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Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

Spot the difference: Lexus in London or Gran Turismo?

Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

Can you spot the difference between these images? The subject is a Sonic Red Lexus LC500, photographed at various London locations. One of the slides is shot in Gran Turismo Sport’s excellent photo mode, the other is a real shot. 

To test the theory that modern game graphics are truly lifelike, Lexus enlisted the help of professional photographer Jayson Fong to help create some images in-game, and then retake them in real life. They picked Air Street, Cromwell Place and Wellington Street in London, as featured in the game’s ‘Scapes’ mode.

As for the car? It’s a good one to test both photographer and observer. With a nice mix of clean and harsh lines, we love the way the LC500 looks in certain environments, reflecting what’s around it.

Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

Then, once the images were taken on the game, Jayson and his team noted down the exact geometry, time of day and light settings to replicate the pictures in real life. As Jayson follows, lighting was the biggest challenge. 

“For some locations, we had to be on the street at 4am and it was difficult to get the timings right because the sky was always going to be one of the biggest giveaways.”

Lexus spot the difference between real and Gran Turismo

It proved a tall task practically when it came to shooting the car for real, then. Given the closeness of the results, we wouldn’t blame you for leaving it to the professionals and taking to the PlayStation for some artistic automotive photography.

The results really are spectacular, given that we’re never quite sure which is real. Especially in the case of the Cromwell Place daytime shot. We’re unsure what the giveaway is. The bin bag? The reflections on the car? The yellow lines? The scaffolding? They’ve done a great job of matching the shots.

Prices for new all-electric Smart range revealed

Smart EQ pricing announced 2020

Prices have been revealed for Smart’s updated range of electric cars. The line-up of Fortwo Coupe and Cabriolet, plus the larger Forfour, will cost between £20,350 and £26,565, before the government plug-in car grant is deducted. After the grant, that equates to between £16,850 and £23,065.

The Smart range opens up with Passion Advanced. This brings as standard a multi-function leather steering wheel, rear parking sensors and a media system. The latter features a seven-inch touchscreen, navigation, charging station finder, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, DAB radio, Android Auto connectivity and Mirrorlink mobile phone mirroring.

Smart EQ pricing announced 2020

All Smarts also come with the ‘acoustic presence indicator’ – to warn unwary pedestrians – and comfort package as standard. On the outside, 15-inch black four-spoke wheels add to the premium effect.

A 22kW on-board charger now comes with all Smarts. That allows for a 70 percent charge-up in 40 minutes from a rapid charger, or six hours if using a home wallbox.

The only issue? This base specification is not available on the Fortwo Cabriolet. Those wanting the wind in their hair will need to pay more.


ModelRoad fund licence (£)Rec. OTR price (£)Rec. OTR price inc. PICG (£)P11D value (£)BIK (%)
Passion Advanced
Fortwo Coupe020,35016,85020,2950
Pulse Premium
Fortwo Coupe021,50018,00021,4450
Fortwo Cabriolet023,92020,42023,8650
Prime Exclusive
Fortwo Coupe022,65019,10522,5950
Fortwo Cabriolet025,07021,57025,0150
Edition 1
Fortwo Coupe024,14520,64524,0900
Fortwo Cabriolet026,56523,06526,5100

Pulse Premium adds £1,150 to the Coupe price. It brings 16-inch wheels, sports pedals, a rear-view camera and, on hard-top models, a panoramic roof with a blind.

Prime Exclusive spec will set you back £2,650 over the base price. It adds 16-inch Y-spoke alloys, ambient lighting, auto-dim mirrors and heated seats. For the first time ever on a Smart, there’s also full LED lighting.

Smart EQ pricing announced 2020

Edition 1 spec is available only on the two-door Smarts. It adds a healthy £4,145 to the start price, but comes with exclusive colours, black detailing, Brabus body features and sporty alloys.

All Smarts are rated for around 70 miles of range, and have an 82hp electric motor. A single-speed gearbox powers the rear wheels and top speed is limited to 81mph.

