Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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Cars from the 80s are scrapped 16 times faster than historic (classic) vehicles

According to a recent article in Classic Car Weekly (CCW), cars from the 1980s are being demolished 16 times faster than historic (classic) vehicles.


Cars from the 80s are scrapped 16 times faster than historic (classic) vehicles f

Research by CCW shows that 7,435 non-historical cars from before 1990 have been scrapped since 2018, more than 16 times the scrap percentage of historic (classic) vehicles.

The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) and the International Federation of Historic Vehicles (FIVA) register historic vehicles over 30 years old, but vintage cars between 30 and 40 years are currently treated like any other car in the UK, subject to MOTs and vehicle excise tax (VED).

With more maintenance and financial burdens, these cars are scrapped much faster than the cars that benefit from these exemptions; 7,435 cars in the period 2018-2021, compared to 441 historic vehicles older than 40 years in the same period.

1980s classic car experts are confused about the very different treatment of cars aged 30-40 years and those over 40, mainly because their usage patterns are very similar.

KGF Classic Cars operations manager, Steve De’Ath, said:

“Not many of our customers use 1980s cars every day; indeed my dad does three times the annual mileage of my Sierra in his TR6 – he has more time to drive it as he is retired. We would welcome any policy, such as tax exemption, that would help keep more of them on the road.”

A petition calling for tax exemption for 30-40-year-old cars topped 14,000 signatures on the UK Parliament website last year, but the government rejected the proposal in an official response, stating that 40 years was a ‘fair cut-off date’.

Sir Greg Knight MP said:

“I take the point that these newer vehicles are in a sort of limbo, and many are being scrapped, but hopefully, there are enough people around to keep them going until they reach the threshold of historic Vehicle status.”

In policy documents regarding MoT exemption for 40-year-old cars, the Department for Transport has said the resolution of 40 years is because it would lead to it in accordance with the current tax exemption and because fail rates for MoTs are 7.7% higher in 30-40 years old compared to cars that are 41-56-year-old.

FBHVC has agreed that most 1980s car owners cover only a small annual mileage in their cars, with their own surveys have shown as much, but do not agree that the high number of eighties cars being scrapped represented a disproportionate loss of cars.

According to FBHVC figures, 1.48 per cent of 1980s cars (300,862) registered in the UK still exist, whereas this figure is 1.21 per cent for 1970s cars (189,729) and 1.29 per cent of 1960s cars (127,896).

FBHVC Communications Director, Wayne Scott, told Classic Car Weekly:

“There were many more 1980s cars produced than 1970s and 1960s cars. More cars produced means of course that more still exist to reach their end of life.’

Wayne continued: “Cars of the 1950s and 1960s went through this phase a long time ago and we lost many of them as well.

‘Their phase of scrappage was sooner and more acute because they are generally less long-lived than more modern classics.”

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.