Just a year after the classic car industry was cheering at the re-introduction of tax exemption, albeit at 40 years old, a petition has been raised with the UK Government to re-instate tax exemption back to 25 years. The petition has taken off with over 16,000 signatures to date and has caught the imagination of the motoring press.
We have been contacted by Classic Car Weekly for our input to the debate due to the Rover P6 spanning the old 1972 cut-off point. They had collected statistics that showed that there were significantly more classic cars on the road (or SORN'd) pre-1973 than afterwards. So we did some collective digging as a result.
We used freely available information from howmanyleft.co.uk. This is data supplied by the DVLA and as a consequence contains some inaccuracies as a result. When data was originally input to the computer system all those years ago, it was done from hand written papers which can result in data input errors. Coupled with that, the motoring industry, especially Rover used similar names on different vehicles. The Rover P5 and P6 and SD1 for instance both had the 3500 engine and similar names. As a result, we only looked at the 4 cylinder numbers, and omitted the 1975/6 years to avoid the Rover SD1. The survival numbers ought to be in the right ball park.
4 Cylinder survival
The data looks even more interesting if we plot the survival percentage on a graph.
As can be seen from the graph above, the bumper year for Rover P6 survival is 1972 with a whopping 1.3%. There could be a number of reasons for this:
The multi-stage phosphate coating that all P6 base units were subjected to was still quite experimental in the early years and Rover varied the length of time the base units were baked for before being built up. Production was increased dramatically around 1968 with the addition of a night shift, and base units were clearly not baked for long enough as P6s of that period rot much more readily than 1971/72 cars where the recipe appears to have been perfected.
From the mid-'70s, the various cost cutting methods put in place after the Ryder report, and the Nationalisation of BLMC in May 75, resulted in inferior grade steels and other components in BL car manufacturing. It is reasonable to assume that poor quality materials, coupled with labour disputes etc. resulted in poor build-quality and a reduced number of cars making it into the era of classic ownership.
Finally, we cannot rule out the rogue element. 1972 built cars were the last for claiming tax exemption once rules were changed in 1997. Some people may have been tempted to ring later cars perhaps for a quick easy sale of a tax exempt model, or simply to avoid paying the tax, now at £230 per year.
In just 2 years time, just about every Rover P6 in the UK will become tax exempt and according to the information from howmanyleft.co.uk, the P6 hasn't suffered too badly from the 15 year delay to re-introducing tax exemption. Other classics may not have faired so well, and modern classics, may fair even worse. If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so on the Government website.
For the Rover P6, 1972 built cars certainly claim a greater survival than any other year of Rover P6 production. What is your view? Let us know in the comments below.