News & Events

New Legal Notice Re-defines Classic Vehicles

The budget for 2015 scarcely created a ripple in classic vehicle circles as no new fiscal measures were announced. The only item on the Finance Minister’s agenda was a minor amendment where newly-imported classic motorcycles under 250cc would no longer be subject to first registration fees. This was done to correct a legal anomaly because a year earlier the same had been done with new motorcycles, but someone had forgotten to include classics. 

There was, however, much more than meets the eye. When during the Budget for 2013 the eligibility for classic vehicles was brought down to 30 years, many people thought that this was a positive development. In a way it was because it meant that many modern classics from the eighties would now become more attractive and therefore worth preserving. But the lowering of the age limit also brought about some unwelcome developments.

Since the previous wording of the law only mentioned 30 years and failed to properly define what a classic vehicle is, the Vintage Vehicle Classification Committee was inundated with applications for vehicles that were, quite frankly, little more than junk.These were vehicles that were obviously being used as daily drivers. The clueswere dirty and oily engine bays, mismatched body colours, rusty panels, patches and shabby interiors. There were vans being used by monti hawkers, plumbers, vegetable sellers, etc, and even filthy trucks employed in the construction industry all trying to acquire a free road license.

It was clear that hundreds of applicants merely wanted a free ride on the backs of bona fide enthusiasts and something had to be done before we risked losing everything. Things were literally getting out of control. 

The Federazzjoni Maltija Vetturi Antiki (FMVA) therefore started a long series of talks with the authorities in order to tighten the regulations in a clever way without making it too difficult for genuine enthusiasts. So now for the first time, and partly inspired by international FIVA guidelines, the definition of classic vehicles now includes references to the condition of applicant vehicles as well as a mention of the spirit of the concession.Part XXVI of the Amendments to the Motor Vehicles Registration & Licensing Act. Cap 368 defines classic and vintage vehicles as follows:

“ ‘vintage vehicle’ means an authentic and genuine vehicle with an age of thirty years or more (to be reckoned from the date of manufacture), as certified by the vintage vehicle classification committee, which is kept in a state which is as close as possible to its original state as produced by the manufacturer and which respects the spirit of classic and vintage vehicle preservation”

Since manufacturers never meant their vehicles to be shabby and rusty and since the spirit of vintage vehicle preservation does not envisage certifying junks, we now have a clear law that protects our hobby from being hijacked by persons who do not share our interests.

The VVCC now has a clear mandate to insist that applicant vehicles reflect the spirit of the concession if they are to be certified and the adjudicating committee no longer has to accept vehicles merely because they are over 30 years of age.

The FMVA feels that this is yet another very important measure that will protect our passion. It is also worthmentioning that a comprehensive set of guidelines was drawn up and will soon beput up on its website as well as on Transport Malta’s site. These guidelines are very detailed and even give examples of what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Another crucial new development is that there are now very hefty fines if persons use certified vintage vehicles for commercial use. It stands to reason that one cannot ask the government for a reduced road license while at the same time using a vehicle for financial gain. However, the new Article 7A states:

“vintage vehicles may be used solely and exclusively for private use:

Provided that vintage vehicles may occasionally be used for purposes other than private use in one-off and exceptional activities and occasions for which no vehicle other than a vintage vehicle may be used.

Provided further that in order for vintage vehicles to be used for any purpose other than private use in such one-off and exceptional activities and occasions, the prior written authorisation of the Authority shall be obtained,which authorisation shall be given or withheld in the Authority’s absolute discretion.”

The above means that genuine enthusiasts can use their vehicles for example as film props or other one-off activities.This point was raised at the last Old Motors Club AGM and the Federation promised it would do its best to try to help.

As a way to reduce abuses to the barest minimum, certified classic vehicles will now be identified by a new green plate. At first these will be allocated to new imports, newly de-garagedvehicles and those who opt to voluntarily change their plates. Green plateswill eventually be issued to all certified classic vehicles. I am sure that many enthusiasts will rush to obtain the new green plates as a way to proudly display their vehicle’s status as a certified classic.

The above important changes will help protect the hard-earned concessions we have gained over the past years.They came about through diligent work carried out by the FMVA which however,could only have achieved these results through the continued support of thevarious constituent clubs. On behalf of the FMVA committee I would like to thankthese clubs as well as the authorities for their patience and understanding.




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