Data reveals one-in-five classic cars fail MOT

Data reveals one-in-five classic cars fail MOT

Data obtained by from the DVSA has revealed 18.4% of classic cars aged over 40 years old failed MOT tests.

The data showed 121,204 classic cars aged over 40 years old voluntarily had an MOT test between January 2019 and June 2021, despite there being no legal obligation for owners to have one carried out.

Since May 2018, cars aged over 40 years old – classed by the DVLA as ‘historic’ vehicles – have been exempt from MOT tests and road tax, though owners are still responsible for keeping their vehicles in roadworthy condition. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.

The reasons behind voluntary MOT tests being carried out likely stems from owners or perspective buyers of classic cars seeking reassurance that the vehicle is in a safe condition. In addition, any cars which have been ‘substantially modified’ in the last 30 years, will also still legally require an MOT test.

Of the cars tested, Dodge had the highest failure rate with over half (55.2%) failing, followed by BMC (Austin-Morris) at 39.3% and Volkswagen at 31.9%.

Table: Top 10 brands with highest MOT failure rates on cars aged over 40 years old between January 2019 until June 2021 with a minimum of 100 tests carried out 

Rank Make Number of MOT tests Failure rate
1 Dodge 143 55.2%
2 Austin-Morris (BMC) 567 39.3%
3 Volkswagen 19,154 31.9%
4 Morris 8,817 24.6%
5 Land Rover 8,046 23.4%
6 MG 22,974 20.8%
7 Triumph 15,494 18.8%
8 Reliant 536 16.4%
9 Porsche 1,884 14.9%
10 Fiat 768 12.9%

However, numerous renowned manufacturers also had clean sheet records with zero recorded failures, including Bentley, Wolseley, Saab, Peugeot, Opel, Toyota and TVR.

The DVSA data showed newer classic cars were more likely to fail than their older counterparts, as 1970s cars are reportedly three times as likely to fail than those from the 1950s.

In 2020, just 41,000 historic vehicles were tested, down 32% on 2019, due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica Potts, Head of Marketing at, commented: “The fact that almost a fifth of classic cars failed voluntary MOT tests highlights the importance of classic car owners carrying out regular checks and keeping on top of maintenance.

“Even if a classic car covers a limited number of miles each year, it’s not uncommon for potentially dangerous faults to occur. For example, components such as tyres or suspension bushes can perish with age, electrical faults can often cause problems with lights, brake lines can corrode, brake calipers can stick due to a lack of use, and bodywork corrosion can lead to structural problems.

“Our advice to classic car owners who aren’t mechanically inclined is to get a voluntary MOT test or vehicle health check carried out annually by a qualified garage for peace of mind. That way, drivers avoid risking fines and penalty points, or even causing an accident.”

For more information, visit

Related posts