BMW 8 Series: 30 years in 30 pictures

It’s just under three years since the concept for the current BMW 8 Series was revealed. Since then, the flagship GT has flourished through coupe, convertible, four-door Gran Coupe and, of course, full-fat M variants. In 2020, the 8 Series badge turns 30. That sounds like cause for a celebration…

The E31

First shown at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW 850i – or E31 – followed the 750i saloon as the second post-war German car to be powered by a 12-cylinder engine.
According to the company, BMW “launched its challenge to the world’s finest sports coupes with a design oozing avant-garde elegance, arresting performance attributes, an exceptional wealth of innovations and a sprinkling of exclusive luxury.” Sounds promising…

A strong start

Indeed, BMW’s flagship coupe made a brilliant first impression. Within eight days of the Frankfurt show, BMW had received 5,000 orders, and by the summer of 1990, it was reported that the entire production of 10,000 to 12,000 units a year had been sold out until 1993. Some people were prepared to spend twice the list price to avoid the six-month waiting list.

The first 8 Series

This was the first time BMW had used the number eight in its model line-up, with the 8 Series breaking new ground for Bavaria. Power was sourced from a 5.0-litre 12-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox developed specifically for the 850i. A four-speed automatic transmission was available as an option.

V for victory

It’s not hard to see why would-be owners were seduced by the V12 flagship coupe. The promise of BMW’s legendary driving dynamics combined with an engine developing 300hp and 332lb ft of torque sounded like a match made in heaven. A 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 155mph were the kind of figures likely to send alarm bells ringing in Stuttgart.

Technical tour de force

It might seem like a contradiction in terms for a car powered by a 5.0-litre V12, but efficiency was a key word during the 850’s development. Central to this was aerodynamics, with BMW setting out with the aim of designing a car with a drag coefficient of less than 0.3. Aerodynamic door mirrors, recessed wipers and super-tight seals on the side windows were just three of the elements combining to result in a drag coefficient of just 0.29.

Pop-up headlights

Other highlights included pop-up headlights, the absence of a B-pillar, speed-sensitive power steering, an electrically adjustable steering column with memory function, remote central locking, auto dimming rear-view mirror, two computers, a mobile phone located between the front seats and safety belts integrated into the seats. This, along with dynamic stability control, represented two firsts for BMW.

A very 90s interior

Given the evidence presented, it’s hard to see how the 8 Series could fail. The cabin was another positive, with the 850i featuring a well-built and driver-focused interior. Writing in Car, Russell Bulgin said: “As a place to pass the miles in, as a tax-free adjunct to an office, a Club Europe ticket and a platinum American Express card, the 850i interior is an elegant, soothing and high-tech minimalist home from home.” The interior shown is a later 840Ci.

A glorious failure?

What, if anything, went wrong for the 8 Series? History will be kind to the 8er, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it represents a glorious failure for Bavaria. Why else would BMW turn its back on the segment for the best part of two decades before taking enough brave pills to try again? For all that talk of waiting lists and production allocated for three years, BMW managed to shift a mere 30,621 8 Series before pulling the plug in 1999.

It was too expensive

In 1990, a BMW 850i would set you back upwards of £60,000, which is around £130,000 in today’s money. For some context, you could buy a Ferrari 348tb for a little under £68,000, while a Mercedes-Benz SEC would be 63,000 of your finest British pounds. The 850i was cheaper, yes, but it was far from perfect. To compound matters, launching a V12 on the eve of a financial depression wasn’t the best timing.

It was too big and heavy

The 850i was handicapped by its weight, tipping the scales at 1,790kg. This only served to remove any sparkle from the driving experience, while adding roll and floatiness through the corners. With the benefit of hindsight, and when viewed as a grand tourer, these factors are more forgivable, but at the time the 750iL was no less of a driving machine, was around £5,000 cheaper and offered rear seat accommodation suitable for more than just the offspring of a contortionist.

It lacked the wow-factor

Today, the BMW 8 Series can turn heads as well as any modern classic of the 1990s, but that wasn’t necessarily the case when the car was new. See an 850i in your rear-view mirror and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were being hustled by a banker in a Toyota Supra 3.0i Turbo. There’s nothing wrong with a Supra, but it cost a full £40,000 less than the BMW. The well-heeled motorist simply must stand out from the crowd.

