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Classic car MOTs: are more changes coming?

Published 23 September 2016

The Government has launched a new consultation to investigate the future of MoT testing for classic vehicles – and is inviting the public to have their say on what changes might be needed and how they should be implemented.

Under current rules, any classic vehicle built prior to January 1st, 1960 is exempt from the annual MoT test, although owners can still have their cars voluntarily MoT’d at any testing station. Now, as part of an effort to bring the UK in line with EU rules regarding safety tests for Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI), a number of different options are being considered.

With the UK having voted ‘Leave’ in the recent EU Referendum, however, is there a need to be more compliant with the European Union when it comes to VHI testing? John Haynes MP, Minister of State for Transport, commented: “On June 23rd, the EU Referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this period the Government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation.”

So what are the options being proposed for future VHI testing? The following list has been created as part of the official consultation:

  • Option 0: Leave the current exemption for pre-1960 manufactured vehicles. However, this will not address the inconsistency between the UK system and current EU regulations.
  • Option 1: Remove the current exemption for pre-1960 vehicles, and in doing so make all vehicles subject to a full annual roadworthiness test.
  • Option 2: Introduce a basic VHI roadworthiness ‘safety’ test (either annual or biannual) for vehicles over 40 years of age.
  • Option 3: Exempt 40-year-old VHIs from annual testing and introduce a VHI certification process to ensure a vehicle has not been substantially altered (could be based on self-certification or independent inspection or a combination).
  • Option 4: Introduce a biannual VHI roadworthiness test for 40 year old vehicles.
  • Option 5: Exempt 30-year-old VHIs from annual testing and introduce a VHI certification process (similar to Option 3 but for all vehicle overs 30 years of age, rather than 40).

Comment: If the MoT test isn't the answer, what is?

Many member countries of the EU have different safety testing rules relating to vehicles that are 30 or more years old, whilst others have only biannual testing even for modern vehicles. In the UK, meanwhile, vehicles fall into the Historic class once they reach 40 years of age, at which point they’re eligible for free Vehicle Excise Duty.

Establishing an EU-wide directive when it comes to classic vehicle testing has been proposed before, but many enthusiasts have been particularly concerned by the European Union’s classification of modified vehicles. The latest consultation document issued in September includes the phrase “substantially altered” within its list of six proposals, but what does this actually entail?

The Government document that’s now available for download states: “The consultation will cover how ‘substantial’ change is defined. The Directive does not contain a definition. We suggest one option is to use DVLA’s 8-point rule for registering radically altered vehicles. We have no evidence available to indicate how many vehicles would be in scope for this option but will ask for comments in the consultation document and for any suggestions on the number of vehicles that might be affected.”

We would urge all Honest John Classics readers to join in with the debate regarding MoT testing and to respond to the Government’s latest consultation on the subject. To view the official documents, go to this link: Once you’ve read them, click on the ‘Respond Online’ tab and make sure your voice is heard.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Are you concerned by potential changes to the UK’s MoT system? Among the official proposals put forward by the Government, which one appeals the most – if any? Whatever your views, tell us below.


hissingsid    on 23 September 2016

I was always opposed to the exemption for pre-1960 vehicles and continued to have mine tested annually for my own peace of mind. In the event of an accident, whether or not my fault, a current MOT is my proof that the vehicle has been examined by a professional.

I would favour Option 2 i.e. a simplified test similar to the MOT in it's original form.

Alfred Crocker    on 24 September 2016

I own a number of historic vehicles and I feel that having an MOT could be a good thing if it is appropriate for the type of vehicle there are however a number of considerations to be taken into account. Historic vehicles are by nature driven less, which means there is a greater need for the user of the vehicle to ensure that every time it goes onto the public road it is in a fit state to do so. The annual MOT test does however not fit very well with the normal usage of these vehicles and say if a vehicle had an MOT and was not driven for a couple of months, it would be irresponsible of the user to bury their head in the sand and think that because the vehicle has had a test it will remain roadworthy for the duration of the period. Is there any evidence to suggest that there has been an increase in accidents caused by historic vehicles having a failure that would have been found by an MOT test? Owners and users of historic vehicles look after their vehicles and positively drive to avoid any situation that would involve injury and additional work. When driving a vehicle that does not have seat belts or air bags or ABS or impact protection, extra care and concentration is the order of the day. I favour option 3 because if a vehicle has been heavily modified there is no reason not to include additional road safety upgrades in line with the current MOT requirement. Does anyone know it there has been an increase in accidents involving historic vehicles?

