Lotus Elan

Q plates

PostPost by: Grizzly » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:02 pm

elanfan1 wrote:How has this policy changed, indeed has this policy changed?

Sounds like DVLA just told them how to avoid it, the policy has been the same for many years.... if you contact the DVLA with the number stamped into your chassis and the number of your new chassis they won't say 'No don't be silly you don't need to show us that!! you have a Lotus Elan you scamp ;)' as the guy with the Q plate problem is finding out the hard way.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:43 pm

billwill wrote:This is my understanding too and I went through the whole rigmarole back in 1978. i,e. I told the DVLA/C that the chassis number was now LR xxxxx and they wanted to issue a Q plate, but I eventually got them to agree to it being inspected by one of their high MOT inspectors (or something like that) unfortunately the one for my district was on holiday and in the end I transported my S3 coupe on a trailer to Greenwich High Street for its inspection at their office. The inspectors hummed an ahhhed and loved it and declared that it did not need a Q plate and so I was able to get a full tax disc later that day with the original registration number.


I replaced my chassis in 1979 and it was inspected by the South Wales Police vehicle inspections ( a Detective Superintendent) who issued a report on the car.

The report goes on a bit, but one paragraph reads..
'This vehicle has been re-built as original using an ex-works chassis with number LR NNNN stamped in. The vehicle is still displaying the original chassis number (36/nnnn) on a plate fixed to the bodyshell'

The logbook entry was changed, and it's been like that since with no problems.

The issue of subframe vs chassis is, I believe, just a courtesy that was agreed, much the same as the positioning of the numberplates on Elans and E Types.

Unfortunately, if DVLA want to implement the letter of the law, they would only have to refer to the official Lotus Service Parts list, Section 'A', CHASSIS.

It's pretty unambiguous!
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:23 pm

Thats how i believe it goes with Lotus replacement chassis (usually engineers report though), it is still at the DVLA's discretion but when you approach them they don't turn you away saying it's not required.

I know things go much smoother with genuine Lotus parts though, we have a customer who is having a similar issue with a TVR after replacing the chassis for an Aftermarket item thats almost identical to the original.
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PostPost by: pharriso » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:43 pm

tedtaylor wrote:what is a "Q" plate? for us foreigners... :)


Ted, a peculiarity of the UK system is that vehicles are assigned to a car, generally for the life of the vehicle. It only changes when a vanity plate is assigned, or when some idiot tells the DMV that the chassis (sorry sub-frame :twisted: ) has been changed.

This differs from our (US) system where the plate is assigned to the person.

The UK system leads to all sorts of games, you used to be able to walk into any auto parts store & get any plate made up...
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:08 am

Grizzly wrote:Thats how i believe it goes with Lotus replacement chassis (usually engineers report though), it is still at the DVLA's discretion but when you approach them they don't turn you away saying it's not required.

I know things go much smoother with genuine Lotus parts though, we have a customer who is having a similar issue with a TVR after replacing the chassis for an Aftermarket item thats almost identical to the original.


I'm surprised for the TVR the plate welded to the Chassis Rail on the off side didn't get transfered by magic :roll:
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Wed Nov 14, 2018 9:41 am

Ok just had a chat with the our engineer who works for the DVLA doing this stuff.

It's simple really, you always have to have one original number matching between the Body-Vin plate-Registration documents that is clear and readable. You are only issued with a Q plate if all three numbers (Engine,Body,Chassis) don't match the Registration documents or you don't have a registration document (car built from parts)

It is also true that the same unit number can be used as the Chassis and Body number as long as you can see them clearly displayed on each item, it would only be the number in the Chassis/Frame box of the documents that changes when the chassis is replaced, the third 'Body' number would stay the same meaning you can get away with an Engine swap too if required.

So this is the scenario, at some point in history some one has changed the engine (Disclosed it to the DVLA, Engineer report etc) so that removes one of the three, then you change the chassis which would be the second of the three but the problem arises when the body has been painted etc and the Engineer can't see/read the number on it.... In that case he can't check the third number making it questionable and it would require a Q plate.

Also if you tell the DVLA that a car is a monocoque you might only have two numbers on your cars records, so if you have a non original chassis and you need to fit a replacement engine for what ever reason you might have a problem with the engineer, but if you can find the number molded into the grp you might get away with it.... that said many Elans have been painted and the number is no longer seen.

One thing that is arguable is the screw on plate, some engineers might not look any further that this and if thats the case luck is with you, but allot will see the Engine number, see the plate is not permanently fixed and assume it's a convenience plate for MOT testers then start looking for the origin. All depends on how meticulous the engineer is and what brings you to his door.

It appears there are penalties for non disclosure but i didn't go into that.

The funny thing is the same guy said why don't you just grind the new number off the chassis and stamp in your old one.... Job done :lol:
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PostPost by: billwill » Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:10 am

pharriso wrote:
tedtaylor wrote:what is a "Q" plate? for us foreigners... :)


Ted, a peculiarity of the UK system is that vehicles are assigned to a car, generally for the life of the vehicle. It only changes when a vanity plate is assigned, or when some idiot tells the DMV that the chassis (sorry sub-frame :twisted: ) has been changed.