It wasn’t focused enough

For all its technical wizardry – Active Rear Axle Kinematics (AHK), adjustable suspension and Servotronic steering – the 850i could never really make up its mind what it wanted to be. Drivers could select between ‘Sport’ and ‘Komfort’ modes, but while the 850i was certainly smooth and comfortable, the more practical and cheaper 750i did everything just as well. “Good, but not that good,” read the rather damning headline on the front of Car, June 1990.

Introducing the 850CSi

BMW chipped away at the 8 Series, eager to perfect its super-coupe. In 1993, a second version of the 12-cylinder engine was added to create the 850CSi. This 5.6-litre version offered 381hp and 401lb ft of torque, enough for it to complete the 62mph dash in under 6.0 seconds. This is the point at which BMW introduced active rear axle kinematics, with the rear wheels responding to the speed and steering angle by turning in the same direction.

The 850i becomes the 850Ci

Meanwhile, the 850i became the 850Ci, with standard equipment including a pair of airbags, infrared remote control and folding rear seat backrests. Dynamic stability control was available as an option and the automatic transmission was equipped with adaptive control.

BMW 840Ci

The BMW 840Ci joined the line-up in 1993. Powered by a 286hp 4.0-litre V8 engine, the new entry-level 8 Series was designed to introduce a new audience to the super-coupe. It wasn’t a huge success, as more than two-thirds of all 8 Series sold were powered by a 12-cylinder engine.

BMW 850 Ci

The 850Ci was revised in 1994, with the coupe now powered by a 5.4-litre V12 developing 326hp. Customers could opt for a five-speed transmission, and a few of them did. Only one in six 8 Series sold were fitted with a manual gearbox. The 850CSi, of which 1,150 units were produced, was available exclusively with a stick shift.

Total production: 30,621

In total, 30,621 8 Series were built, including 24 hand-built at BMW’s Rosslyn plant in South Africa. For tax reasons, assembling the cars there was more cost effective than importing the finished articles. Today, 840 prices start from around £10,000, but you’ll pay more for a good example and much, much more for an 850, with the CSi commanding top dollar.


Sadly, a much rumoured M8 version never saw the light of day, but a one-off, high-performance variant of the 8 Series was completed in 1991 and featured an all-new 12-cylinder engine developing around 550hp, chassis tweaks and bespoke body features. Co-developed by BMW Motorsport and BMW Technik, the ‘M8’ was employed as a test bed for technology and innovations. Its engine, for example, served as the basis for the V12 unit powering the legendary McLaren F1.

David Hockney Art Car

This is the David Hockney Art Car: a BMW 850CSi completed in 1995. The artist said: “BMW gave me a model of the car and I looked at it time and time again. Finally, I thought it would be a good idea to show the car as if one could see inside.” Hockney turned the car inside out, making it transparent through unique perception. The bonnet sports a stylised reproduction of the engine’s intake manifold, the driver is visible through the door, and a dachshund (named Stanley) can be seen sitting on the back seat.

BMW Alpina B12

Alpina created two versions of the E31: a 5.0-litre produced from 1990 to 1994 and a 5.7-litre built from 1992 to 1996. In 5.7-litre guise, the Alpina B12 developed 416hp, enough for a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 186mph.

Reviving the 8

It was 2017’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este where BMW unveiled the concept for a new 8 Series, previewing a more luxurious successor to the outgoing 6 Series. The car dropped jaws as excitement swelled for the return of BMW’s flagship GT.

Destination Le Mans

But this BMW had duties to perform, namely in GTE-spec at Le Mans. In fact, we saw the race-spec 8 Series before the production version even debuted, at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017. It disappointed on-track, however, not achieving the wins BMW hoped for and being the subject of ridicule in the form of memes, due to its apparent size.

M8 Gran Coupe Concept

The M8 Gran Coupe Concept previewed the latest chapter of the 8 Series story, with M5 power and a longer four-door body. Secretly, all were looking forward to the introduction of the production version, as the most desirable 8 Series.

Return of the 8

The real deal arrived a year, featuring either a twin-turbo 530hp V8 or a straight-six diesel with 320hp. Both came with four-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Like the original, it’s less a sports car and more a luxury GT. Although you can’t have a V12 engine this time.

Dropping the top

Expanding the range, BMW dropped the top on the 8. It advances its boulevard cruising credentials while retaining its blistering performance.

