Sadiq Khan’s plans for London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) have repeatedly been met with backlash since the scheme’s inception . In a decision that will affect a further estimated 2.5 million cars, October 25th will see the zone expand from central London to a larger area with the North and South Circular as its boundary.

A by-product of the creation and expansion of the ULEZ is that older, collectible models of cars – ones that do not meet the new ULEZ emission standards – could be pushed off London roads. Classic car enthusiasts are worried that many owners will be pressured into scrapping these retro models, with the economic gain from doing so outweighing the personal pleasure of holding onto them.  

The ULEZ is an attempt to get some of the city’s most polluting vehicles off the road, thus improving the capital’s air quality. Cars that do not meet the new ULEZ regulations must pay £12.50 as a daily charge each time they drive within the zone, whilst heavier vehicles have to cough up £100.

Unlike modern cars that were made with fuel efficiency in mind in order to dodge tax policies and other regulations, car manufacturers never previously had the same pressure to create efficient cars. Thus, many classic cars fail to meet these new ULEZ regulations. As a result, a classic car owner living within the zone who takes his car out twice a week would have to pay £1,300 per annum simply to drive!

If this was not already enough of an economic incentive for owners to get rid of their older vehicles, Khan launched the ULEZ car and motorcycle scheme alongside the creation of the zone itself. The London Mayor is respectively offering £2,000 and £1,000 for cars and motorbikes that do not meet ULEZ emission standards, money which then has to be reinvested into buying a vehicle that does meet the new standards. Combined with the daily charge of driving in the zone, it is very easy to see how this scheme could make scrapping your retro car a very lucrative option.  

However, not all retro cars face this new motoring tax, with vehicles that are older than 40 years old being exempt from ULEZ regulations. This means that whilst post-1981 classics such as the Porsche 944 and Austin Metro are likely to become endangered automotive species, we may continue to see Triumph TR6s and Jaguar Mark 2s on London roads. In fact, we might even begin to see vintage car enthusiasts on the active hunt for these older classics. 

In the coming months, if many have not already, classic car owners will likely be conducting their own personal cost-benefit analyses to weigh up whether they should scrap their beloved car. Alternatively, is it possible that there might be a mini exodus from London for those that do not want to give up their car or pay the zone’s daily charge? In any case, the upcoming ULEZ expansion will undoubtedly lead to the mass scrapping of cars, a number of which may be cherished older classics.