Once upon a time in Britain there was a growing industrythat provided kits for converting rusting relics to fun and exciting 30's-style roadsters and many other forms, using GRP body tubs and a host of replica 'period' fittings and accessories. Building these cars provided enjoyable involvement and spare-time occupation for thousands of people, and driving them around on summer weekends was a fun activity that harmed no-one.

Every car built had of course to pass an MOT test, that ensured that it was mechanically safe and met all statutory requirements regarding lighting, seat belt anchorages, structural strength etc. etc. Then about 10 years ago, for no apparent reason at all, the DVLA introduced the 'Single Vehicle Approval' process for all kit-built cars, involving conformity with a host of ridiculous reguirements about 'minimum radius' edges, BS approved steering wheels and so on, that it isvirtually impossible for any period-style kit car to meet. Almost overnight, a useful and fun British industry was killed, and thousands of long-term builders were left with part-complete vehicles they could never hope to get on the road. Now the regulations are being even futher tightened to bring all those existing kit cars that are 'incorrectly registered' – that is, still retain the base 'donor' car identity – into the net, even if they have been on the road perhaps for years, been taxed and MOT'd etc..

There is simply no need for these laws. Kit cars can never meet regulations designed for mass production vehicles – they are lightweight 'specials' generally used for low-mileage weekend fun driving by their dedicated owners. They can never be as 'safe' for the drivers as the steel tanks produced by the car industry, but are safer for both driver and pedestrians than road-legal motorcycles, trikes or cycle/sidecar 'combos', by a very wide margin. There is no history of any particular problems associated with kit cars – on the contrary, insurance premiums are typically low, because kit cars tend NOT to be involved in accidents.

To revive a quirky British industry and to restore the freedom to have a bit of fun to all those who own or would like to build a kit car, the requirment to go through an SVA/IVA test should be abolished and replaced by an extended initial MOT test carried out at a local garage, to ensure build standard, general safety, and conformity with all statutory requirements, but no more.

Why is this idea important?

This law is typical of all those apparently minor ‘regulations’ that limit the freedom of ordinary people to enjoy themselves in a contructive way, with no harm to others. There was no demonstrable problem, so no new legislation was required. This regulation simply represents control for the sake of control, and should be repealed at the earliest opportunity.

22 Replies to “No IVA/SVA for kit cars”

  1. Everywhere, special consideration is given to custom-built cars that pass a certain level of safety (belts, brakes, lights, etc.). Unfortunately, many times approval is ‘discretionary’. Therefore, all the best intentions, skill, engineering, etc. that goes into well-built cars, is for not, as the directives are not clear. I agree, that they should have special consideration as they are not daily drivers, never get into accidents and provide an avenue of expression, rather than the millions of little grey boxes that are driven my bland people.

  2. I think all you have said about kit cars is great and the government and all of its not too well thought out ideas need to be sorted i dont mean burn flags or anything but some of Britain,s best inventors and inventions started in a shed or small workshop of some sort so yes lets see a bit more freedom of expression or do we not have that right either anymore is Britain still a free country or is that if you wont work or seek asylum

  3. i have an e type jag one off kit car, that had been used for years, i tryed to change documents to countess e type special,dvla say it does not exist and the number plate is valuable and they intend to conferscate it the car is registered as m11 jag,it as been of the road about 8 years now there just trying to rip me off for plate ????????????????????

    1. How did you get on? Did you lose the reg number? Did the car have to go thru an iva test? I guess the v5 stated what ever car was used for the donor?
      Personal numbers are a rip off. Dvla always own them, we only have them on loan despite paying in some cases huge sums of money to buy them. The other problem that needs addressing is a personnel number on a car no longer road worthy with no way of ever getting an mot. This is now useless to its owner. Dvla will not allow it to be transferred to another car. Its lost back to dvla. It will go into thier

    2. I have tgd same thing with a landrover, it us on the dvla computer, I have a log book, they will not change it into my name

  4. I completely agree – this legislation looks simply like unnecessary ‘control freakery’. There simply wasn’t any problem that needed to be ‘fixed’, and a dynamic and constructive British industry was killed fo absolutely no good reason.