8 Series Night Sky Edition

No stranger to odd special editions, January 2019 saw the introduction of the night Sky Edition, with controls made from what BMW calls ‘meteoric material’. In short, what wood trim is for Bentleys, space rock is for BMWs.

The ultimate, ultimate driving machine

Although the M850i offered ample performance, we were all waiting for the proper M-car. It’s the fastest BMW ever made, with 625hp and switchable all-wheel drive. It hits 62mph in 3.3 seconds, before settling to a 70mph cruise across Europe. The ultimate 8 Series?

8 Series Gran Coupe

Perhaps not. Many worried that the coupe version of the 8 Series, and indeed the M8, wasn’t special enough. Especially in comparison with Aston Martins, Bentleys and other exotic machines. Step forward the 8 Series Gran Coupe, a car doing what Germans do best: fast and sexy four-door coupes.

M8 Gran Coupe

And they don’t get faster and sexier than the M version. More aggressive bumpers, bulbous exhausts and lashings of carbon fibre suit the 8 Gran Coupe’s muscular lines. In our book, this is the new 8 Series to have.

The original and best

But perhaps not the ultimate 8 Series. Misguided, misjudged or misunderstood – whatever your views on the 8 Series, you can’t deny its place in BMW history. Today, the styling of the original looks better than ever. With a body blissfully free of spoilers and chintz, its legacy looms large over the new car. As a grand tourer, we can think of few better ways to cross the continent. In the V12-powered 850CSi, of course.

Roush F-150 5.11 Tactical Edition is a 650 hp truck ready for anything

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

Tuning company Roush Performance has collaborated with California-based 5.11 Tactical to produce a special limited-edition version of the Ford F-150.

Launched at the recent 2020 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, the 5.11 Tactical Edition combines a wealth of performance enhancements and bespoke design upgrades. 

Roush currently plans to build 150 examples of the 5.11 Tactical Edition, with the truck aimed at those who need a dependable vehicle with a hefty dose of attitude. 

Rapid tactical deployment

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

No self-respecting Roush produce would come without one of the company’s signature superchargers added beneath the hood. The 5.11 Tactical Edition does not disappoint, with a 2.65-liter ‘charger added to the 5.0-liter V-8 engine. 

Peak power is upped to an impressive 650 horsepower, with a corresponding 610 lb-ft of torque. This is the same set of figures as found in the record-breaking Roush F-150 Nitemare, meaning performance should not be in doubt here. 

Roush also fits a cat-back Active Performance Exhaust system, allowing the driver to change the sound from the tailpipes at the twist of a dial. Picking ‘Touring’ mode quietens the exhaust down, which could be handy for doing important tactical activities. 

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

Suspension upgrades are also included, with a Roush/Fox 2.0 Performance Series setup installed to improve ride comfort. Tire clearance is also said to be enhanced, with the 5.11 Tactical Edition wearing 20-inch wheels fitted with 33-inch General Grabber all-terrain rubber.

Completing the exterior makeover is a wide array of parts from the Roush catalogue. This includes a new front grille with signature lighting, plus fender flares which also house accent lighting elements. Puddle lights also display the Roush logo when the truck is unlocked. 

Roush will only offer the 5.11 Tactical Edition is two Ford colors – Agate Black or Abyss Gray. This is combined with digital camouflage graphics and 5.11 Tactical logos applied to the outside of the F-150.  

Lock and load up on tactical gear

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

The Tactical theme continues inside, where Roush has installed a custom-branded vehicle safe in the center console. Fitted with a combination lock, and made from cold-rolled plate steel, it allows for secure storage of important equipment. 

Roush-branded leather seats are fitted, along with a Roush instrument cluster and a set of bespoke floor liners made by WeatherTech.

In addition to the special Roush badging fitted on the exterior of the 5.11 Tactical Edition, each of the 150 models will also gain a serialized commemorative plaque on the dashboard.  

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

A collaboration with a tactical clothing and equipment manufacturer would surely be wasted without an accompanying haul of branded goods. 

