Bumper edition: no MOT for 40-year-old cars

barracuda on lift

In May this year, any vehicle over 40 years will be exempt from taking taking the Ministry of Transport Test (MOT).
These are my thoughts – hope they will help.

For a few years, the MOT test has been exempt for vehicles manufactured up to 1960 – I feel that this course of action is correct for cars and motor bikes of that type. Though every car has its own idiosyncrasies I have not been involved with any disputes or arguments from owners regarding this age of vehicle. So for the Ministry of Transport to push back the date of manufacture with MOT not required to a rolling 40 year figure is quite something.

From May 20th 2018 most 40-year-old vehicles will not need a valid MOT certificate to be used on public roads. However, you’ll still need to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition and can voluntarily have a test even though you don’t need one. The government recommends continued regular maintenance and checks on the vehicle. You must also have the car insured and taxed (although most taxes will be free), or you should SORN (Statuary Off Road Notification) the vehicle – failure to do so will result in a hefty fine.

Happy days!
Or is it?

72 camaro could have a problem with new MOT laws
The ’72 Camero could have a problem with new MOT laws

This new ruling firmly puts the onus on the owner of said cars to maintain them to a standard of road worthiness, as determined by the Ministry of Transport, and include the good upkeep of the manufactures components.

In my opinion, the MOT test is simply not reflective of vehicles in the old car hobby anymore; testers have no idea of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s tolerances in suspension, steering boxes, engine mounts etc and only a visual check is needed for the dreaded Polar-Bear- killing exhaust fumes. It’s a sad fact that many testers were not born when these old cars hit the road, or have never seen them come through their testing stations.

My MOT tester is a great bloke who is older than me, an American car enthusiast and a very knowledgeable man when it comes to classics. Off the back of the Ministry’s decision, I visited him to get his take on the new ruling.

Geoff’s MOT station is independently operated by himself and therefore not a high street chain “with the best fitters”. He understands the concerns of classic car owners and recommends a “Pre-Mot” test that will flag up any major concerns and make the owner aware of possible dangers to his vehicle. The test will encompass all the major areas where fatigue, failure, brakes and chassis wear can make a car un-roadworthy. This will take around 30 minutes and a charge of £25.00, which seems more than reasonable to me obviously anything untoward on the check list will be advisory only. Again the onus is on the vehicle keeper.

This idea also appeals to me for buying / selling classic cars; to have the vehicle checked over by a trained garage employee who can only help a deal conclude as both parties will have some form of paperwork describing the car honestly and professionally. Therefore, if you own a stock American car that is in good working order there should be no problems enjoying it on our roads.

But if you have anything severely modified or altered, back-halved cars, pro-street’s, even pro-touring, the ubiquitous Hot Rod and Rat Rod, kit cars, vehicles of no manufacturing date or are classic racers, then all these examples (if under 40 years old) will come into the MOT equation. This legislation could very well end the modification of any vehicle in years to come – the slippery slope to compliance maybe just around the corner.
A good idea is to go to the Ministry’s website and look up the page on radically altered vehicles for more guidance and the difficult BIVA 8 point modification system.

I am sure the NSRA and other hot rod and muscle car clubs are in panic mode at this moment in time, though more information from the Ministry will be forth coming before May. I am sure more legislative jargon will only muddy the waters even more.

As a footnote I can see that a severely modified 9 sec-10 sec car on the road is going to struggle with the modification regulations and race classes from drag to club circuit who rely on “your car must have a current MOT to race” etc instead of tech-spec will for classics have no criteria to abide by. Also where do insurance companies stand should claims from none MOT’d customers hit their desks?

All this and more will be clearer (I hope) in the next few months but in the meantime hang on in there because this is looking set to be a bumpy ride.

Tony O

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