This differs from our (US) system where the plate is assigned to the person.

The UK system leads to all sorts of games, you used to be able to walk into any auto parts store & get any plate made up...


But the important aspect for UK Elan owners is that Q plates are what are issued to Kit cars, so the Elan get 'considered' to be a kit car and this knocks thousands of £ off its value.
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:37 am

As I recall, to avoid a Q plate 3 major components don`t have to be "matching numbers" but do have to be to the original specification. I think major was defined as chassis, engine, gearbox, suspension and rear axle (differential). You can advise them of, for example, a new engine with impunity but I wouldn't risk telling them you`d put a Zetec in.
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PostPost by: Mick6186 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:11 pm

For many years cars have been of monocoque construction and bon't have a chassis, just subframes etc bolted to the bodyshell.
If MG cars such as MGB and Midget have a replacement heritage bodyshell do they go onto a Q plate?
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:23 pm

jimj wrote:As I recall, to avoid a Q plate 3 major components don`t have to be "matching numbers" but do have to be to the original specification. I think major was defined as chassis, engine, gearbox, suspension and rear axle (differential). You can advise them of, for example, a new engine with impunity but I wouldn't risk telling them you`d put a Zetec in.
Jim

That is at the DVLA discretion i think, i'm only going off what i've been told but even if the car was built from original parts but none matched the Registration document you would have to do a really good job on the engineer and even then i'm not sure what he could do about it because it would fall squarely in ' vehicles whose age or identity is in doubt'. The original spec thing sounds like part of the new MOT exemption thing to be honest.

I think the thing that has had people paying more attention to the numbers is the extra value a numbers matching car's brings in other marques, it maybe not as much in the Lotus world but we deal a fair bit with E-types and it's usually the first thing that comes out of a potential buyers mouth, it's also the first thing we check when buying any cars of any make.
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PostPost by: alan.barker » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:45 pm

For sure here in France you will not buy a "Q" Plate in UK to take to France.
It is not possible in France to Register a Car from UK with a "Q" Plate.
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:50 pm

Mick6186 wrote:For many years cars have been of monocoque construction and bon't have a chassis, just subframes etc bolted to the bodyshell.
If MG cars such as MGB and Midget have a replacement heritage bodyshell do they go onto a Q plate?
Mick

Subframe-Chassis thing is another argument.

Regarding the Mg, i know people just swap the chassis plate onto the new shell but that is illegal believe it or not, the proper way of doing it is to have an engineers report done and a new chassis number issued by the DVLA, this is straight forward as the heritage shell is an accurate copy of the original body (even use the original presses)

It's why when you have a car rebuilt with a heritage shell at a restoration shop they usually give you the chassis number plate in an envelope, they won't fit a chassis number from an old body to a new one.
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PostPost by: Apx » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:17 pm

Grizzly wrote:The DVLA are a law unto them self, the fact is some one tried to change his Chassis number from the factory unit number stamped into the chassis to either a Lotus replacement or Spyder chassis number and the DVLA have followed their standard protocol for any car that has this done.

I don't doubt club lotus etc had a major problem back in the day, if every car out there with a new chassis gets put on a Q imagine what that does to the value (let alone Lotus would probably get sued)...... but the fact remains if you contact the dvla to request the chassis number to be changed thats what they will do. Form past experience they only usually put the Frame number on the Reg Docs but the body number will be on file, why do you think changing the body also runs a huge risk of getting q'd if you declare it.

Fact is it's not a problem because people don't declare it, i'm sure that was what the DVLA told who ever discussed it with them. Declare it and thats a different story. I'd be interested to see what happens when this Q plate incident gets to court (assuming he doesn't take the hit on every ones behalf)


Having had dealings with them they are to an extent a law unto themselves, and different people at the DVLA have differing views. If the person described the change as a chassis change and not a subframe change then their processes switch to Q plate needed. if you are challenged later as to the change after say selling the car and the new owner makes enquiries with them, then you describe the change as subframe and steer the on to either Lotus or club lotus who will explain the agreement already in place with them. Most of the problems over the last 5 years or so originated from people rebuilding Bugatti's and Bentley's from more than one car and trying to use one of the original registration plates on the hybrid, probably now convertible, new vehicle, this attempt was "certified by owners club or the like" and was only found out later during spot checks by the DVLA since then the rules and checking has been tightened up. The DVLA tried something similar on me as an MOT station quoted the VIN number instead of the chassis number on my 130 +2 as it was a cross-over car having both numbers on the car but only the old chassis number on the reg. doc. and all previous MOTs . I had to explain the circumstances and get andy graham to confirm via email for them to prevent them inspecting and issuing a q plate, it was quite easily sorted if handled correctly from the start. Cheers Neal
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PostPost by: wotsisname » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:03 pm

With the Elan the waters were muddied a little with the 1980s Christopher Neal Sprints...
Would a "Q plate" require SVA using current regulations ? would this then disqualify any car with a toggle switch dash ?
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PostPost by: Grizzly » Wed Nov 14, 2018 4:22 pm

Ok yet more reading.......
dvla.png and
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