Monday, December 05, 2005

Road Tax

A UK Road Tax disc on display Today is a good day to rant. It's Monday morning, I have a hospital visit this afternoon (just routine, folks) and I want to be at home in bed!

So, road tax. This isn't a new issue any more, but I got to thinking about it yesterday, and it really, really annoys me. Ever since the UK government began taxing motorists for the use of the nation's tarmac (as if they don't take enough tax from the cost of petrol), they have incremented the exemption year for tax so that cars over 30 years of age are tax exempt.

Why? Because these vehicles are clearly labours of love. They wouldn't be on the road at all if people weren't looking after them, they do very few miles and it's like a reward scheme for people keeping little bits of motoring heritage alive.

These museum pieces would all be on the scrap heap if it wasn't for the dedication of their owners and no one would ever see Lotus Elans, MGB GTs, Jaguar S-types, etc. - even more lowly specimens such as Mk 1 Ford Escorts or indeed, our own little Fiat 500, would be forgotten and resigned to black and white photo albums by now.

So it's a nice gesture to give people who poor their hearts, souls and wallets in to the maintenance of these days gone by of motoring a bit of a break. Great idea, no? Well the buggers stopped all that in 2004.

My 1974 Lotus Elan, a beautiful car, every bit a classic and in spite of being over 30 years old now, will never be tax exempt if the current government has anything to do with it. My father's early Jaguar XJ-S convertible, in spite of still having about 15 years to go, will thoroughly deserve classic status when it gets there. There weren't very many made. However under present legislation he can forget about it.

The government is just not interested any more. Worse than that, they seem to be discouraging any future classic car ownership. I'm sure they have got more important things to worry about, but why oh why did they change the rules when everything was going along just swimmingly?

There's also a more serious implication for post-'74 classics. It has to affect the value of vehicles built after the tax "watershed" - especially vehicles which span both sides of the cut off date. The ones registered prior to '74 must be more sought after than post-'74 vehicles, precisely because they are tax exempt.

The most gauling thing for me is my car was actually built in 1973 and was registered on 1st January 1974 as the original owner was one of these people who wanted to try and get one of the very first plates of the year. D'oh!! At least the Fiat is 1971.

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