Under current British and EU law, vehicles manufactured before 1960 are exempt from MoT tests as they are classified as classic cars.
The EU has put forward plans to cut the threshold to include vehicles manufactured at least 30 years ago which are no longer in production and have not been substantially changed.
However the Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a consulation on plans recommending a 40-year cut-off point.
The changes could lead to 331,000 cars registered between 1960 and 1977 being exempt from annual testing (unless they have been heavily modified) and considered ‘classic cars’.
The move would bring MoTs into line with the road tax system, in which cars more than 40 years old are already exempt from vehicle excise duty.
“Our preference is to exempt vehicles manufactured or registered at least 40 years ago. The 40-year-old vehicle option is also in line with the current rolling 40-year exemptions from Vehicle Excise Duty so this will ensure greater consistency.
“Throughout the proposals in this document the Government has been keen to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on businesses as well as individuals who want to make use of these vehicles. We believe the proposals are sensible for keeping our roads safe for all users and strike the right balance,” the DfT said on their website.
The DfT adds: “Responses to this consultation will help inform our final proposals before we make changes to domestic legislation. It will also assist us in refining the assessment of the impacts. I encourage you to reflect on the proposals set out here and to respond to the consultations questions in full.”
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Philip Warner, co-founder of the Car and Classic website, told The Times: “There’s nothing wrong with a nice old Ford Cortina or equivalent. They can be fun to drive and people like to see them on the road. But it is always sensible to get a second opinion from an MoT garage.”
However some have raised concerns over the changes.
Quentin Willson, journalist and spokesman for FairFuel-UK, told The Times: “It is absolutely wrong and risks compromising road safety. Older cars should have a greater level of scrutiny than new cars.
“You’re talking here about cars like the Escort Mk1 and the Cortina. They were hardly at the zenith of rust proofing or technical efficiency and need constant maintenance. To think that we could see 1970s Fords, Vauxhalls or Hillmans taking to the road unsupervised really worries me.”
The DfT denied it was a safety risk.
A DfT spokesman told the Daily Mail: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and cutting the number of accidents is our top priority. MoT testing is a key part of maintaining safer vehicles and keeping dangerous vehicles off the road.
“Research shows that classic vehicles are involved in proportionally far fewer accidents than their modern equivalents and the number of collision caused by mechnical defects is extremely low.
“We will announce the results of the consultation in due course.”
The consultation period began on September 22 and will run until November 2, 2016.