Though they’ll be spared a big source of annual anxiety from now on, old car people don’t all seem to be welcoming the government’s decision to exempt pre-1960 cars from the MoT test in future.
Those who keep their cars right up to the mark won’t be affected, and those without a conscience who maintain theirs very badly will find life a lot easier.
But the majority who fall somewhere in the middle (I’m one) always benefit from the flinty-eyed inspection of their pride and joy by a professional inspector with no axe to grind. Old-car appreciation is so seasonal in this country: which of us hasn’t pushed our nail into the April sunlight with flat tyres and battery, mildew on the seats, rusty brakes, a clutch that won’t disengage and cobwebs all over the place? The threat of a no-excuses inspection is what encourages us to get it going properly.
The question that bugs me is: why have the the authorities done it? Some suggest it is because modern MoT procedure has become so exacting and time-consuming, and is so completely tuned to today’s electronically governed cars that pre-1960 models now take too long and require too many exemptions.
Pessimists reckon it’s the first step in an EU-led plan to place restrictions of use on old cars, such as exist elsewhere already. Optimists, on the other hand, believe it’s because old cars are better-loved than most usually pass, though in my experience that might be on the nod-and-wink system. (It’s common for us old car lovers to hoard and swap addresses of MoT stations where the proprietors 'understand' old cars).
I can’t help thinking it’d have been wise of the authorities at least to insist that old car owners should at least present their machine for a £50 'safety check' before taxation. Without that, some pretty awful old contraptions will be taking to our roads. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I reckon it does.