muscle. If you live in Western Australia, your ride only needs to be 15 years old. Recent legislation by the Federal Government has attempted to streamline the process further, although (perhaps unintentionally) this has created a loophole for owners of exotica, such as the Ferrari LaFerrari or Bugatti Chiron. In some cases these types of hyper cars can be registered and used in left hand drive form; hardly a win for the average car enthusiast.
With the demise of local manufacturing, and the evaporation of any sense of loyalty to local models, this is what I am proposing: free up the importation of any model of car to Australia in unmodified form. Simple. The costs of importation will mean that it will be unviable to import junk while the insistence of no modifications avoids variance in the quality of the modifications and supports the local custom scene. As anyone who has driven a left hand drive classic on our roads will know, it is a pain. No one in their right mind would choose a left hand version of a car available locally in right hand drive form – it makes no sense. However, now that local manufacturing is dead, for those wishing to import a car that is not available locally, that will never be available in right hand drive and who is prepared to put up with the pain of living with left hand drive, why shouldn’t we be able to?
I’m writing to Santa for a Challenger Helical for Christmas.
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