How ULEZ is impacting specialist car owners


A graphic showing how ULEZ has affected classic car owners

It’s fair to say that the recent expansion of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London has sparked controversy. We recently explored whether classic cars are compliant or exempt from ULEZ, but in this article, we explore the impact that ULEZ has had on specialist and classic car owners.

ULEZ expansion: Challenges that specialist car owners are facing

Although the principle was to improve air quality, critics voiced their concerns about the ULEZ expansion being badly timed with the ongoing cost of living crisis that we’re all experiencing. Among those most affected are specialist car owners, who now find themselves facing financial burdens if they wish to drive their vehicle within the zone.

We know how much time and effort is poured into investing and maintaining vehicles – it’s a job in itself! It’s a shame that many specialist cars now fail to meet the emissions standards required to avoid ULEZ charges.

Specialist car owners are left with a few options:

  • Pay hefty daily fees to drive their prized possessions.
  • Heavily restrict or change the usage of their vehicle – for example, fewer but longer trips.
  • Look to store their vehicle outside the ULEZ zone.
  • Undertake costly modifications to make them compliant – such as convert to an electric engine.
  • Swap the vehicle for one which is compliant or exempt (read guidance on this here).
  • Make use of the scrappage scheme.
  • Sell their vehicle and give up ownership of their specialist car – but we hope not many car owners will have to resort to this!

Specialist car owners have felt the impact of ULEZ

We spoke to some specialist car owners who have been affected by the changes.

Heritage customer, Mr Williams commented on how the ULEZ expansion restricts him from driving his 10-year-old car, but can drive in his 56-year-old Morris Minor van:

“I wanted to visit two friends last month, they live on the border of Essex, London. To go there in my 10-year-old car would have incurred charges, though it produced so little pollution – the annual road tax is just £20! So, we travelled there in our 1968 Morris Minor van, which meant we could escape charges.”


Mr Perry’s Ford Capri 2.8i Special which is required to pay the ULEZ charges.

We spoke to Mr Perry who comments how the ULEZ charges stops him from taking his classic car to his preferred garage in London:

“My 1985 Ford Capri 2.8i Special is required to pay the ULEZ charges. I now must take the car elsewhere for its MOT which deprives the garage of income. As I live outside ULEZ, I now don’t go into London.

“It’s a rather sad state as ULEZ is costing trades a fortune. On the bright side, next year the car is exempt as it will be 40 years old, so I can drive in the ULEZ zone to re-visit my preferred garage.”


Interestingly, Mr Warren shared that he bought a ULEZ-compliant vehicle, only for his local council to put a surcharge on his resident permit parking for his car:

“My motorcycle (2006) and my van (2010) don’t comply with ULEZ, and I have moved them out of London which is far less than convenient.

“As an aside, I bought a zero-road tax diesel car to reduce my running costs and then Haringey Council slapped a surcharge on diesel cars for resident permit parking. I therefore need to replace all three vehicles to ‘save’ money’!

“The mayor’s scrappage scheme does not help as the allowance is less than the value of the vehicle outside of London. An allowance (compensation) should be paid to change the vehicle, to supplement its part exchange value, for a compliant one.

“I can now only use my car, free of charge, in London.”


Cars loading onto the ferry at Portsmouth Port.
The Wightlink ferry service which the ULEZ zone covers on the exit from Portsmouth Port,

ULEZ is also impacting people outside of London. Mr Godwin shared his experience of having to pay hefty daily charges when driving his motorhome in Portsmouth:

“I am affected by ULEZ in Portsmouth. I live on the Isle of Wight and must use the ferry service of Wightlink, from the Island to Portsmouth.

“The ULEZ zone covers the exit from the ferry port. Therefore, I’m obliged to pay £100 each way as a penalty and charge when I travel on this route with my motorhome as it exceeds the restriction weight. This is an unacceptable charge which penalises many travelling to and from this area.

“Instead, I have to travel off the Isle of Wight by another ferry company called Red Funnel, that go to either Southampton or Lymington ports. However, at times, this is inconvenient.”


Did you enjoy reading this article? By signing up to our newsletter, you can get articles just like this sent directly to your inbox once a month.

Looking to insure your specialist vehicle?

Fill in your details below and our friendly team will be in touch to discuss your needs.