Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Giving pre-1960 cars an MOT exemption is a seriously bad idea

MY CAR is sick. As I write it's licking its wounds in a garage because the powers-that-be have decided not to issue it with a clean bill of health. It is a reject. An MOT failure.

How does it feel to be a reject? Well, frustrating obviously, but strangely reassuring at the same time. It shows that the system still works. The MOT protects people like me from ourselves, by stopping us from taking unroadworthy cars onto the great British road network. It is, a great leveller of all cars over three years old - whether you've got a musty old Maxi or a McLaren F1, if it's got a shot tyre or a worn bush you'll still get a politely-worded computer print out explaining why it's failed to make the grade.

In fact, if anything I don't think the MOT goes far enough - it's amazing what mechanics aren't required or even allowed to check when yout car goes up on the ramp. It's nice to think that no matter what you drive, you've got to make sure it'll make the grade once a year. What I should have done, of course, was bought a car made before 1960. In which case I needn't have bothered. I know I've gone on about it before, when I described it as “possibly the loopiest bit of legislation ever to come out of Westminster” but the Government have actually taken some stupid pills and gone ahead with it anyway. It's official. As of November 18 your pre-1960 classic will no longer ever need to go through the rigmarole of an MOT ever again. Ever.

What if you drive an Austin A40 made largely of rust connected with bits of string? Not a problem. A Moggy Minor with knackered suspension? Go ahead. You are helping to cut Government red tape. The nation's deficit will magically shrink and jobs will be created every time you start your rusty old Ford Prefect up.

Of course, you'll still be legally required to prove that your car's roadworthy, but that's easier said than done if you don't go through the MOT. It's easy to clock a bald tyre, but there's lots of things even keen enthusiasts simply wouldn't spot unless the car's up on a ramp. I reckon - and a lot of classic car owners, mechanics and road safety experts I've spoken to agree with me on this one - a lot of people simply wouldn't know. All cars should go through an MOT simply because it's a safety net of sorts.

I'd rather the  mine get spotted now than be dangerous in six months' time. I've said it before and I'll say it again; exempting really old cars from what is a safety test is a seriously bad idea.

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