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40-year-old vehicles to be MoT exempt announcement amidst confusion over modified classics

mot exempt

From May 20, 2018, if your car, bike of van (aka a VHI — Vehicle of Historic Interest) is 40 years older or more, you will not have to present it for a UK MoT (Roadworthiness) test each year. This brings such vehicles in line with the rules for historic-status ‘free’ road tax, and is the same as currently applies to vehicles registered before 1960. As is the case with these pre-1960 classics, you will still be able to get a roadworthiness test done voluntarily, even though your vehicle is legally MoT exempt.

There is a caveat involved (which many Classic Ford readers should note if they have a modified car), in that vehicles which are ‘substantially changed in the characteristics of their main components’ will still need to be tested. Unfortunately, the definition of this ‘substantial change’ has not yet been decided upon, but will be formalised by the May 2018 introduction date and will probably be along the lines of DVLA’s existing eight-point rules for determining if a vehicle is original enough to retain its original registration.

The proposal will allow a further 293,000 vehicles (1 per cent of the cars on the road) to be driven while needing no official or professional checking for safety and mechanical soundness, in addition to the 197,000 pre-1960 vehicles already free of such checks. That’s potentially half-a-million non-MoT’d, rust-prone vehicles out there, all driving around on their 40, 50, 60-year plus braking and steering technology now MoT exempt.

This change has been decided upon by Government after a consultation period which ran from September to November 2016, in which 2217 individuals, businesses, car clubs, trade bodies and others, including museums, responded.

Out of that sample, just 899 agreed with the proposal, which has partly been brought about to bring the UK in line with current EU rules. The remainder, some 1130 respondents, disagreed with the plan.

Arguments put forward for why it is a good idea include:

1. The number of fatalities or serious injuries per year in vehicles registered between 1960 and 1977, at 215, is very low, compared to that for post-1987 vehicles (they may have meant post ’78 vehicles but it’s there as post-1987).

2. Cars of this age are usually maintained in good condition.

3. They are used on few occasions,
usually on short trips, and requiring a full MoT is unreasonable.

Classic Ford says: Whatever the changes proposed to the new MoT system, continue to get your cars checked annually by MoT at the very least. Taking advantage of this ‘loophole’ is just madness.

You can read the official Government response to the exempting of VHIs from roadworthiness testing (the MoT) here,  as well as the Department for Transport’s draft guidance to Vehicle’s of Historic Interest with ‘Substantial Changes’ here.

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