The wait is over. The paperwork has arrived from the DVLA, after weeks of impatient drumming of fingers and tapping of feet. I did not help the process along, as I failed to spot the Chancellor’s £5 increase this fiscal year on the tax charge for Private and Light Goods Vehicles. Yes, that’s right. Driving a Caterham is driving a PLG vehicle in the Government’s eyes.
Caterham Cars is classed as a low volume car maker, resulting in the cars not being type-approved, and the need for an IVA test for each finished car, whether home- or factory-built. Despite the engine and emissions data being available from Ford for my Duratec engine (although I imagine the engines are in a different state of tune in comparison to other applications, so the emissions data might not apply) Caterhams are not taxed on emissions. A separate charge for Private and Light Goods (PLG) Vehicles, currently £245, is levied based upon the engine capacity being over 1,549cc. The DVLA seem to apply this table, although the heading states it’s for vehicles registered before 1st March 2001. Any builder about to apply for their registration would be well advised to give the DVLA folks a call to check the cost.
Rewind a few weeks; I put my application in the post May 16th, the same day as I passed the IVA, with a cheque for £295 (£240 tax and £55 registration fee), six weeks after the increase. I proceeded to sit back and relax while simultaneously feeling impatient, in ignorance of my mistake. I received a call from a lady with a lovely lilting Welsh accent two weeks later, telling me that I had underpaid.
I’m sure I checked and rechecked the DVLA website before I sent off the money, and I am also sure it indicated £240, but that argument is not going to get me anywhere.
Missing in Action
I dispatched another cheque for the deficit immediately, but resigned myself to a longer wait. I was not disappointed. Another week went by, before the tension got too much for me and I called, as neither cheque had been cashed, and I was staring at an ignition key that was not seeing any use. The chap on the phone was very helpful and polite, and could not find my application at all. It simply wasn’t there. He raised a high priority case for me and started a search for the details. I will have a call back within 48 hours, he assured me. I started to think of all the scenarios around replacement invoices for engines, the copy of the IVA certificate I made, my insurance cover note.
48 hours came and went. I called again, and got another friendly, helpful Welsh voice on the line. This time they would call me back later that afternoon, once they had looked into it. They did, with the good news of my new registration and that the paperwork was in the post. In fact, that night, just under four weeks after I sent the forms off, I got home to a letter with a certificate of entitlement to a registration. SN17 LTV.
I did a dance. It’s true. It wasn’t pretty, but it was born of excitement and relief.
Off I went to Halfords to get the plates made up, and once home I attached three short strips, little more than squares, of the 3M Dual Lock tape I bought months ago, to front and back of plate and car. It’s much stronger than Velcro and weatherproof, and will allow for plates to be fitted and removed without screws. I plan to change the plates to a cherished number and don’t like the idea of drilling more holes in the bodywork unless I have to. Hopefully this will be enough to support the plates and they don’t fall off the first time I am out in the car.
I am road legal, but the Scottish weather conspires against me; it is pouring with rain. First drive will have to wait. Perhaps the weekend will be dry?