News : Classic car road tax exemption extended to 1974

Keith Adams

If you own an early Allegro, you’ll no longer have to pay road tax

There’s good news for classic car owners in the 2013 budget. From 2014, the exemption from VED (road tax) will be extended to 1974. And that means all cars manufactured in 1973 – previously liable for the annual tax – will now qualify for the exemption. Also, SORNs will no longer be annual, but indefinite.

The measure, which was announced by the Chancellor of The Exchequer George Osbourne, means that cars such as the earliest MGB GT V8s (below) and Austin Allegros (above) are now considered ‘tax-free’. The VED classic vehicle exemption, which was originally introduced in 1994 to roll along at 25 years has set at a fixed date – 1 January 1973 – since 1997.

The new cut-off date for classic vehicles will take effect from 1 April 2014, and covers all cars manufactured before 1 January 1974. Althought it’s not been announced that there will be a return to the pre-1997 rolling exemption, but as this comes into effect at the 40-year point, it’s a good chance that this looks to be the case.

Also in the budget, it was announced that Statutory Off-Road Notifications will no longer need to be renewed on an annual basis. It was confirmed that the Finance Bill 2013 contains this statement: ‘the Government will put off-the-road declarations onto an indefinite basis. The Government will also extend the grace period to 14 days, following the payment of tax, on the non-display of the tax disc in a vehicle.’

This logical move has been introduced to reduce tax administration costs.

MGB GT V8 - launched amid a fuel crisis
MGB GT V8 – early ones are tax-free now
Keith Adams


  1. The free road tax should extend to the end of the 1970’s.
    Although to those of us who were alive during the decade, 1979 may seem like yesterday, the reality is that it was over 30 years ago.

  2. All the local tax offices are shutting as well. If you remember, it was the Tories that brought in the free VED for classics in the first place though

  3. European standard is to recognise classics at 30 years old. We need to move in this direction – not so much for the benefit of ‘free’ road tax, but for all the other legislation that’s coming in…

  4. “The VED classic vehicle exemption, which was originally introduced in 1994 to roll along at 25 years was set at a fixed date – 1 January 1973 – since 1997.”

    Gordon Brown froze classic car tax exemption in 1997 in his first budget for New Labour under Tony Blair.

  5. An LEZ in Norwich. That is news to me!
    It’s fun driving a Mini in Norwich.
    I thought the previous classic cut off date might have been related to the introduction of yellow and white registration plates.

  6. Here in the USA, usually a car can be considered ‘classic’ at 25 years old, so pay less for insurance, exemption from the ‘car tax’ some states have, lower registration fees, able to get special ‘classic’ or ‘antique’ plates as well as exmpemption of the = of MOT and pollution testing.
    At least a 30 year rule like the rest of the EC would be a good idea, but not accepting the EC rules banning modifications (especially for safety) of old cars.
    The end of annual ‘SORN’ notices is defenitely worthwhile, we have nothing like that here, you just buy a registration and pay any car tax if necessary to get back on the road.

  7. Hopefully it will be a 40 year rolling period, then my Midget will be VED-free from 2015!

    The SORN thing is well overdue. Goodness knows how much it was costing them in admin to manage this, especially as some classics are off the road for a few years getting proper restorations/because owners are lazy gits and need to get their fingers out (me!) 😀

  8. Where would the closure of DVLA offices leave those who actually need someone to talk them through the forms?

    eg. I imported a car from GB to NI. I could’ve downloaded an import form, but that asked for various SVA questions. I went to the tax office, they circled a small subset of questions, which together with the GB V5 allowed me to register the thing.

    They’re also talking about merging the DVLNI Coleraine office with Swansea. Inevitably losing the dateless NI plates. Apparently they’ve kept the

    ‘IA62 BCD’ series especially for this purpose.

    ( )

  9. The free road tax should be returned to its original 25 year rolling exeption as it was before Gordon the Moron took over

  10. The city centre in Norwich has had an LEZ zone for vans/lorries for several years now. The local bus op had to spend on average £5,000 per bus making them compliant, which they weren’t too pleased about.

  11. Wooohoooo (said with a hint of sarcasm) I’m pleased for all those 1974 owners but this is ridiculous for everyone else.

  12. On a serious not, I think at least the original 25 rolling period or even 20 should be considered, but then I wondered just how much this would lose the exchequer? There are a 5.3 million cars older than 12 years currently on the road, according the SMMT. At an average of £120 a year that brings in around £634 million. There must be a reasonable proportion of those that are 15/20+ and if you added up what they would pay over 5-10 years that could be into the £billions of lost car tax. In summary, there ain’t no way they are going to be more generous to us poor classic owners.

  13. 40 years rolling is sensible. It gets rid of the dogs and helps to keep the best stuff. And we don’t end up with too much mundane every day stuff.. Can you imagine a 15 year rolling… We’d never be able to get rid of those Sunny’s, Bluebirds, Cavaliers, and Moandeos…

  14. I think 30 years would be a good compromise on a rolling basis. Very few cars of that age on the road and those that are will be owned by classic car enthusiasts and not be every day drivers. I think it would help preserve and create jobs in the classic car industry for very little cost to the Gov. In particular it would make more classic car shows viable for club stands etc and preserve certain future classics like MX5’s, MGF’s and TR7’s.

