LVVTA is committed to....
"promote and retain the right of New Zealanders to use motor vehicles on the public road that have been modified, or constructed in limited volumes, for sporting, recreational, special mobility or business purposes...."
"promote and retain the right of New Zealanders to use motor vehicles on the public road that have been modified, or constructed in limited volumes, for sporting, recreational, special mobility or business purposes...."
A brief overview
Although not a government department, the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association (LVVTA) is contracted to administer modified vehicle standards and the Low Volume Vehicle certification system on behalf of the New Zealand Transport Agency. LVVTA — an incorporated society — came about as a result of an impending change in vehicle regulations in the 1990s. Now, some 25 years after its inception, the LVV system, managed and developed by LVVTA, is deemed to be amongst the best in the world for both vehicle owners and government alike. It’s a system that’s administered by modifiers for modifiers.
Each year around 6000 vehicles are certified through a nationwide network of certifiers. Training and supporting these certifiers, with a focus on consistency, is a key part of LVVTA’s daily business, as is developing appropriate legal standards as vehicles and modification styles evolve. Just like their customers, the certifiers and LVVTA head office staff all live and breathe modified vehicles and are passionate about the LVV system, all understanding the freedom it allows for fellow enthusiasts.
In a nutshell, the NZ Government requires that all vehicles meet applicable safety requirements. Once a vehicle is modified from its original state or is scratch-built, there needs to be a method of ensuring continued compliance.
The purpose of the low volume vehicle certification system, therefore, is to ensure that all modified production vehicles ‐ whether modified for commercial, passenger service, disability, recreational, leisure, sporting, or compliance purposes – and scratch‐built vehicles, have been designed and constructed in such a way that they are safe to be operated on the road, and comply as closely as practicable with the legal safety requirements applicable to high volume production vehicles.
We, the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association (LVVTA), among other things, create the standards to which the vehicles are inspected, provide training and support to the LVV Certifiers and produce the LVV plates.
You can read more about the low volume certification system and the LVVTA’s history here.
Certification Plate Production
One of LVVTA's core functions is to receive formsets from LVV Certifiers, and to produce the certification plates.
LVV Certification Plate numbers
Development of LVV Standards
LVVTA will, during the development process of any new LVV Standards, or amendments to existing LVV Standards, consult with the Agency, the LVVTA Council Members, the LVV Certifiers, and affected industry members.
For more details relating to document development, see section 2.1 of the 'LVVTA Operating Requirements Schedule.
Who do we deal with?
LVVTA staff deal with a large number of different people across a range of different industries and organisations. Click on the thumbnail below to see who we interact with.
Other things we do
LVVTA staff perform numerous functions during their day-to-day activities.
Administration & Technical
For LVV Certifiers:
Other tasks and functions:
The Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association is committed to:
Promote and retain the right of New Zealanders to use motor vehicles on the public road that have been modified, or constructed in limited volumes, for sporting, recreational, special mobility or business purposes; and
to develop and maintain, in consultation with the New Zealand Transport Agency, a Low Volume Vehicle Code, to govern the modification or construction of low volume vehicles; by being incorporated by reference in applicable road transport law; and
to achieve effective communication with persons concerned with the modification, construction, and certification of low volume vehicles; and
to remain an independent and autonomous organisation within the motor vehicle industry; and
to advocate and lobby on behalf of the members of LVVTA to protect and advance these objectives; and
create an environment in which both employees and volunteers can contribute and expand their skills and commitment to all aspects of the Association's activities.
In order to achieve these objectives, the LVVTA:
* represents the needs of its members to the Government; and
* develops and continuously improves the LVV Technical Standards that ensure that every aspect of a scratch-built or modified vehicle's design and construction is carried out as safely as it can be; and
* provides technical support services to the owners of hobby cars in order to assist them through the LVV Certification process; and
* provides training, technical support and all necessary LVV documentation to the LVV Certifiers.
This section has been moved. Click here to visit the LVVTA Media page.
The evolution of the low volume vehicle system in New Zealand started when the Government commenced planning the introduction of vehicle standards back in the mid to late 1980s. At that time, life for a hobby car enthusiast was a pretty simple affair. We could go down to the local post office, and register our new scratch-built hobby car - that may or may not have even existed at the time. And as long as our cobbled-together jalopy could pass a few simple warrant of fitness requirements at the local testing station, it was officially and legally ‘on the
road’. Aah, the good old days…
Vehicle standards-based safety regimes were by then already in place throughout most other western countries, and our Government’s plans to introduce vehicle standards into New Zealand (despite wide-spread suspicion of it being some sinister sort of plot) was simply to drag New Zealand into line with the rest of the developed world, by introducing legislation to control the safety-related quality of vehicles imported into, and to a much lesser extent,
manufactured in, New Zealand.
When rumours of this new Government legislation that was under development began to leak out, the New Zealand Hot Rod Association (Inc) (NZHRA) investigated what was going on, and learnt that the Ministry of Transport’s then proposals for how modified and scratch-built vehicles would be handled under the new regime wasn't’t going to be a palatable outcome for the hobby car enthusiast.
The new vehicle standards-based regulations as originally proposed by the Ministry of Transport would have meant the end of New Zealand hobby car enthusiasts building and modifying vehicles. Under the new regulations as they were originally drafted, it would have become illegal to build a vehicle, or to modify a component or system in a production vehicle governed by one of the new vehicle standards, unless the modification could be shown to comply with the standard, via the same level of testing that the component or system had experienced to gain initial approval. In most cases, that would have meant that the vehicle would have to be subjected to physical tests that are both complicated and expensive to carry out, and which would permanently damage the vehicle.
For the major vehicle manufacturers, this process is an accepted practice, as their massive investment in type testing vehicles and components to demonstrate compliance with a standard can be amortised out over the thousands of vehicles they sell. For Joe Home-builder however, it would have meant finding a new hobby.
After lobbying by NZHRA and other enthusiast groups, the Ministry recognised that there needed to be some relaxation introduced, rather than what would have effectively been a blanket ban on building and modifying motor vehicles. Their initial solution by which to resolve this problem was to adopt the rules that some parts of Australia had applied to modified and home-built vehicles (limiting modifications and/or capping distances that such vehicles could travel on public roads), and then use our local ‘registered transport engineers’ to do the safety-inspections.
