While last year, we saw the draft being laid out for vintage vehicles and their re-registration process, 2021 sees it being implemented. Nitin Gadkari, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways tweeted that
With no existing rules for regulating the process of registration across different states, the new rules shall provide a hassle-free process along with salient features…
— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) July 16, 2021
First of all the definition for a vintage car or motorcycle in India stands as “All 2/4 wheelers, 50+ years old, maintained in their original form and which have not undergone any substantial overhaul.” Form 20 will be in use for registering or re-registering these beauties. A valid insurance policy, imported vehicle entry bill, and in the case of an already registered vehicle, the old RC copy will be needed for re-registration. If the vehicle in question was never registered, then the RTO will provide the owner with a new registration number, wherein the registration mark will be assigned as “XX VA YY8”, where VA stands for vintage, XX stands for State Code, YY will be a two-letter series and “8” is a number from 0001 to 9999 allotted. For a new registration, the fees will be Rs 20,000 whereas, for the renewal, it will be Rs 5,000.
The rules also say that vintage vehicles shouldn’t be used for regular as well as commercial purposes. This point is a bit unclear as usually, owners have other modern-day vehicles for their commutes or chores. These old beauties are kept as part of their hobby collection, affection or for show purposes. However, in some vintage car rallies, these vehicles are driven to and fro. If the aforementioned rule also includes this, then the owners will have no choice but to transport their vehicles in trucks. There is no provision yet mentioned about classic cars/bikes.
We checked with a few vintage car collectors and they seemed quite happy about the new rules in place. Bob Rupani, one of India’s most respected and senior auto journalists, and a historic car enthusiast had this to say about the new rule.
“This new notification that has come into effect from 16th July 2021, fortunately, has some special provisions for vintage vehicles that are over 50 years old, with the most important being that they will not come under the ambit of the to-be-introduced, new Scrappage Policy. I think these are very welcome steps taken by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) and I thank them on behalf of all auto enthusiasts.
I am also very pleased that the threat posed by the Scrappage Policy to vintage and classic cars, got the historical car community together like never before, and on 16th April 2021, they made a detailed joint representation to the ministry, which was signed by 45 different car clubs, museums and prominent personalities of the movement, as well as some MPs (Members of Parliament). An online petition was also started and this got the support and signatures of over 10,000 petitioners in a matter of days, and I am given to believe that it was all this that has resulted in the new amendments in the rules.
This also means now there is no requirement for vintage motor vehicles (two-wheelers and four-wheelers) to go in for new registration if they are already registered with their respective state RTOs. They can continue with their present registration and they are also exempt from the provision to install any new or high-security number plates. The other significant change is that earlier it was proposed to have a committee that would include government officials and private club representatives to certify a vehicle as vintage and having historical value. This provision that could have led to discrimination and favouritism, has now been discarded and an online self-certification by owners of these vintage motor vehicles will suffice.
Another appreciable thing is that vintage vehicles over 50 years old can now be used on public roads for all private purposes, instead of only for rallies and special events as was earlier proposed. But they are not meant to be used as daily drivers for everyday transport, which is perfectly fine, as the owners anyways don’t use them on a daily basis.
The 50-year-old vintage vehicles are not only exempt from the new Scrappage Policy but will not need a certificate of fitness or PUC certificates either, as these could require modifications to the vehicle, which would compromise its originality. While a lot has been achieved, there are a couple of more things I wish would have happened. While vintage vehicles can be used for “personal use” the new law clearly states there can be no “commercial use”. This means if someone gives his vehicle for use in a film or commercial, or even for a wedding or special occasion, the owner cannot seek any financial compensation. I think this is unfair. In case it is used by someone then the owner should not be denied the right to get compensation, especially when the government itself gives out many of our historical monuments for film shoots, and charges a high price for this.
The joint representation to the ministry had requested that vehicles that are between 30 to 50 years old also be recognized as classic vehicles or modern classics as is done in many other parts of the world and that they should also get similar exemptions as the 50-year-old vintage vehicles. Sadly, this has not happened and now all these cars including the iconic Maruti SS 80, which started the automotive revolution in India, are endangered and face a serious threat.
I request our government to kindly look into this on a priority basis as these vehicles that are between 30 to 50 years old are also an important part of our motoring and manufacturing heritage, and if the few that have survived the aging process and test of time are also scrapped, it will indeed be a dark day in India’s automotive history”.