RV8 immobilser requirements demanded by some insurers
alarming trend of insurers seeking to escalate their requirements
for the retrospective fitting of Thatcham 1 immobilisers on open top
sports cars has been noted by our anonymous contributor. Here the
contributor provides a briefing on the present situation.
of members of the V8 Register who own RV8s which are not insured
through the "Abingdon Policy" arranged by Peter
Best Insurance Services and underwritten by Ecclesiastical Group,
should prepare themselves for the possibility of a rude awakening!
In view of the continuing escalation of vehicle-related crime, a growing
number of insurance companies are beginning to insist that modern,
powerful sports cars - RV8s, Morgan Plus 8s, TVRs and similar machines
- are retrospectively fitted with a Thatcham 1 immobilser and alarm
I have investigated the matter in some considerable detail, including
talking directly to the Vehicle Security Installation Board (VSIB),
approved vehicle security system installers, and the underwriting
staff of several insurance companies. I can, therefore, assure members
that the Lucas immobiliser fitted by MG Rover to the RV8 does NOT
have either Thatcham 1 or Thatcham 2 categorisation.
There are two main reasons for this lack of classification. The first
is that the Thatcham evaluation and categorisation of vehicle security
systems only took effect from 1997 - some two years after the
last MG RV8 was built. The second is that whilst the manufacturer-installed
immobiliser in the MG RV8 meets most of the Thatcham 2 requirements,
it is still only a one-wire immobilisation system. A Thatcham 2 category
system must be able to immobilise several components rather than just
The principal difference between a Thatcham 1 and a Thatcham 2 classification
is that Thatcham 1 requires an independent alarm sounder unit
to be installed in addition to the immobiliser, whereas a Thatcham
2 only requires an immobilisation capability. The overall purchase
and fitting costs for the two systems will vary between £450
for a Thatcham 1 and £150 for a Thatcham 2 installation!
Although a number of insurance underwriters are beginning to specify
the fitting of a Thatcham 1 category vehicle security system as a
prerequisite to their granting agreed value insurance on the RV8,
there really is no under-bonnet area that is suitable for the installation
of the independent sounder unit. Its dimensions are 4 inches square
by 3 inches thick and although fitting it on the front scuttle, behind
the honeycomb grille and forward of the radiator matrix might seem
a good idea, both my local MG Rover dealer and the Lucas agents agreed
that this position would be unsuitable. The unsuitability was not
only because of waterspray exposure but also because of the ease of
access for any potential thief equipped with wire cutters. The only
other obviously vacant under-bonnet areas occur on either side of
the inner wings, adjacent to the exhaust manifold downpipes and on
the offside inner wing, either forward or aft of the oil filter. Quite
frankly, the first of these two options is clearly unsuitable owing
to the extremely high temperatures prevailing around the exhaust manifolds
of a 4-litre engine.
The second option is theoretically viable, but only just! Locating
the sounder unit in either of these two areas would involve drilling
several new holes through the inner wing. Moreover, siting the sounder
unit aft of the oil filter would also necessitate the removal and
repositioning of the adjacent earthing point, thus creating yet another
hole in the bodywork and leaving the original hole to be filled by
a grommet. All this hole-drilling and the associated disruption caused
to the undersealed areas immediately beneath carries with it the very
real risks of poor subsequent earthing
and the creation
of ready-made rust paths due to the associated damage caused to the
paintwork and cataphoretic rust-inhibiting coating, both of which
will have been applied to the body after any such hole-drilling had
already been completed. "Oh come of it!" I imagine some
will say; "There's no need to be that pernickety; a bit of zinc
primer and a little touch-up paint finished off with a spot or two
of undersealing compound and it'll be fine . . ". Well, unfortunately
the rust "bug" is not so easily defeated. As WC Fields might
well have said "Corrosion, like "suckers" must never
be given an even break!"
fitting a full Thatcham 1 security system is neither practicable nor
desirable, should one even bother to consider a Thatcham 2 installation?
After all, aside from the requirements of certain underwriters, the
Lucas security system originally fitted to the MG RV8 is perfectly
adequate is it not? Well, in view of the rising trend in vehicle-related
crime, the installation of a Thatcham 2 immobiliser is certainly worth
the investment since the existing non-Thatcham approved immobilisation
system, as fitted to Land Rover, Range Rovers and the MG RV8 from
1993 to 1997, can be circumvented by the professional car thief in
under 3 minutes! During the installation process on my own RV8, I
was shown just how quickly and easily the Lucas immobiliser could
be bypassed and the vehicle driven away!
installation of a Thatcham 2 is both a neat and a relatively simple
operation that takes about 4 hours. Unlike a Thatcham 1, the installation
of a Thatcham 2 does not require bulky and unsightly components to
be fitted in either unsuitable or cosmetically inappropriate locations.
Moreover, the vehicle's existing immobilisation and horn-sounding
system is left entirely intact such that there will now be two entirely
separate immobilisers fitted to your car! Please note - do not
be persuaded to disconnect or otherwise disable the manufacturer-installed
Lucas system on the mistaken premise that it has now become superfluous.
Not so, there are no suitable Thatcham-approved detectors that can
be used to replace the RV8's own microwave volumetric space detector
that is located on the transmission tunnel. In any case, the RV8's
own volumetric space protection facility is still very much "state-of-the-art",
relying on microwaves rather than ultrasonics.
no circumstances must RV8 owners be browbeaten into leaving their
vehicle unattended in the hands of impetuous technicians. Under pressure
of time and unsupervised, they will invariably engage in all manner
of indiscriminate trim-pulling, hole-drilling, cable-forcing and bracket-bending.
I know, I have lost count of the times that I have had to keep the
impulsive "no problem, mate; we'll get it sorted"
approach politely but firmly in check!
The good news
is that, once fitted, your wonderful new Thatcham 1 alarm and immobiliser
system will reduce your insurance premium from £700 to £350
for an agreed value varying between £20,000 and £25,000.
(Notes these figures are as at September 2001).
for what it is worth is "do not be in a hurry to upset
existing the electrical installation in your RV8 simply to fulfill
the cascading demands of some insurance company whose front line employees
could not care two hoots about your car and who, in the event of a
claim, will have no hesitation of putting you through the "wringer
with an insurance loss adjuster". Just ring an MG Car Club approved
broker like Peter Best Insurance Services for a sensible quote and
steer well clear of any non-approved organisations no matter how well
known or pre-eminent they may appear to be. Forewarned is forearmed!
reserved by the V8 Register