Although the 2014 budget has been a controversial one (namely the beer and bingo tax breaks) it’s good news for classic car owners. From April this year, the classic car tax exemption from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) will begin automatically rolling, with all cars over 40 years old eligible for a zero-rated tax disc. Previously, the exemption was fixed.
This means that from the 1 April 2014, vehicles manufactured in 1973 will be exempt. This exemption changes with the year, so in 2015 cars built in 1974 will be eligible and so on. Whilst this might seem a little confusing, just look at it this way: as long as the vehicle is 40 years old at the time of taxing, it’ll be considering classic (or more accurately, historic).
This measure was announced by Chancellor of The Exchequer George Osbourne last week and according to the Overview of Legislation and Tax rates for 2014-’15, the rolling benefit will affect around 10,000 newly exempt classic car owners a year.
In the overview, which was formally issued after the budget, the Government states that the rolling exemption is motivated by a perceived need to preserve British heritage vehicles and its healthy industry, which is incredibly positive for those immersed in the classic car industry.
Gerry Bucke, general manager at classic car insurance broker Adrian Flux, said: “We’re firmly behind the rolling tax exemption, which should help to encourage the owners of older cars to keep them on the road and in good condition. Cars from the 70s are becoming increasingly rare sights on our roads, so anything that can keep them in use is a good thing, bringing pleasure to their owners and those of us who enjoy seeing these classics out and about.”
So which classic cars will be newly exempt in April 2015, and does this give us a legitimate excuse to buy a beautiful old banger?
Jaguar XJ-S Series II
The XJ line had a distinctive yet contentious facelift for the 1974 model year, with the 4.2 L I-6 XJ6 becoming a popular model in the UK. The contention came when it emerged that the Series II model was poor quality and this was widely attributed to the major trade union and labour relation issues at the British Leyland Group at the time.
Indeed, much of industrial England was affected by the problem so in a way, owning a Jaguar XJ-S Series II like owning a little slice of history – even if it’s not the most well-made motor around.
Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna S3
From 1974 through to 1976, the Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna was produced as a one-model Laguna S-3 Coupe, with the new-for-1974 Malibu Classic series taking the top-luxury series position. These striking Colonnade coupes lasted just three short years, with a limited run of 9,100 making them a very rare model.
Interestingly, NASCAR driver Cale Yarborough earned the first two of three consecutive Winston Cup Championships piloting a Chevelle Laguna.
Ferrari GT4 308
The 308 GT4 2+2 was a groundbreaking model for Ferrari in several ways. Firstly, it was the first production Ferrari to feature the mid-engined V8 layout that would become the bulk of the company’s business and secondly, it was the first production Ferrari to feature Bertone rather than Pininfarina bodywork.
Poor Pininfarina was actually quite upset about the decision, considering all they had done for Ferrari. We hope they’ve made up by now.
Volkswagen Passat B1
The Passat was one of the most modern European family cars at the time, and was intended as a replacement for the aging Volkswagen Type 3 and Type 4. It was incredibly popular, and was named Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year for 1974 – with its sister model Audi 80 winning a yearly earlier.
These days, it’s considered overlooked and underrated, which is why it has its own Facebook appreciation page.