Some cars are so powerful that it’s not even clear if they’re street-legal. That’s one of the dilemmas that many supercar enthusiasts have had to struggle with over the years. For many, getting behind the steering wheel of such a car is an expensive dream that may never come true.
Yet, even if you chose to enjoy these cars vicariously through other drivers and be contented watching them in action, you’d only be able to do it where the law allows it. That’s the reason why people who are wealthy enough to own such cars also need to be wealthy enough to keep them parked overseas.
In this article, we’re going to clear up some of the confusions. Firstly, we’re going to talk about what a ‘supercar’ is, in the first place, and then we’ll explore the confusion around the street-legality of such cars in Australia.
What are supercars?
Let’s get one thing out of the way. When car enthusiasts use the term ‘supercar’, they could be referring to one of two things.
First is that they may be referring to the Supercars Championships, a motor racing series in Australia and New Zealand. The Supercars in this motoring event have one function: to race. They’re incredibly powerful, super-fast, and also super NOT street-legal.
At the same time, people may use the term ‘supercar’ or even ‘hypercar’ to refer to luxury high-performance exotic vehicles. Car manufacturers like Bugatti and Lamborghini build supercars for high performance and speed, sure. Still, they ultimately produce supercars for people to drive on regular city streets. In this context, people use the term ‘supercar’ very loosely. Once upon a time, even American muscle cars could be considered supercars. As you can see, there is no strict definition for the term ‘supercar’ in this context.
So, with that understanding, let's move on to a more challenging issue: their legality.
Are supercars legal?
Here's where it gets a little tricky. Supercars are supposed to be street-legal. Yet, some models are so powerful that several governments around the world have chosen to ban them. Plus, there are legal complications involved when it comes to trying to import an exotic vehicle into Australia from overseas.
But what’s the big deal? Why are supercars so legally complicated? Well, again, it’s because they are so many times more powerful than your average sedan. A car that can go at such a high speed is an added risk to everyone else sharing the same road.
That’s why cars like the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, which can go from 0 to 97 km/hr in just 2.5 seconds has been banned in many countries.
Left-Hand Drive Supercars in Australia
For Australia specifically, there are two other layers of complications to the legality of supercars.
Firstly, the supercars and hypercars that we’re talking about here don’t get manufactured or assembled in Australia. For example, Lamborghinis only come from two factories, both of which sit in Italy. Bugattis only come from France. Hint: they’re both left-hand-drive (LHD) countries.
So, for these supercars to be street-legal in Australia, not only would you need to have special permission to import those cars, but you'd also need permission to drive LHD cars on Aussie streets. On top of that, different parts of Australia will probably have other requirements for a driver to get those special permissions.
Here’s an example of just one requirement you’d have to meet for New South Wales. To drive an LHD vehicle on NSW streets, the car itself would need to be at least 30 years old. And, well, it’s safe to say that if you’re a car enthusiast who loves supercars, you’re probably not interested in models made 30 years ago.
Still, the whole ‘left-hand-drive special permission’ issue might not be relevant at all, considering you’d also need special permission to bring the car to Australia in the first place!
There were talks back in 2017 that the Federal Government was going to review Australia’s Motor Vehicle Standards Act. Supposedly, the government would relax on some of the rules by the time 2019 rolled around. The implication was that a buyer could import cars that they couldn’t find in Australia, including left-hand-drive supercars.
Yet, it's 2020 now, and some Aussie car blogs are still reporting the same thing: that those changes are on their way. They're even saying that the laws will change (at some point) and that left-hand-drive supercars will eventually become street-legal in Australia. For car enthusiasts waiting to see such a car pass them by on the street, that day may come within their lifetime.
But how soon? Nobody really knows.
If you’re looking forward to the day when left-hand-drive supercars become street-legal in Australia, be sure to subscribe to our blogs at Carpart.com.au. While you’re there, you can also keep up with other news taking place in the Australian automotive industry, or even buy a car part or two while you’re at it!
By Ray Hasbollah