From NZHRA’s point of view, these engineers were probably very good at calculating the strength of a draw-bar on a truck, but as an industry, they knew nothing about the complexities of a scratch-built hot rod or sports car (nor should they be expected to, as that’s not their area of expertise), and at costs of up to $1000 that NZHRA was hearing about just to certify a draw-bar, what was it going to cost us for a whole scratch-built hot rod? And, of even greater concern, what sort of outcome would result from an inspection made by someone who didn’t know what he was looking at?
After getting their heads around the issues at stake, and developing a relationship with the key Government officials, NZHRA proposed in 1990 that the Ministry allow NZHRA to write their own technical rules, use their own experts for the inspection process, and ‘self-regulate’.
The Ministry, after been subjected to a considerable education process by NZHRA, and gaining a new appreciation for the upper end of hot rod design and construction along the way, eventually became satisfied that this could in fact be the way forward, and agreed in principle (with plenty of provisos) to NZHRA’s proposed self-certification concept.
In order to legally empower this process, the first version of the ‘Low Volume Vehicle Code’ (LVV Code) was developed by the Ministry and the enthusiast groups that were involved at that stage, as an alternative standard approved under the Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990 (VSRs). In effect, the LVV Code became a concession that could be used by hobby car builders and modifiers as a way through the new legislative regime.
To be eligible to use the LVV Code, the vehicle must be constructed in quantities of less than 200 per year by a manufacturer or constructor whose total production of any type of motor vehicle would not exceed this number, which effectively confined the use of the LVV Code to low-production kit car manufacturers, very small specialist vehicle manufacturers, and one-off home builders and modifiers.
It became recognised by the Ministry that with the level of historical knowledge (of both how, and how not to do things) and experience contained within the NZHRA network, that ‘best practice solutions’ could in fact become a very legitimate and successful means of operating an alternative system for scratch-built and modified vehicles, alongside the formal vehicle standards regime for production vehicles. It was agreed, then, that in general terms, the LVV Code would allow a vehicle to be built or modified and still comply with the new Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990, by substituting the approved standards for high volume (mass-produced) vehicles, with an alternative method and procedure that captured the spirit of the original vehicle standards, but without having to resort to physical testing. These ‘alternative standards’ would become recognised as ‘low volume vehicle standards’, and would provide the technical requirements for modified and scratch-built vehicles, based not on
physical testing and expensive calculation work, but on ‘historical best-practice knowledge’.
As the start of 1992 rolled around, the LVV Code was written and incorporated into the new legislation, and NZHRA had written their code of practice (the original NZHRA Code of Construction Manual), established their administrative system, appointed their own certifiers, and were getting ready to commence LVV certification operations. The first two cars to be LVV certified in New Zealand were two brand new hot rods making their debut at the NZHRA Street Rod Nationals in Masterton, in April 1992.
Other enthusiast groups (the Sports Car Club of New Zealand, NZ Motor Caravan Association, and the Constructors Car Club) also gained approval to establish and operate their own parallel ‘self-certification’ systems.
Initially, like the other enthusiast groups, NZHRA were only concerned with their own members’ vehicles, however it was only a matter of weeks before the Ministry of Transport came to NZHRA and one of the other groups, asking them if they could also look after all the other non-member vehicles out there, whose owners found themselves in the same situation as the enthusiast group members, with vehicles that were modified and suddenly required LVV
The groups’ operations expanded quickly, by being tasked with looking after suspension modifications, brake adaptations, diesel engine conversions, and all sorts of other more mainstream modifications, in addition to their own members’ hobby vehicles.
Also during 1992, the six organisations then involved in some way with the new-born LVV certification system (not all of them were actually operating LVV certification systems), formed the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association Incorporated (LVVTA), as a parent body to represent the interests of those six groups, and to produce the LVV certification plates for the groups carrying out LVV certification operations.
By the mid-1990s, then with eight member associations (and effectively representing all of the other non-member enthusiasts in New Zealand), LVVTA had taken on the role of dealing with the Government directly on behalf of all of their member groups - rather than each group individually knocking on the Ministry’s door as had initially been happening - and was having a positive effect on the overall LVV certification system. The individual certifying member associations like NZHRA could then worry less about the politics, and get on with looking after
their certification operations.
After a couple of years of operation, it had become apparent that the quality of inspections varied between the groups, and that the inspection quality wasn’t ever going to become uniform while individual groups operated their own systems, and developed their own individual interpretations of the Government’s vehicle standards. To resolve this, the development and implementation of a unified single-certification system, and commonised
‘alternative standards’, was agreed upon by the member associations of LVVTA.
In 1995 LVVTA took on the role of merging the systems into one, under LVVTA’s administrative control. NZHRA had been doing around 70% of all of the LVV certification work since 1992, and their system was by far the most advanced and comprehensive, particularly from an inspection quality point of view. The single-certification system therefore became based primarily around NZHRA’s systems and documentation, and was up and running in 1996.
At the same time, the Ministry of Transport’s by then new arm, the Land Transport Safety Authority (now known as the New Zealand Transport Agency) took over the responsibility for appointing and revoking the individual LVV certifiers (until then the responsibility of the LVVTA member associations), along with the independent auditing of the quality of the LVV Certifiers’ work.
Since the merging of the systems in 1996, the LVV certification system has, amidst a few ups and downs, been improved and refined enormously, with the development of a selection of low volume vehicle standards which set technical requirements to cover a wide range of safety-related systems and modifications.
These range from all of the typical performance enhancement type of modifications (engine conversions, brakes, suspension, wheels, etc) to seat installations, seatbelt anchorage retro- fitting, right-hand drive steering conversions, removal and disabling of supplementary restraint system air-bags, security modifications for security vans, through to adaptive control systems for people with disabilities, and designing modifications to remedy factory faults in production vehicles.
The LVVTA system, with its LVVTA member associations supporting it, has over the past decade expanded beyond just low volume vehicle standards, and now encompasses form-sets, information sheets, and other supporting documentation. The LVVTA documentation system is now so extensive that it fills a 7-volume set of manuals. A substantial chunk of the technical expertise and input behind all of this has in fact come from hot rodders – mostly NZHRA members - who still today continue to contribute a massive wealth of technical input into the LVVTA knowledge pool.
