22nd February 2022

When does a classic car or bike become MOT exempt?

We all know that owning a classic car or bike can be a costly endeavor, but there are a few perks – especially if you choose a vehicle which is past or approaching MOT and tax exemption.

With classic ownership, it’s fair to say that life begins at forty. Find yourself a vehicle past its ruby jubilee, and you’ll no longer have to fork out on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), or the annual MOT test, as it’ll qualify for Vehicle of Historical Interest (VHI) status.

In 2017, the Government introduced a new 40 year rolling exemption for vehicles, meaning more classic cars and bikes enter the fold each year. For example, you can apply to stop paying for vehicle tax from 1 April 2021 if your vehicle was built before 1 January 1981.

We recently looked at five cars that will begin to qualify in 2022, but that list is far from exhaustive - the full list contains more enticing options.

It’s worth noting that, although motorists aren’t officially required to test their vehicle by law, it must still be in roadworthy condition. Many owners still choose to take the MOT test voluntarily, or at the very least perform regular checks to ensure their pride and joy remains safe and within the bounds of law.

It’s also important to note you’ll need to declare your car or motorbike as a Vehicle of Historic Interest by visiting your local Post Office, ensuring you take your logbook (V5C) and a completed V112 MOT exemption form. You’ll also still need to ‘tax’ it online each year, though this won’t cost you anything other than a few minutes.

There are also a few exceptions to the rule… For example, if your vehicle has been significantly adapted or modified in the last thirty years, or is a bus, commercial vehicle, or kit car, it may not qualify for historic status. The best way to check this is by calling or emailing the DVLA directly, or by reading the official DVLA guidelines available online here.

With the list of historic vehicles growing each year, the rules are worth bearing in mind when on the hunt for your next classic. The list of vehicles launched in 1983 includes a fantastic range of affordable gems, including the Ford Fiesta Mk2, Peugeot 205, Yamaha XJ900 and VW Golf Mk2 – a sign that these classics may be set to appreciate further. 

At Footman James we understand that there are clearly some industry-wide concerns about the impact of the changes to MOT exemption. However, what hasn’t changed is the legal responsibility of all owners to ensure that their vehicle is safe and fit for purpose when taking it out on a public highway.

In the terms and conditions of any insurance policy, there will be a clause which states that the vehicle must be maintained in a roadworthy condition. In the event of an accident that leads to a subsequent claim, the vehicle will be inspected by an engineer. During this inspection, the engineer will advise whether the incident in question was caused due to unsatisfactory maintenance of the vehicle or not.

We appreciate that vehicles over 40 years old are, in the main, cherished and maintained to a high standard by their genuine classic enthusiast owners. Therefore, we expect that many will voluntarily continue to have an MOT carried out on their vehicle, regardless of the change in legislation.

Find out how to declare a vehicle of historic interest here. 

The information contained in this blog post is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such.

Would you continue to get your classic an MOT after 40? Let us know in the comments below!

My Morris Minor came with a MOT, and I have just had it tested and it passed with no advisories, so happy that it is roadworthy.

Alex, 25/03/2022

An MOT is not really the thing to do but that said a simple roadworthy test done on the lines of an MOT would be a good idea. Save all that officialdom. Leave it up to the owners.

grumpy, 19/03/2022

I have my cars MOT checked. I think it is not safe for vehicles not to undergo an independent yearly check. While it may cost more (while we save on road tax) it really should be compulsory that a verified agent/restorer checks vehicles. Private and small aircrafts have rigorous testing and frankly, the person most likely to get killed or injured due to maintenance failure is a polite and perhaps passenger. By contrast, the road is far more dangerous. I dread what the result will be for classics if a non-MOT classic vehicle causes injury or death to another party.

JD, 16/03/2022