Classic cars could be exempt from the MoT test under proposals unveiled by the Government.
The plans would apply to cars built before 1960 which, the Government believes, are better maintained by their owners.
It is estimated that there are 162,000 cars on the road which are more than 50 years old, equivalent to 0.6 per cent of the total.
According to the Government two-thirds of these cars are driven fewer than 500 miles a year and they have a lower accident rate than newer models.
Other options proposed by the Government would limit the exemption to cars built before 1945 or before 1920.
“We are committed to reducing regulation which places a financial burden on motorists without providing significant overall benefits,” said Mike Penning, the road safety minister.
“Owners of classic cars and motorbikes are enthusiasts who maintain their vehicles well – they don’t need to be told to look after them, they’re out there every weekend checking the condition of the engine, tyres and bodywork.”
The move reflects a belief in Whitehall that many of the aspects of the current MoT test are not appropriate for classic cars.
Owners would still be legally obliged to ensure that the cars were in a roadworthy condition.
But given the lavish attention most owners give their cherished classic cars, this is not thought to be an issue.
The plans to exempt classic cars from the MoT test come as the Government considers overhauling the entire programme, delaying the first inspection of new cars until they are four years old.
But a Whitehall spokesman stressed that the two issues were being considered separately.
The proposals were welcomed by Tim Schofield, the director of motor cars at Bonhams auctioneers.
“If you take a pre-war car to a garage, it will probably be baffled and will never have seen anything like it.
“There is a logic in that position, even though you still want to know that a motor car on the road is legal, that it stops when you want it to and has lights that you can see.
“Traditionally if you always took the car to the same chap who had an MoT station and who knew the car then he would know that had to be done.”
The move was also welcomed by Greg Knight, chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group.
“Accidents involving historic vehicles are extremely rare. Having to have an annual MOT test for a vehicle which may only travel 500 miles in a year is an unnecessary bureaucratic hurdle.
“Maintaining a vehicle over 50 years old is all about maintaining our heritage – not cheap motoring.
“The vast majority of owners are meticulous in keeping their vehicles in an excellent condition, even to higher standards than that required by MOT testers
“I am sure that there will be garages which will still offer owners who are not experts in maintaining vehicles a check up.”
“Owners of classic cars are not looking to get their motoring on the cheap, they spend a great deal of money on them.”
But Nigel Case, owner of the Classic Car Club, described the proposal as ridiculous.
“It’s nonsense. Older cars need more attention. You could buy a car which seems superficially fantastic, but it will be rotten underneath and a death trap.”