The vast majority of the LVV Certifiers around the country are the practical hands-on hobbyists who have spent their lives building and modifying cars, making mistakes and learning from them, amassing knowledge from the car club scene, and furthering their knowledge even beyond that through the engineering side of the motor racing environment.
Amongst these LVV Certifiers, who largely come from a hot rodding background, are national championship winners from the Dunlop Targa, the Muscle Car series, the Pre-’65 Saloon Car series, Clubmans racing, Off-road racing series, and there are national record-holders and championship winners in the national drag racing series. Also within the LVV certifier network is a world land speed record holder, a sports car manufacturer, a kit car designer and builder, a 6-second 200 mph dragster driver and tuner, along with numerous award-winning hot rod
fabricators, and people that build, engineer, and wrench on everything from dragsters to circuit cars, to tarmac rally cars.
Most of these guys started their LVV certification involvement right at the inception of the LVV system in 1992, and are utterly irreplaceable; - there is no degree, trade, profession, poly-tech, night-school, or text-books that can equip someone without the life-time of first- hand knowledge and experience that these people have – these practical hobbyist-based LVV Certifiers are graduates, with honours, from the real-world university of a car-building life, and from a decade or more of assessing, and learning from, the many and varied vehicles they inspect in their LVV certification role. Without them, the system would collapse. We must all – hobbyists and Government officials alike - respect them and value them enormously, and at the same time keep an eye toward the next generation of LVV certifiers, who are now quietly doing their hobby car building ‘time’, in their home-garages in every corner of the country.
The job however, is far from over. There is still a mountain of work to do, because time, trends, and technology never stand still, especially in the world of modified and scratch-built vehicles – where everyone is trying to do something that is just that little bit different to everyone else. There are still many technical standards needed and yet to be completed, and there are a host of other components and systems that all need safety-related technical requirements put in place to ensure that whilst we are able to maintain our traditional freedoms to modify and build hobby cars, we do so whilst incorporating the highest levels of safety that can be practically achieved.
LVVTA is an incorporated society, and comprises eight member associations, most of whom are hobbyist groups which would be adversely affected by motor vehicle legislation enacted without their interests being represented during the development process. The member associations are: the New Zealand Hot Rod Association, Motorsport New Zealand, Sports Car Club of New Zealand, Constructors’ Car Club, Vehicle Association of New Zealand for People with Disabilities, New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, New Zealand Four Wheel Drive Association, Vintage Car Club of New Zealand, and Kiwi Trikers Social Club.
The net result for the hobby car enthusiast because of LVVTA’s operations, is that the technical requirements relating to hobby vehicle modification and construction are, considering the over-regulated environment we live in, workable and achievable from a practical point of view. Builders can work to the rules, and LVV Certifiers can apply the rules.
The reason for the level of success in the LVV system in New Zealand is down to one simple factor – the rules are written for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts. In most other countries, regulations for hobby vehicles are written by their government, rather than by representatives of the enthusiasts, and the outcome of that is always, as far as we are aware, unsatisfactory for both parties. This is no criticism of those governments – just recognition that no one group can be expert in all areas; – just as LVVTA could not be expected to be experts in rules relating to motor body repair rules or certificate of fitness requirements, the government departments responsible for overseeing the country’s entire motor vehicle certification regime cannot be expected to be experts in a specialist area as small and complex as modified and scratch-built vehicles.
Despite any (real or perceived) shortcomings of the LVV system, the New Zealand hobby car community is very fortunate to be in a position where people from within their own ranks are responsible for writing the technical requirements by which our hobby vehicles must be built. Within the home-garages of the full-time LVVTA team members,you'll find vehicles such as a 1928 Model-A Roadster hot rod, a 1968 Corvette Roadster, a 1959 Cadillac, a custom 1956 Cadillac, a Corvette circuit-car, an 8-second 1956 Chevy drag car, a 6-second Ford Customline drag car, a 1956 Pontiac Safari, a turbocharged SS Commodore, a Toyota rally car, a scratch-built sports car, and a handful of modified or interesting daily drivers.
Likewise, the home garages of the LVVTA Management Committee members include home- built specials, historic racing cars, classic and custom motorcycles, various sports cars, a Harley Davidson,vintage cars, and hot rods.
Statistics like this are the best chance for a healthy future for the car building and modifying hobby – almost every time the LVV system faces a problem, the cause of it comes from someone (within or outside of the Government) who has neither understanding nor empathy for the modified or home-built hobby car, or its owner – and it must be virtually impossible for regulators to understand our passion or see things from our perspective, when, in some cases they don’t own a motor vehicle, or even hold a drivers’ licence.
All safety-related motor vehicle requirements, and all of the national certification processes are governed by the Ministry of Transport’s Land Transport Vehicle Compliance Rule. Everything we, as New Zealand citizens, and as players within the motor vehicle industry or hobby, can and cannot do in relation to motor vehicles, is governed by this Rule.
In addition to the Land Transport Compliance Rule, the Ministry of Transport has a number of individual ‘equipment rules’, which specify legal requirements for all vehicles for selected components and systems.
Within the Land Transport Compliance Rule, it is specified that any vehicle, that because of its origin or modifications becomes a low volume vehicle, must be certified to the Low Volume Vehicle Code of the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association Incorporated.
The LVV Code is a document agreed between the LVVTA and the Government that sets out the legal framework for how modified and scratch-built vehicles in New Zealand are to be treated. The LVV Code is owned and administered by the LVVTA, and is amended from time to time as required, in consultation with, and with approval from, the New Zealand Transport Agency.
The individual equipment rules also, where appropriate, refer in turn to the ‘Low Volume Vehicle Code of the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association Incorporated’, in the case of a vehicle that is modified or scratch-built.
Within the LVV Code, the low volume vehicle standards are legally empowered. Although developed and written by the LVVTA, these must be approved and signed off by the Government.
