• BookMyGarage.com finds nearly one-in-five historic cars have failed non-compulsory MOT tests
  • More than 120,000 cars aged over 40 years old have voluntarily had an MOT test since the start of 2019
  • Dodge, BMC (British Motor Corporation) and Volkswagen top the list of brands with highest failure rates
  • Classic car owners advised to get a voluntary MOT test or vehicle health check by a qualified garage

Exclusive new data from the DVSA has 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 a Freedom of Information request by BookMyGarage.com, the data showed 121,204 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.

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.

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.

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 the BookMyGarage.com website. BookMyGarage.com has also launched a tool to compare the MOT pass rates of any classic make and model which can be found here https://bookmygarage.com/blog/classic-cars-mot-fails/

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

BookMyGarage.com has helped more than 4.5 million motorists obtain instant comparison prices for MOT, service and repair procedures through its network of over 9,000 franchise and independent UK garages.