The government has announced plans to introduce a rolling 40-year MoT exemption for classic car owners, in-line with the current VED exemption.
The Department for Transport has announced plans to extend the current MoT exemption for classic cars, to include those over 40 years of age. Currently, UK regulations allow pre-1960 classic cars exemption from MoT test requirements, but as of May next year cars and motorcycles built before 1978 will no longer need to undergo the yearly roadworthiness test.
An estimated 293,000 vehicles will be newly exempt from May, with the number growing each year thereafter. Justifications for pressing ahead with exemption include the fact that cars of this age are usually kept in good condition, they are used relatively sparingly, and the modern MoT is no longer suitable for cars over 40 years old, and garages can’t test them adequately.
This has happened despite a majority of respondents to the Government’s proposal – 56% to be precise – opposing the idea. The government also posed the question of introducing a 30-year exemption, but as they are currently used more frequently and involved in more accidents, this was dropped.
A more basic roadworthiness test for exempt vehicles was also proposed, but the government feels that it is unnecessary, and says: ‘Those owners who feel an annual check is needed will be able to submit their vehicles for a voluntary MoT’
There are also questions surrounding the need to test modified cars. The proposal states that the cars that have been substantially changed ‘in the technical characteristics of their main components’ will not be exempt from MoT testing. But what is substantial change? The DfT has proposed a points-based system, similar to that currently used by the DVLA, although the exact rules are yet to be finalised.
The Octane view – John Simister
There are clear issues with many of the assertions made in the proposal. MoT stations, in Octane’s experience, have no difficulty with cars built between 1960 and 1978. Some classics are driven with vigour and tackle long trips, so components will wear and be stressed. This era of car, too, is very likely to be susceptible to corrosion and regular checks for structural weakness are vital. Some owners will address this but we suspect a number will not.
The fear now is that a serious accident might be caused by the failure of a formerly testable component, which would not only have a formerly avoidable human cost but could also have repercussions for the freedom to use pre-1978 (and incrementally newer) cars. The classic car community will be watching developments closely.