A European Union shake-up of MOT rules could spell the death of modified and classic cars in the UK.
The reforms, which are currently only in the proposal stage, would require that "components of the vehicle must comply with characteristics at the time of the first registration."
This would mean any modifications made to a car after its first registration, such as fitting new wiper blades, larger alloy wheels or tinted windows, would cause it to fail its MOT, preventing it from being driven legally on the roads until said modifications have been removed.
The proposed changes to the law don't take into account the fact that some car modifications are merely cosmetic, while others may actually improve car safety. For instance, a classic car that didn't come with seatbelts out of the factory would be illegal under the new law if you fitted some yourself, and the same would apply if you changed the standard-issue shoddy wiper blades for far more effective modern variants, or fitted disc brakes to decrease your stopping distance.
There would be financial ramifications of a new MOT system, too. The car modification industry as a whole, be that restoring an old MG MGB or adding an RS body kit to a Ford Focus, provides more than 28,000 jobs and reportedly generates £4.3 billion per year. Those are not exactly figures the UK could afford to do away with in the current financial climate.
Then there's the issue of having a database with the original specs of each and every car on our roads. As Barry Cornes of the Association of Car Enthusiasts explained to the Daily Mail. "The implications would be massive. It is unbelievable and it seems unworkable. You would need to know every minute detail about every model of car ever made."
It's worth noting the Brussels proposal would keep cars more than 30-years-old exempt from MOT testing, but only if a car "has been maintained in its original condition, including its appearance." Any car that doesn't fit this criteria would then be subjected to the aforementioned new regulations - an automatic failure for the slightest hint of modification.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has contacted 240 organisations and individuals about the proposals, and most have reportedly voiced their concerns.
Vanessa Guyll of the AA said: "We don't want this and we’re very much against it. If every car with a modification was breaking down and having problems then that would be different but they don’t."
Guyll added: "No one enjoys taking their car for an MOT but our system is pretty good. It would cost testing stations a lot and there is not much money to be made from an MOT. The plan is ridiculous."
The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs is similarly unimpressed by the proposed EU legislation. "We reject the suggestion that roadworthiness testing should relate to a vehicle’s ‘technical characteristics’, whatever the age of the vehicle," said a spokesperson.
"Modifications, alterations and improvements are all part of the history of the motor vehicles and the older the vehicle, the more likely it has been altered at some stage."
It's too early to say whether the proposals could be adopted or ignored. We hope they're tossed in the trash because we really don't see any positives of the new system.
Source: Daily Mail