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The ULEZ deadline on October 25 made a host of modern classics unviable options for those living in much of London – but some anomalies are appearing.

The growth of low emissions zones in British cities has had some significant effects on the old car hobby. Most such schemes allow cars in the Historic taxation class to escape the charge, the effect on modern classics has been significant.

The recent expansion of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has made many interesting older cars uneconomic to own inside the zone, but for a significant number of cars the issue is less clear-cut.

The low emissions schemes are generally operated on the basis of a car’s emissions, but standards were adopted at different times by different car makers – and as new standards were introduced they didn’t become mandatory until some time after.

For example, the first Euro 4 approvals were performed in January 2005, yet it didn’t become mandatory for all new registrations until January 2006. Plus, as we’ve discovered, there can even be discrepancies between different examples of the same model of the same age.

With the charge being based on emissions, the slightest variation in specification can make the difference: bigger wheels on a sports option, an automatic box or a different engine management system.

There’s also a disparity between different emissions zones, with London’s ULEZ and the Clean Air Zones (CAZ) elsewhere operating to different standards.

The CAZ and ULEZ schemes require petrol cars to meet Euro 4 (2005) and diesel cars to meet Euro 6 (2014), which requires NOx emissions of 0.08g/km for both diesel and petrol, but permits only 0.0045g/km of particulate emissions (soot) for the diesels.

It’s also not helped by pre-2001 cars not having NOx emissions listed on the V5C document, since separate NOx measurement wasn’t required until the adoption of the Euro 3 standard from January 2001.

The advice then to anyone buying a modern classic from the early 2000s and hoping to use it in a ULEZ or CAZ zone is not to rely on any published emissions figures for that model or to rely on its emissions standard but to use the online checks to be sure.

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