ULEZ Threat: Why the UK Government is WRONG about Classic Cars!

The UK is directly in contravention with UNESCO by classifying classics as over 40 years old

How old does a car need to be before it becomes a classic? In a previous video, posted a couple of weeks ago, and embedded below, I revealed that London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, wants to extend ULEZ – the Ultra Low Emission Zone – to the whole of Greater London, covering most of the area up to the M25! 

What that means is that if you have a car that isn’t ULEZ compliant – so that’s most petrol cars before 2005, and most diesel cars before 2015, you’ll have to pay £12.50 per day to drive it. There is a ULEZ checker online – you can put in your plate number and it will tell if you have to pay or not. https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

There is an exemption for classic cars. In fact classic cars are also exempt from MoTs and Road Tax. 

Considering that most classic cars are cherished, very well looked after and have more money lavished on their upkeep than newer cars, plus the huge amount of joy and delight they bring not only to the owners but also to other people that see them driving around – I think that’s perfectly fair. 

However, the UK government classifies classic cars as those being over 40 years old! 

Cars like the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 250 GTO, Lamborghini Miura and Aston Martin DB5 are all over 40 years old. I think we can all agree that these are absolutely classic cars. 

But what about my old second gen Toyota Celica Supra – it was a 1984 model? Would that be a classic today? It is rarer than most Ferraris these days!

How about the Honda CRX? I owned a 1988 car once – loved it, and there’s a huge cult following for these now. 

And what about my 1989 E30 BMW 325i SE – I used to own one before, I just got one again. C’mon I even displayed it at a classic car show on Friday – and there were several other E30s there too! And if not this – what about the original E30 M3? Classic or not? Of course, it is!

What do you think of the older Nissan GT-R models? The R34 from 1999, the R33 from 1995 or the R32 from 1989?

Here’s some more: 1989 Lancia Delta Integrale; 1986-92 Ford Sierra Cosworth; 1983 Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 Cosworth; 1986-2000 Rover Mini; 1990-2005 Honda NSX; 1984 Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera; 1991-95 Bugatti EB110; 1992-94 Jaguar XJ220; 1992-98 McLaren F1; 1987-92 Ferrari F40; 1985 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 QV.

And one of my all-time favourite cars – the 1982-88 Lotus Esprit S3.

Classics? Yes? No? 

Well…NONE of these are classics, according to the UK Government!

I mean what the hell?!

And they doubled down on this recently. In 2021 there was a petition to reduce the tax exemption for classic cars to 30 years. 

It failed. 

It only got 14,799 signatures. Guys! What’s up with that?! The classic car industry employs over 100,000 people – why didn’t they all vote?


There’s over half a million classics in the UK, even if say multiple cars are owned by single collectors, let’s say the ownership number is half – 250,000 – make it 200,000. So 200,000 plus 100,000 and then all the petrolhead classic car fans out there – c’mon, this petition should have been nearly half a million signatures easily!

It’s failure, means that it emboldened the government, or HM Treasury, to say: “There are no current plans to reduce the tax exemption age for classic cars from 40 to 30 years. The Government has set 40 years as being a ‘fair’ cut-off date to distinguish classic cars from old cars”

Really?! I mean have they seen all the iconic and legendary cars I’ve just shown as clearly being classics, but are under 40 years old?!

They went on to say: “The Government considers that classic vehicles are an important part of the country’s historical and cultural heritage. As with all taxes, VED is kept under review.”

“Kept under review” – well there’s that ray of hope. 

So Should we start another petition? Would you support it?

We’d be in the right to object you know. Because globally, classic cars are recognised as being 30 years or older. 

FIVA – which is (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) – or the International Federation of historic vehicles is a worldwide non-profit organisation dedicated to the protection, preservation and promotion of historic vehicles. Established in 1966, it is active in more than 80 countries, and represents millions of historic vehicle enthusiasts around the globe. 

And since 2017, FIVA has been a partner of UNESCO, complete with consultative status, representing world motoring heritage and related culture. That is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – it is a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture.

I love that! I’ve always said that cars and car culture is the great equaliser – and can bring people from all different countries, communities and cultures together, just for the love of cars. I’ve seen that in action for real. 

FIVA then, defines a classic car as “a mechanically propelled road vehicle at least 30 years old, preserved and maintained in a historically correct condition, which is not used as means of daily transport and which is therefore part of our technical and cultural heritage.”

I think that’s pretty definitive, right there!

It is absolute qualified evidence that the UK government is wrong in its assessment – they’re basically going against the UN!

FIVA actually goes further, because the statement continues: “A ‘Youngtimer’ is a similar vehicle between 20 and 29 years old.” 

Wow – that’s an acknowledgement that even younger cars can have cherished, collectible and classic status. And is an endorsement of some terrific 90s cars, like the last gen Toyota Supra, the Mazda MX-5, Honda Integra Type-R, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, Subaru Impreza WRX and more!

You know what’s really interesting about those cars? They appeal to a younger demographic than traditional classic car fans. 

In fact FIVA supported the first global symposium on the challenges of attracting young people to the historic vehicle community recently in Marrakech, Morocco and stated: “as historic vehicles have grown older, so too has the average age of the people who care for them. Yet ‘passing on the passion’ to the next generation is a vital step if classic cars, motorcycles and utilitarian vehicles aren’t to disappear from our roads forever”

Which just confirms that historic vehicles need to be more accessible to young people with limited financial means. Younger cars need to be reclassified as classics to make them worthwhile investments, and remove the associated motoring costs of MoT, road tax and ULEZ charging etc, plus attracting potentially cheaper car insurance. 

