January 4 2018

MOT exemption for modified classics

Minor modifications will not affect the new MOT rules for classic cars, the Department for Transport has clarified.

According to the Government, vintage vehicles that have had minor changes made, will not be required to undergo the annual roadworthiness test, in line with changes announced this year that exempt cars over 40 years old.

Speaking to consumer site Honest John, a spokesman for the DfT said: “Most vehicles manufactured or first registered over 40 years ago will, as of 20 May, 2018, be exempt from period testing – unless they have been substantially changed.”

Classic car owners have been concerned that the term “modified” could refer to the replacement of original parts that has been an essential part of keeping the motor up and running.

However, the Government has quashed the fears, with the spokesman adding that only “substantially changed” vehicles will require re-registration as part of a separate process.

Who’s exempt?

Replacement chassis that are made with the same pattern as the original spec will still qualify for the exemption, according to Honest John. This also applies to monocoque body shell, including subframes.

Enthusiasts who decide to swap engines can also be under the threshold for modifications, with guidance reading: “Alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine and alternative original equipment engines are not considered a substantial change.”

However, it’s important that those installing a new engine are careful with the type of change they administer, with alterations to the number of cylinders potentially constituting a “substantial change”.

An MOT certificate could also be required if you change the type or method of steering or suspension.

Vehicles not exempt

Despite the clarification, some owners are still unsure whether their vehicle comes under the exemption.

Honest John has issued advice on which vehicles are not exempt and are still required to undergo the annual roadworthiness test. These are:

  • Q’ registration vehicles – whose age or identity is in doubt
  • Kit cars assembled from a variety of other vehicle types
  • Reconstructed classics – those built from genuine period components from more than one vehicle, all over 25 years old and of the same specification as the original vehicle

Anyone driving a vehicle that originated more than 40 years ago will need to declare it as MOT test exempt when taxing it.

Find out more about what classifies as a classic car over on our website here


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