    I still a ‘Midge’ MG TC copy in dry storage that was on the road for some ten years but was never ‘correctly’ registered. As no documents other than the original donor logbook came to me when I bought it some time before the SVA nonsense, I will probably never be able to take this fun vehicle onto the roads.

    It’s way past time to introduce a new category of ‘light cars’ alongside trikes, to include kit cars, and to abolish any need for inappropriate tests designed to regulate mass-produced cars. Perhaps, even at this late stage, this quirky industry can still be saved from idiotic bureaucracy, to create economic activity, to recycle automotive parts and to provide a bit of fun for the thousands of people who are prepared to get their hands dirty.

    1. Just another money making rip off, had this problem 15 years ago when l was importing Japanese cars, which were better spec and better condition in comparison to a 5 year old UK car, literally all that was required was a fog light and a speedo chip, then someone thought that this process is too easy lets make the importer jump through hoops, hence model reports, who in the right Mindi’s going to drive around in an unsafe car, the government wants a massive kick up the backside and let some people get on with there hobbies, rant nearly over, mainly because I am king to have to go through this cos my kit car is nearly ready for the road, l do have considered information though which has helped me immensely.

  5. I’ve just discovered your web site. It’s wonderful to find that there are other like- minded people, but sad that there have only been 6 replies since 2011.
    I started building my Special 12 years ago when SVA was a fairly new invention. I have tried to conform, but IVA seems to have produced even more hoops for me to have to jump through. Some, although having some justification, are not really vital, eg “latched” rear fog lights, but others are, and always have been completely barmy, eg. a working demister on an open car. My solution would be to carry a duster, but that probably wouldn’t go down well with the examiner. The work involved with this useless piece of equipment has been unbelievable, and I would much prefer to spend my twilight years doing something useful.
    Special building can be a bit of a solitary pastime, especially if you live out in “the sticks”. I would very much like to communicate with others in order to bounce ideas around.

  6. I would really, really like the upcoming EU referendum to change things for the kit car industry. If we left the EU, perhaps we’d be free to start using common sense discretion again on kit cars, instead of applying IVA, a test primarily for grey imports etc, in an arbitrarily bureaucratic way. If we do leave, then that will be the time for movers and shakers in the kit car industry to move quickly, and seize the initiative during those first few months of freedom.

  7. I agree whole heartedly with the original and subsequent posts.

    The extended MOT tests approach seems to be a workable alternative to ensure basic safety is met with the addition of guidelines taken from a simplified version of the IVA.

    It always wound me up when I saw all the weird and whacky contraptions that were built on Top Gear all fully legal (and supposedly safe) just because only the body had been changed albeit with something completely outrageous, and yet those building kit cars have to go through all the hoops of IVA….!

    It would be great if some form of petition could be started, however I suspect it would be difficult to get sufficient numbers for anyone in Govt/DVLA to listen.

    Perhaps all the kit car manufacturers out there could form a consortium to press for such changes.

    Best Regards and good luck to all those out there trying to get their dream cars through the red tape…..


    (Owner of a part completed Dino which may never see the open road….)

  8. It seems to me that it’s a ‘back door’ attempt at total control,enforcing those who like something ‘left field’ shall we say, to conform to officialdoms view of what is normal. To enforce an outright ban would seem undemocratic &affect voting so the easy way is to make it as difficult & expensive as possible thereby deterring amongst others those people working to a tight budget.Democracy? Not really. DVLA seems to have carte blanche to make up it’s own rules,where’s democracy in all that, off with their heads!!
    If you want another government idiocy …….no MoT’s for vehicles registered before ’59,of course,how stupid of me ….it was the age of 100% efficiency in brakes,steering & crash crumple zones,the brakes on a Morris Minor………….the last word,cutting edge….er actually NO!
    WAKE UP… stop making rules just because you can!

