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One-in-five classic cars fail an MOT, despite not legally needing one

·2-min read

Although cars over 40 years old do not legally have to have a valid MOT, new data has found that one in five of those that have been MOT tested have failed.

The data highlights the importance of classic car owners regularly checking the roadworthiness of their vehicles and undertaking maintenance.

Data obtained via a Freedom of Information request to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency by found that 121,204 cars aged over 40 had taken a voluntary MOT test between January 2019 and June 2021. Of these, about 20 per cent failed.

Cars aged 40 or older have not legally required an MOT since May 2018, and have also been exempt from paying road tax. However, owners are still required to keep their vehicles road legal, and failing to do so could result in a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.

  1. Dodge - 55.2%

  2. Austin-Morris (BMC) - 39.3%

  3. Volkswagen - 31.9%

Jessica Potts, head of marketing at, said: “The fact that almost a fifth of classic cars failed voluntary MOT tests highlights the importance of classic car owners carrying out regular checks and keeping on top of maintenance.

“Even if a classic car covers a limited number of miles each year, it’s not uncommon for potentially dangerous faults to occur.

“Our advice to classic car owners who aren’t mechanically inclined is to get a voluntary MOT test or vehicle health check carried out annually by a qualified garage for peace of mind. That way, drivers avoid risking fines and penalty points, or even causing an accident.”

From the data, Dodge had the highest percentage of failures at 55.2 per cent, though this did only relate to 143 tests. Austin Morris (BMC) was second with 39.3 per cent from 567 tests, followed by Volkswagen with 31.9 per cent from 19,154 tests.

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