Why the MoT still matters

If you’re in the classic vehicle scene you’ll know that there’s a rolling exemption from the MoT for cars and bikes of forty years plus. This extended the previous exemption that just included cars and bikes built up until 1960.

As with all these things there was a consultation before the MoT exemption was brought in. But the consultation read like a done deal against the MoT from the start with various luminaries saying how important the MoT was for older vehicles, while saying, almost in the same breath, that it really wasn’t necessary for older vehicles after all.

None of this made any sense to us. Surely the MoT was the backbone of vehicle safety, that second pair of eyes and hands checking that everything was in order. Yes, the MoT was a bind, and yes it probably wasn’t entirely fit for purpose when it came to older vehicles. But to remove it because it wasn’t entirely fit for purpose? Was that really the best answer?

Back in 2016 our MD, Ben Field, went to the Department for Transport (DfT) to discuss the consultation with the man charged with organising it, collating responses and drafting the report. The stand out quote from that meeting was this from the man from the DfT: ‘…the MoT, yes, that’s where you get your lights and things checked, isn’t it?’ This astonishing revelation came from the lips of the bloke running the show. He didn’t have a clue about the thing which his report would ultimately save or destroy.

Sure enough, the MoT was removed for cars and bikes more than 40 years old just a few months later. So why bring all this up now? Well, the need for some form of safety test has never been more important. Since 2017 we have seen a steep decline in the standard of tyres coming in for changing. And we know that our colleagues across the industry are getting to serious mechanical and structural problems far later than they would if a test were flagging problems on a yearly basis.

Just recently we had a classic in for a set of tyres. Those on the car were all 40 years old and they were visibly shot. Three were radials, one was a crossply. The car itself was brimming with body filler and was one wet winter away from disintegration. Yet this car had just been sold on (sans MoT, of course) for a five-figure sum.

And this sort of thing is not untypical.

What’s the answer? We think that bodies like the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) and the newly-formed Historic & Classic Vehicle Alliance (HCVA) should lobby Government to introduce even a basic safety test for older vehicles.

In the meantime, we think the insurance companies should collectively agree to increase policy premiums by a set percentage if a vehicle has no MoT. And we think that everyone selling classic vehicles, trade or private, should have to produce a valid MoT certificate before sale.

And we can all help by booking our cars and bikes in for MoT once a year.

Ultimately vehicle testing is about keeping all road users safe. But in our case it’s about keeping the classic vehicle industry safe as well. Road transport of all types has never been under such intense scrutiny. Our industry needs to be safe and seen to be safe. The lack of regulation that we currently enjoy could ultimately be our undoing.