Department for Transport proposes to extend historic MOT exemption to cars before 1977

Department for Transport proposes to extend historic MOT exemption to cars before 1977

THE Department for Transport (DfT) has opened up a consultation on whether to extend MOT exemptions for historic vehicles.

At present, vehicles manufactured before 1960 are exempt from the annual test of roadworthiness, but a new European Roadworthiness Directive may bring this date considerably nearer to the present, covering many more cars classed as being ‘vehicles of historic interest’ or VHIs.

As things stand, the EU Directive would apply to vehicles manufactured or registered for the first time at least 30 years ago, but the DfT prefers a cut-off date of 40 years of age to bring the exemption in line with the rolling 40 year exemption from Vehicle Excise Duty. The Directive is due to come into force in May 2017 and until ‘Brexit’ negotiations reach their end, the UK remains a member of the EU and is obliged to adhere to EU legislation.

The DfT’s consultation outlines five options:
Option 1 – Remove the current exemption for pre-1960 vehicles and in doing so make all vehicles that are currently exempt subject to full annual roadworthiness testing.
Option 2 – Introduce a basic VHI roadworthiness ‘safety’ test (either annual or biennial) for 40 year old vehicles.
Option 3 – Exempt 40 year old VHIs from annual testing and introduce a VHI certification process to ensure a vehicle has not been substantially changed (could be based on self-certification or independent inspection or a combination). This is the preferred option.
Option 4 – Introduce a biennial VHI roadworthiness test for 40 year old vehicles. VHIs which are Heavy Goods Vehicles, buses and coaches would need to be certified that they have not been substantially altered.
Option 5 – Exempt 30 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).

While the proposals are based on the notion that those who keep classic cars will maintain them to a higher standard, the move is not without its critics.

Quentin Willson, journalist and spokesman for FairFuelUK, said: ‘You’re talking here about cars like the Escort Mk1 and the Cortina. They were hardly at the zenith of rustproofing or technical efficiency and need constant maintenance.

‘To think that we could see 1970s Fords, Vauxhalls or Hillmans taking to the road unsupervised really worries me.’

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