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MoT exemption for pre-1960 classics

Law to allow pre-1960s vehicles on the road without an MoT.


Projects such as this will be MoT exempt

Back in December 2011, we took a very firm stand against the proposal (Say No To Pre-1960 MoT exemptions), labelling it Trojan Horse legislation. So did a great many other enthusiasts, concerned by possible repercussions such as increased insurance premiums and the possibility of serious injury of fatality caused by an untested, MoT-exempt classic car.

The results to a questionnaire created by the Federation of British Historic vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) showed of its 250,000 members that only 4000 voted. Of those 4000, 74 percent were in favour of exemption in some way. 71 percent also voted that an exemption should not include commercial vehicles, however.

The decision for allowing exemption follows a campaign by the All Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group, led by East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight, its chairman. Mr Knight has argued for a relaxation of the ‘unnecessary bureaucratic hurdle’ the current MoT test presents to many owners of historic vehicles.

Welcoming the news Mr Knight said, “I am delighted by this announcement. Accidents involving historic vehicles are extremely rare and the majority of owners are meticulous in keeping their vehicles in good condition. Having an annual MoT test for a vehicle which may only travel a few hundred miles in a year was costly and absurd.”

Transport Minister Mike Penning said, “Historic vehicles are treasured by their owners who want to ensure they are well maintained, and in most cases they use them irregularly.”

Mr Knight added, “The modern MoT test has increasingly become irrelevant to historic vehicles which do not have ABS brakes and catalytic converters. Some do not even have brakes on each wheel! Today’s announcement is great news for historic vehicle enthusiasts.”

Owners of vehicles which are exempted from the MoT test will still be legally required to ensure that their cars are safe, roadworthy and in a proper condition to be on the road.

Mr Knight dismissed the concerns of critics who claim that the annual MoT test was a regular ‘safety check’ for older vehicles and should not have been scrapped. He said, “Those owners lacking mechanical knowledge will still be able to submit their classic car for an MoT test. However, I am sure that many garages will also be prepared to offer a short ‘classic car safety check’ by looking at the essential items such as steering, chassis and brakes at a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of the current MoT.”

Why I’m still against the legislation

I’m sceptical about Mr Knight’s assertion that a short classic safety test will be conducted ‘for a fraction of the time and cost of a current MoT’. Will it be recognised legally? Will garages take responsibility for road-worthiness? Mr Knight does much to defend the concerns of classic vehicle enthusiasts but I can’t agree with him on MoT exemption.

My concerns with the exemption include:

1. What insurance underwriters will do with their policies and premiums. Pre-1960s vehicles may only account for a tiny percentage of journeys undertaken but I doubt the underwriters will worry about that. Expect premiums to rise significantly.

2. It’s not only owners lacking in mechanical knowledge who need protection. It’s those with the knowledge who might take advantage of the legislation and return pre-1960s cars to the road knowing they have potentially dangerous faults. One man’s steering wobble could be another man’s sheared steering arm just minutes later…

3. Classic vehicles used irregularly are more likely to develop faults than those used regularly.

4. How will public perception of classic vehicles alter in the event of serious injury or a fatality caused directly or indirectly by an MoT-exempt classic vehicle?

5. If insurers increase their premiums, it’s likely owners will revert back to MoT tests to qualify for cheaper insurance, making the legislation a waste of time.

A better proposal would have seen MoT stations allowed to be nominated ‘pre-1960s friendly’ and the VOSA allocated time for an MoT test adjusted accordingly to reflect the basic mechanical nature of older vehicles. I’m glad the MoT test remains optional and urge enthusiasts to continue to use the advice and objectivity resulting from an MoT test.

I own a pre-1960s classic and I’m a qualified vehicle restorer but I will still seek independent, objective testing recognised by a classic car insurer – the current MoT test. If that means my chosen MoT station sit on their hands for any remaining minutes to satisfy VOSA requirements about the time it should take to conduct an MoT test, then so be it.

The first accident involving a defective non-MoT’d pre-1960s vehicle is likely to give voice to those wishing to remove older vehicles from the road altogether or call for huge restrictions in use. I hope such an incident is only a case of wounded pride and dented bodywork and not a fatality. The new legislation is due to come into force on 18 November.

Get involved in the debate. Agree or not agree? Let us know.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 21st, 2012 at 4:07 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.

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| News | 21/05/2012 16:07pm
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