New tax proposals prompt Port to go window shopping


Author: Martin PortPublished:

I awoke this morning to the news that people like me, who have to use a major motorway or two in order to get to work, could soon be paying more for road tax.

Of course, at the moment it is purely one of the proposals being considered, but, should it come into being, then it would provide me with an interesting dilemma.

Over the years I’ve been very happy, almost ecstatic when it has come to the yearly ritual of taxing the Port household vehicles.

Out of the three we have on the road, two of them have usually been eligible for tax exempt status and so clicking the ‘give me my free tax disc’ button on the DVLA website has always been accompanied by a smile.

Recently though, I’ve not done myself any favours on that front.

I could almost forgive the last of our taxable classics – the Austin Mini – because it didn’t cost anything in the first place and then only cost just over £100 for the whole year anyway, thanks to it’s pocket rocket engine.

However, it is the Scimitar GTE that finds itself falling foul of the ‘classics and tax’ situation.

Its 1974 registration means that I have little choice other than to stump up £220 in order to keep it legally on the tarmac and while that is just about bearable considering the fact that it boasts a nice 3-litre V6 under the bonnet and covers 15,000 miles a year, anything more would become a very bitter pill to swallow.

The facts are simple: I live in Berkshire and drive to South West London using a combination of the A4, M4 and M3. Sometimes I even use the M25 (but only on a Friday). Under the new proposals this means that in order to be eligible for the lower rate of road tax, I would have to abandon these roads and stick to the ‘slower’ routes as they have been labeled – not exactly great news for a V6 touring GTE which happily eats up miles and more than holds its own with moderns on the motorway. It wouldn’t be great news for residents of sleepy Berkshire villages either – having my fuel-guzzling estate rumbling past their windows at 6.30 in the morning.

However, there is another possible outcome and one that is much simpler.

Unfortunately, if those proposals do come through, I will be forced to sell the GTE and buy something with tax-exempt status. That could of course still be a Scimitar, but having done so much work on the one I own, I don’t think I’d want to have a different one, even if it was older.

If I had to use the slower routes, then I would probably buy another Land-Rover because the speed wouldn’t matter anyway, but then it would be tax-exempt so I would get frustrated at not being able to make the most of the faster ‘free’ roads!

No, the only option would be for me to buy something completely different, so I may as well get looking now, just in case.

Suggestions for a tax-exempt classic then please.One that can match the ‘get-up-and-go’ of the Scimitar, return at least 25mpg, be as hardy as a Land-Rover and still have that ‘look back and smile’ quality when I park it up.Oh, and it can’t cost more than the Scimitar is worth.

First on the list is my old favourite, the Volvo Amazon estate, but that is ignoring the ‘get-up-and-go’ bit unfortunately.

That is closely followed by the good old Porsche 914… but that means ignoring the ‘can’t cost more than a Scimitar’ bit. Not unless I want a real shed on wheels which means the road tax issue becomes redundant because it will end up on SORN!

Of course, all this is theoretical at the moment, but window shopping is always fun, even if it is the Government’s fault.


Alastair Clements

Ask the rally boys MP, I reckon you could easily give your Amazon wagon Scimitar-matching levels of 'get up and go' with a bit of tweaking...

Magazine editor, C&SC

Chris Martin

That Volvo lump is very tuneable, the obvious choice would be put a late B20 on twin carbies in it, but you will also need overdrive to offset the petrol costs, (which may be more than the tax you are saving). But, although the twin carbs may help at the top end of the revs, they probably do not add much in the way of low down torque, so a single may be good enough. Although you say you want to use the M4/M3 route as a potentially faster road from what I remember last time I was there, unless you leave home at 5.00 you will be driving in similar suburban speed-up-slow-down conditions as anywhere else. In which case, the Volvo would not be far behind the GTE anyway.
That is not to put a stop to your window shopping though, it is always fun to look for the next favourite wheels, and then try to justify your latest purchase to 'er indoors or your workmates eh?
Chris Martin



Tax exempt,good motorway cruiser,family estate and as tough as a Land Rover. If only Land Rover made such a vehicle it would be perfect,especially with that lovely wooflley old V8 out of the P5b, beautufully smooth all coil suspension and an image that's second to none.


Is this a case of "any port in a storm"? Remember the government are looking at the whole road fund licence issue (sorry, road excise tax) and we've heard our Mr. Cameron talking about 'fairness' (sic!) so maybe the present 'free' tax system will become a low tax system for vehicles over 30 years old - as happens in most countries - hence the whole issue must be up in the air at the moment. Don't get rid of that 1974 vehicle just yet....................

Simon Charlesworth

I would hope that they'd leave the current pre-Jan ’73 cars alone, because is it really worth the cost of changing it? Sadly, I don't see too many cars of this era on the roads at the moment.
I think the people who have to worry are the ones who have bought their new C02-optimised Tupperwagons and then only pay the equivalent of a packet of fags in road tax. The Government is losing a lot of money because of this system, and I think they're going to prioritise these classes, so that when good times return new car sales will equate to a far larger tax take.
Old cars, after all, are in slow but inevitable decline and if they up the taxation on older cars (pre-2001), they'll be accused of making things harder for the less well off. And I'd join the chorus!
Plus we, as a hobby, can get lobbying to address any threats to our cars or wallets. Unlike Joe Public, who'll just mutter into his cornflakes and cough up.
Or does that sound too much like common sense?

Simon Charlesworth


I am also in the same dilemma with my current car. I could not afford to be a new car, either, in order to avoid paying higher road tax. I don’t want to take out any loans, too, to enable me to afford one. I just hope that they get to debate well on this new proposal and come up with something that everyone is better off.

Carl Garrison - logbook loans


thx for your great post.
i have the similar problem with ma own car.road tax is a big problem for me. 

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