The starting point for the LVV Standards comes from LVVTA researching and interpreting the relevant overseas vehicle standards that apply to mass-produced vehicles. With a lot of technical input from NZHRA, the LVVTA Technical Advisory Committee blends in the car hobby’s immense historical knowledge and best-practice methodology associated with the subject of the standard under development. From that point, the LVVTA develops a practically-oriented ‘alternative standard’, written in such a way that it can be implemented without destructive testing or prohibitive analysis costs, while still capturing the basic intent and spirit of the international vehicle standards that are applied by the high-volume (mass- produced) vehicle manufacturers.
As time goes by, new vehicle standards will be introduced by the Government, and for as long as the good relationship that exists today between LVVTA and the Government continues, LVVTA, with NZHRA’s on-going technical support, will continue to develop 'alternative standards' for each new main-stream vehicle standard that is introduced.
The low volume vehicle standards however, don’t always cover the level of complexity found within a scratch-built hobby car. The low volume vehicle standard for suspension systems (at 12 pages long), for example, is a technical standard that covers common suspension modifications, such as that which you’d find in the lowered performance imports which LVV Certifiers are assessing every day of the week, all around the country. This suspension standard however, doesn’t go anywhere near the complexities of the suspension issues within scratch-built vehicles, such as custom independent front suspensions, modified beam axles, aftermarket tubular axles, and so on – which whilst high in complexity, is very low in the numbers of vehicles that it applies to. This is because the LVVTA documentation system has to focus on providing technical requirements for the modifications that constitute the majority of the LVV certification work.
Therefore, there is a need for a document such as the old NZHRA Code of Construction Manual, or now, the new NZ Car Construction Manual. The NZ Car Construction Manual takes over from where the relevant low volume vehicle standard finishes. NZHRA’s initial development of the NZ Car Construction Manual has enabled LVVTA to focus on the wide and varied commercial pressures it faces, and allowed the appropriate specialist LVVTA member associations to focus in on the specialist areas relative to their membership’s needs. Far better for the experts (NZHRA in this case) to say that “yes, you can drill your old Ford I-beam axle provided that…”, than for NZHRA to do nothing, with the result that someone else takes the safer ground in the absence of the necessary knowledge, and says “no, you can’t drill your old Ford I-beam axle”.
The NZ Car Construction Manual is referred to in most low volume vehicle standards, as being the applicable source of information and requirements, where the nature of the modification or construction on the vehicle in question is beyond the scope of the standard. The NZ Car Construction Manual, therefore, forms an essential and integral part of New Zealand’s LVV certification system, and in order to ‘lock in’ the Manual into New Zealand’s regulatory framework, LVVTA purchased the Manual from NZHRA during 2010. NZHRA will continue to have a high degree of input into any future additions and improvements to it.
There are two separate aspects to getting a new hobby car on the road; - the process of meeting the new ‘entry compliance’ requirements (‘entry’ meaning entry into the NZ vehicle fleet), and the process of ensuring that the vehicle is safe.
In order to meet New Zealand’s entry compliance requirements, it has to be demonstrated to a Transport Service Delivery Agent (‘TSDAs’ are VINZ, VTNZ, AA and On-Road) that you have ‘entitlement’ to the vehicle (legal ownership), and that the vehicle, if imported, arrived through the correct and legal channels. A new scratch-built vehicle is quite straight-forward in this regard.
In order to show that the vehicle is safe, it has to undergo low volume vehicle certification. The LVV certification process accounts for 99% of the vehicle’s safety inspection, however, the TSDA will still carry out a basic check-over, mostly from a warrant of fitness viewpoint.
The correct order of steps required in order to get a new scratch-built hobby car legally on the
road are as follows:
* Utilise a suitably skilled and experienced LVV Certifier to carry out the preliminary inspections as the car progresses (a list of 1D-category LVV Certifiers is available here).
* When the car is nearing completion and its final LVV certification inspection, go to a TSDA and have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) allocated. This is a 17-digit number that any vehicle entering or re-entering the national vehicle fleet must have. The VIN must be allocated before the LVV Certifier can do his final inspection and order the LVV certification plate, as the vehicle’s VIN has to be recorded on the LVV certification plate. The TSDA may or may not need to see the vehicle before allocating a VIN.
* The LVV Certifier can then carry out his final LVV certification inspection. At this point, he will need to be provided with any supporting documentation that he may require, such as NDT reports, wheel alignment reports, etc. When the LVV Certifier is happy, he will order the LVV certification plate, which, upon its arrival to him, he will affix to the vehicle structure. If an LVV Authority Card is required, follow the procedure specified in ‘Chapter 3 – Authority Card Process’.
* The vehicle owner then takes the vehicle, with LVV certification plate fitted, to the TSDA. The TSDA will do his safety check and (if it passes) issue a warrant of fitness, generate the form from which the registration plates and label can be issued, and can then supply and affix the registration plates and label. The vehicle is then legally on the road.
For a new scratch-built vehicle, as long as the steps are followed, it’s actually a reasonably
straight-forward process, with a minimum of backward and forward movements.
It is important to correctly distinguish between a ‘modified production low volume vehicle’, and a ‘scratch-built low volume vehicle’. This is because the LVV certification requirements that they have to meet are very different. A modified production low volume vehicle must comply only with those applicable technical requirements that might be affected as a result of the modifications that have been carried out. For example, a 1957 Chevy that has had a late-model 350 and over-drive automatic transmission fitted (and is otherwise original) only has to meet the applicable requirements specified for an engine and drive-train conversion in the NZ Car Construction Manual ‘Chapter 9 – Engine & Drive-train’, and because the vehicle’s increased performance is likely to have an effect on the vehicle’s braking performance, it also has to meet the requirements relating to braking performance specified in ‘Chapter 8 – Braking Systems’.
For a modified production low volume vehicle, no other specific chapters have to be complied with, although under the LVV Code, the whole vehicle must be checked over for general safety, and to make sure that any modification or group of modifications has not had a wider effect on the overall safe operation of the vehicle.
A scratch-built low volume vehicle however, must comply with all applicable technical low volume vehicle requirements, which include every technical section in the NZ Car Construction Manual, from ‘Chapter 5 – Chassis Modification & Construction’ through to and including ‘Chapter 19 – Vehicle Operation’.