Roush has not disappointed with this special edition. Buyers will receive a branded tactical duffle bag, a custom 5.11 Tactical hard case with a heavy-duty responder’s multi-tool inside, a custom tactical pen, a steel money clip, plus a range hat and USA flag patch.

Each of the 150 trucks will come with a unique serialized certificate of authenticity when leaving the Roush Performance factory in Michigan.

Time to make a tactical decision

Roush Ford F150 5.11 Tactical Edition

The 5.11 Tactical Edition joins the growing number of special outdoor-focussed pickups, with Chevrolet having released the Silverado HD Carhartt Edition at SEMA last year. 

Pricing for the 5.11 Tactical Edition is dependent on the base F-150 chosen as a starting point. However, the transformation itself will add $31,000 to the overall price, with Roush only using the 5.0-liter V-8 Lariat model.

All Roush trucks are supplied with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty, and can be ordered now with delivery expected in Spring 2020. 

Two-hour Netflix binge worse for emissions than 15 miles of driving

Netflix emissions

Binging on Netflix could be worse for the environment than the drive to the store to buy a DVD. That’s according to French think tank The Shift Project.

It’s claimed that two hours watching Netflix puts you in a chain of emissions generation equivalent to driving over 15 miles. That’s on average – actual person-by-person figures must depend on the specific car.

Over the course of 2019, it’s said that online streaming services like Netflix collectively generated emissions equivalent to that of Spain. The Shift Project expects that to double, too. All in, around 34 percent of online traffic can be attributed to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and more.

Diesel particulate emissions

At present, digital technologies – ranging from data centres to you charging your phone – represent four percent of worldwide carbon emissions. That’s more than civil air transport. However, the output increases by eight percent every year.

Estimates from experts at Huawei Technologies suggest that digital technologies could account for 20 percent of the world’s electricity use by 2030.

How is an hour of Netflix more damaging than an eight-mile drive?Emissions reduction congestion charge zone

The problem is that services like Netflix have enormous libraries of content that have to be hosted somewhere. Droves of data banks and servers consume energy. On top of simply keeping them powered up, a massive amount of energy is consumed keeping them cool. And they’re running 24/7, 365 days a year.

“How we power our digital infrastructure is rapidly becoming critical to whether we will be able to arrest climate change in time,” says Gary Cook, IT sector analyst at Greenpeace.

Ferrari tops Disney as the world’s strongest brand

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

Ferrari has been ranked the world’s strongest brand for the second year in a row. That’s according to the Brand Finance Global 500 report for 2020.

A brand strength index score of 94.1 out of 100 earns Ferrari the top spot on the list. It’s ahead of 11 other brands to have been awarded the highest AAA+ rating. It did, however, drop slightly from its 2019 score of 94.8.

Ferrari is also the only automotive brand to get an AAA+ rating. It defeated second-placed Disney (93.9), which spent more than seven-times the total brand value of Ferrari on film and TV assets owned by Fox.

Coca Cola, meanwhile, came sixth, with a score of 90.9 in the BSI index.

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

In the name of preserving exclusivity, Ferrari plans to cut licencing agreements by 50 percent, and eliminate 30 percent of its product categories. Could that mean cheap Ferrari aftershave is a thing of the past?

The brand value of Ferrari grew to nearly £7 billion last year: a year-on-year rise of nine percent. The result is that, overall, Ferrari is 206th in the top 500 most valuable brands. It climbs from 220th place in 2019.

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

Its success partly due to a new model offensive. Last year saw the marque introduce five new cars, including the SF90, a new supercar designed to deliver hybrid-hypercar performance, and the Roma, a higher-volume GT.

In terms of other areas of its business, Ferrari also closed a deal with the Giorgio Armani Group for the manufacturing of its clothing.

Ferrari world's strongest brand 2020

“The embodiment of luxury, Ferrari continues to be admired and desired around the world, and its outstanding brand strength reflects this,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance.

“It is no wonder that many consumers, who might never own a Ferrari car, want a bag or a watch emblazoned with the Prancing Horse, but it is also crucial that the company management remain at the steering wheel of the brand’s future and maintain its exclusive positioning by monitoring the licensing output closely.”

New bike rack camera is an ‘industry-first’

Bike rack camera

A Swedish company specialising in mobile living has launched what it claims is an industry-first bike rack camera.

