Top 10 MOT-exempt classic cars
No MOT for cars over 40 years old, from May 2018 – so AutoClassics looks at ten of the best classics to squeak past the new legislation
Long-awaited, and leaving owners of historic and classic cars in a cold sweat, the new UK MOT exemption rules have been released to a sigh of relief. To read in full what the impact of the government’s new regulations will mean for you and what cars will be affected, delve into the full AutoClassics MOT report.
With the above announcements, AutoClassics look at the most stylish, affordable and useful cars now beyond the 40-year cut-off for MOT exemption. We feel the need to point out, we do not support the notion of driving dangerous vehicles on the road. These exemptions are no excuse for taking a classic onto the tarmac without proper brakes or a body made of rust – please ensure you maintain the tradition of putting your classic through an MOT test.
In the meantime, our two staff writers pick their top classics now viable for the new laws.
The XJ-S is succulent in all the right places, a potent cocktail of grace and aggression yawning from the growler atop the never-ending bonnet to the buttresses and that blunt, yet charismatic, rear end. Once lampooned as an imitator in the shadow of the E-type, it’s taken nearly 40 years for the XJ-S to find secure footing on the classic ladder.
Once found for less than a night at the pub, banger racers and those with aspirations but only a shoestring budget have driven many into the ground. Buying one now secures you a prime chunk of British heritage and a hugely desirable GT car that’s largely DIY friendly in all but the most severe of jobs.
Having raced at Le Mans, rallied and been the first safety car used in Formula 1, the Porsche 914 is a slice of motorsport history. And yet with its Volkswagen-derived drivetrain it was attainable and easy-to-maintain for those not in a crash helmet and fireproof overalls. Built between 1969 and ’75, this first mass-produced, mid-engined sportscar falls comfortably within the new legislation bracket. With the money you’ll save on owning a 914, it makes buying one an appealing proposition over the likes of the VW Scirocco and Porsche 924 that came to replace it.
While the MGB has been, and will always remain, the darling of the classic car scene – the rubber bumper variants have been largely ignored. Which makes them a prime bargain for those seeking ecstasy on masseuse money. It’s certainly not as aesthetically pleasing to those hunting down originality or lashings of chrome, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’ve bought everything MG could offer. Most rubber-bumpered examples are over 40 years old and, with values currently irresistible to those seeking entry to the classic car movement, their time to shine is assured.
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
Time has been kind to the Silver Shadow. Today it just doesn’t seem to matter that it was the most common of all Rolls-Royces. Granted, they still occupy the lower end of the classic car market compared to some of their Spirit of Ecstasy-wearing siblings, but a Silver Shadow is a desirable ownership proposition nonetheless. All the more so given they fall outside the bracket of needing an MoT. With the money you save on your yearly check-up, you can save towards new and expensive replacement parts for when things go wrong.
Once fodder for the bob-tailing crew hell bent on trashing every 4x4 they could get their grubby hands on, the Range Rover Classic is now commanding serious money for early, solid examples. Suffix-A, two-door examples are currently serious collector’s items and very rarely see any off-road action – which is a sin, as when the going gets rough nothing can compete. With coil springs offering more travel than a railcard, point a Range Rover Classic at any obstacle, engage low range and you’ll find yourself unflustered and unstoppable. Only certain examples are over 40 years old.
It’s no secret that the early Lotus Elans are about as close to distilled driving pleasure as you can find. Colin Chapman’s lightweight ethos meant the 800kg Elan flattered its circa 110bhp output (model dependent) and through the bends it was a giant-killer. With an 11-year production run from 1962 through till ’73 an Elan of this vintage will be MoT exempt. But do bear in mind that a glassfibre body can hide chassis rust as pre-1980 cars weren’t galvanised. So it may be MoT exempt, but regular checks are a must.
The humble Mini is more than just a rally legend, film star and automotive icon; it’s a car of the people. Classless and melt-your-heart loveable, the Mini set the tone for decades after the initial launch in 1959 – coming in saloon, estate, pick-up, convertible and van forms. Millions of owners personalised theirs, with some focusing an acute dedication to performance enhancements – but if you want pure historical genesis, hunt down an original Mini Cooper. You can still find superb examples far below fabled asking prices, but brace yourself, as even the most aggressive of models are so sweet you’ll quickly develop vehicular diabetes.
With 2CVs costing from less than £1000, depending on their conditions, and returning 50mpg-plus they have long made for a cheap way into classic car ownership. Now, without needing to put the car through its MoT, that only becomes more prominent. Whether you want to flirt with the idea of being Roger Moore without breaking the bank, or you really do have to transport eggs across a field while wearing a hat, the 2CV is a sound way into the market. And thanks to their simplicity, even without a yearly check-up, problems should be easy to fix.
The Rover V8 apparently found its greatest ever home in the Rover SD1, selling by the bucket-load until tales of build quality and reliability woe cut celebrations short. Unleashed upon the public in 1976 with styling apparently based on the Ferrari Daytona, very early cars are the only ones surpassing the 40 year landmark, yet the six-cylinder cars will reach the same milestone during 2018.
As a driver’s car, with such an unstressed V8 to tackle modern day traffic, the SD1 strikes the perfect balance between relaxed commuter and sideways maniac. Ignore the brainwashed bandwagoneers, a Rover SD1 serves up great handling, feasibility, aesthetics and heritage. Attractive enough for John Steed, Roger Moore and Concorde test pilot Brian Trubshawe - this is a proper British brute with DIY practicality.
Not for the first time, the Beetle can be compared to the 2CV. This time, it’s for how avoiding the costs of a MoT only increases it classic car value for money. The original Kraft durch Freude wagen or ‘Strength through joy car’ was designed to be cheap and give the people of Germany something attainable to aspire to. In many ways it still occupies that territory as a classic car that costs less than £1000 (for a scruffy late-model Beetle). And despite the connections to Nazi Germany, the Beetle has pulled off a masterstroke in that it’s considered cool.
We still recommend having any car MOT tested but here's how to check your car yourself.