ULEZ: Classics and quirks drive through loophole

Published:  16 November, 2021

With London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) recently expanded, and 13 more UK cities following its example by setting up their own, it could seem like older cars could disappear in many areas, but with cars over 40 year old often exempt, could garages actually see a resurgence of classics coming through the door?

David Bond, MD at classic vehicle insurance specialist Footman James thinks so: “Classic cars are actually covered by two exemptions. First, if the vehicle was registered before 1 January 1973, it will be automatically exempt from the ULEZ charge, and second the previously mentioned rolling 40-year exemption.

“Introduced in 2018 alongside the reforms to the MOT regulations, this rolling exemption means that any classic vehicle of more than 40 years of age will not have to pay the charge to enter such a zone. The cut-off works on a rolling basis, meaning that although last year the cut-off date was April 1980, this year the cut-off is April 1981.”

David added: “As the 40-year exemption currently includes cars built in 1981, there are a host of surprisingly modern classics available which can be used while escaping the charge, including the Audi Quattro, the Mercedes W126 S Class, the Lotus Esprit Turbo, the Mk1 Golf Cabriolet, the BMW 650i, the Jaguar XK and even the Bentley Continental GT.”

Within each zone, petrol vehicles must be Euro 4 compliant to escape the charge. This usually equates to being registered after 1 January 2006 to comply, although some cars registered before that date will also pass, such as the early BMW-era Mini Cooper. For diesel vehicles, Euro 6 applies meaning that if a car produced before 1 September 2015 is likely subject to the charge.

London’s ULEZ came into force in April 2019, and since then 13 cities including Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bristol have set up their own. Since expanding recently, London’s zone now goes up to the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205).

To check if a vehicle is London ULEZ-compliant go to: tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

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