  9. Just stumbled on the site and I have the same type of problem. I was in the process of buying an NG TA Replica still registered as the Donor MGB fro 1963. Unfortunately it has been off the road for 10 years and therefore I cant retrieve any pre 1998 MOTs proving that the change took place prior to the SVA introduction. My only hope is that apparently it featured in a kitcar magazine in the early 80’s but “needle” and “haystack” come to mind. Anyone reading this and having similar problems by all means contact me on martynholder @btinternet.com

  10. I have a couple of issues with the registration of my kit car that was built in 1990 but the v5 shows the donor vehicle albeit with the body type changed to sports. 1/ I have traced and spoken with the builder who confirms he contacted the dvla at time of build and conformed with all the rules at that time, I presume that I now have to suffer because DVLA has changed its stance? 2/ I may be able to prove that my car was MOTd and on the road prior to SVA, does that help my situation? 3/ I am told that the DVLA held some kind of amnesty in the late 1990s allowing incorrectly registered kit cars to have their V5’s changed to reflect the correct “new” name? How can a temporary amnesty that is no more than a paperwork exercise make these cars safer on the road by simply changing their detail on the V5? There are literally hundreds if not thousands of kit cars/ buggies and so on running round on there doner V5s, surely a process is required for cars that have been in this position for many years. If anyone can advise me on my particular situation I would be more than grateful. Thanks in advance, Chris

  11. As a kit car owner I agree with a lot that is said about unnecessary legislation on kit cars. The type I use, old fashioned looking sports car type for”tootling” about OK. But there are some seriously fast kit cars out there based on fuel injection BMW engines and superfast motorcycle engines. No longer the simple “Dune Buggies” based on an old VW beetle. No doubt this is why “they” have tightened up. May be some merit if they stuck to a rigid safety check and not the trivia.

  12. I am also a kit car owner/builder and i agree with some of the arguments in this blog. But we shouldn´t forget that the traffic is completly different than 20 years ago. The standard cars are much faster and there are much more of them with older drivers on the roads than years ago.
    All these facts have nothing to do with EU law – but they are all over europa including great britain
    true. IVA tests are not bad. They improve the standard of these cars.

  13. I am a kit car owner and used to be a vehicle engineer. DVLA spends too much time fixing what ain’t broke and trying to justify its existence with new initiatives. Look at the driving licence fiasco. The sva will make some badly built cars safer, but so would an MOT test which should be carried out on all cars, especially those not used much. The big problem is not kit cars but cat C/D cars rebuilt not for enthusiasm but for profit. In my career I only failed 2 kit cars, one for steering rack and the other for brake callipers, but I examined hundreds of cars with MOTs that had bent chassis and suspension components.

    1. my Madison kit car built 1985 has Q plate reg and has 2 old mot,s I have just finished nut /bolt restoration, last mot was 1998 can I just take it for mot or do I have to get any other form of test, iva ?Vic

  14. Just found you guys on here, I’m guessing you know by now there is a new consultation out at the moment regarding new emission standards which will further reduce the abilities to get our older engined cars through an MOT. Although Q prefixed motors are exempt at the moment I fully expect these to be swallowed in the new requirements. It might be worth tracking down the Gov.uk consultation which is out for comment at the moment, a four week existence instead of the normal twelve, (don’t know why that should be ha ha!!) and enter your responses.
    Paragraph 4 is most relevant.

  15. In may this year vehicles over 40 years old will be exempt from having an MOT test. This will include kit cars first registered over 40 years ago. But I don\’t know how it will effect kit cars built on a beetle chassis that is over 40 years old when the body conversion was done more recently. There are a lot of companies offering re bodies for cars to get round IVA tests at the moment. Donor cars are usually MR2 MX5 or BMW Z3.
    It would be good if rules were relaxed on the IVA test as well as MOTs on older cars.

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