Old cars are punctured by Brown's classic move
Now Gordon Brown has made himself a candidate for a classic hate figure in the classic car movement. Tucked away in the small print of the Budget was a clause restricting the exemption in future to cars that were registered up to and including 1972.
Cars registered in 1973 that owners were hoping would qualify for tax exemption next January (cars, like racehorses, are deemed to have their birthdays on 1 January regardless of their actual date of production) will not now become exempt, dashing the hopes of tax-free motoring for an estimated 15,000 owners of 1973 cars still on the road. Each following year will add to the army of owners who will still have to pay if they want to keep their old cars on the road.
The new rules will save the revenue just over pounds 2m, but the Chancellor's aim has little to do with revenue raising. The decision to stop the rolling exemption is intended to discourage drivers from keeping old cars on the road on the grounds that they pollute the environment, a claim that classic car owners vigorously dispute.
The new rules may persuade some owners to scrap cars that will no longer qualify for exemption from the road fund tax, and will have a significant impact on classic car prices. In time they will create a new category of "classic" cars reflecting their tax-exempt status. But the cut-off date will inevitably create anomalies. Several popular models, including the MGB and Midget and the Mark 3 Cortina were in production before and after the cut-off date, and models built in 1972 and earlier will now become considerably more desirable than identical models of the same vehicle constructed in and after 1973.
Car enthusiasts claim that the change is unnecessary because the leaded petrol used by most pre-1980s cars will be withdrawn from sale in 2000, and classic cars will then have to convert to lead-free fuel or use lead substitutes anyway.
Owners of large cars may be hit again by proposed changes in duty rates next year cutting the tax on cars with "small, clean engines" and penalising cars with engine capacities of, perhaps, 2 litres or more.
Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
That's some guestlist! Stunning images show huge dynastic wedding between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families which attracted 25,000 guests
'He was always smiling': Lee Rigby named as Woolwich victim
'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
Exclusive: Woolwich suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 'He was always smiling': Lee Rigby named as Woolwich victim
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
- 5 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.