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Ultra-modern autootols toolchain (autoconf > 2.61, automake > 1.10) required?

For one correction to configure (I will evaluate if it is still necessary), I 
need to call autoreconf.

In 1.2, configure.in seems to require a really modern (aka, only distros < 6 
months will have them) toolchain.

Is there a reason for r this requirement, or is it just what it was tested 

I've hacked the requirements down to autoconf 2.59 and automake 1.9 (which is 
what RHEL4 has), and the build completed successfully.

Unfortunately, it's a pain to have ultra-modern autotools on  older distros, 
and requiring such a modern autotools toolchain can limit the platforms 
significantly ...

I can test a bit further back (RHEL3, RHEL2.1, Mandriva 10.0 etc.) if the only 
reason was "we couldn't test it".