If you’ve struggled to reverse a motorhome, campervan, estate car or van with a bike rack on the back, the Dometic CAM200 Bike Rack Camera could be the best product of 2020.

It’s a common problem for anyone travelling with a bike rack. With the bikes loaded, the rear-view camera is obscured. This restricts the view for the driver, making it harder to reverse when the bike rack is in use.

Two cameras

Dometic CAM200 Bike Rack Camera

Dometic’s patent-protected bike rack camera is the solution. It fits on the lower section of the bike rack to provide a clear rear view for the driver. Dometic says that by mounting it low, the “risk of misjudging the length of the rack can be excluded”.

As a bonus, the camera can be fitted without drilling on most bike racks – it simply slides into the outer rail by tightening the in-built screws.

The CAM2000 features two individually adjustable camera models, allowing the driver to find the best possible viewing angle. It switches between the two cameras to provide a clear view, even when bikes are loaded.

Of interest to UK buyers is the fact that the bike rack camera is waterproof. It’s also dust-proof. The system cable is detachable, so that the bike rack can be removed from the vehicle when not in use.

On sale in February for £320

Cycle rack camera

It goes on sale in February 2020, with prices starting from €379 (£320).

Dometic separated from Electrolux in 2001. The Swedish firm specialises in products designed for the mobile living sector, which includes RVs and boats. Its portfolio includes cameras, monitors, air conditioners, awnings, toilets, blinds, generators, vacuum cleaners and sanitation systems.

The company turned over 18.274m SEK (£14.725m) in 2018 and employs 8,000 people across the world.

You can now design your perfect Morgan in 3D

Morgan configurator released

Morgan has introduced an online configurator tool to help you bring your own hand-made British sports car to life.

The difference between this and the recently-announced Caterham configurator is you can build your Morgan from the comfort of your own home.

The tool works in 3D, and makes use of the fact the new Plus Six is the first Morgan entirely designed using computer aided design (CAD). Users can move around the car and look closer at specific details. The system can run in high, medium or low quality, depending on the speed of your connection.

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Morgan claims there are more than a trillion possible specifications. That’s over 1,000 billion, or a million million… When they say you can make your car your own, you really can.

Two initial options are available – standard or Touring. The latter adds a roof and removable windows. 

The interior is fully customisable, with different materials, leather stitches, colours and trims. On the outside, you can customise beyond the paint colour, with plenty of different wheel and accessory options.

Morgan configurator released

If you’re not sure where to start when speccing up your Morgan, fear not. Morgan has listed some ‘inspirations’ to serve as starting points.

Price is important, so you’ll be able to keep tabs on the climbing cost as you progress through the configurator. When you’re done, save the spec and a packet of images to show off. And if you want to order, send it to Morgan.

So what does our Plus Six look like? We went for Sport Green over tan leather, with the ‘Speedster’ pepperpot wheels in black. With various trim and colour selections, we got the price up to nearly £83,000.

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“We’re immensely proud to bring you our most advanced configurator yet,” said Michael Smith, lead digital designer at Morgan Motor Company.

“It’s the culmination of months of development work, bringing together teams across the business and externally. A highlight for me was working with the CAD engineers and designers to repurpose their work on the Plus Six. What’s been created is an extremely modern tool anyone can use at home or in a Morgan dealership.

“Built using the latest digital rendering technology, users can accurately visualise their dream Morgan in full 3D, utilising realistic paint rendering in incredible quality. We hope our customers and enthusiasts enjoy using the configurator.”


MOT test centre

Half a million cars have a late MOT test in January

MOT emissions failures double inside a year

Half a million cars had a late MOT in January 2019, as cash-strapped motorists deferred the test until payday. Of these, around 70,000 cars FAILED with a dangerous fault – that’s 14 percent.

January is a tough period for the household budget, with many families still paying the price for over-indulging at Christmas. The problems mount when the credit card bill arrives towards the end of the month.

Deferring an MOT is illegal and could be expensive. Anyone caught driving a vehicle without an MOT is likely to be fined up to a maximum of £1,000. It’s for this reason that Highways England is urging drivers to make sure their car has a valid MOT. 

