A few years ago the government decided that cars built in 1960 or earlier no longer needed to have a yearly MOT. To a degree, it made sense – these cars are classics and as such, they’re usually maintained to a pretty high standard. In fact, a lot of them are in better condition than when they were new. Fastidious restorations, carried out over years ensure a lot of these cars are the embodiment of motoring perfection.
Furthermore, a lot of those cars aren’t driven all that much. A few miles in the summer maybe, but that’s it. So yes, the ‘no MOT needed’ angle had merit. It was almost a reward for being a kind custodian to our motoring heritage. However, it did leave the doors open for some horrors. A door that has just been opened wider by proposed plans to apply the same rule to cars over 40 years old. It’s a worrying prospect.
No MOT – a scary opportunity?
We understand the sentiment, and it’s nice that the Government is thinking about the classic car. However, this sweeping declaration that all cars over 40 are cared for is ridiculous. They’re not. It’s that plain and simple. Plus, while cars 1960 and older are generally easier to work on, the later cars aren’t. The 1970s saw a shift into the world of monocoque construction, new technologies were being implemented, car building was becoming more complex. That’s something harder to maintain at home.
If this goes through, there will be a swathe of cars on the road that are, frankly, dangerous. More so than now in fact. Why? Because it will open up the floodgates to the unscrupulous. There are people who will drive dangerous old cars not because it’s a perk, but because it’s cheap and because they can. It’s a worrying thought.
The new rules will mean that anything built before 1977 is no longer subject to a compulsory MOT. The cars will still be Policed of course, and it’s not carte blanche to drive something of which the doors have fallen off. There will still be a responsibility to maintain your car, but honestly, how many of us are trained mechanics?
We love classic cars here at Onlymotors. We’ve had lots, and we’ve also worked on them all. It’s part of the fun after all. However, there’s no way in hell we’d be comfortable driving them without the annual say-so from a professional. Old cars can and do break, even when mint. And they do so unexpectedly. How much worse is that going to be now?
What about the ‘barn finds’?
The thing that worries us most, however, is the potential influx for genuinely unsafe cars to once again hit the road. Just this time, without supervision or qualification. When the ‘pre 60’ MOT rule came into play, the classifieds and online auction sites were awash with ‘MOT exempt’ cars. Cars that has been sat idle for, in some case, decades. But now, all that was needs was some fuel and a battery then you could drive them away. That is a terrifying thought. It’s also a scenario that could be made the case for upward of 300,000 cars.
There is some good news though, just about. Modified classics will still need an MOT. So, track cars, hot rods, that kind of thing. But again, they’re not really the problem. It’s the thousands of cars just sat out there, waiting. Cars that have been idle or unloved for decades. Cars that will soon be road legal without so much as the turn of a spanner.
Just trust the owners…
Classic cars are a privilege. Those of us who own them do so at great expense, both in terms of time and money. We don’t mind getting an annual MOT. Many of us enjoy the peace of mind that comes from it, in fact. Abolishing the need for one is pointless. At it will do is breed a mass of cars that should not be on the road without considerable work. It was also create more cars that slip into an unsafe condition through the lack of MOTs.
The Department For Transport argues that classic cars are, proportionally, less likely to be involved in an accident. DfT, trust us, that number is going to go up if you take away the rules. Someone will die as direct result of this. Whether that’s someone putting a car on the road as cheaply as possible, or a seasoned owner who hasn’t been made aware of a fatal flaw – it’s a life that can be saved.