Is your Austin A35 illegal?

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Sir,

I had been driving for eight years with no previous convictions, although I had driven many thousands of miles. For five years I have owned an A35 saloon, and have had it regularly serviced. Although it is thirteen years old, it is still in a good roadworthy condition. I have just been convicted at the Sheffield Magistrates Court of “driving a vehicle with inefficient brakes”, being fined £5 and having my licence endorsed. This, in itself, may not seem particularly severe but I think the facts of the case should be mentioned.

A month prior to the MoT retest, I endeavoured to get the car serviced at a garage, as a rear spring needed attention, together with other minor jobs, but because of the age of the car I was told they could not do it. Further they said no garage in Sheffield would service old cars, and I would have to do the work myself. After having the same result at one or two other garages, I was forced into the position of having to do my own servicing. I have no garage and thus depend on the kindness of friends for a suitable “workplace”.

On the day of the offence, as far as I was concerned the handbrake and footbrake were both working adequately. A police sergeant stopped my car and tested it. He found the brakes working perfectly, except on the rear wheels when the car was jacked up. Having booked me, he then said he could fail every A35 on the road for its rear brakes. Even when in perfect working condition they are not as efficient as the law requires in respect to the police testing methods, i.e. gravity pendulum and roller beds. The law also requires that motor cars must be equipped with either (A) two entirely independent and efficient braking systems or (B) one efficient braking system having two independent means of operating, so designed and constructed that the failure of any part will not prevent the brakes on two wheels from effectively stopping the vehicle within a reasonable distance. From the above data it would seem, that every A35 on the roads today is illegal, and can be used as evidence for this same offence, depending on the whim of the police. When asking for an indication or ruling on this point in the Magistrates Court I was refused. In light of the present wave of motorist persecution by the police and Magistrates I feel all owners should take note of my experience. In conclusion I would like to pose the question: “Are owners of A35s guilty even when having efficient, inefficient brakes, or is it the refusal to acknowledge a now illegal design by the befuddled, bureaucracy of BMC ?”.

?

D. J. REYNOL DS (DR) – Sheffield

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