There’s no excuse for a late MOT. While some garages will contact a customer up to a month prior to the date of expiry, there are some things you can do from the comfort of your home. These include:

  • Putting a note on the calendar. Make sure you transfer the date when you get a new calendar at the start of the year. Alternatively, use the calendar on your smartphone and set a reminder for a month before the test is due.
  • Sign up for a free MOT reminder via the government website. You need the vehicle’s registration number and a mobile phone number or email address. If you own a car, van or motorcycle, you’ll receive a text message or email one month before the MOT is due.
  • Download an app to keep track of your car’s service and maintenance. The AA app includes special offers, a map and information about your car, including when the MOT is due, tyre pressures and the VED renewal date. You’ll receive a reminder before the MOT runs out.

If you’ve lost your MOT certificate, it’s worth remembering that you can check the MOT history of a vehicle at any time via the government website. You’ll need the vehicle’s registration number.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), around 50 percent of all faults found during the MOT test could be avoided by carrying out regular maintenance or by checking some basic items before the test.

Further MOT data reveals that around 40 percent of cars fail their MOT at the first attempt. Check out our guide to 10 easy pre-MOT checks to increase the chances of your car passing first time.

Simple regular checks for drivers

Get a Grip tyre campaign to get young drivers educated

Highways England has issued further advice for drivers, regardless of when the MOT is due. These include:

  • Check tyres
    • Prior to a long journey, check your tyre pressures are suitable for the load and the condition of your tyres. Look out for cuts or wear and make sure the tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm.
  • Check engine oil
    • Use your dipstick to check oil regularly and before any long journey. Take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual.
  • Check water
    • To ensure you have good visibility, always keep your screenwash topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen.
  • Check lights
    • If your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. In addition, light malfunctions can be a reason for your vehicle to fail its MOT.
  • Check fuel
    • Before setting out, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to reach your destination.

For more hints and tips, please visit our motoring advice section.

The celebrity owners who add most – and least – value to a used car

Celebrity cars that gained value

Cars formerly owned by famous people can sell for much more than examples that don’t have star power on the registration document. From Donald Trump to Madonna – these are the latest car sales that were boosted by their claim to fame.

The numbers come from Vanarama, and separate the sales into four categories: public figures, musicians, actors and sports people. Let’s look at the top 10 climbers overall.

Celebrity cars that appreciated the most

CelebrityCarPercentage value increaseAverage valueCeleb sale figure
Barack ObamaJeep Grand Cherokee1,207 percent£2,940£38,440
MadonnaMini Cooper S (2002)922 percent£5,380£55,000
Frank SinatraRolls-Royce Corniche355 percent£30,940£140,630
David BeckhamPorsche 911 Turbo244 percent£40,640£140,000
Steve McQueenChevrolet 3100 truck227 percent£22,620£73,880
John CenaFord GT212 percent£354,580£1,106190
Ringo StarrMini Cooper S (1966) 202 percent£33,890£102,300
Justin BieberFerrari 458163 percent£128,840£337,300
Donald TrumpFerrari F430151 percent£82,910£207,760
Rowan AtkinsonMercedes-Benz 500E115 percent£33,240£71,300

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These are some impressive numbers. What we can’t help noticing about the top two in particular, is that these are cars near the low-point of their potential value. Without the celebrity affiliation, they’re extremely attainable. As a result, the star power is an extreme asset, which leads to extreme results.

In the case of the Jeep, any other example would be considered an anonymous beater. This one, having been owned by former POTUS Barack Obama, is just shy of a piece of history. As a result, it sold for the equivalent of £38,440 last year. The average price for a Grand Cherokee of the same age and condition is £2,940.

Celebrity cars that gained value

Equally, Madonna’s old Mini would ordinarily be worth around £5,000. Yet it sold for nearly £50,000, or 10 times that amount. 

As for the cars that appreciated the least? A Bentley Continental GT Speed once owned by footballer Cristiano Ronaldo sold for just one percent above its market value.

Similarly a Continental GT Mulliner, formerly the property of Ryan Giggs, only gained four percent, as did a 1970 Aston Martin DBS V8 owned by comedian Steve Coogan. In the case of the Aston, it has a star power all its own –and that makes Coogan’s ownership anecdotal, rather than life-changing.