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What is a Historic Car UK

The United Kingdom doesn't have any specific or fixed definition of what classifies different cars as being historic, vintage, or classics. By and large, motoring fans use cut off dates.

This help guide explains some of the principles used to classify a classic or historic car in law and for the purpose of free taxation according to HM Revenue and Customs.

What is the Meaning of an Old Classic Car

It would be easier if there was a unified way to define historic cars. But there isn't!

So, some of the important factors used in consideration will include:

Pro Tip: Collectability tends to be a common theme that helps to characterise older cars of historical interest. In other words, car enthusiasts tend to restore them rather than dismantle them for scrap.

Declaring "Instant Classics"

We've seen it happen many times. Without any significant merit, so-called experts decide to declare a new model as being "an instant classic".

But, we should all agree on one thing. A "true" classic car needs to fulfill, and usually exceed, at least some of the factors listed above.

Here's a few examples of what most historic car valuers in the United Kingdom would consider as being "collectors cars":

Some classifiers award more value to one particular aspect, usually the car's age. In other words, it's reasonable to see historic cars appreciating in value, rather than losing it like many of the modern makes and models.

Plus, you won't see historic, vintage, or classic cars being driven around every street corner. Very often, they are "barn-finds" that have been lovingly restored to their former glory.

Editor's Bio: We are self-confessed car fanatics and we enjoy writing blog articles about the automotive industry - especially here in the United Kingdom.

How UK Law Defines a Historic Car

There is a lawful way to help determine whether your beloved car is being categorised as historic. It relates to the exemption for MOT and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) provided by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

We explain the full HMRC guidelines for free car tax below. But, for the most part, your car won't need an MOT if it was built (or first registered) more than forty (40) years ago.

What is Classed as a Historic, Vintage, or Classic Car in the United Kingdom?Similar rules also apply for car tax. Hence, vehicles that are at least forty years old may qualify for an exemption.

This part is important:

So now you know how to check whether your vehicle is being classed as a historic car.

But, you still need to ensure that it's in a roadworthy condition (e.g. according to the rules of the Highway Code) if you will be driving it on public roads.

According to special legislation (HMRC EIM24000) the definition of a classic car for company taxation purposes is one that is more than fifteen (15) years old and has a value over £15,000.

Do Classic Cars Need to Look Ancient?

Despite being in production for decades, there is no legal requirement for historic cars to show their age. Yes... a typical classic race car, such as the Porsche 911, is likely to look somewhat "vintage". But, it doesn't need to meet this precondition.

In a nutshell, several factors are going to influence the heritage and status of a car, including information found in automotive blog topics and classic car magazines.

Nonetheless, we also need to consider the legal definition of historic and classic vehicles as stated by HM Revenue and Customs.

Warning: Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition can result in a fine up to £2,500 and three (3) penalty points on your driver's licence.

HMRC Classic Car Tax Rules

The criteria for not having to get an MOT and not having to pay vehicle tax depends on the actual date that it was built or first registered. To qualify as a vehicle for MOT exemption, it must:

In general, vehicles exempt from vehicle tax are those which were built before the 1st of January 1983. If so, you can put your vehicle into the "historic tax class" and stop paying vehicle tax from the 1st of April 2023.

Important: Driving a vehicle on public roads is illegal in the United Kingdom if you have not taxed it. The fine for failing to tax your vehicle on time is £80.

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