January 16, 2021

Does Your Classic Car Need an MOT?

There was good news in 2018 when the MOT rules were rehashed and it turned out that classic cars older than 40 years didn’t need an annual certificate.

As with many things to do with rules and regulations on the road, however, it’s a little more complicated with several caveats than many classic car owners were slow to realise.

There was also some doubt among classic car enthusiasts and groups themselves that changing the regulations in this way could lead to less safe cars on the road.

Here at White’s Bodyworks, it’s one of the questions we get asked quite a lot by our customers who own classic cars or are thinking of buying one.

To help, here’s our quick guide on the MOT rule changes and who is and isn’t included.

What is the New Regulation?

If you have a vintage vehicle that was registered more than 40 years ago, you do not need to have an annual MOT undertaken. Taking today’s date, that means any car first registered before 4th January 1981 should be exempt.

Sounds simple? Well, not entirely. Once you dig into the legislation there is a lot more to this rule than many people think.

What Are the Exceptions?

The first major exception concerns body and engine modifications. In short, if your classic car has been substantially changed within the last 30 years, then you still need to get an annual MOT. Changes related to the chassis, monocoque bodyshells, axles and running gear, and the engine.

The government issued more detailed guidelines which can be found here.

There are also a lot of different subclauses within the exceptions. For example, if substantial changes were made to preserve the car where original parts weren’t available, then you don’t need an annual MOT.

Vehicles that are used commercially and which are over 40 years old (such as trucks and buses), will not be exempt from regular MOT testing.

If you have a car with a Q registration or a kit car, they will still need to be tested. If you are taxed as a historic vehicle, however, this exemption doesn’t apply.

If this sounds pretty confusing, you’re not alone.

It’s why we get so many queries from classic car owners. Also, some cars that were previously exempt from having an MOT may now need one. If you have a car that was registered before 1960, you wouldn’t previously have had to take an MOT.

Now, if that car has had substantial changes undertaken in the last 30 years, you will.

The long and short of it is that, if you are planning to exempt yourself from an MOT, make sure you fully check the rules to make sure you are on the right side of the law.

Registering as a VHI

You can’t just say that you are exempt from having an MOT (assuming you’ve figured out if the rule applies to your car or not). You will need to register as a Vehicle of Historic Interest or VHI. For this, you will need to obtain a V112 declaration form.

What Else?

You are still responsible for maintaining your classic car and ensuring that it is safe to hit the road. If you get stopped by the police and your car has a major defect that makes it unroadworthy, you are liable and you could be fined and have points deducted from your licence.

You can still opt to undertake an MOT at your local garage and this is always the safest way to ensure safety on the road. It’s also a good idea if you are not completely sure that you meet the eligibility criteria under the new rules.

If you are a classic car owner, it makes sense to work with a garage you can trust. At White’s Bodyworks, we have several decades of experience delivering high-quality repairs, servicing and MOTs as well as restoration services for customers across the Home Counties.

Based in West Sussex, our garage is fully equipped and our trained mechanics are specialists in classic cars. Contact us today to find out more.


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