MOTs for classic cars has long been a bone of contention. In many online forums, we hear the call that the annual test is a good thing, the properly trained and independent check that ensures that we've been caring for our cars to the best of our ability and in line with the legal requirements for roadworthiness. Many of us value that independent opinion and the annual pass certificate is a badge to be worn with pride.
In November 2012, we witnessed the exemption of pre-1960s cars from the annual requirement of the standard MOT test. There were several reasons behind this, and we know that the FBHVC worked with the Government in the development of the policy. Some of the reasons that the FBHVC were in favour included:
- Concerns about older vehicles being damaged by testers unskilled in testing elderly vehicles
- FBHVC members were in favour of pre-1960 MOT exemption
It is also widely understood that pre-1960 cars were generally better maintained with a 10% MOT failure rate compared to 30% for more modern vehicles.
In the three years that this scheme has been in place, it is fair to say that the authorities do regard it as a success with the accident rate of pre-1960 vehicles being certainly no worse than it had been before its implementation.
EU Directive on Roadworthiness Testing
Roll on to 2014 and the EU Directive on Roadworthiness Testing was put in place. It is a directive about testing as a whole by improving road safety across Europe with all member states testing their vehicles to the same standard. It is not a directive concerning historic vehicles, although they do come into play. The implementation of the Directive is now in the hands of the member states on how they will implement it over the following three years for implementation by 2018.
The significant part of the EU Directive on Roadworthiness Testing for classic car enthusiasts is that the Directive permits Member States to exempt historic vehicles from the new testing regime and it does appear that the UK Department for Transport (DfT) will exempt them. The FBHVC will continue to work with the Department for Transport to ensure that it is implemented sensibly. Towards the end of 2014, the DfT allowed comment on the proposals for changes to the Directive, specifically to exempt vehicles from testing if they:
- are at least 30 year old
- haven't had substantial changes made to them
The comments received flagged some obvious issues that need to be resolved in order for the DfT to implement the new rules properly. Some comments included:
- How is 'Historic Vehicle' to be defined?
- Is there a need to exempt historic vehicles from testing?
- If testing continues, how can it be ensured that testers are knowledgable on conducting tests on older vehicles?
- What is a Substantial Change?
- Why not have a basic annual inspection rather than the current MOT?
Of all that responded to the DfT, 63% were in favour of MOT exemption.
The discussions are ongoing, and the FBHVC continue to keep us updated with progress, but as yet there is little indication of what will actually happen in 2018.
What does it mean for me?
If the DfT continues in the current direction, it is likely that the Rover P6 could become MOT exempt in 2018. So where does that leave the owner / enthusiast? Actually nothing has changed. The owner is, and always has been, responsible for ensuring that their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. The annual MOT is really only valid on the day of the test and if, eleven months later, your car sufferes problems and becomes unroadworthy, it is still the responsibility of the owner. The only difference is that we lose our comfort blanket of the independent DfT trained (and tested) MOT tester to be the independent judge once per year. If you do not think that you are fully capable of ensuring that your vehicle is adequately maintained to MOT standards, then it would be wise to have an independent check done of your own. Whether you choose to do this by having an MOT anyway, or whether you have a service/inspection carried out by your favourite garage is up to you.