Clever London ULEZ loophole can help classic car owners avoid huge daily charges

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is set to expand again on August 29, 2023, with Transport for London launching a £110million scrappage scheme to slash the number of polluting cars. The scheme helps Londoners who receive certain low-income or disability benefits apply to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s scheme which could give some drivers a grant worth up to £5,000.

However, some drivers are looking into the viability of other options including using a classic car to get around.

Drivers can apply with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to stop paying vehicle tax if it was built more than 40 years ago.

For example, when the ULEZ launched in April 2019, vehicles built before 1979 were eligible to apply for the historic vehicle tax class.

All vehicles that have a historic vehicle tax class are exempt from the ULEZ. This tax class excludes any vehicle used commercially (for example, coffee vans or street food vans).

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These nine vehicles are registered for the 40-year-plus historic status and, as a bonus, are free from vehicle tax.

All Mk1 Vauxhall Cavaliers are of course ULEZ exempt, but with slightly higher average prices as they become accepted as true classics, it’s left to the first few years of Cavalier Mk2 production to fly the flag for Vauxhall in Hagerty’s list of affordable ULEZ choices.

It benefits from its modernity relative to the Mk1, with front-wheel drive liberating extra cabin space, and relatively modern engines for its era for smooth, economical performance. 

All but the sportiest Mk2s make up our price spread, with 1300 saloons being cheapest, and 1800i five-door hatches – making 114bhp – covering the top end.

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At 3.4 metres long, parking shouldn’t be an issue – that’s nearly two feet shorter than a modern Fiesta. 

Hagerty claims the most expensive model should not cost more than £5,000, but regular models can be snapped up for between £1,075 and £2,425.

Austin appears on the list again, with its Maestro model, which drivers can find for around £2,500.

The experts said: “Yet another favourite, the Austin Maestro was a car you’d once have seen everywhere and in every city, but launched in 1982, the first couple of years of Maestro now benefit from ULEZ exemption, so perhaps we’ll see a few more enjoying life within the M25 in the coming years.

“The most affordable 1.3 and 1.6-litre models now qualify. The MG Maestro, launched in 1983, is also now old enough, but with higher prices (spanning £1100–£5800 for non-turbos), you won’t find it in this list. 

“A regular Maestro will still happily handle city-bound errands, and there’s a growing enthusiast base too.”