Roy's Matra Enthusiasts pages
FAQ's: Frequently Asked Questions
- Some of the facts concerning the 40 year rolling VED exemption, dating and number plates. (Updated)
First you should understand that this relies on accurate date information of the manufacture and first registration of any vehicle, and therefore solid proof that it is over 40 years old. Whilst a mass-produced vehicle made by any one of the well known manufacturers, first sold brand new in the U.K. and still registered under either its original registration, or a subsequent one that DVLA has issued, such as a personalised plate, should already have a known date; for an import, especially for a rare one that was probably second hand at the time, this will rely on when it came here, the accuracy of the paperwork provided, how accurately, and clearly, the forms were filled in by the person first registering it, and how well it was read and set up on the DVLA database, because probably most who were inputting the data, had never heard of Matra and many were entered incorrectly, with misspellings such as Matka and Malra or even Tolbot, and other incorrect data. This was all manual in those days as there were few computers around or involved! I have since found that a Matra can be recored today on the DVLA system under any one of 32 different manufacturer names! Most of these are misspellings or differences caused by either having, or not having, a hyphen in the name, but to a computer even one tiny character difference, makes it a different manufacturer!
Also if any vehicle has been off the road since before 1998 and never taxed for the road since that year, then its record at DVLA may be archived or even deleted I believe, when their computer ran out of space and the system was upgraded. There was even a change in the way imports were treated that took place in 1983, so that before 1983 a car that was imported on any given year was given the registration plate with that year's suffix letter no matter when it was manufactured or what age it was at the time. After the change in 1983 any import was given a registration plate with the correct suffix letter for the year it was manufactured, if that was known and proved by the accompanying paperwork and possibly supported by the marque club. If the age was unknown or indeterminate it was given a 'Q' plate and once a vehicle has one of those, generally it can never be changed. This is why cars imported during the seventies and start of the eighties often have a registration plate that is misleading for its age, ignoring any vehicle that has a personalised plate of course, and that covers many of the Matra Bagheera, Rancho and Murena here as well as the occasional Djet or 530. It is not unknown for a 530, Bagheera and Murena to all have an 'X' suffix plate as they were all imported in 1982, yet the 530 was possibly a 1970 build, the Bagheera maybe a 1975 manufacture, and the Murena made in 1981!
With the correct paperwork, backed maybe by the marque club, previously you could get the DVLA to correct its information, and get the correct manufacturers name and/or registration plate for its age, and the V5C to have the correct information of the year it was manufactured. If your Matra was first registered here in the U.K. over 40 years ago, then they obviously have proof that it is already over 40 years old and there should be no problem and the change to the historic class and exemption entitlement is made a lot simpler. If it still has the incorrect information, you would need to prove to DVLA its true age and date of first registration before you can get any historic re-classification, and this is where for a Matra we have problems as the methods DVLA insist upon are not available, and supporting letters from clubs it seems are no longer acceptable. Also the way the regulation has been set up, it does not work by the month, so you could not have a car registered in say August 1981 having Historic classification after August 2021. Only vehicles first registered before the 1st April of the year 40 years ago can be classified as Historic 40 years later, and any registered after the 1st April have to wait until the following 1st January before you can apply for a change to Historic.
Now the 1.6 Murena production started in September 1980, but wasn't first sold until December 1980, and the 2.2 Murena only started production in February 1981, and didn't go on sale until May 1981, so whilst there may be a small number of early 1.6 Murena here that were genuinely over forty years old by the 1st April 2021 there won't be any 2.2 that were first registered before the 1st April 1981 anywhere. Therefore anyone with a 1981 Murena 1.6 is now going to have to wait to apply for the change to historic, until after the 1st January 2022, and anyone with a 1981 Murena 2.2 will definitely not get any change before then. It appears the Matra Museum holds copies of the various factory records so we should get the built dates for most cars. This is the only way of getting an accurate date that DVLA will accept. Matra Automobiles SA no longer exists and Glass's Check Books do not include Matra Automobiles SA, so the only Matra in the U.K. recorded in the Glass's Check Book, which contains some chassis number information by year, is the Rancho (under Talbot) but the information is sketchy and possibly inaccurate except for the record of the last chassis number produced and the date of discontinuation of the model.
Many manufacturers start a new year, or more likely a new model year, with a new number starting at ...001 and in the case of Matra the cars going down their lines were also mixed so you could have a Bagheera and Rancho on the same line, or later a Rancho and Murena mixed together and therefore the serial number, which is usually the last six digits of the chassis number, are also mixed and therefore you can't rely on a model chassis number for the date based on others of the same model, as there will be gaps in their sequence. On many cars, and Matra were no different here, there is a commission or fabrication number as well as a chassis number and it is that number that would be an accurate sequence for a particular model, so providing you can find that it can be useful to see where in the sequence of builds, that vehicle fits and maybe if some have known build dates then you may be able to see approx. when your particular vehicle was built if it has a Fab.No. between two others with known dates. Hopefully we won't need this any longer as the Matra Museum can provide us with the accurate build dates, but apparently some information may have been lost, and some even occasionally inaccurate owing to human errors when recording the data e.g. I have one sheet showing two cars with the same engine number!
I have contacted the Matra Museum and asked for the data on my four chassis, to see what they can provide, and so we know what to expect, and I received four photocopies of the sheets containing my chassis numbers. This provides all the information you could want regarding the car including fabrication, engine, gearbox, and key numbers, as well as build dates, and even the dates when the cars left the factory to go to the dealers and the country code of where it was sent, but it cannot show the actual first registration date as any car can stand unsold at a dealer for some time, or sometimes sold straight away. However, the build or exped. dates should be good enough. So if you need date of build proof to show it is now 40 years old, then you will need a copy of one of these factory sheets. The first thing then is to fill in the section on the V5C asking for a change of taxation class (put Historic in section 7 page 2) from PLG to VHI (Vehicle of Historic Interest) and take it to the post office when re-taxing your car, for them to send to DVLA and you should get back a new V5C with the new taxation class.
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This was last updated 10th May 2022