24 March, 2014
The 2014 Budget has been the target of lampoonists and detractors, but it has offered a cause for celebration among classic car owners.
A rolling 40-year vehicle excise duty exemption for classic cars will come into play from April 1, under measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne earlier this week.
It will begin rolling from 40 years - meaning that cars built before January 1974 will be eligible for a zero-rated tax disc. Previously, only cars built before New Year’s Day 1973 were exempt from the duty.
From 2015, the fixed cut-off date will roll over to the next year, which means that models such as the Ford Escort Mk2 could be in the ‘tax-free’ bracket from next year.
Meanwhile, thanks to other changes put in place by the Budget, the Reliant Robin will officially become the classic vehicle its defenders always believed it to be.
The three-wheeler was produced by the Reliant motor firm, based in Tamworth, Staffordshire, for the first time in October 1973. Although often the target of scorn for many and a source of fun for the Top Gear team, it is remembered with affection by others and was especially popular in the north of England.
TV comedy classic Only Fools and Horses helped keep Reliant in the public eye, thanks to the yellow van which Del Boy and Rodney drove around in pursuit of their crazy Peckham-based wheezes.
However, Sir David Jason’s Del Boy character was at the wheel of a Reliant Regal, and not the Reliant Robin, as many people believe, in a piece of trivia which has tripped up many a pub quiz enthusiast over the years.
Sir David and co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst were joined on-screen by former football star David Beckham in an Only Fools and Horses special for Sport Relief 2014.
Other cars in the new tax exemption bracket following the Budget will include the Austin Allegro and the MGB V.
The Chancellor also announced a boost to savers and pensioners in the Budget speech before MPs on Wednesday.