Classics continue to fail MOT at rate of one in five

Published:  27 September, 2021

18.4% of classic cars aged over 40 years old failed MOT tests over the last year and half, despite no legal obligation for owners to have one carried out.

Data obtained from the DVSA via a Freedom of Information request by showed 121,204 classic cars aged over 40 years old voluntarily had a MOT test between January 2019 and June 2021.

The failure rates were as were as follows:
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%

Marques with no recorded failures included Bentley, Wolseley, Saab, Peugeot, Opel, Toyota and TVR.

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 data also indicated that 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% on 2019, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica Potts, Head of Marketing at, 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.

She added: “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.” has launched a tool to compare the MOT pass rates of any classic make and model which can be found at:

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