Garry Johnston, of Clunes, and his two-year-old grandson, Oliver Winkler, together in his restored 1929 Dodge.
Garry Johnston, of Clunes, and his two-year-old grandson, Oliver Winkler, together in his restored 1929 Dodge.

Laws may end vintage car outings

GARRY JOHNSTON, of Clunes, has raised his kids and grandkids on vintage car rallies, but fears new child restraint laws could herald the end of his family’s favourite pastime.

The new laws, which will be enforced after June 30, require all children under the age of seven to be restrained, regardless of the type of vehicle they are travelling in.

Mr Johnston has been going on family car rallies since he was five years old.

Through four generations and more than half a centaury of rallying, the Johnstons have never had an incident where a child was hurt.

“Of course you treasure your kids and your grandkids and want them to be safe, but from my point of view the people making these rules need to have a look at the design rules for these cars,” he said.

“Most vehicles before the forties and fifties have timber floors which will be a nightmare to fit seatbelts to in order to meet today’s standards.

“I mean, what has it come to? Aren’t we responsible for our own actions anymore?

“They’re trying to make these cars comply with something they were never meant to.

“We have rallied all over NSW and south-east Queensland with dozens of families and heaps of kids.

“We have such great memories – it is a sad end of an era.”

After growing up rallying, then raising his own three children and two stepchildren on the vintage car rally circuit, Mr Johnston had been enjoying introducing his two grandchildren to the family’s passion – but now he won’t be able to include them until they are eight years of age.

Mr Johnston’s 23-year-old daughter Kristen fondly remembers the trips, describing them as a lot of fun.

“There were six of us kids with the cousins, and dad would start on the car in the morning and make sure it was all pretty and shiny,” she said.

A spokesman for the Roads and Traffic Authority confirmed that vintage cars without seatbelts could no longer be used to carry children under seven years of age.



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