We do not recollect anything encouraging in the recent Budget speech about motor taxation, only the unhappy fact that the Chancellor was raising both Vehicle Excise Duty and the tax on petrol. However, study of the Government’s V149 which sets out the overall rates of vehicle excise duty, while emphasising the unwelcome increase from £85 to £90 in annual car tax, contains a piece of good cheer for the owners of the older vehicles, namely, that for all cars first registered before 1947 the tax is now £60 per year, or £33 for six months.
The dividing line is rather an odd one, for while a few (usually rusty) early post-war models get in, the dateline mostly restricts this concession to pre-war cars, as not many cars built during the war years survive. However, let us not criticise a reduction in the cost of motoring that will be welcomed by all users of pre-war cars. It really looks as if the Chancellor has a soft spot for the old-car movement, because his tax reduction will mainly benefit those who run restored vehicles. The VCC and VSCC and other Clubs catering for pre-war cars should be delighted, especially as no special conditions, thank St Christopher, are attached to these lower-price licences. The saving of £25 against the cost of licensing for a year before the Budget may induce owners of vintage and classic cars to keep them on the road for longer periods (the licence duty is refundable after one month, as previously) or to run more than one old car simultaneously. Incidentally, the concession on motorcycles of over 250 cc first registered before 1933 providing these weigh not more than 101.6 kg, is retained, these now paying £18 a year, but the VI49 makes no mention of the similar long-standing rebate on pre-war cars of up to 7.2 RAC hp.
In commending the Government for this recognition of the old-car movement, may we hope that four-day Post Office-issued licences, as once promised, are now in the Conservative pipeline? – W.B.