Some vehicles built or modified before the introduction of the new vehicle standards regulations were issued with what is known as a ‘modification declaration certificate’. This is a form that effectively shows to any warrant of fitness issuer that ‘this vehicle was built or modified before the new regulations came in, therefore it is not required to be LVV certified’.
This form remains good for the life of the vehicle, provided that; one – the vehicle hasn’t been modified further since the modification declaration certificate was issued; and two – the vehicle’s registration doesn’t lapse. If the vehicle is modified beyond that which is stated on the modification declaration certificate, or the vehicle’s registration lapses, the vehicle must then be LVV certified.
As is always the case, the LVV certification process will apply to the vehicle in its entirety (not just the new modifications), however the date upon which the vehicle was built or the majority of modifications were made will be taken into account, with a different set of requirements applied by the certifier, than if the vehicle was brand new. A scratch-built hot rod constructed in the 1980s with a single-circuit master cylinder, for example, will not be required to be upgraded to a dual-circuit master cylinder (as is required for a new scratch-built vehicle built after 1992) just because the registration lapsed, or because the Mk 3 Zephyr front discs (fitted when the car was built) are changed to some later model HZ Holden front discs after 1992. Common sense does still prevail within most areas of the LVV system.
In the same way, someone immigrating to New Zealand from overseas who brings their scratch-built kit car that was built before 1992, will, provided documented evidence is available to prove that it was in fact built prior to 1992, will not be required to comply with all of the new safety standards introduced after 1992, such as door retention systems and steering system collapsibility.
All vehicles however, irrespective of when they were built, or where they have come from, will be required by the LVV Certifier to be safe to operate, especially from a steering/suspension/braking point of view.
A copy of the modification declaration certificates issued during the early to mid 1990s are held by LVVTA, a duplicate of which can be purchased in the event of a vehicle owner losing his or her original modification declaration certificate. Note that in most cases, the testing stations that issued them did not file a copy at the time of issue (as was intended by the Ministry of Transport), so a duplicate won’t be able to be provided. However, a copy of any modification declaration certificates issued by an NZHRA certifier will almost certainly be on file. You can find out how to access this service by clicking here.
Motor vehicles in New Zealand have traditionally been governed by a set of rules that have been around since the 1950's, changed a little from time to time, and reviewed in the mid-1970's to become what we’ve known as the ‘1976 Traffic Regulations’. Until the early 1990s, these formed the basis of our Warrant of Fitness requirements.
Prior to 1990, many overseas-manufactured vehicles had been imported into New Zealand with certain components falling below an acceptable standard, in particular, windscreen glass and seatbelts, and in many cases vehicles were being imported that had no rear seatbelts fitted at all, at a time where all vehicles of such age should have had them fitted. There also needed to be a regime to stop the importation and sale of various non-approved components, including lights and lenses which didn't meet any standard because their sub-standard
manufacturing processes provided no ultra-violet resistance, and after short periods of exposure to sunlight, the red lenses had turned white.
‘Vehicle standards’ have been an integral part of the motor vehicle industry for decades in most other western countries, and it was inevitable that eventually those responsible for controlling vehicle safety in New Zealand would identify and adopt suitable internationally recognised overseas standards for New Zealand.
The Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990, (VSRs), began to apply from 1 November 1990, but took real effect in the industry in 1992. The VSRs prescribed internationally established automotive standards for key items that affect vehicle safety, such as seatbelts, their anchorages, glazing, and lighting equipment. They require specified components and systems to comply with a standard, and to be maintained in accordance with the standard throughout the life of the vehicle.
If a component covered by one of these standards was to be repaired, the repair must have restored the component to its original condition as specified by the standards. This requirement is vital to the overall integrity of the vehicle standards philosophy, as any safety feature or device is only as good as its ability to continue to function correctly. It would be pointless having safety-related standards for new and imported vehicles only to allow these standards to become ineffective as soon as the vehicle is repaired.
Whereas the old 1976 Traffic Regulations just said that our vehicles must have four tyres with some tread on them, the new Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990 said that whatever tyres we use on our vehicle (in addition to having sufficient tread on them), they must also have specific markings to prove that the carcass construction, load rating, speed rating, and method of manufacture all comply with one or more internationally recognised safety standards, and are therefore assured of being of good quality - as opposed to some tyres available in some parts of the world that are poorly made and create a potential danger to all road users.
Looking at it simplistically, the '76 Traffic Regulations are an old group of rules that tell us what items our vehicles must have, whereas the Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990 were the 'new-wave' type of legislation that told us exactly which of all of those items that are available, we are able to put on our vehicles.
The implementation of vehicle standards within our motor vehicle industry forced our New Zealand assemblers and manufacturers to use only approved components where there was a requirement for compliance, although more importantly, the regime also assured that any vehicles imported into New Zealand (particularly used imports) met the same safety requirements.
The introduction of the Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990 is what made the whole Low Volume Vehicle Code, the self-certification regime, the original Code of Construction Manual, and the NZ Car Construction Manual necessary.
The years of 1990 through to 2005 have been an extremely messy period for motor vehicle legislation in New Zealand. It was very simple before then, and will probably never get as complex again. Only a few years after the Transport (Vehicle Standards) Regulations 1990 (VSRs) were introduced as an addition to the 1976 Traffic Regulations, development began on the new ‘Land Transport Rules’ regime. The idea of the Rules regime was to improve the VSRs, and amalgamate the VSRs with the 1976 Traffic Regulations.
For the industry, it’s been a head-spinning period trying to cope with a combination of Traffic Regulations, Vehicle Standards, and Land Transport Rules, which have kept constantly changing. Now, half-way through the first decade of the 21st century, the Government has almost completed the huge job of integrating New Zealand’s transport legislation into one standardised ‘Rules’ regime.
Things should, we hope, become much easier from here-on. Having said that, safety technology is becoming more and more complex, such as supplementary restraint system airbags in steering wheels, seats, and the body structure, along with traction control, stability control, and anti-lock braking systems. This technology is all moving forward at an astonishing rate.
For all of the variations of modern safety technology, there is a low volume implication, and the LVV system has to keep pace with it all.