And you know young people themselves are not entirely averse to the idea either. A new report just out from Insurance Specialists Footman James not only confirms that the classic car industry is worth £18.3 billion to the UK economy and employs about 113,000 people, but agrees that the “industry needs to attract and entice a new demographic of classic car fan to secure its prosperous future or risk decline.”

The ‘Indicator Report’ as it’s called, said that “there’s work to be done with making the industry a more inclusive and diverse space, and in turn to secure its growth and relevance”

It presents evidence that younger people are interested in buying classic cars, with a survey showing that nearly half, that’s 49%, of Generation Z – these are the people who just recently passed their driving test or will do soon (basically under 25-year olds) would consider owning a classic car. 

My son is 22. I have to confess he’s not really a petrolhead as such. But he does appreciate the aesthetic appeal of older and classic cars. So, the findings certainly ring true to my mind. 

Coming back to diversity and inclusion, the report confirms that the classic car industry breeds communities! Something that I have been banging on about for years: that cars, and classic cars, bring people together.

The report “urges community and club managers to look further than traditional classic car fans and open clubs to more people to attract new audiences and breed new classic car fans and owners.”

So classic cars are good for the soul, good for communities, good for the economy and jobs, and have minimal impact on the environment – as there’s fewer of them and aren’t driven as much or as often. 

That’s further offset by the fact that most motorists in the UK are driving newer cars less than 9-years old, hence relatively low-polluting, and many are now making the switch to electric cars already.

In such case why not leave the older and classic cars alone? Surely the pressure is off? 

And what’s most scary about the pressure being placed on classic cars from the UK government is the notion that the scrappage schemes help. 

No, no, no!!

Let me just remind you of some of the cars lost to recent scrappage schemes: BMW 2002, Audi ur-Quattro, specifically nine Triumph Spitfires, several MG Midgets, 731 classic jaguars including 45 of the beautiful XJS models – the spiritual successors to the E-Type! 

Honda Integra Type Rs were lost, as were Ford Capris, even Lancia Deltas and Lancia Beta Spyders, the Fiat X1/9, even the solid Mercedes S-Class and SEC coupes from the 1980s, plus many, many more. 

This is because some people who have these, don’t realise what they’re worth – and I mean in sentimental and historical value as much as monetary value, and they reckon getting an easy £2000 offered by the scrappage scheme is worth it. As such great cars, potential classics, get needlessly crushed And we end up losing crucial parts of our automotive history. 

It makes me weep. Really it does. 

So, have you got the FIVA? Are we going to do something about this? Can we stop this carnage! What should we do?! 

Tell me how you feel about it in the comments!

Make sure you register your views about the proposed ULEZ extension at this link (You need to do this BEFORE THE END OF JULY!!) https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/cleanair

And do also sign this petition as well https://www.change.org/p/stop-sadiq-khan-expanding-the-ulez-to-all-the-london-borough-2023?cs_tk=AgfsNKL70eKYBPY2mmIAAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvIHtw070TEpANOjcTsQP1Ms%3D&utm_campaign=e4bca69653f14f4f8b45e83b57f85b6b&utm_content=initial_v0_1_0&utm_medium=email&utm_source=guest_sign_login_link&utm_term=cs

Pollution levels in London over the Jubilee weekend were overwhelmingly in ‘Low’ in outer London
London Pollution map clearly shows levels in outer London are well below the limit

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6 thoughts on “ULEZ Threat: Why the UK Government is WRONG about Classic Cars!

Add yours

  1. Never saw the petition to reduce classic age otherwise would definitely have signed and shared massively – from a purely selfish reason apart from anything else – I have a few 80’s cars. Have done the ULEZ one already.


  2. Anything under 40 years old is not a classic. Simple as that. People have been calling their 20 year old cars – I have one as one – ad a classic and taking them to shows and they are not classic cars. Lots of people are confusing themselves with what is a classic and what is not classic. They need to read the definition of what a classic cars is. Numbers of people who supported petition speaks for itself, tiny minority. End of.


  3. I was taking my 1980 Leyland Princess wedge to classic cars shows back in 2003 and it was welcomed. I see no reason why a 20-year-old car shouldn’t be regarded as a classic now and with groups on social media and the internet for specific cars bringing enthusiasts together, the future for classic cars looks brighter than it ever has done.


  4. I ‘had my say’ on the TFL website, before this was announced, and as an owner of similar classics from the 90’s, and previous, made the point that this charge should not be applied to classic cars, or at the very least, that the current owners of such cars should not be subject to such charges, if the vehicles were bought, and in many cases, restored, prior to the consultation. It will be a travesty if this is allowed to go through as stated by the london mayor, and I will give as much support as I can to help this decision to be reversed. My hobbies and many of my friends revolved around these vehicles, and living just outside the extension zone, I can still use them, if not entering the zone, but many I know now live inside the zone, and do not have the choice.
    Thanks for highlighting the FIVA organisation and what it stands for, I was not aware. I will share your videos where I feel beneficial, and will be keeping an eye on anything further that may help our cause to keep classic cars and motorcycles on the road, without his unfair tax/payment

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind comment. Yes please do share it. I feel that the 40-year plus classification is inherently wrong and goes against international convention. I will continue to post content on ULEZ as and when I can. Stay tuned!


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