Inspiration from the corridors of power


Author: James ElliottPublished:

Spent a fascinating evening at the Houses of Parliament last night, mixing with the glitterati of the two houses – the few brave souls fighting for the rights of classic car owners in those sumptuous corridors of power – and a motley crew of hacks all standing like ironing boards in seldom-worn ties and suits (or jackets that at least looked a vaguely similar colour to their trousers).

The big news while we shuffled our creaky smart shoes uncomfortably on the thick carpet in the spectacular River Room, sipping from the largest wine glasses I have ever seen, trying to keep up with the MPs and secretly craving a nice warm pint of bitter, was the launch of the Federation's latest mind-boggling stats summarising what a colossal hobby we are part of.

The second big news was the (admittedly expected) bluster from politicians reassuring us of the future security of our hobby. I say bluster not in a negative way, that's just how politicians talk. And before you think it, yes, the same can be said for us hacks. Plus, these are the good guys, the ones on our side.

The big conversation point in the wind-down, however, was the consultation document over the potential scrapping of the MoT for pre-1960 classics.

Amazingly, I couldn't find anyone in favour of it.

Condensing several long discussions into two key points, they were:

As owners we all seem to like the reassurance of a second pair of eyes checking over our cars and warning us of potential problems to come (a bargain at £50-odd quid a year).

As enthusiasts, we all fear the repercussions for our hobby of the inevitable consequence when an unroadworthy MoT-exempt car (and there are guaranteed to be some) causes havoc, destruction and maybe even death.

So, what to do about it?

Well, instead of scrapping the MoT entirely, surely a basic belts and braces safety check could be introduced for cars of a certain age. The fact that it doesn't fit into the one-size-fits-all streamlining and computerising of the MoT industry doesn't stop it being by far the most sensible solution.

Failing that, as the red wine was topped up and we started supping our way back to the bottom of the glass, a few of us now rather less vertical and rapidly heading towards horizontal journos started to spot an amazing business opportunity, to set up our own nationwide basic safety check business if and when the MoT is scrapped.

Then we would lobby the powers that be to introduce a scheme – much like they have with household boilers - that no MoT-exempt classic can be sold as a runner without a certificate from one of our nationwide centres ensuring its basic safety. Ker-ching.

They would have to have a snappy, zeitgeisty name, of course, something meaningless and pathetic like iChecks or eSafety, but I can tell you with equal certainty that we will never get around to doing anything about it.

And that is why I share this genius idea here: if some enterprising enthusiast is reading this and wants to put the plan in action, you already have a guaranteed annual customer in me.

In the meantime, perhaps it is better that we all just get this silly idea thrown out (or at least amended to something that is of use to us) so make sure you read the consultation document here and have your say here.



Interesting comments about the MOT test. Having moved to the US and purchased a classic car here, the rules are pretty interesting.

In New Jersey, classic (actually Historic registration) can be applied to any car over 25 years old and in theory means they can only be used for show, club runs and education purposes. It also means they never have to be inspected - as you point out, that is both good and bad. Good for those people who care for their cars and where an inspection (especially emissions) is a pain and whose cars are in great condition anyway. Not so good for others who see the loophole of driving an 'old' car with no restrictions and putting themselves and others in danger.

A compromise for the UK may be to have a classic or historic category of registration where the car must meet certain age and use criteria and then gets the breaks - MOT and Road Tax. Should positively impact insurance premiums too, does here.


Having recently put my MG Magnette ZB on Spanish Historic plates I now have the MOT (ITV) for four years.
Vehicles from 45 - 55yrs are given four yrs.and fifty-five year plus are given five years. I can handle this as its not the dreaded inspection every twelve months.

I do think scrapping the MOT for classics could prove disaster with the "old banger boys" taking advantage of this loophole .


Here in the US, vehicle inspections vary by State, so, wherein I may have a safety inspection annually in my State, next door in the next State, they have none. But what gets me about inspecting classics is that whenever I get either of my two classic vehicles inspected each year (1966 Vespa Super Sport, 1960 Morris Mini-Minor), I know more about the vehicles than the inspectors do. They ask ME about what to check. Yet, I have to pay THEM. Crazy. I actually had a young mechanic ask me where to plug his emissions computer testing machine into my 1960 Mini. "Are you f-ing serious?!" I asked him. He was. The problem is that no one checks that the inspectors actually know anything about what they are inspecting. It may well be fine to get rid of pre-1960 inspections because unless the inspector has been around for a long while, the inspection will be pretty meaningless anyway, so what would you be paying for; the priviledge?
- Paul B, Bensalem, Pennsylvania, USA


Out here in British Columbia (left side of Canada) not only are classic cars not tested, all cars are not tested.  Haven't been for decades.  Mechanical failures are almost never cited as causing accidents involving automobiles, although faulty brakes on large commercial vehicles do occaisionally make the papers.  The general lack of driver competence makes car condition irrelevent.

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