The ten most recent classic cars to receive tax-free status

Of course, all old cars are potential money pits, especially if they break down, but running costs aren't as high as you might think because insurance, tax, and MOT are either non-existent or significantly reduced.

The tax break for classic cars is now in effect. This means that vehicles manufactured more than 40 years before the 1st of April of each year are automatically exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), also known as road tax, as of that date.

Aside from the VED savings, nearly all cars built more than 40 years ago have been exempt from the annual MOT roadworthiness test since 2018, unless owners voluntarily have their vehicle checked.

Finally, classic car insurance is frequently less expensive than standard policies, saving you even more money.

We've gone back in time to look at some cars that first appeared in UK showrooms in 1980-81 and are now considered classics. Many early examples of the ten cars we've chosen are now MOT exempt.

Check out some of our other classic car guides for more information:

Cavalier Vauxhall

Vauxhall Cavalier

The Mk 2 Cavalier may have appeared conservative, but it was a big hit with the general public and fleet buyers, where its main rival was the ageing Ford Cortina, which was followed by the controversial Sierra in 1982.  

It was available with a variety of body styles and engines, as well as the ability to switch from rear to front-wheel drive.  

The first Mk 2 rolled off the line in Luton on August 17, 1981, and 807,624 were sold in the UK during its six-year production run. In fact, it was the second best-selling car in the 1980s, trailing only the Ford Escort.  

XR2 Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta XR2

The Fiesta debuted in 1976 and was an instant success, but it wasn't until 1981 that the hot hatch version (with an 84bhp 1 liter engine) was released. 6-litre engine) was unveiled.  

It wasn't particularly fast by today's standards (0-60 mph in 9 seconds). 3 seconds and a top speed of 105 mph), but that didn't stop it from becoming a cult classic. It was especially striking in black with a red stripe, and it featured trademark "pepperpot" alloys.  

Expect to pay up to £10,000 for a cherished Mk1 XR2.

Polo by Volkswagen

VW Polo

The second-generation VW Polo, dubbed the "bread van" unfairly, was manufactured from 1981 to 1994. It was later joined by a coupe version (which gave it a profile similar to the original Mk 1 Polo) and went on to become one of the most popular superminis on the road.  

It competed with the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Nova, and Peugeot 205, and was easy to drive, well-built, and practical.

Tagora, Talbot

Talbot Tagora

The Tagora was an executive car developed by Chrysler Europe but produced in France by Peugeot (which had taken over the company in 1979). It was arguably the most forgettable and rare vehicle on our list.  

It went on sale in the United Kingdom in May 1981, and fewer than 20,000 Tagoras were produced before production ceased in 1983. It's unlikely you'll ever see one on the road or for sale, which is unfortunate because it wasn't a total lemon.

Fiat Panda

Fiat Panda

The original Fiat Panda was manufactured between 1980 (when it first appeared in UK showrooms in mid-1981) and 2003. This small box on wheels, designed by the legendary Italian Giorgetto Giugiaro, became a sensation.  

Nearly eight million Pandas have been sold worldwide in its third generation, making it a true people's car. Giugiaro once compared his design to a pair of jeans due to its practicality and simplicity.  

A decent Mk 1 Panda will set you back at least £3,000 these days, and we've even seen 4x4s advertised for £8,000.

Quattro Audi

Audi quattro

The Audi quattro, which debuted at the 1980 Geneva Motor Show, introduced a revolutionary permanent all-wheel drive system. Some left-hand drive cars arrived in the UK in spring 1981, but demand was so high that Audi began producing right-hand drive versions in late 1982.  

The car changed the face of rallying, winning World Rally Championship constructors' titles in 1982 and 1984, and it helped Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist win drivers' titles in 1983 and 1984.  

In total, 11,452 cars were produced before production ceased in 1991.

Acclaim for triumph

Triumph Acclaim

The Acclaim was officially launched by BL on October 7, 1981, and it marked the end of the Triumph line.  

It wasn't a Triumph at all, but rather a badge-engineered Honda Ballade, the first fruit of a collaboration between British Leyland (BL) and Honda. Nonetheless, the Acclaim received positive feedback, proved to be dependable, and sold well.  

It was the first of many joint models produced until the Rover Group (as it was then known) was sold to BMW in 1994, and a total of 133,625 were produced before it was replaced in 1984.

The Renault Fuego

Renault Fuego

The Fuego ('fire' in Spanish) was Renault's second attempt at producing a successful sports car, succeeding the Renault 15 and 17 coupes of the 1970s. It was produced from 1980 to 1986 and was attractive and popular at the time, though it looked better than it drove.  

It was the first car to feature a remote keyless entry system and the first four-seat sports car to be designed in a wind tunnel, competing with the Volkswagen Scirocco, Toyota Celica, and Ford Capri.

Accord Honda

Honda Accord

The second generation of Honda's best-selling family car debuted in 1981 as a four-door saloon and a three-door fastback. It sold well and helped to build the Japanese brand in the UK because it was generously equipped, well-built, and reliable.  

A few have survived, and the odd one is even for sale, but they are unlikely to have any value other than scarcity.

Metro Austin

mini metro

The Austin Mini Metro was marketed as a "British car to beat the world" when it was released on October 8, 1980, and thousands were sold in the United Kingdom during 1981.  

The long-awaited successor to the original Mini (introduced in 1959), it was badged as an Austin, MG, and Rover Metro during its nearly two-decade production run.  

The Metro, which was famously pictured being driven by Lady Diana Spencer when she was dating Prince Charles, was replaced by the Rover 100 Series in 1994.  

By the time production ceased in 1998, a total of 2,078,218 of all types had been built. Surprisingly, the car it was supposed to replace (the Mini) remained in production until 2000.

I'm a seasoned journalist, digital editor, and copywriter who now focuses on automobiles. I am the editor of Automotive Blog and have worked in newspapers, magazines, television, teletext, radio, and online for household names such as the BBC, GMTV, ITV, and MSN. In the financial sector, I've created digital content for Lloyds Bank, Nationwide, and the Money Advice Service. I'm married with two children and live in Somerset, near Bath.

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