New legislation could spell trouble for classics


Recently announced EU legislation could mean complications for owners of modified classics.

Currently, classics must fall in line with the Road Traffic Act and the MoT test. In short, they must be mechanically fit for purpose irrespective of whether the car performs exactly as it did when it was built.

But the proposed new legislation will require annual roadworthiness testing to make reference to the car’s original ‘technical characteristics.’ Your classic may be subject to (and fail) the new test if it doesn’t fit the EU’s definition of a ‘historic vehicle’, which is defined as one that:

Was manufactured more than 30 years ago

Is maintained by use of replacement parts which reproduce the historic components of the vehicle

Has not sustained any change in the technical characteristics of its main components such as engine, brakes, steering or suspension

Has not been changed in its appearance

Rosy Pugh from the FBHVC said: “We consider this definition to be unworkable and completely unacceptable.

“The FBHVC also rejects the suggestion that Roadworthiness Testing should relate to a vehicle’s ‘technical characteristics’, whatever the age of the vehicle.

“Modifications, alterations and improvements are all part of the history of motor vehicles and the older the vehicle, the more likely it is that it will have been altered at some stage.”

If the proposal is accepted, a Department for Transport spokesman estimated that it would take anywhere between two and five years to be implemented. The DfT had previously contacted organisations within the motoring industry so that they could comment on the plans.

Join the discussion in our forums, here. The full statement from the FBHVC is below:

The FBHVC have been in discussions with the international organisation FIVA and the EU MEP group as well as the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicle Group and are preparing a formal response to the DfT’s request for information.

The Federation considers that the definition of historic vehicle is unrealistic and unworkable and is therefore unacceptable. The wording of the EU draft is not specific enough to be able to make detailed comments to the DfT on their questionnaire. For example, what is considered under ‘change of appearance’ – might that mean a respray in a different colour? It is also not clear how original vehicle will have to be – will a change to radial tyres invalidate historic status?

Modifications, alterations and improvements are all part of the history of motor vehicles, and the older the vehicle, the more likely it is that it will have been modified at some stage.

At present it is the basic tenet that an MoT test is one of mechanical fitness and we are not aware that a database of original specifications exists for vehicles in order to test for modifications. However vehicle owners are reminded that vehicles that have undergone drastic modification should be declared to DVLA and are often inspected before relicensing and retention of original licence plates.

Regarding the rolling 30 year date – the Federation has gone on record in its newsletter stating that 1945 is a much more realistic cut-off date for exemption from MoT, not 1960 and certainly not a rolling date at the moment. The Federation believes that this proposal for a 30 year rolling date could be very dangerous without deeper consideration of the consequences.

There has been a great deal of interest from our member clubs following publication of a less than accurate website article on this subject but the Federation can assure its members that we have been working on this for some weeks now and will continue to fight to uphold the freedom to use our vehicles without restriction.

It should be remembered that this is still just a proposal and has to go through the EU governmental process as well as approval by each member country before it is adopted.



So what they're basically saying is that all classic cars must be completely original. Right, anyone know where I can get some asbestos brake pads?


It is not at all clear who would benefit from such measures anyway. Pretty clear who would lose out though!

There are probably very few classics that are in their original state and I am sure we would NOT want our cars in the mechanical state they were when new. In order to drive these vehicles on the road with current vehicles, they must be fitted with better brakes, tyres and suspension although I am sure the preference for an original 'feel' is preferred too. Retention of the 'spirit' of originality is good but how would you legislate that!

There is also the classic spares and accessories industry to think about as without them re-manufacturing many parts, there would be a lot of classics fitted with worn out original parts and very dangerous.

There are similar laws here in the US and even moving cars between states where the interpretation of locals laws may be different has many issues.

I could go on but I assume much has been written elsewhere.


@ New lukecrowley571 I guess you'll get the asbestos pads the same place we'll get the leaded petrol!
To be more serious, my Healey was manufactured with the turn indicators that operated through a relay to use the front side light and the brake light as the indicator. In the traffic conditions of today and the type of idiot drivers around this is utterly dangerous and unacceptable. So during restoration my wiring loom was made to accept the normal practice of amber indicators, so is the EU going to say I must revert to the original and thus increase my chance of a traffic accident caused by my indicators giving confusing messages!



The EU Original Polizei strikes!

Obviously a legislation pieced together by some people, without any connection to the classic car scene.

Typical central power mistrust in its own population.

Gerard Clarke

I am surprised by the alarmist reporting of this story by C and SC. I suggest that rumours of the impending death of the classic car are exaggerated.

Here is a counter view. These are my opinions. and I may be wrong, but I add that I am a practising barrister with over two decades experience, including extensive experience in EU law.

The draft Regulation is mainly about an EU minimum standard for roadworthiness testing.

It is not mainly about modifications, or classic cars.

The draft regulation will not prevent all modifications.

It will regulate modifications which affect safety or environmental characteristics.

It will allow for testing of modifications.

It will allow for testing by reference to national legislation.

It will create a new and limited category of historic vehicles, which will not require testing. This will not effect UK road tax rules. Those are a matter for the UK.

Many or even most classic cars will need testing, but will be tested by the standards applicable when they were new. (Note that "historic" and "classic" are not legal terms at present, save that historic has a limited meaning in the UK for road tax purposes, and MOT exemption).

There remains uncertainty because parts of the draft Regulation and Annexes are ambiguous, and some local rules will be in place in any event.

There is reportedly no budget to implement this. UK Government policy is to oppose major Euro-driven changes.

There may be hassle for trailer and caravan users.

The draft Regulation is in many ways poorly drafted, but it is not Armageddon.

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