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Classic car organisations are being urged to lobby the government to introduce a basic safety test for older vehicles amidst high MoT failure rates

Fears over unsafe classics on our roads have gathered pace following new data from the DVSA, which has revealed that almost one in five of the classic cars voluntary submitted for an MoT test since the beginning of 2019 have initially failed.

Back in May 2018 MoT exemption was controversially brought in line with historic vehicle tax (VED), meaning vehicles built more than 40 years ago no longer need to be tested providing no ‘substantial changes’ have been made in the last 30 years. However, owners are still responsible for keeping their vehicles in roadworthy condition, and failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £2500 and three penalty points.

Data obtained via a Freedom of Information request by showed 121,204 classic cars aged over 40 years old were still MoT tested voluntarily between January 2019 and June 2021, despite a lack of legal obligation to do so. Reasons for this could include submitting a classic for a test as a cost-effective way for a professional to get a car on a ramp and cast an eye over its condition for the owner’s peace of mind, or perhaps reassure a perspective buyer that all is well with their potential purchase.

Of the cars tested, the average failure rate was 18.4 per cent. DVSA data showed newer classic cars were more likely to fail than their older counterparts, with 1970s cars are three times as likely to fail than those from the 1950s. It also showed just 41,000 historic vehicles were tested, down 32 per cent on 2019, likely due to the impacts of the pandemic.

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