News : The good, bad and ugly MoT results

Keith Adams

Rover SD1 ay AJF Engineering getting its 2012 MoT
Rover SD1 at AJF Engineering getting its 2012 MoT

In association with Honest John, AROnline has been given exclusive access to UK MoT test pass data, and we’ll be publishing some of the more interesting league table before going live with a full MoT app later in the year. We’ll be concentrating on pre-1990 UK manufactured and badged cars – the bread and butter of our site. Although MoT pass data is less revealing of the overall reliability of classic and historic cars, it’s still an interesting barometer for the ease in which our cars pass (or otherwise) the annual MoT test.

For the first of our MoT related stories, we’re revealing the top five performers from Austin, Morris, MG, Rover, Triumph and Vauxhall and Ford. You’ll be surprised by some of the results.

Austin top five

Austin A95 16 81.3%
Austin A55 131 80.9%
Austin A40 571 80.2%
Austin A110 34 79.4%
Austin A35 790 78.0%

Wooden spoon for the Austin-badged cars is the Mini with a 50.6% pass rate. Maestro and Montego owners shouldn’t feel too smug about this – a mere 52.3% of the former pass first time, while that increases to 68.4% for its booted brother.

Ford top five

Ford Prefect 407 85.0%
Ford Anglia 1,113 83.0%
Ford Consul 570 80.0%
Ford Zephyr 448 79.2%
Ford Zodiac 402 78.6%

The worst-performing Ford is the Escort – but with over 205,000 aging cars being tested, that’s a not wholly surprising result.

MG top five

MG RV8 473 83.3%
MG MGA 1,071 82.2%
MG Magnette 373 81.8%
MG 1100 38 81.6%
MG MGC 831 76.1%

A great result for the ADO16 stands out here – that and the overall great performances from the classics. The MGF stands at the bottom of they league with a 49.6% pass rate.

Morris top five

Morris Cowley 279 90.7%
Morris Mini Traveller 24 83.3%
Morris Oxford 555 79.6%
Morris Mini 2,135 69.5%
Morris Marina 317 66.2%

The Morris Minor came in last place, but we’ll forgive that considering over 11,000 cars were tested, and most are still in daily use!

Rover top five

Rover P6 2,143 72.4%
Rover Streetwise 6,760 61.5%
Rover 45 57,272 59.1%
Rover 75 84,138 57.6%
Rover 25 123,460 57.3%

Amazingly, the Rover 600 had the lowest pass rate, with 42.5%, putting paid to the idea that these cars are solid and bulletproof.

Triumph top five

Triumph TR2 202 86.1%
Triumph TR3 562 82.6%
Triumph TR5 361 79.2%
Triumph TR4 1,263 77.7%
Triumph TR6 2,907 76.8%

Overall great results from Triumph, suggesting doting owners. Even the worst performer – the Toledo – scored over 55%.

Vauxhall top five

Vauxhall Velox 108 82.4%
Vauxhall Lotus 118 79.7%
Vauxhall Cresta 254 78.7%
Vauxhall Victor 372 75.8%
Vauxhall Viva 507 74.4%

A good result, unless you’re a Cavalier owner – 44% of the 22,000 cars tested passing the MoT first time…

For more detailed data from the used car pool, visit Honest John’s MoT files, and stay tuned to AROnline for the classic and UK-vehile data. It’s compelling stuff!

Mo T Footer

Keith Adams


  1. 68.4% of Montegos pass first time – that ain’t bad. I wonder how much more smug it would make me feel if there were figures for those which passed first time without a single advisory, like mine did?

  2. Very interesting data – especially the lack of parity between the Austin & Morris Minis!!

    There is, of course, one factor that might distort some figures to a degree. Cars pre 1975 (I think) do not undergo any emissions testing, so potentially until adjustments are made it is possible that a lot of psot 1975/pre-1990 cars could technically fail first time. My 1974 Midget & 1968 Hornet went through their tests no bother, but the 1989 Mini failed on emissions at the first attempt. After carb adjustment it passed on the retest.

