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Should UK classics be exempt from MoT?

Should UK classics be exempt from MoT? Classic and Performance Car

Department for Transport sets out five suggested exemption options for a UK classic car MoT exemption.

While debate rages over what Brexit actually means, the UK is still bound to implement EU legislation. Currently under consideration is how to handle the European Roadworthiness Directive, which can exempt ‘vehicles of historic interest’ (VHIs) over 30 years old from roadworthiness testing.
In the UK, cars made before 1960 have been exempt from this since 2014. Altering this to include all cars made up to 1987 brings benefits to many more owners, but it could also bring more risks to the public to set against those benefits, as well as affecting the garage trade. So the Department for Transport is considering how best to proceed, after inviting interested parties to contribute to the debate.

The DfT suggests the following five options

1. Remove the current pre-1960 exemption so all cars will require testing.
2. Introduce a basic roadworthiness test for VHIs over 40 years old, to be carried out either annually or biennially.
3. Exempt 40-plus VHIs from annual testing and introduce a certification process to ensure a vehicle ‘has not been substantially changed’, based on self-certification or independent inspection, or a combination of the two. This is the DfT’s preferred option, and would tie in neatly with the 40-year VED exemption.
4. As Option 2 but requiring historic HGVs to be certified as not substantially altered.
5. As Option 3 but starting at 30 years old.
The DfT is unhappy about the 30-year exemption because analysis of MoT tests shows that 30-to-40-year-old cars are more likely to fail the test than those over 40. Also, the most recent statistics show that about twice as many 1978-1987 cars are involved in personal injury accidents as 1960-1977 cars, perhaps because in total they cover a higher mileage as well as, on average, being in worse mechanical condition judging by the MoT fail record.
As for the definition of ‘altered’, the DfT doesn’t appear to be as hawkish in this as some mainland European testing regimes are. The EU Directive gives no definition, so the DfT proposes using the points system already used when deciding whether or not to reissue a lapsed registration number.
In this system, a car has to score at least eight out of a possible 14 points for original components (or, in the case of components un-numbered and not readily dateable, components to the original design). The idea is to prevent vehicles obviously far removed 
from their original design from benefiting from concessions.
A further proposal is a mileage limit for VHIs if they are to enjoy test exemption, along the lines already used by insurance companies for limited-mileage policies. All of it, including questions such as ‘Should pre-1988 modifications be disregarded?’ and ‘Do you agree that most privately owned VHIs are well maintained?’ are in the consultation paper. Consultation finished on 2 November and the results are promised soon. 
Words: John Simister

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