Sixty years of MOTs | Motoring Issues - Car News Sep 2020

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12:42 Wednesday 23 Sep 2020

The MOT test celebrated its 60th anniversary at the weekend.

First introduced by the Ministry of Transport – hence the name MOT – in September 1960, the roadworthiness test was initially a voluntary examination for vehicles aged 10 years or over.

The Minister of Transport, Ernest Marples MP, introduced the test in response to a rapidly evolving automotive climate in the UK.  The 1950s had seen private car ownership double, with nearly 40 per cent of households owning a car by the time the test was introduced.   The motorway era was also in its infancy, with the M1 opened less than a year earlier, and there were real concerns that the UK's 1.5million pre-1950s cars may not be up to task of coping with the more challenging driving conditions.

There have been many changes to the regulations since MOTs were first introduced 60 years ago.  The voluntary period ended the following February, and by the end of 1961 applied to all cars aged seven years or older.  Tax discs were made contingent on a valid test pass in 1962, and in 1967 the exemption period was reduced to the first three years of a car’s life.  The scope of the test has also changed, with initial tests concentrating on brakes, lights, and steering.  Tyres were included in the inspection from 1968, and in 1977 the exhaust, indicators, brake lights, horn, windscreen wipers and washers, plus the condition of the body and the chassis first fell under the beady eye of the MOT tester as the test evolved into more like the one we know today.

Of course, perhaps the biggest change is the cost of a test – in September 1960 it cost just 14 shillings, plus an extra shilling for the certificate, to submit a car for a test at an approved testing centre.


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