10th May 2021

No sin of emissions: ULEZ and Classic Cars

First introduced on the 8th April 2019, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone was designed to slash the city’s emissions in its central zone, by incentivising drivers of vehicles considered to be “emissions heavy” to swap to greener modes of transport via a £15 per day charge to enter the zone.

Put simply, for “modern” vehicles, if your car is petrol powered, it must be Euro 4 compliant to escape the charge. This usually means that it will have been registered after 1st January 2006 to comply, although some cars registered before that date will also pass, these are rare exceptions.

For diesel vehicles, Euro 6 emissions standards apply, which means that if your car was produced before 1st September 2015, it may well be subject to the charge. Here is a handy government website where you can check your car’s ULEZ status for free.

Classics however, have two exemptions. If you own a vehicle which was registered before the 1st January 1973, it will be automatically exempt from the ULEZ charge. There is also a rolling 40 year exemption in place, which means that if your vehicle turns 40 years old, you can apply for an exemption from the government, the link for which can be found here.

As the 40-year exemption currently includes cars built in 1981, there are a host of surprisingly modern classics available which can be used daily while escaping the charge. Fast appreciating modern classics such as the Audi Quattro, the Mercedes W126 S Class, the Lotus Esprit Turbo and even the Mk1 Golf Cabriolet will all allow you to indulge in a passion for historic motoring, while keeping up with modern traffic, and saving money while you do so.

If the idea of a forty year old daily driver is a little too hard to swallow, then there are a range of truly modern classics which slip through the emissions net, while still being interesting cars to own. For the full article on the range of surprisingly ULEZ-free modern cars, Footman James reviewed some of the best here, however, the ability to waft through a city centre in a Bentley Arnage while paying not a penny in ULEZ for the joy of it is an incentive that is hard to ignore.

Will you be using your classic car more in London to go ULEZ free, or would you swap to a modern classic for the same reason? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



Although it takes the worry out of riding ones motorbike into London without the charge, I very much doubt I will be taking advantage of it as I would rather use public transport. The only exception would maybe be going to places like the Ace Cafe.

johnnyboy, 11/05/2021