Was your car registered on or before the 20th of May, 1978? It was? Well, in nine days you no longer need to bother yourself with getting an MOT. This is a brilliant initiative by the Government to make classic car ownership that bit more easy. And it gets better, it’s a rolling exemption, so you just need your car to have its 40th birthday and you’re away.
Sorry, no, that’s not what we mean. It’s an utter shit-show that is already being exploited despite not being in force yet. Seriously, go on eBay and search for ‘MOT exempt’ and you’ll find no shortage of adverts for rusty old shit that you’d be nervous walking past, let alone driving.
So how did it happen?
There are two reactions to this news. But before we get to those reactions, we first have to look at the legislative monster that lies behind the decision. Basically, a load of MPs who have MG Midgets in the garage of their fourth or fifth homes, read up on what Europe was doing. They seem to have let old cars off the MOT hook, if you can call it such a thing. So they thought we should, too, and decided that getting an MOT was a silly thing because their MGs are immaculate so by definition all old cars are. That’s basically the view.
People who like old cars look after them, so they don’t need MOTs. They asked three other classic cars owners. One wasn’t at home and two shook their heads and were ignored, and that was that. A sweeping, blanket statement over the whole classic car scene, rubber-stamping us with ‘you lot are okay’. It does, however, bring us in line with Europe, though given the current state of things that seems like an odd thing to shoot for. But hey. We were going to get biannual MOTs, but our lot in charge decided against that, too.
And here’s the thing. We are. As a general rule we look after our cars. When the Government rolled out its pre-1960 MOT exemption we scoffed and ignored it for the most part. Most of us who own cars of that vintage still had our cars MOTd. Exemption does not mean it’s not allowed. If your motor is old enough, an MOT becomes a choice. If you want one, you can get one. But we’ll come back to that.
See that up there? That’s a 1955 Ford Thunderbird. Lovingly restored from top to bottom by Pollitt’s father. Do you know what he does every year, despite the car being pretty much mint? He has it MOTd.
So what are the reactions?
Well, this is where it gets interesting. The classic car community isn’t pleased. Dare we say, some corners of it are even offended. But why? Owning a classic car is being made easier, right? Well yes, in theory. But for the most part nobody made us go out and buy a classic. We knew what we were getting into, and if that meant two trips to the MOT station each year, that’s fine. It’s hardly like we’re being asked to gargle cat piss three times a week in order to own an Austin Princess.
We like tinkering, we like looking after our cars, but for the most part we are amateurs or semi-skilled at best. There are a few that come from the trade, but even so, very few are MOT testers. And even fewer have the facilities of MOT man. As such, we like going for an MOT. It’s a governmental pat on the back and job well done. We’ve kept our car on the road for another year. Officially.
But you said you can still have an MOT? So what are you whining about?
The others. That’s who we’re whining about. The chancers. The “MOT exempt, innit mate” pub car park wide-boys who will see this exemption as some sort of loophole to drive old shit that would be condemned if it actually saw an MOT tester. The people with limited ability and even more limited funds. The spanner monkeys, the people who willingly fit hubcaps like the ones in the picture above and of course, the scroungers looking for the cheapest possible way to stay on the road. Them. The scumbags who are giddy because now all they need is a bit of insurance in order to be legal, and that’s it. Everything else be damned.
The classic car scene won’t be affected. Both the people and the cars will remain largely the same. No, the problem with this legislation is what it provokes from the barns and garages up and down the country. From the driveways where they’ve been laying for ten years. Waiting. They’re the problem.
But the Police will catch them…
Will they? We have nothing against the Police, specifically the road traffic division. We have friends there. And do you know what? They’re woefully underfunded, and as such, understaffed. That means they tend to be reactive rather than proactive. Basically, unless your 40 year-old car is on fire, you can probably bowl right past them. They’ll be busy with something else, anyway.
So what do we do then?
We can’t stop it, that’s for sure. It’s going to become perfectly legal for your 40 year-old vehicle to not have an MOT as of May 20th. What we can do though, is keep our end of the deal up. If you drive an older car, keep it healthy and keep it checked. Keep it safe. It’s more than just you and your car, it’s the car you’ll slam into when your un-checked brakes fail. It’s the safety of others. It’s the people you knock over when your corroded steering arm snaps. You get the idea. So get an MOT, just for peace of mind if nothing else.
And don’t get sucked into thinking it’s okay, or it’ll be fine for this year, or whatever. And don’t feed the sellers who boast of MOT-exempt wares like its some sort of badge of honour. It’s not. Cars take a bit of looking after, and if you’re not prepared to do it then frankly, you shouldn’t have one in the first place.