More than 100,000 classic cars that aren’t fit for the road could be back on our streets by Sunday thanks to a new MOT rule that comes into force at the weekend.
A controversial new stipulation announced by the Department for Transport last year says any car over 40 years old will not have to pass a roadworthiness examination ever again from 20 May 2018.
According to new analysis, this affects around 250,000 classic cars that are registered in the UK.
But worryingly nearly half of these currently don’t have an MOT and have been declared off the road for one reason or another, meaning almost 117,000 potentially dangerous vehicles could be used without being checked by an authorised DVSA technician.
No MOT needed: Car like the MGB (left) and Morris Minor (right) registered before 1978 can be driven on the road from Sunday without an MOT under new rules. Kwik Fit has warned that over 100,000 of them could potentially be dangerous
Any car built before 1978 will not need to take the test from Sunday under the DfT’s new rules that enforced a 40-year rolling MOT exemption for cars and motorcycles.
Up to now, only vehicles manufactured before 1960 have avoided the annual check-up.
The changes will be drafted in alongside stricter MOT checks for cars less than 40 years old, including closer scrutiny of diesel emissions systems, brake discs and vehicle lights.
The update will also mark the introduction of three defect categories: ‘minor’, ‘major’ and ‘dangerous’, which are already confusing half of motorists, according to recent reports.
But while the MOT changes could make it more difficult for modern vehicles to be deemed roadworthy, it will open the door for a host of older cars to re-enter our streets without needing to be rubber-stamped as safe to drive by an authorised DVSA test centre.
The ruling will mean that approximately 1.5 per cent of the total 31.7 million cars currently used on British roads will be MOT exempt from this weekend, the DfT estimated last year.
However, industry insiders have warned that a significant number of these could be unsafe, having not had an MOT for years.
New analysis carried out by Kwik Fit found that 250,239 UK registered cars sit in the extended 18-year exemption window for cars built between 1960 and 1978.
Of these, almost half (116,927) are currently declared as being off road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN), meaning they don’t have a valid MOT certificate.
Some 116,927 of the total cars in the UK between 40 and 58 years old are off the road currently
Kwik Fit says there are around 7,800 Minis still in existence that are declared off the road but are now MOT exempt
According to its data review, Kwik Fit said owners of classic MG, Triumph, VW, Ford and Morris cars are going to benefit the most from the rule changes as it is these marques which have the greatest number of 40 to 58-year-old vehicles currently registered off the road.
Kwik Fit has identified the MGB (12,997), VW Beetle (6,774), Morris Minor (6,466), MG Midget (5,651) and Ford Escort (4,857) as the most SORN models.
There is also more than 7,800 Minis from the period under different guises – including Austin, Morris and Leyland – registered off the road without an up-to-date MOT certificate.
There are 6,466 Morris Minors that are declared SORN at the moment. We imagine all of them won’t be in the same condition as this one
The MGB sports car is the most SORN model of all between the ages of 40 and 58 years. Data shows that 12,997 are off the road at the moment
Eric Smith, MOT scheme manager at the car servicing and repairs company said owners of these cars that have been off the road – potentially for years – on a SORN still need to make thorough checks before using them – or risk hefty fines.
He commented: ‘As these older cars don’t tend to do many miles each year, it’s especially important to check tyres as although the tread depth may still be legal, their age may make them dangerous.
‘If any classic car owner has not been driving their vehicle because it would fail an MOT, the new rules don’t allow them to put it straight back on the road,’ he added.
‘Although they don’t need to take a test, they must ensure the car’s roadworthy or they could face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.’
Iconic classics like the original Beetle will no longer need an MOT certificate under the Government’s new directive
The same can be said about vintage Ford Escorts, which were hugely popular in their heyday. May current owners have declared theirs as SORN
That said, with less of a police presence on our roads, some will argue that the chances of being caught are slimmer than ever.
A report by the RAC last July said the number of dedicated traffic officers in England and Wales had fallen by a third in 10 years.
Budget cuts had trimmed traffic police more drastically in the previous five years, with numbers falling 24 per cent between 2012 and 2017, while overall the number is down 30 per cent compared to a decade before.
In 2007 there were 3,766 traffic officers in the forces which responded to the motoring organisation’s FOI request. In 2012 that figure stood at 3,472. By 2017 it had dropped to 2,643.
Last year, This is Money listed 10 iconic British cars that won’t need an MOT from next year.
Majority of drivers were against a rolling 40-year MOT exemption
Some 56% of drivers who took part in a DfT consultation opposed plans to allow cars over 40 years old to be exempt from the MOT test
Ahead of the DfT’s decision to change the ruling on MOT exemption, more than 2,000 members of the public took part in a consultation to discuss whether the move would be safe or not.
Of those quizzed, 56 per cent opposed the plans, with many voicing concerns that vehicles travelling on public roads should have an annual check-up for safety reasons.
In contrast, 899 respondents supported the changes to the rules.
However ,the DfT argued that cars more than 40 years old are often kept in good condition by owners, and not used regularly enough to warrant an MOT.
The department added that the test is also no longer relevant to cars that were built more than 40 years ago, making it almost impossible for testing centres to pass them.
Parliamentary under secretary of state, Jesse Norman MP, said: ‘After considering the responses, we have decided to exempt most vehicles over 40 years-old from the requirement for annual roadworthiness testing.
‘This means lighter vehicles (such as cars and motorcycles) and those larger vehicles such as buses which are not used commercially.
‘Heavy Goods Vehicles and Public Service Vehicles falling under operator licensing regulations will remain within the scope of roadworthiness testing.
‘This will ensure a proportionate approach to testing for older vehicles, which works for public safety and vehicle owners.’
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