MOT Exemption.

I wonder what club members think about the MOT exemption status of historic vehicles?

My view is that it is great to have one less annual bill and one less driving law to abide by. BUT, I am nervous that one consequence of the exemption may be the presence of some unroadworthy cars on the road which present a risk to both drivers and members of the public.

Regretfully, there will probably be some drivers who quite knowingly use their unsafe cars because they consider the exemption to be a 'free pass' to use their car in any condition. Such people will always exist (hopefully as a very small minority!) and they are a matter for the law authorities and insurance companies.

While we can do nothing about such drivers, what we can do is take care to ensure we are not inadvertently driving a dangerous vehicle!

By way of an example I will explain the recent experience of Perry. (Yes, I have Perry's permission to write this!)

The Triumph 2000 Mk1 was suffering problems with carburation and it was necessary to remove the twin SU carbs from the car.

Removal of the carbs allowed visibility of an area of the bulkhead which was previously hidden.

Further examination highlighted the presence of a large rubber flexible joint in the steering column.

It was immediately clear that the rubber joint was severely perished and close to fracturing completely!

The steering function of the car was fine. It was working quite normally and there was no indication that anything was amiss.

It must therefore be assumed that the first Perry would have known about the joint failure would be when all steering was lost while driving.

Maybe this would have been while navigating Black Dam roundabout, while moving into the fast lane of the M3 or while crossing the Severn Bridge? It makes you think, doesn't it?

I am sure there are many similar occasions which could result in a car being inadvertently driven in an unsafe condition. Some of these could well be related to chassis rust problems because we rarely inspect such areas closely.

I would suggest that it would be wise to submit all historic vehicles to the occasional MOT test in order to provide a benchmark and peace of mind. I plan to do so around every 3 years.

Seat Belts.

Should we routinely install seat belts to our historic cars, irrespective of their age?

On the one hand it seems sensible for us to make our cars as safe as possible to drive, so maybe a natural step should be to add belts, even if the car's vintage means it is exempt?

On the other hand fitting seat belts to an Austin Ruby would do nothing for its street credibility!

I suppose there is a compromise in there somewhere? Maybe if an exempt car is capable of being driven faster than 50mph then a wise move would be to fit belts? Its a matter of opinion.

Two things to bear in mind regarding seat belts.

  1. If belts are fitted then they must be used and maintained safe. It is therefore conceivable that a car which is both seat belt exempt and MOT exempt is subjected to a random MOT for peace of mind and it is found that the belt is frayed. Where do we go from here!

  2. By way of an example. I have recently purchased a 1961 Rover80 and it is not currently fitted with seat belts. I have a lovely pet dog who often travels with me. The law states that my dog must be protected by a dog harness and such harnesses rely upon the presence of seat belts in the car. I can't win can I?

Please note all the above simply represent my personal views. Its just intended as food for thought! Please feel free to send me any of your views regarding technical or safety topics and I will include them for the benefit (or entertainment) of others!

Cheers... Tony