The LVVTA Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is a sub-committee of LVVTA, established to provide LVVTA with expert technical direction on all technical matters relevant to the LVV certification system. Members are nominated by the LVVTA Chief Executive Officer, and are appointed by the LVVTA Council. Members are selected for their high level of experience and knowledge in certain areas of vehicle design and construction. One of LVVTA’s objectives is to have as wide a range of experience, knowledge and skills as possible covered by the TAC at all times, including welding, materials, fabrication, formal and practical engineering, along with knowledge in a diverse range of vehicle types and construction methods. Some
members are professional car builders, and all members have been in the vehicle modification and construction industry or hobby for at least 30 years. A technical representative from the NZ Transport Agency sits on the LVVTA Technical Advisory Committee.
The LVVTA Technical Advisory Committee provides an expert advisory role to the LVVTA technical staff. Their duties include;
* assessment and approval of Design Approval applications and Concept Approval applications for the motor vehicle hobby; and
* assessment and approval of Component Approval applications and Component Endorsement applications for the vehicle modification industry; and
* providing assessments and determinations on technical matters presented by LVV
Certifiers and the LVVTA technical staff; and
*reviewing and assisting in the ongoing development of LVV standards and the NZ Car Construction Manual; and
*providing expert assistance in preparation for, and during LVV Certifier training; and
*providing expert assistance in the assessment of modified vehicles involved in
complaints, investigations, or accidents.
*any other expert technical functions needed by the LVVTA technical staff.
Any person may access the LVVTA Technical Advisory Committee for technical support and assistance on any technical matter relating to vehicle modification and construction, via the LVVTA technical staff. The LVVTA Technical Advisory Committee meet with the LVVTA technical staff either on a fortnightly, monthly, or as-needed basis.
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has a number of roles. It reviews and comments on
concept approval and design approval applications (refer to the NZ Car Construction Manual, ‘Chapter 4 – Build Approval Process’), and reviews LVVTA’s low volume vehicle standards during their development processes.
In recent years the TAC was responsible for developing the technical content of the NZ Car Construction Manual, and will maintain the responsibility for the on-going improvements and additions to it.
The TAC also provides the role of assessing whether or not something that is normally precluded by the technical requirements contained in this manual, can in fact, due to unusual or special circumstances, be used safely. It is accepted that no matter how hard we all try, a set of technical requirements such as those in this manual sometimes won’t correctly fit a certain situation. By the very nature of the car-building hobby, we all want to do something that’s different in some way to that which everyone else is doing.
Innovation and changes in technology therefore, will sometimes catch the TAC out, and determine that while the manual says a certain thing can’t be done or a certain component can’t be used, in fact within a certain criteria or set of conditions, it can be safely done or used.
Because of this, the TAC will always provide the role of considering an individual application, on a case-by-case basis, from a builder who wants to do something in a way that is outside of, or precluded by, the requirements in this manual. Where appropriate, the TAC will provide individual approval in writing, to enable that builder to do what it is that he or she wants to do, which in turn will need to be passed onto the LVV Certifier by the builder at the time of LVV certification. If you want to have your unusual situation (that is normally precluded by
these technical requirements) considered, address your question in writing to the LVVTA Technical Team at the Wellington LVVTA office (click here to visit our contact page), and they will make a representation to the TAC on your behalf at the next TAC meeting, and communicate back to you accordingly.
The Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association Inc. is based in Porirua Wellington, and has a permanent staff of eight people, all of whom share a passion for modified vehicles. Most have spent a large proportion of their lives involved in club activities, racing, or motoring events and organisations, ranging from crewing on motorsports vehicles to building, racing, or modifying vehicles.
The Board of the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association is responsible for the stewardship and future well-being of the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association, on behalf of the Member Associations of the LVVTA, through applying good governance. Good governance, in this context, is the exercising of corporate leadership through the establishment and monitoring of the necessary controls and strategic direction-setting, so that the LVVTA is equipped to respond to the changing circumstances and situations that it encounters, both internally and externally, in order to meet its requirements in law, and the expectations and requirements of its Members and other key stakeholders.
Robert Buchanan (Chairperson)
Robert was engaged by the LVVTA as its lawyer in 2012, initially to advise on an update to the operational framework with the NZ Transport Agency. This was intended to take advantage of his skills as a public law practitioner, including experience in transport regulation. He quickly became useful to the CEO and the Management Committee on a number of issues. Over time, Robert identified the need for the LVVTA to reform its governance structure to make it more “fit for purpose” for its regulatory role. This led to the new Constitution which was adopted in November 2017 and established the new Board, which took over from the Management Committee. In penance for his work, Robert was duly appointed as one of the additional board members under the new Constitution and has remained on the board ever since. He assumed the role of Chairperson in mid-2019. Robert is a member of the Institute of Directors, and has governance experience in the not-for-profit and public sectors. Other than having driven around in a 1931 Essex Super 6 during his long-ago student days, Robert’s choice of vehicles is singularly conventional!
A V8 powered T-Bucket hot rod ride when he was 14 ignited Phil’s interest in modified vehicles and resulted in the construction of a Lotus 7 replica in 1992, that was his only vehicle for a number of years. Since then he has helped with over 50 engine transplants and has a lifelong supply of projects stashed away. Phil has been a member of the Sports Car Club of NZ for over 25 years and the Constructors Car Club for over 20, including 5 years as President. He has been involved in the LVVTA since 2015, initially as the CCC’s representative that morphed into a position on the Management Committee and now the LVVTA Board. Phil’s day job is as a senior Marine Engineer Officer in the Royal NZ Navy. He has held a number of senior positions including Chief Naval Engineer. He balances a passion for engineering with a pragmatic outlook. Phil is committed to helping the LVVTA keep pace with the evolving regulatory environment, to ensure people can continue to modify and scratch build vehicles and get them safely on the road.