  15. A bit too late for many perfectly good post-1972 cars that have been scrapped, partly because their owners couldn’t afford to/couldn’t be bothered to tax them. I always thought 1972 was a bit of random date, why not 1974?, when the traditional licensing authorities were needlessly re-organised, or perhaps 1980?, or 1983?, when the entire DVLA system was computerised.

  16. @Eezee Bland Stuff? Surely people said the same thing not so long ago about some of the 1950′ stuff. 70’s and 80’s cars are now classics in my mind to a whole generation of people. They have as much right to regard them as such as everyone else. I actually think we are in danger of losing whole gnerations of cars due to modern day apathy and our throw away society. We need to ensure there is a record of each era of automotive history no matter how mundane that might seem to some. I regard my 82 miniMetro a classic but many, I suspect, would not… 😉

  17. Here in New Zealand we have a 40 year rolling. A very healthy vehicle population of good condition, roadworthy cars of that age and older that are used on a daily basis and command good prices when on sold. It seems to work well.
    But in saying that we have a very old car age average here.
    Rover sd1 ’82. morris 1300 ’73. mitsi diamante ’95. nissan van ’94. fibreglass runabout ’66. Obviously I don’t help improve that average. but in saying that nothing bring a smile to my face like a blast in the Rover on a Saturday afternoon and a hoon in the Morry on a sunny Sunday morning.

  18. #4 – The free road tax should extend to all cars and the revenue be raised on the fuel price at the pumps. We might as well resign ourselves to paying ten quid a litre – 50p for the product and 9.50 to the government – it’ll happen in the end.
    As a vintage car man I’m very concerned about all the related moves – extending free car duty, dropping the MOT – what are the little perishes up to? I try not to be cynical but there has to be some dastardly master plan and we’ll wake up one morning to find we are only allowed to use old cars on Sundays or something. No, it’s O.K. I’ve worked it out. Within the next couple of years we’ll have 20 percent Ethanol in the fuel which no vintage car can live with so that’ll kill that multi-million pound industry stone dead.

  19. i think the 25 years was just fine,but as with government ,they just cant resist messing with stuff that works.thank god for classic/older vehicle enthusiasts,because the road is getting to be a boring place full of “clone” boxes,it always raises a smile to see some jalopy or past piece of British metal grumbling past.

  20. I agree with the rolling 25 year rule there are some great vehicles pre electric control stuff that need preserving.
    and some imported USA greats

  21. Will this mean that when on the first of April 2014 my L reg Triumph becomes a tax exempt proper classic, I can get Black and silver plates put on?

  22. Don’t get too excited, I have a 1973 Marina, and I just phoned the DVLA this afternoon, and they said that no decision had been made about it yet, which to me does not bode well. However I did ask what is the procedure anyway, and you simply write ‘historic’ in the taxation class section of the V5 (registration document) and send it off to them, and you get a new V5 and your shiny new historic nil fee tax disc back.

  23. By the time it gets to the 1980s there wont be many anyway because the stupid scrappage scheme took them off the roads. Another ill informed green idea as they were all replaced by cars built half a world away with the corresponding freight pollution costs

  24. I to like Joseph have been in touch with DVLA as I have a 73 Karmann Ghia and was told that as far as they are concerned nothing has changed as they have not been notified yet.As the changes are supposed to come in 1st April they are cutting fine !!! I will get in touch again with DVLA next week and see what has happened . On a lighter note if I tax my car will they give a full refund for tax paid when exemption comes in to force.

  25. I have just spoken to DVLA and they have now been notified and was given the following information.In the log book ( V5C ) Sec 7 write in tax class as Historic. In section 8 sign and date. Form V10 is also required along with MOT certificate.They may also require proof of date of manufacture from either classic car club or car maker. Will be posting my forms off tomorrow !!!

  26. 25 years should be old enough! I have a 1985 Jaguar XJS Cabriolet. Its already a limited number car (less than 500 I think) so they could all go in another 12 years to be lost forever. And that is a classic car. I’m not sure about Morris marina’s or Austin Allegro’s? Really? Classic Fail more like 🙂 No offence to any owners

  27. Hi if my MGB GT was manufactured in 14 April 1974 does this count..?
    or If it is rolling does that mean as soon as it runs over the 40 years i.e.14 April 1974 – 14 April 2014 – it is exempt..? …

  28. 1974 JAGUAR E-TYPE V12 ROADSTER For Sale

    Hello, I have 1974 Jaguar V12 Roadster for sale. Below are a few information on the car

    Car Details
    Year: 1974
    Make: Jaguar
    Model: E-Type
    Stock: 03848
    Exterior Color: Sable

    If interested, contact me for more information on the vehicle. Hope to hear from you soon.

  29. Hi I have a 25 year old carton limo it dose about 1500 miles per year wy shud we pay tax I pay 1000 a year on my other cars they shud do same as America give us a card so we can drive wot ever car wer in we can onley drive one at once

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