Howard Buchanan    on 24 September 2016

John Haynes is whistling in the dark. The people of Britain voted for Brexit and for most of us that means removing the influence of all foreigners from all of our domestic affairs as soon as humanly possible. Who cares if the UK isn't compliant with EU rules between now and when negotiations following the triggering of Article 50 are concluded, some time in the future? Can you imagine what Mrs.Thatcher would have said in these circumstances? It it were the French seeking to quit the sinking ship of the E.U., how much notice would they take of official bleating about "compliance" in the interim? About as much notice as they, and other members of this corrupt club, have taken of the imposition over many years of fines amounting to tens of millons of Euros for infringement of EU regulations: the fines remain unpaid.We are the only ones who foolishly regard the edicts of (still unaudited) Brussels with respect. Well, hopefully not for much longer........
My 76 year old car does less than 1000 miles p.a. and is laid up between November and March. Every 2 years I pay for a full safety check along MOT lines and act immediately on any advisories. Back in the days of annual MOT testing, it became increasingly apparent that younger testers were often at a loss when assessing vehicles pre-dating 1960. I once nearly got failed for not having flashing indicators on a car with operating semaphores.
Officialdom does not understand our cars either, so let's keep them out of it as far as possible, and if it's foreign officials from an organisation rejected by the British people trying to get in on the act, they should unambiguously be told just where to go.


hissingsid    on 25 September 2016

I voted for Brexit too, but this is not the place to discuss it, except to say that it is time for the Remain faction to shut up and accept that they lost.
I take the point about some MOT testers being unfamiliar with our sort of car, and use a small independent garage whose proprietors are classic car owners themselves.
I have seen no evidence of any recent increase in accidents involving historic vehicles, but I am cynical enough to suspect that the absence of an MOT certificate might encourage some insurers to allege lack of maintenance as a pretext to evade their responsibilities in the event of a claim.

Chris C    on 28 September 2016

Having seen at least 2 (prewar) cars at a show this year that certainly should not have been on the road due to serious structural issues, posing potential hazards both to the owner and other road users, there definitely needs to be some form of test/certification. I favour option 4.

I remember a young lad with a Morris 8 being told by an MOT tester that his car was fine except that the woodworm in his floorboards would need attention shortly - there certainly needs to be appreciation of old technology...

Hugh Allan    on 28 September 2016

Mr Buchanan's attitude is sadly typical of many of the Brexiteers - everything EU is bad and everything UK is good. He fails to understand that UK has been very well represented in the development of EU regulations and directives over the years and many of them despite their imperfections have had a positive impact on our society, not to mention that our nation's wealth is dependent on us being able to export into markets that won't accept non compliant goods & services. Having said that I am no fan of the EU which at heart has a massive democratic deficit and I definitely won't mourn the passing of the system of the appointment (and not election) of past their sell by date national politicians getting nice well paid and pensioned jobs as EU Commissioners.

Brexit will mean Brexit it seems so in the future it will therefore be the UK government that decides how we want to test our treasured oldies. No problem with that. However as one might want to take it for a continental trip, it makes sense to me harmonise our regulations as far as we consider it is sensible to do so and not to be pig headed about it and whatever the EU decide we will do it differently just to show that we can.

I for one would opt for the simplified annual roadworthiness / safety test (looks like option 2) and not exempt the pre-60s. But subject to a maximum mileage limit, such as 3000 which is common with classic insurance policies, if you do more than that then it's full MOT.

Hugh A

jm1    on 2 October 2016

My view is that all vehicles driven on the public highway should be subject to an annual inspection and safety checks. The current test makes some allowances for older vehicles and this could be extended. Most importantly the MOT examiners should pass an extra training module to examine historic vehicles. On a related subject I think free VED/tax should only be for cars over 25 years old that do less than 1000 miles a year

RJP41    on 3 October 2016

As an ex MOT examiner and police vehicle examiner I have seen new cars less than a year old which would fail the most basic mot as people think a new car never needs attention ,I think some form of inspection is needed for all cars however old but a much more basic mot as some people may just drive an old car without knowledge of how to keep it maintained and legal.

