First RAWS approval granted to an RV8 importer in Australia

Stuart Ratcliff of RV8 Cars Australia has completed the RAWS process so will soon be able to carry out necessary works on imported RV8s to comply them for the Australian market. (Jan 05)

Stuart Ratcliff sent Dr Gavin Bailey an email just before Christmas 2004 reporting "Had my final inspection by the engineers from DOTARS (Department of Transport and Regional Services) last Friday and am expecting a RAWS (Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme) approval may be through by Christmas. That will be a good Christmas present after 18 months of hard work! After all the horror stories from others involved in the RAWS I must have done something right as I was only given one item to review." Then on Christmas Eve Stuart sent a further email with the good news - "Accreditation as a RAW (registered automotive workshop) came through yesterday so we are now able to comply vehicles for Australia."

The RAWS scheme came into effect in May 2003 cutting off imports of all used cars under 15 years old, except for cars brought in by migrants. Stuart comments that "the changes had been pushed along by the likes of Nissan and Toyota under the guise of safety (no side intrusion bars in some imports) when they saw large volumes of 4WD vehicles (Toyota Surfs) arriving on the Australian market." The RAWS scheme meant that workshops wanting to comply vehicles for the Australian market had to meet strict criteria including their being established as a corporation, have a workshop, have clean criminal history checks, have relevant automotive skills, and bring their company up to ISO9001:2000 standard. That process has involved a great deal of time and money to gain a RAWS approval.

RV8 undergoing ADR37 emission testing at FORD as part of the RAWS approval process. (Photo: Stuart Ratcliff)

Once quality assurance has been gained, the preparation of an evidence file showing that your vehicle meets the relevant design rules in force at the date of manufacture of your type of vehicle must be undertaken. I now have a 200 page file covering such things as lamps, door latches, seats, seat belts, glass, steering column, mirrors, emissions (details from the full ADR37 emission test at Ford Motor Company) as well as ADR29.

ADR29 (Australian design Rule 29) is for side impact (intrusion bars) and requires evidence to

RV8 undergoing side impact testing - painful to watch in slow motion. (Photo: Stuart Ratcliff)

prove the strength of the side of the vehicle. The only way to demonstrate compliance with this rule is a test involving the destruction of a door attached to a vehicle. As you can see from the pictures the side of the vehicle is crushed and certain force criteria have to be met at given points. Our design of intrusion bar worked well and we were able to pass this test with only financial discomfort! By the way this test is done slowly over a period of 30 sec so you get to feel the pain of seeing the car slowly crushed!

Stuart recognises there have been concerns that auction prices in Japan might jump with the return of buyers for the Australian market with the granting of RAWS compliance approvals to specialist RV8s importers in Australia. Quite what effect Australian buyers will have when they start hitting the RV8 auctions again in Japan to meet the pent up demand from enthusiasts in Australia who have been unable to import RV8s for 20 months, is uncertain. Stuart offers reassurance on this front saying "in relation to the flow of cars to Australia don't worry. Australia might be a large country but we only have a small population, most of whom don't remember the glory days of BMC and don't know what an MG is. There are currently around 130 RV8s in Australia of which we complied around 75 (some 58%) under the previous vehicle import compliance scheme. We will not be driving auction prices up so don't get too worried!"
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