WHAT THE NEW MoT RULES MEAN FOR CLASSIC CAR OWNERS
As I'm sure most people reading this will be aware, the MoT guidelines underwent a complete overhaul in May 2018. Beyond the aesthetic changes to the certificate, the tightening up of rules on diesel emissions and the way faults and advisories are reported (we won't go into this too much here - that particular minefield is for another blog, perhaps!) it is also now possible for any historic vehicle to opt out of the annual roadworthiness test.
As we regularly deal with classic Italian cars, we've researched the ins-and-outs of these labyrinthine new rules and gone through the hidden, headache-inducing small-print so you don't have to. Read on for what we've discovered...
LIFE BEGINS AT 40
Basically, any* 40-year-old car can now be driven without the need for an MoT certificate. Whereas previously only vehicles built prior to 1960 were exempt from testing, this new figure rolls over continuously; ie. as soon as a vehicle reaches it's 40th birthday (measured from the date of first registration on the V5) there is no legal requirement to have it tested. So, each and every year, there'll be a new crop of classics that can be used on the road, entirely legally, with no MoT inspection.
There's no need to apply for this exemption either, you can just simply stop your annual trip to the MoT station. However, when it comes to taxing your classic (even if there is no charge), you will be required to fill in and sign a V112 form declaring that the car meets all the exemption requirements (more on these below) to substitute the MoT certificate.
*Well, that's almost any vehicle, actually. Read on for the myriad technicalities.
THE NITTY - GRITTY
What hasn't been made quite so clear though are the possible, quite serious, repercussions of all this. If at some point a fault is found on one of these newly exempt vehicles, one that would render the car unroadworthy (ie. anything that would have resulted in a failure, had an MoT test been undertaken), the owner could actually be personally liable for a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points on their license.
Unless you've got a ramp or a pit at your disposal, all the emissions testing gubbins in the cupboard under your stairs and have memorised the Inspection Manual by heart, could you ever be 100% sure that your classic car is truly fault-free?
TIME MAY CHANGE ME
And the caveats don't stop there! The new guidelines further state that if the vehicle has been "substantially changed" at any point in the past 30 years, it will not be suitable for exemption, regardless of its age. The criteria given for what constitutes a "substantial change" are modifications from the factory standard to any of the following:
- Chassis or Monocoque Bodyshell (including Subframes)
- Axles & Running Gear (including Suspension & Steering)
Which 40-year-old car hasn't had some form of alteration to at least some of these components? I don't know about you, but we don't see very many truly concours, 100% original minters when walking around classic car shows! Plus, the onus is placed solely on the owner to decree whether or not the car has been altered in any way (many times you may not even know, of course). It seems it's not entirely cut-and-dry, though. There's further smaller-print underneath this small-print; so we got our magnifying glass out!
If an alteration has been made because the original parts are no longer available, this is deemed acceptable. If modifications have been made using parts that would have been available in period, this can also be overlooked. Likewise if a different engine but one from the same manufacturer, of the same number of cylinders as the original unit has been fitted, this is allowed.
Based on this then, a Chevy V8 shoehorned into an Alfa Spider would clearly fall foul of this rule, right? Well, in the DVSA's own words, direct from their literature produced to supposedly make the rules clear for MoT testers, it is "likely to be, but not necessarily". So, if the people who wrote the rules can't be specific themselves, then who on earth knows?!
We used the superb Alfaholics GTA-R as an example and asked several MoT stations as well as the DVSA if it could now be deemed MoT exempt. Built on 40-year-old underpinnings, but clearly substantially changed in countless areas it's the perfect example (and it gives us an excuse to use a gorgeous picture of it!). We had answers ranging everywhere from "absolutely, yes", through "absolutely not" and right up to a blank shrug of the shoulders.
.....THAT IS THE QUESTION
So, cutting through all this confision, should you voluntarily have your classic car inspected for an MoT?
We certainly think so here at italicar. With so many obfuscated grey areas about the legal liabilities, and the impossible question of what constitutes a "substantial change", it just doesn't seem worth the risk to save a £54.85 fee; a relatively minor cost when running a 40-year-old vehicle.
And lots of others concur with us too. Insurance companies are advising customers with agreed valuations on their classic policies to continue with regular MoT inspections, as are several historic vehicle clubs and societies. Plus, the resale value of a classic is always going to be higher with a nationally recognised, unbiased report which anyone with internet access can peruse.
In fact, the government's advisers themselves recommend "regular checks by an independent professional or expert"....which sounds pretty close to an MoT to us!
If you'd like any help or advice in getting an MoT for your classic Italian car, see the new service we're offering here.