999pez    on 4 October 2016

I presume in the list of options you mean biennial (once every 2 years) rather than biannual (twice a year)?
I seem to recall there was talk of moving all MOT's to biennial but that idea was dropped.
I think all cars should have an annual test.

Walpat    on 4 October 2016

I maintain my 1957 Standard Eight to MOT level. I have owned the car for 32 years and prior to the exempt ruling it had never failed the MOT!! Some people buy "our type of cars" because of the no tax and Mot and low cost Classic Car Insurance but do not have the capability of ensuring that the car is serviced and checked as per the original specification. My car has 22 front suspension grease nipples which should be greased every thousand miles which involves taking the wheels off access the various nipples which require lubrication. I surmise that most owners of Classic Cars are responsible and know how to maintain their vehicle to a high standard.

bakeart    on 7 October 2016

I do think there should be regular tests and favour a yearly MOT. The indication now is that we shall trigger article 50 in March 2017 and will therefore be out of the EU by March 2019. Given the work involved in getting agreement with all of the countries of the EU I feel that it is a complete waste of time and effort to try to comply with their legislation as it is unlikely to be agreed in the relevant time frame anyway.

jim kirwin    on 7 October 2016

There are many people of older years like myself who run old cars as our daily drives...I have a 1965 Morris Minor and do 4 to 5000 miles annually
The M-O-T. once a year is ok for me as I look after my car and I know that the dreaded rot is not taking hold.
The free road fund and £95 annual insurance make it possible for me to stay mobile.
I object to people putting V8s in Ford pops and claiming them to be exempt vehicles.

   on 8 October 2016

The point that nobody has mentioned regarding EU regulations is surely the need to comply with safety standards in European countries. I imagine that many classic owners would travel in Europe in their classic cars. I would suggest that option 3 seems the sensible course, even if owners maintain their cars to a good standard not many would have a "wheels free" ramp and/or the knowledge of what condition items beneath the vehicle actually are. Who, in their right mind, resents a sensible annual safety check?

philip Langmead    on 8 October 2016

Canada and parts of the states, have no MOT. Their accident rate is no worse than ours. Very few accidents are actually caused by mechanical failure, it is almost always driver error or possibly bad tires.

Paul grimshaw    on 10 November 2016

I think there should be a basic road worthy test on classic cars a mot is not nesasary because classic cars on emissions alone would not pass. I just want honk as said a basic road worthy test or self certification to say it abides to this

Tim Hinchliffe    on 10 January 2017

What always surprises me in these discussions is that we never hear a peep out of the insurance companies. I'd have thought they'd have had something to say about the roadworthiness, or lack thereof, of the cars they're asked to cover. How come they haven't come out and said "No test (of whatever sort), no cover"?

   on 18 April 2017

Speaking as classic car and bike owner ( all after 1960 just ) and ex mot tester I cringe when they go for the mot due to the lack of understanding of bygone technologies with blowing the dust off the tapley meter and having to argue their interpritation of the mot testers manual when it comes to lighting and emissions .
Cassic car owners have their vechiles mantained to a high standard so I would suggest to bring the mot excemption in line with historic vechile tax excemption and to then include the next years vechiles added to this annually.

Chris Hocking    on 11 February 2018

The UK should be in the same position as the EU. We are still members of the EU and will have to comply with European directives during the 2 year transition period.
My understanding is that the current directive states 30 years for HVI status. With member states deciding their own vehicle testing requirements.
My own preference would be the status quote with testing and compliance of the EU directive for HVI status at 30 years.
The present annual vehicle safety inspection is flexible enough to be used on both historic and modern vehicles. Despite the use of electronics the basic engineering principles have changed little over the past 30 years and a capable inspector would be able to apply the requirements of an inspection.
I am speaking from a position of an LCGI in motor vehicle engineering .

Jag.1    on 27 March 2018

I am in favour in bringing the exemption up to date. It was many years ago that the 1960 date was set and it should be revised to take this into account. In any event the onus is on the driver/owner to ensure the vehicle is road worthy M.O.T. or not. There must be many vehicles on the road that just scrapped through a test with advisories that have not been addressed and driven when they would no longer pass a test.

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