30 year old classics exempt from MoT?

Current rules exempting pre-1960 registered cars from the annual MoT test could be extended to vehicles that are at least 30 years old if new EU regs come into play…

Yes, that’s right – and if the new directive is made law, owners of a whole range of Dubs made before 1984 – including Beetles, Bay window buses, T25s even, the Golf Mk1 and early examples of the Mk2 – wouldn’t need to go through the mental torment and financial pocket emptying of the annual test.

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However, there are conditions attached – and lots of room for confusion. Fundamentally, the proposed legislation is to include any vehicle of ‘historic interest’ that is over 30 years old, providing that it has not been substantially modified. The historical interest bit, obviously, is open to interpretation – as is how far a car has been taken from its original specification. Would, for example, the fitment of a Weber carb to replace the flawed Pierburg on the Mk2 Golf constitute a breach of the conditions and result in an otherwise totally stock and original car having to be tested? Also, would only the hot and arguably more ‘interesting’ GTI models be excluded, or would a simple CL also (rightly in our opinion) also be deemed of historic interest? Bear in mind, the Golf is a model that’s still in production, so that might also count against it.

The possible rule changes have also provoked a fair bit of anger from the trade, with many specialists arguing that cars need expert inspection on a regular basis – especially when it comes to safety related issues such as brakes, steering and suspension.

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And actually, while the pre-1960 exemption was applied because it was thought that owners of such cars would only be using them very occasionally and covering very few miles, if it was extended to newer motors that might not be the case. There’s lots of us that use nice Mk1s and 2 Golfs as everyday drivers…

Either way it will be down to individual states to regulate road worthiness testing, and needless to say the government is seeking advice on the matter.

Personally, I am not sure. While obviously, for the best looked after cars, the MoT is largely irrelevant anyway. But there is always a certain amount of reassurance to be had from having an expert in overalls armed with an inspection lamp get your car up on a four post lift and give it a thorough going over each year. Even if it’s to spot something you might have missed yourself. What do you think?


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage



12 responses to: 30 year old classics exempt from MoT?

  1. Who determines whether it’s a classic? Sounds like a crazy idea to me. Surely the MOT is a minimum safety requirement.

  2. I can see why pre ’60 cars were exempted, people who own them are proud of them & tend to cherish them. extending that to cars “only” 30 years old is a bit dodgy, there are still plenty about & some people would see it as a way to cut costs. I use an MoT garage i trust and am happy to have my vehicles (bikes & a Transporter) inspected every year. Having stuff brake tested & inspected on a lift isn’t a DIY option for most people>

  3. Personally I’d rather keep the test. Yes it’s a pain but, for me, having someone else check over my vehicle who might spot something I’ve missed or become used to is well worth it. In the event of an accident I’d also like to have some proof that the vehicle was road worthy. I know that the MOT is not perfect and only represents the state of the vehicle at the time of the test but I think that it is better than nothing. Maybe a cheaper test geared towards older vehicles ie no abs, airbags etc might be a good compromise.

  4. I think a low-cost MOT annually is frankly a good discipline: I’d rather they reduced road tax for older vehicles – after all, it is unlikely our older vehicles do anything like the mileage of most modern family motors, and we get stung on CO2 emissions already. Cut the tax, keep the MOT!

  5. I work at machinery repair, my views on mot exception is that it’s a bad thing, some people will say I’m biased because of my work, not so I don’t do mot’s, the reasons I think it’s bad are 1 bit skint this month I’ll leave it to next month, 2 i didn’t think it was dangerous, 3 I didn’t know, 4 I thought I’d get away with it for a while longer, excuses we’ve all heard or made, but on a car if the brakes steering or suspension fail causing a crash, best case your pride and joy is destroyed, worst case, people killed,
    I leave my car in for mot every year, I can inspect it but I pay someone else to do it as well, I might miss something

  6. The annual MoT is a solid annual inspection of your VW. It pays for itself by providing the opportunity for problems to be identified and tackled. I would far prefer to acquire an EU directive which grants, ‘historic road fund licence’, status. At 225 quid per classic vehicle, Golf Mk 1 GTi and VW Golf Mk1 Caddy Pickup, it is becoming impossible to keep VW classics on the road.

  7. There was a consultation a few years ago about making MOT’s every other year, I submitted a response in line with the above comments. An older vehicle, such as my 1983 W123 Mercedes, can deteriate a lot in two years if it is in daily use.

    No MOT at all would be mad… I did send some statistics to my MP when asking about the historic vehicle status. Did you know that there are more Morris Minors on the road today than Ford Sierras, Citrone BX’s and Nissan Bluebirds all added together.

  8. As the owners of two 43 year old 1302S beetles, which are true daily drivers, we think the MOT is an essential check that our beloved cars are safe to take us to work and back 365 days a year. I wouldn’t want to risk my kids lives in a car I didn’t know would pass its annual safety check.

  9. I think the MOT test should be kept for all , but a reduced road tax for cars over thirty years old, as they are doing much less mileage than the modern car.

  10. I own a few “Classics” , love the idea of saving money (to me quiet a bit), but safety first, a second pair of eyes on something I might of overlooked, sounds good ~ my dad owned a Austin which was MOT exempt, he was very handy but no mechanic, & the car had a hydraulic hand brake & drum brakes all round – thankfully he parted with it!

    1. Yes, I tend to agree – especially if you’re doing a lot of work on the car yourself. I guess owners could always book an appointment for a specialist garage (who know what they are looking at) to go over it from a safety perspective, checking the brakes on their rolling tester etc to make sure everything is working as it should and give the fuel and brake lines a good eyeball from underneath…

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