A Chartered Accountant with a passion for cars, Graeme has been involved with LVVTA since 1998. Graeme was the Sports Car Club of New Zealand delegate on the LVVTA council, was appointed to the LVVTA Management Committee and more recently the LVVTA Board. He is also a member of another council group the Vintage Car Club of NZ where he is a branch delegate on the executive. Graeme has owned some unusual sports cars over the years including a NZ built Lynx, NZ Chevron Prototype (Ibis), Mallock Mk8 and a 1950s Buckler which he raced in VCC events at Hampton Downs and Taupo. His current cars include a 1955 MG TF 1500 and two MX5s. Having been involved on a voluntary basis for many years Graeme is fully committed to the LVV Certification process and believes it has done a lot to improve the safety standard of modified vehicles. Having recently retired as a Company Accountant Graeme and his son in law have invested in a long standing North Shore workshop specialising in brake servicing. Like his involvement with LVVTA his input there is naturally more financial than technical.
Kerry started off his working career as a fabricator/welder, progressing to workshop/site manager and part time AUT welding tutor. He has gained a NZ Certificate in Engineering (NZCE) in Mechanical Engineering, and for many years worked for an iconic NZ based manufacturing business as the Operations Manager. Kerry has always had an interest in all things automotive having owned cars, bikes and trikes, starting out with a Mark 3 Zephyr he modified back in the 70s, and raced in club and interclub events. He has scratch-built three VW-based trikes, the latest one for his wife, and has for several years owned and ridden a mildly modified 1983 Suzuki Katana GSX1100 and a 2010 Buell XB12. Kerry is a founder and life member of Kiwi Trikers Social Club Inc (an LVVTA Member Accosiation), which began in 1994. He served for many years as the Co-ordinator of the club for many years. In addition, he has served as the club’s delegate on the LVVTA and has been a member of the LVVTA's TAC since 2000. He chaired the team of three who produced the trike inspection formset for LVVTA in 1998 and has also developed a draft build-standard for trikes. In his shed is a long-term project Rat Rod which he is hoping to get some time to work on. An interest and participation in bikes, trikes and cars is a family passion with both his father and brother competing in post classic bike racing, and his brother previously holding NZ ¼ mile and MPH records on a Nitro bike he rode for 3 seasons. Kerry has operated as a mobile certifier specialising in motorcycles and trikes, and enjoys making the process easier for owners and builders.
Ken is a qualified automotive mechanic with 35 years in the automotive industry working as a mechanic, service manager, business owner and general manager. Ken has spent time on the Wellington branch of Motor Trade Association (MTA) as committee member, branch vice president and branch president. Ken has also carried out MTA branch training for AVI's (authorised WoF vehicle inspectors). He also has had a long involvement with the New Zealand Four Wheel Drive Association as central zone president and on the national executive committee. Ken is also a member of the Constructors Car Club and the NZ Motor Caravan Association. Ken has been a Low Volume Vehicle certifier since 1999, and has owned a varied collection of vehicles over the years, one of which was a Purvis Eureka kit car powered by a 13B rotary. Ken currently enjoys driving a 1998 C5 Corvette.
Philip has been a life-long admirer and supporter of Kiwis who build, modify and race cars and motorcycles. He lists Bruce McLaren, George Begg and Graeme McRae as his heroes on four wheels, along with Len Perry, Burt Munro, Kim Newcombe and John Britten on two. Philip is passionate about fostering the interest and ability of today’s young Kiwis to build, modify and enjoy vehicles. Membership of the LVVTA Board provides Philip with an opportunity to contribute to preserving this great Kiwi tradition. A life- long Wellingtonian, Philip has worked in management in both the public and private sectors. His eclectic vehicle collection includes a Vespa, a Ferguson TEA 20 and a much loved, slightly modified XG Falcon ute affectionately known as Alan!
The Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association is comprised of eight member associations, most of whom are hobbyist groups which would be adversely affected by motor vehicle legislation enacted without their interests being represented during the development process. Each member organisation nominates one person to represent them within the LVVTA Council.
Below is a link to each of our member organisation websites (where available), where you can find any information you may require.
The Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association Inc. is based in Porirua Wellington, and has a permanent staff of ten people, all of whom share a passion for modified vehicles. Most have spent a large proportion of their lives involved in club activities, racing, or motoring events and organisations, ranging from crewing on motorsports vehicles to building, racing, or modifying vehicles.
Brendon Norling - Certifier Support Officer
Like all LVVTA staff, Brendon Norling has a long-standing passion for cars. He turned this passion into a career starting out as a mechanic more than twenty years ago. Over the years he’s had the pleasure of driving, repairing and modifying a number of amazing cars, although he admits his own car ownership is, however, a little less flash. However, it does include a few modern-day classics such as an '89 Subaru Legacy RS, a 4AGE-powered '82 Corolla DX rally car and his current sunny day only wheels — a New Zealand new '86 Corolla GT. Having worked at various workshops over the years he has a wide range of on-the-tools experience and has held a number of positions including Workshop Foreman and Service Advisor. His desire to up-skill has seen him build on his engineering interests by starting a New Zealand Certificate in Engineering. Brendon has worked for LVVTA since October 2018.
Chris Smith - Technical Advisor
Cars were never just work for Chris, but a lifestyle choice, having owned and modified everything from a ‘23 T-bucket with a 350/350 combo through to a ‘stock and saggy but great for cruising’ ‘69 Impala coupe. Currently, his collection consists of an ’82 VH Holden Commodore station wagon that he’s converted from a factory 4-cylinder to a much more respectable 308 V8 and Toyota W55 gearbox. His ’83 XE Ford Falcon station wagon he uses as a summer cruiser shows he’s not one way or another in the Ford/Holden debate. Come winter time, he prefers the comfort of the heater in his BA Falcon wagon. Chris has worked for LVVTA since September 2018.
Dan Myers - Technical Officer, Engineering
Dan has a Master’s degree in Automotive Product Engineering and worked for over 10 years as a power-train development engineer at Ford Motor Company’s Engineering Centre in the UK, specialising in NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness). After emigrating to NZ in 2006, Dan spent two years working at Land Transport NZ (now the NZ Transport Agency) and the Ministry of Transport. Dan brings strong and focused engineering skills to LVVTA, to complement the hands-on mechanical attributes of the Technical Team. Dan has previously owned MGs, a TVR Chimaera, an Almac Sabre (a kiwi scratch-built car) and currently a range of VW's and Audis. Dan has worked for LVVTA since January 2009.
