We recently obtained exclusive new data from the DVSA which revealed 18.4 per cent of classic cars aged over 40 years old failed MOT tests, despite there being no legal obligation for owners to have one carried out.

Obtained via our Freedom of Information request to the DVSA, the data showed 121,2041 classic cars aged over 40 years old voluntarily had an MOT test between January 2019 and June 2021.

Since May 2018, cars aged over 40 years old (classed by the DVLA as ‘historic’ vehicles) have been exempt from MOT tests and road tax, though owners are still responsible for keeping their vehicles in roadworthy condition.

Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.

 

mechanic working underneath old car jacked up in garage

Regular maintenance for classic cars is highly recommended, whether you do it yourself or book an appointment at a professional garage, as you must keep your vehicle in roadworthy condition. This applies even if you don't drive it very often.

 

The reasons behind voluntary MOT tests being carried out likely stems from owners or perspective buyers of classic cars seeking reassurance that the vehicle is in a safe condition. In addition, any cars which have been ‘substantially modified’ in the last 30 years, will also still legally require an MOT test.

Use the dropdown menus below to see the MOT test results of any specific classic make or model2.

 

 

Of the cars tested, Dodge had the highest failure rate with over half (55.2 per cent) failing, followed by BMC (Austin-Morris) at 39.3 per cent and Volkswagen at 31.9 per cent.

 

Rank Make Number of MOT Tests Failure Rate
1 Dodge 143 55.2%
2 Austin-Morris (BMC) 567 39.3%
3 Volkswagen 19,154 31.9%
4 Morris 8,817 24.6%
5 Land Rover 8,046 23.4%
6 MG 22,974 20.8%
7 Triumph 15,494 18.8%
8 Reliant 536 16.4%
9 Porsche 1,884 14.9%
10 Fiat 768 12.9%

Top 10 brands with highest MOT failure rates on cars aged over 40 years old between January 2019 until June 2021 with a minimum of 100 tests carried out

 

However, numerous renowned manufacturers also had clean sheet records with zero recorded failures, including Bentley, Wolseley, Saab, Peugeot, Opel, Toyota and TVR.

The DVSA data showed newer classic cars were more likely to fail than their older counterparts, as 1970s cars are three times as likely to fail than those from the 1950s.

 

grey jaguar e-type sports car sat on tarmac road on clear day

If you're lucky enough to own a classic Jaguar E-Type, you don't need to book an annual MOT for it - but it is highly recommended in order to keep you safe behind the wheel. See how likely it is to pass in our dropdown menu above.

 

In 2020, just 41,000 historic vehicles were tested, down 32 per cent on 2019, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica Potts, Head of Marketing at BookMyGarage.com, commented, “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. For example, components such as tyres or suspension bushes can perish with age, electrical faults can often cause problems with lights, brake lines can corrode, brake calipers can stick due to a lack of use, and bodywork corrosion can lead to structural problems.

“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.”

Drivers can compare prices and book MOT tests or vehicle health checks for classic vehicles through our website here.

Owners can also check if their classic vehicle still needs an annual MOT test by checking the government’s guidance here.

 

happy young woman sat on deckchair on beach with towel laid out in front of blue volkswagen campervan on bright sunny day

With a 31.9% failure rate during MOTs, a classic Volkswagen is the manufacturer with the third highest failure rate!

 

Notes:

  1. Figure includes kit cars where build date is unknown and are automatically assigned a year of first registration of 1970 by the DVLA

  2. Lookup tool excludes data for vehicles where the model was listed as ‘unknown’. Makes or models not listed were either listed as ‘unknown’ or had zero vehicles presented for an MOT test between January 2019 and June 2021. Data may include some results for modified vehicles using a substantial number of components from a newer vehicle which wasn’t originally on sale before 1981. Vehicles imported or re-registered in the UK after 1981 may also be excluded from the dataset.