According to a new ruling in the United Kingdom, a Vehicle of Historic Interest is at least 40 years old and in original condition. The new ruling matches similar legislation in other European countries.
The British government has issued guidance over the new MOT-rules for classic vehicles. Last September, the Department for Transport announced that any vehicle of 40 years and older would be exempt from the yearly technical inspection, the MOT-test, as of 20 May 2018.
But for the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, the age-limit of 40 years was not enough to determine what cars would profit from the MOT-exemption. So FBHVC asked for extra guidance. The DfT has now issued an official status for motor vehicles as Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI).
In short, the status of VHI is for any motor vehicle that is at least 40 years old and is in practically original condition. This means that the car (or van, truck or motorcycle) still has the bodywork that was designed for it, still has an original engine and suspension and also it means that the chassis may not have been altered.
Of course, it is alright if the car has been restored, even if it has been restored with non-original parts. But any major alterations to body, chassis or running gear are considered a breach of originality and such a vehicle cannot get the status of a VHI. If the car has been seriously altered, the VHI-rules demand that the alterations have been made more than 30 years ago.
This probably rules out, for instance, the many Jaguar MkII’s that over the years have been turned into replica’s of racing cars, or that have been modernized by replacing the running gear by that of a much younger Jaguar.
It also rules out any classic petrol-car that has been equipped with a diesel engine, and it certainly rules out classic Citroën 2CV’s or Volkswagen Beetles that have been turned into to electric vehicles.
It probably even rules out fourdoor Range Rover Vogues from the 1980’s that have been mounted on early 1970’s chassis.
Not to mention all the hotrod-conversions that over the years have been built from Ford Anglia’s or Austin Devons and the like.
The new guidance also rules out kit cars that have been converted less then 40 years ago, even if based on a chassis that is older then 40 years. For the VHI-status, what counts is the moment of conversion and not the moment of registration of the original chassis.
The new British VHI-status is similar to legislation in some other European countries. For instance in Germany is a similar rule, where classic cars (of 30 years and older) need to be scrutinized in order to get an official status as a classic car. This status gives them also an exemption from road tax and allows them to enter low-emission zones in German cities.
In general, the new British VHI-status for classic follows the definition of classic cars that has been published some years ago by FIVA, the European organization of classic car clubs.
Read the complete ruling by the British Department for Transport here.