Frances Tunley - Technical Officer, Certification
Frances is a qualified mechanic with 6 years experience at a Toyota dealership, where she completed her apprenticeship. Although Frances enjoyed working on cars (and still does in her spare time) and helping customers, the lure of a position within the automotive industry but out of the cold workshop was too much to resist! Cars also run in Frances' genes; her grandfather was manager of Standard Motor Bodies in Wellington for 30 or so years, and her and her siblings also grew up around cars, with their dad owning a panel beating shop which saw many cool cars pass through its doors, including Cobra replicas and a ZZ Top 34 Ford Replica. Frances has worked for LVVTA since May 2013.
Justin Hansen - Technical Officer, Mechanical
Justin has spent 20 years working as a mechanic in busy Wellington workshops, acquiring numerous skills along the way. Over the years he has performed crew duties on a number of different drag and circuit racing cars, is a keen drag racing photographer, and has owned several American and Australian vehicles of interest. Justin joined his local hot rod club at age 19, and is still a member today. Justin currently has a mix of vehicles, including a turbocharged SS Commodore, a 1956 Pontiac Safari, and a Cadillac flathead engine that may some day make it into a hot rod project. A self-taught computer-geek, Justin looks after many of the computer-based systems at LVVTA, along with fulfilling his role as Technical Officer within the Technical Team. Justin has worked for LVVTA since April 2008
Ken McAdam - Operations Manager & Training Officer
Ken is a qualified automotive mechanic with 35 years in the automotive industry working as a mechanic, service manager, business owner and general manager. Ken has spent time on the Wellington branch of Motor Trade Association (MTA) as committee member, branch vice president and branch president. Ken has also carried out MTA branch training for AVI's (authorised WoF vehicle inspectors). He also has had a long involvement with the New Zealand Four Wheel Drive Association as central zone president and on the national executive committee, and is a member of the Constructors Car Club. Ken has been a Low Volume Vehicle certifier since 1999, and has a varied collection of vehicles with a 1998 C5 Corvette and a Purvis Eureka kit car powered by a 13B rotary. Ken has worked for LVVTA since January 2015.
Leon Cast - Technical Advisor
Leon has a strong background and interest in Motorsports, and spent five years working for Motorsport New Zealand in the Technical Team. Leon also spent a number of years working at the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) where he worked as a vehicle compliance specialist, involved with Special Interest Vehicle (SIV) and left hand drive permits, as well as vehicle recalls and various other tasks. Leon is a self-proclaimed petrol-head, and we have it on good authority that his first word was “car”. Leon has been racing with, and on the Harbour Capital Car Club committee for 21 years, and has been president for the last ten. He's also a scrutineer, event organiser, and competitor, and is attempting to get into gravel rallying at the moment, although he's hoping to avoid exploring the scenery beside the road too often! Leon doesn't tend to hold on to his cars for too long - he currently owns three Toyotas; one for the road, one as a do-up, and one with a roll-cage, set up for track duty (whilst remaining street legal and LVV certified). Leon has owned over 50 cars, some of them even more than once. Leon has worked for LVVTA since September 2014.
Linda Washington - PA to Chief Executive Officer
Linda Washington has been involved with and has owned American cars for many years, as well as being involved with hot rod clubs and events. Linda's passion for motorsports lies more in the circuit racing arena, in particular Formula 1, where there is virtually nothing Linda can't tell you about what's going on. Linda is also hands-on in her motorsports endeavours, having owned and raced Toyota touring cars in the past. Linda has recently stepped up to a Corvette endurance racer, of which she plans to spend as much time behind the wheel as she can. Linda has worked for LVVTA since 2002.
Martin Boyle – Technical Advisor
Martin is a qualified diesel mechanic, having completed apprenticeships in Road Transport and Agriculture. Like all LVVTA staff, cars are a long-standing passion of his - he comes from three generations of mechanics and grew up surrounded by ‘70s Fords. That passion has extended into his own car collection, which includes a Paul Radisich Telstar (for daily duties), a Mk2 Escort (which is in its third year of a 3-month restoration), and a Mk5 Cortina estate. If his obvious masochistic tendencies involving ageing economy cars weren’t evident enough from that list though, the most recent addition to his fleet is an elderly first-gen Honda Accord hatchback. He justifies this dubious/brilliant choice by saying that one day an XY Falcon will join the fleet (once he wins the lottery). Martin has worked for LVVTA since February 2021.
Nikki Thomas - PA to Operations Manager
Nikki Thomas comes from a skilled administration background, having previously held positions within various high profile organisations. Nikki is in charge of the administration and smooth running of the Wellington office, and also supports the Plating and Technical Teams. Nikki's husband Mark is a well known NZ drag racer, so Nikki can often be seen as part of the pit crew at a drag racing meeting. Nikki would rather that we didn't show a picture of her Toyota Corolla, but has aspirations of one day owning a late model Camaro. Nikki has worked for LVVTA since August 2008.
Tony Johnson - Chief Executive Officer
The driving force behind the LVV system, Tony Johnson is responsible for the inception and on going success of the low volume vehicle certification system in New Zealand, largely through his passion for all things automotive. Tony's goal is to preserve the ability of Kiwis to build and modify cars with the 'can-do' kiwi attitude of our predecessors such as Bruce McLaren, Burt Munroe, George Begg, Graham McRea, and John Britten. Tony has owned a number of vehicles over the years, and currently owns a Model A Roadster, SS Commodore, '59 Cadillac, and a Chevy Duallie, to tow his '56 Chevy drag car. Tony is a life member of Wanganui Road Rodders Inc, life member and past president of the NZHRA, and has been awarded many prestigious awards in recognition of his dedication and hard work. Tony has been involved with LVVTA as we know it since it's inception in 1988.
The Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association team is made up of a small number of motivated, enthusiastic and passionate people. From time to time, we will be looking for a new team member to fill a new or existing role in our Porirua based offices. Where a vacancy exists, we will notify the details of this position here. You can also register your interest for any employment opportunities in the future by clicking on the link below.
The are currently no vacancies.
To be added to our database to be notified of any upcoming staff vacancies, click here.
What is the process for becoming an LVV certifier?
There is a lot of info in our ‘Operating Requirements Schedule’ detailing the requirements to become an LVV Certifier, and this has also been covered on our forum. Click here to go to the discussion page.