    Still, a pretty good overall set of results and should demonstrate to ditherers that owning a classic is not necessarily a route to poverty! 😀

  3. “the Rover 600 had the lowest pass rate, with 42.5%, putting paid to the idea that these cars are solid and bulletproof.”

    In defence of the 600, you could have the most reliable car in the world but will still fail an MOT on a blown light, bald tyre, blowing exhaust or cracked numberplate.

    The fact that these are currently in banger valley and slowing climbing out the “classic” side hints that perhaps maintenance items such as these may not be as promptly attended to than when it was newer, though the fact that they’re being MOTd and not scrapped perhaps shows that they are soldering on regardless of maintenance! 🙂

  4. Surely these statistics primarily tell you about the owners more than the cars? A conscientious owner with a ropey old Skoda Favorit will check it for dodgy bulbs, tyres, wipers, and have it properly serviced to give it a chance of passing the emissions test. A careless owner with a 4 year old BMW will do none of the above and possibly fail for some silly reason.

  5. Had a quick look at the stats, and to me they aren’t that useful.
    The commonest faults seem to be lights,suspension,brakes. All the things that don’t get noticed if regular servicing is neglected.Which it normally is by drivers of older cars in my experience.If the car is worth £600, they won’t fix it unless it won’t move or they get stopped from using it by a fail.
    No real surprise.

  6. I would have thought that passing or failing an MOT says more about the owner/driver than the make/model of the car. Anyone brave enough to compile a league table of drivers?

  7. Most statistics are completely meaningless. These are probably the most meaningless I have ever come across!

  8. These figure are completely pointless.
    I owned a Citroen for 6 years and it passed it’s MOT every year, first time. This was the most unreliable car I’ve ever had, and it cost me well into four figures in parts whilst I owned it. It was towed by the AA 3 times.
    Our 11 year old UK built Honda Civic is by far the most reliable car I’ve ever owned, but has failed it’s MOT a couple of times on tiny things which could be put right on the spot, like a worn tyre and a blown number plate bulb.

  9. My elderly Cavalier is in for its test on Monday, the gut feeling is it’ll affect those MOT statistics negatively. Everythings fine on the thing, but the emissions test is where I tend to loose the plot.

  10. Anglia, Zephyr, Zodiac, Velox, Cresta, TR2,3,4 etc, etc, ALL old car’s then you guy’s list Rover 25, 45, 75 and ‘streetwise’. I do like this site but you lot totaly ignore older Rover’s… ARonline; Austin ROVER online, come on guy’s feature some REAL Rover’s PLEASE! Off to Gaydon on Sunday for the P4 national ‘cos I’ll never EVER see one on here will I?!!
    The only Rover 75 you ever talk about is that 1990’s thing!

  11. This is quite interesting findings. I’ve been looking at a number if Mazda MX5’s for my Dad recently and we’ve been looking at the MOT history on many of them. So many seem to struggle from year to year failing or advising on basic items. It seems that many cars even classics are barely maintained by their owners which helps to explain the failures.

    There’s almost no excuse for failing for bulbs, wipers etc as these are all things that anyone can check.

    Fingers crossed I will pass my MX5 tomorrow. I have at least replaced 2 ball joint gaitors I noticed had split when I was changing the brakes.

  12. I agree this information is pretty meaningless in one sense, but what’s really pleasing about it is that tells us how many, and what type, of old cars are still on the road, or at least sufficiently valued to be trundled down to the MOT station once a year. 11,000 Minors for instance. That statistic alone helps put MG’s MG6 sales into perspective.

  13. The disparity between Austin and Morris Mini is probably due to only Mk1 and Mk11 Minis were Morris, all the later ones tended to be described as Austin, I had 2 1980’s Minis, Austin on the logbook, and they would usual fail their MOT on one thing or another. Good to see those very rare MG 1100s are being well looked after – such a shame there are so few left.

  14. The Rovers look like the newest cars there, what surprises me is how few are on UK Roads just 265K of Phoenix generation Rovers left. Ok the MG variants as well, but I fear very soon to go the same way as the 80’s Talbot’s.

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